Humane Society International / United Kingdom


Ask the UK Environmental Secretary to release the long overdue Call for Evidence results on the fur trade as soon as possible

Animal organizations unite to see Max Mara go fur-free

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


Mink on a fur farm
Jo-Anne McArthur/Andrew-Skowron/We Animals Media

LONDON—Ahead of Fashion Weeks in New York, London, Milan and Paris, the largest ever global anti-fur consumer campaign has been launched to urge fashion house Max Mara to go fur-free. The campaign is headed by animal charities Humane Society International, the Humane Society of the United States and the Fur Free Alliance comprising organizations in more than 35 countries. Campaigners are asking their millions of supporters and compassionate citizens from the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, South Korea, the European Union and the United States to target Max Mara’s phone lines, email and social media urging the design house to drop fur because it is cruel, out-dated and has no place in a modern society.    

Max Mara, which has 2,500+ stores in 105 countriesof which 39 are in the United States is one of the last major fur users and its current range includes items made of fox, raccoon dog and mink fur. Max Mara fur products include fox fur cuffs, a mink trimmed hood, a fox fur trimmed hood, mink mittens and a raccoon dog fur charm, and product labels show the company uses mink fur from China plus fox and raccoon dog fur from Finland. 

Max Mara’s use of fur is increasingly out of mode considering that most of the world’s major fashion-houses have already gone fur-free, including Dolce & Gabbana, Saint Laurent, Valentino, Prada, Gucci, Versace, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga and Jimmy Choo. Many other designers and retailers have long-standing policies against using fur, including Hugo Boss, Armani, Tommy Hilfiger, Stella McCartney and Vivienne Westwood.  

PJ Smith, director of fashion policy at Humane Society International and the Humane Society of the United States, said: “Max Mara is one of the last global fashion brands that continues to support the vile fur trade, despite clear evidence that the fur industry is cruel, bad for the environment and a risk to public health. By doing so, Max Mara is increasingly isolated in a world where the vast majority of consumers find fur obscene. We hope that Max Mara stops being an apologist for the fur trade and instead decides to strike a pose for compassionate fashion by going fur-free.”

Mink, fox and raccoon dogsall species used by Max Maraare bred to die on fur factory farms where they spend their entire lives in cramped, barren cages, deprived of the ability to engage in natural behaviors, only to be crudely gassed or anally electrocuted and then skinned.  

Fur production is also environmentally devastating and a risk to public health. Peer-reviewed research by carbon footprint experts Foodsteps and commissioned by HSI shows that, when compared to other materials, per kilogram fur has the highest greenhouse gas emissions, with the carbon footprint of 1kg of mink fur 31 times higher than that of cotton and 25 times higher than polyester. Fur factory farms are also breeding grounds for zoonotic diseases like COVID-19 and avian influenza, with hundreds of confirmed outbreaks on fur farms across Europe and North America in the last several years. All this while quality, animal-friendly alternative fabrics, such as KOBA® Fur Free Fur which incorporates plant based and recycled ingredients, are readily available and sold by Max Mara’s competitors.  

The most recent and largest ever undercover investigation of fur farms was conducted in six EU countriesincluding Finland, the country from which Max Mara sources its fox and raccoon dog fur. During summer and autumn 2023, investigators made more than 100 visits to fur farms resulting in shocking photo and video evidence. Mink, foxes and raccoon dogs were shown in horrifying conditions in which incidences of cannibalism were documented. Animals on the farms were also shown injured, diseased, with some either dead or dying. Some had missing limbs, tails or ears and/or had serious eye infections, wounds infested with maggots and disturbing instances of self-mutilation. 

Max Mara’s headquarters can be contacted about their use of fur via HSI’s action page at hsi.org/furfreemaxmara as well as via Max Mara’s social media channels: X, Facebook, and Instagram.

Fur facts:

Tens of millions of animals suffer and die each year in the global fur trade. The majority of the animals killed for fur are reared in barren battery cages on fur farms.   

Mink on more than 480 fur farms across 13 countries have been found infected with COVID-19, and fur farms in Spain and Finland have had outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1). The potential for zoonotic disease spread on fur farms has been acknowledged by the World Health Organization and leading virologists have recently warned governments to “consider the mounting evidence suggesting fur farming be eliminated in the interest of pandemic preparedness.” 

Fur farming has been banned in 20 European countries including the 15 Member States of Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Slovakia and Slovenia and five other European nations of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Norway, United Kingdom, North Macedonia and Serbia. Additionally, Switzerland and Germany have strict welfare regulations which have effectively ended fur farming.   

In the United States, there are fur sales bans in the state of California and in the following 14 towns or cities: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley and West Hollywood in California; Lexington, Cambridge, Plymouth, Brookline, Weston and Wellesley in Massachusetts; the borough of Etna in Pennsylvania, and the cities of Ann Arbor in Michigan; Boulder, Colorado; Hallandale Beach, Florida. Israel became the first country to ban fur sales in 2021. 

Download video/photos of Finnish fur farms here

Media contact:  Wendy Higgins, director of international media: whiggins@hsi.org

Calls for fur import ban intensify as newly published letters reveal ban also has backing of the Scottish Government

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


HSI

LONDON—Animal protection organisation Humane Society International/UK has intensified calls for a UK fur import and sales ban following the publication of an email from former Environment Secretary George Eustice, which reveals that 96% of 30,000 respondents to the Government’s Call for Evidence on the fur market in Great Britain strongly agreed that it is wrong for animals to be killed for fur. 

An FOI request detailing correspondence between George Eustice and Mairi Gougeon, Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, found that in December 2021 Eustice confirmed this result of the Call for Evidence and stated: “The Government will therefore take forward a ban on the import and sale of fur”. In February 2022, Gougeon confirmed in a reply that “The Scottish Ministers support, in principle, the initiative to prohibit the import and sale in Great Britain of fur to address the public moral objection to any rearing or killing of animals purely for their fur”. 

Humane Society International/UK, which leads the celebrity-backed #FurFreeBritain campaign, welcomed the news and renewed its call for the full results of the Call for Evidence to be published and for a UK fur import ban. Despite banning fur farming in 2003 on animal welfare grounds, the UK still imports and sells fur from other countries including Finland and China. HMRC records show that in 2022, the UK imported £41,970,308 of fur, which HSI/UK estimates to be equivalent to over one million animals. 

Claire Bass, senior director of campaigns and public affairs at Humane Society International/UK, said: “The Government ran a Call for Evidence on the UK fur trade in May 2021 and has been inexplicably sitting on the results ever since. Today it transpires that the evidence obtained is a slam-dunk in support of a ban, with 96% of respondents agreeing that it is wrong to kill animals for their fur. Based on this evidence, the Government confirmed that it would take forward a ban, and the Scottish Government confirmed its backing for one, and then—nothing. Nearly 30,000 people and organisations took the time to provide evidence, but over the last year Ministers haven’t shown willingness to let evidence lead progress on this policy. We urge the new Defra Secretary to release the results and then move forward with a ban. Fur is not only appalling for animals, but top British virologists have warned that fur farms are a ticking time bomb for pandemic disease risk. The UK should have no part in this cruel, unnecessary and dangerous trade.”

Defra’s Call for Evidence on the Fur Market in Great Britain was launched in May 2021 with the stated intention of using the findings to inform possible future action on the UK fur trade. Over two years on, despite repeated calls from MPs and animal protection organisations, Defra has yet to make the results publicly available. HSI/UK has submitted a further Freedom of Information request to gain access to the results. 

HSI/UK’s Fur Free Britain campaign, which calls for a UK fur import and sales ban, has gathered over 1.1 million petition signatures to date.  

Download Photo/B-roll from HSI’s Investigation on Chinese Fur Farms 

ENDS

Media Contact: Sally Ivens, HSI/UK: sivens@hsi.org; 07590 559299 

Notes:

  • HSI/UK’s recent report on the environmental impact of the fur industry shows that fur is an unsustainable and inefficient material. 
  • In May 2023, 54 MPs wrote a letter to then Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey, urging her department to publish its analysis of the response to the Call for Evidence, as well as to set out a policy position to deliver a ban on the import and sale of fur in Great Britain. 
  • Eighteen written questions, such as this one, asking about plans to ban fur imports were submitted to Defra by MPs in the last Parliamentary sessions. 
  • In response to a Westminster Hall debate on the import and sale of fur, held on 27 June 2023 and led by Giles Watling MP, Defra Minister Trudy Harrison said: “A summary of responses to the call for evidence, setting out the results and the next steps in this policy space, will be published very soon.” 
  • Leading British virologists Professor Wendy Barclay and Dr Thomas Peacock recently wrote an article in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) highlighting the public health threat posed by the global fur trade, stating: “We strongly urge governments to also consider the mounting evidence suggesting that fur farming, particularly mink, be eliminated in the interest of pandemic preparedness. Fur farming should be in the same category of high-risk practices as the bushmeat trade and live animal markets. These activities all increase the likelihood of future pandemics.” 

British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force chef instructors honed their plant-based culinary skills in Humane Society International/UK’s Forward Food training

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


Jessica Webb/HSI

LONDONMilitary chef instructors from across the Royal Navy, British Army, Royal Air Force and Civil Service have been learning how to create plant-based, flavour-filled, planet-friendly dishes thanks to the latest vegan culinary training workshop held by animal protection organisation Humane Society International/UK.

In this the second Forward Food training by HSI/UK for the UK Defence Food Services Training Wing at Worthy Down, Winchester, chef instructors took part in a masterclass on creating plant-based canapés, having previously received training in designing nutritious vegan main courses and how to market those menu items. The session also covered the fundamentals of making appetising and flavoursome plant-based dishes, which typically have a lower environmental footprint than meat and dairy options.

The day’s cooking sessions were mentored by HSI/UK’s Forward Food chef and renowned food writer Jenny Chandler, who ran interactive demonstrations on depth of flavour and food texture. Ministry of Defence chef instructors then took to the kitchen to put what they’d learnt into practice and whipped up creative vegan canapés including: devilled potatoes; carrot “salmon” lox; smoky squash and black bean fritters; mini roast cauliflower and cashew cheela pancakes served with mango chutney; and cucumber cups with a spiced peanut dip and crispy chickpeas.

Rich Hardy, senior farmed animal campaigns manager at Humane Society International/UK, said: “It’s really encouraging to be working with the Armed Forces, responsible for serving millions of meals every week to tri-service personnel, and that they are willing to equip chefs with the skills to meet the rising demand for plant-based options. This is the second Forward Food training HSI/UK has delivered for the UK Defence Food Services Training Wing, and the chef instructors here have now truly mastered the art of creating exciting and flavourful vegan dishes! Putting more plants on plates helps reduce demand for factory farming, which is vital both in the race to meet climate targets, and to stop the suffering of millions of animals.”

Warrant Officer Class 2 Kerry Bale, Catering Development Warrant Officer at the UK Defence Food Services Training Wing, said: “Diets of choice are growing in popularity; with an increasing demand towards nutritious plant-based foods, the chef instructors must enhance their skills in order to present the offer to service personnel. The training we have received was excellent and plays an important role in helping us to remain current.” 

More than 300 chefs have been trained through HSI’s Forward Food programme in the UK since its launch in 2017. By supporting chefs and catering managers to gain skills and confidence in delivering a variety of high-quality plant-based menu items, HSI/UK is improving the availability of vegan options across the country and helping people make compassionate culinary choices.

ENDS 

Media contact: Sally Ivens, senior media and communications manager, HSI/UK: sivens@hsi.org     

Forward Food is an initiative of Humane Society International, with the aim to encourage and enable the catering industry to shift the focus of menus away from meals centred on animal products and put more plant-based food on plates. Find out more at forwardfooduk.org. 

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


EatKind

Vegan and vegetarian eateries across the UK come together to raise vital funds for animal protection through EatKind in restaurants, our campaign launching this World Vegan Month in November.

In the UK, over 1 billion animals a year suffer in factory farms. Their whole lives are confined in systems, such as cages, which prevent them from moving around or carrying out basic natural behaviours.

HSI works with governments, corporations, producers and institutions to enact reform, end factory farming and promote plant-based solutions.

All donations raised from EatKind in restaurants will go towards our work to stop the worst abuses to farmed animals and end animal cruelty in all its forms.

Run a restaurant?

Getting involved is easy. Simply:

1. Select one vegan item off your menu.
2. On the selected item, donate 25p of each sale to us throughout November or a month of your choice.
3. Use our selection of fundraising materials to promote the campaign to your customers.
4. Send us any donations raised.

To learn more, email us on info@hsiuk.org.

Eating out?

Take a look at the participating restaurants—there might be one near you!

    • Vegan House, Chester @veganhousefoods
    • Scoffs, Leeds @scoffsleeds
    • Church – Temple of Fun, Sheffield @templeof.fun
    • The Veggie Hub Cafe, Liskeard @liskerrett
    • The Good Apple Cafe, Sunderland @goodapplecafe
    • PANC, Manchester @pancfoods
    • Mali Vegan Thai, London @mali.vegan
    • Saorsa 1875, Pitlochry @saorsa1875
    • Dana Cafe, Sheffield @danacafesheffield
    • Veg Box, Exeter @vegbox_cafe

Campaigners at party conferences urge politicians to give animal welfare the level of priority the British public expect

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


Gabriela Penela/We Animals Media

LONDONOver two-thirds (67%) of the British public think that a political party planning to pass more laws to improve animal welfare and protect animals from cruelty would have ‘the right priorities’, and 71% feel that such policies would reflect their values, according to new constituency-level polling by Focaldata commissioned by animal protection organisations Animal Aid, Compassion In World Farming, FOUR PAWS UK, Humane Society International/UK and the RSPCA. 

Underscoring the strength of support for strong animal welfare legislation amongst the public, the polling reveals that 71% believe that passing good animal welfare laws shows compassion and concern for those who don’t have the power to protect themselves, and almost one in ten (8.6%)  rank ‘whether or not a party will protect animals from cruelty’ as one of the top three most important policies that will influence which party they vote for.

Claire Bass, senior director of campaigns and public affiairs at Humane Society International/UK, said: “Despite MPs often stating that they typically hear from their constituents about animal welfare issues more than any other issue, we are not yet seeing animal protection being given the priority it so clearly deserves by any of the main political parties. When politicians underestimate the importance many people attach to stopping animal cruelty, it easily becomes a problem for candidates on many doorsteps. There are millions of animals without a voice or vote on the policies that parties offer in their manifestos for the next election, but this poll makes clear that strong commitments towards a more compassionate society will be something that millions of voters are looking for from party leaders.”  

The Government pledged eight specific animal welfare commitments in its 2019 manifesto and has so far delivered on only three. Pledges to ban live exports, prohibit the importation of hunting trophies from endangered species and tackle cruel puppy smuggling are all yet to be passed into new laws. The Government’s 2021 Action Plan for Animal Welfare committed to consider action on a range of other issues including the UK fur trade, the use of cages and crates on farms and mandatory animal welfare food labelling, but progress in all of these areas has stalled during the current parliamentary session. 

Despite the Labour Party publishing a comprehensive—and well supported—animal welfare manifesto in 2019, its newly published National Policy Forum contains only a brief indication of the Party’s ambition to advance new protections for animals, including strengthening the Hunting Act and banning the importation of hunting trophies.   

At its conference last week the Liberal Democrats passed a motion on food and farming which incorporates pledges to benefit animal welfare including ensuring that in international trade deals imports “meet UK environmental, climate and animal welfare standards”. Campaigners at the conference heard that a detailed animal welfare policy paper is planned and may be debated at the Party’s spring conference. 

The polling also reveals: 

  • Answering questions on specific issues of farming and trade: 
    • 63% of respondents feel the Government should bring in legislation to phase out intensive farming to protect the environment and animals;  
    • 77% of respondents agree with the statement ‘when we ban a type of farming in the UK for being too cruel, we should also ban imports of products produced the same way overseas’ while less than a quarter of people (23%) agree with the statement ‘we should not let our trading relationship with other countries be limited by animal welfare concerns.’ 
  • One in ten (10%) of the British public place animal welfare issues in the top five most important issues facing the country at this time, compared to 30% of people placing ‘crime’ in the top five issues, and 42% of people placing ‘climate change’ in the top five. 79% of respondents place ‘the NHS’ in the top five issues. 
  • Almost one in ten (8.6%) people rank ‘whether or not a party will protect animals from cruelty’ as one of the top three most important policies that will influence which party they vote for. 

ENDS

Notes to editors:

Media contact: Sally Ivens, HSI/UK: sivens@hsi.org 

Animal protection groups including HSI/UK and FOUR PAWS UK voice concern that popular, Government-backed Bill is at serious risk

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


FOUR PAWS UK

LONDON—Cross-party MPs and Peers, alongside campaigners from the Coalition Against Trophy & Canned Hunting including animal protection organisations Humane Society International/UK and FOUR PAWS UK, gathered outside Parliament with a giant inflatable lion and giraffe to show their support for the Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill. The politicians and campaigners came together near Old Palace Yard in Westminster to implore the Government to find the necessary time to allow the Bill – a manifesto commitment – to complete its passage into law and protect the tragic victims of trophy hunting.

Over 30 MPs and Peers—including Henry Smith MP, Emily Thornberry MP, Ruth Jones MP, Baroness Natalie Bennett and Baroness Cathy Bakewell—were in attendance at the event, which comes after the Bill’s Committee Stage in the House of Lords last night (12th Sept.). During the debate, a small group of pro-hunting Peers attempted to kill the Bill by running down time, having tabled over 60 amendments. With a limited number of sitting days until the end of this Parliamentary session, there is now a serious risk that there will be insufficient time for the Bill to complete its remaining stages.

Claire Bass, senior director of campaigns and public affairs at Humane Society International/UK, said: “We’ve returned to Parliament today to demonstrate the huge strength of support the Bill has from both cross-party MPs and Peers, and the British public – over 80% of whom back the ban. It’s deeply frustrating that a handful of the Government’s own backbench Peers attempted to gun down the Bill last night with an onslaught of time-wasting amendments. Armed with giant inflatable wildlife, we are calling on the Government not to let animals or the public down, and urgently bring the Bill back to the Lords to deliver the promised hunting trophy import ban.”

Sonul Badiani-Hamment, country director at FOUR PAWS UK said: “Today’s strong turnout from over 30 MPs and Peers reaffirms the widespread support the Trophy Hunting (Import Prohibition) Bill has from across the political parties. The purposeful filibustering by a handful of backbencher Peers means that time is running out to discuss the Bill and their myriad of 64 tabled amendments. This is a wasteful course of action, taken to prevent the Bill from becoming law. United with elected MPs, who reflect the wishes of the voting public, we urge the Government to immediately make more time for the Bill and to continue pushing it through; they have the will of the nation and Parliament behind them.”

Adam Cruise, acting CEO of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, said: “As someone who has been in the field for almost two decades, the claim that trophy hunting benefits conservation and community livelihoods is false. The clear evidence on the ground is one of widespread decline of species and increasing levels of poverty throughout Southern Africa. Decades of trophy hunting not only has failed to improve the situation but has made it considerably worse.”

Conservative Peer Baroness Fookes led the Bill’s Committee Stage, in which five amendments were discussed. Two votes were called, which were both lost in the Government’s favour.  

ENDS

Media contact: Sally Ivens, senior media manager, HSI/UK: sivens@hsi.org; 07590 559 299  

Notes  

  • A YouGov poll carried out in December 2021 found that 82% of the British public think importing animal body parts as hunting trophies should be made illegal.   
  • In recent years, UK trophy hunters have imported trophies from some of the world’s rarest species, including polar bears, rhinos, African elephants and leopards.    
  • Since trophy hunting rose to prominence in the colonial era, there have been catastrophic declines in populations of some of the world’s most iconic species – including elephants, lions, rhinos and giraffes – many of which are under increasing pressure from loss of habitat, climate breakdown, poaching and the illegal wildlife trade.   
  • The Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill, which passed its Third Reading in the House of Commons on 17th March 2023, would prohibit hunting trophies of animal species listed with the highest level of protection in Annex A or B of the Control of Trade in Endangered Species Regulations (2018) from being imported into the UK  

HSI/UK decry the ‘onslaught of time-wasting amendments’ attempting to wreck a popular Government-backed bill

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


Alamy 

LONDON—A small number of Peers have been criticised by animal protection organisation Humane Society International/UK for attempting to wreck the Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill at its Committee Stage in the House of Lords. Peers including Lord Mancroft and the Earl of Caithness tabled over 60 amendments, refused to group them in an apparent attempt to frustrate the debate, and subjected the House to lengthy speeches in defence of trophy hunting.

On the same side of the House, Minister Benyon and Lords sponsor Baroness Fookes delivered strong rebuttals against attempts to wreck the Bill.

Claire Bass, senior director of campaigns and public affairs at Humane Society International/UK, said: “It is exasperating that a small group of pro-hunting Peers has tried to hijack this hugely popular Bill that would deliver a Conservative manifesto commitment to ban hunting trophy imports. A UK ban on importing these sick souvenirs has the backing of the Government, the Commons and over 80% of the British public. Tonight’s Lords debate saw some shameful and undignified accusations levelled at both the Government and opposition benches, amidst an onslaught of time-wasting amendments. The Government must keep its resolve and bring this Bill back to the Lords urgently to deliver the promised hunting trophy import ban.”

Baroness Fookes led the debate, in which Peers began to discuss each of the 64 amendments tabled, running down the time for the Bill’s Committee Stage. Two votes were called, which were both lost in the Government’s favour.

The Bill, which passed its Third Reading in the House of Commons on 17th March 2023, would prohibit hunting trophies of animal species listed with the highest level of protection in Annex A or B of the Control of Trade in Endangered Species Regulations (2018) from being imported into the UK.  With a very limited number of sitting days until the Parliamentary session ends, HSI/UK is now urging the Government to schedule a second Committee sitting for the Bill next Monday, to avoid it running out of time.

ENDS

Media contact: Sally Ivens, senior media manager, HSI/UK: sivens@hsi.org; 07590 559299

Notes

  • A YouGov poll carried out in December 2021 found that 82% of the British public think importing animal body parts as hunting trophies should be made illegal.
  • In recent years, UK trophy hunters have imported trophies from some of the world’s rarest species, including polar bears, rhinos, African elephants and leopards.
  • Since trophy hunting rose to prominence in the colonial era, there have been catastrophic declines in populations of some of the world’s most iconic species – including elephants, lions, rhinos and giraffes – many of which are under increasing pressure from loss of habitat, climate breakdown, poaching and the illegal wildlife trade.
  • In June 2023, a group of 103 wildlife conservation experts, scientists, government officials and community leaders who live and work in countries throughout Africa sent an open letter to Members of the House of Lords urging them to support the bill to ban the import of hunting trophies.

Scientists call on governments to consider evidence for the elimination of fur farming

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


Stock Photography

LONDON―Virologists from Imperial College London’s Department of Infectious Disease have warned of the public health threat posed by the global fur trade, after outbreaks of avian flu (H5N1) on mink and fox fur farms in Spain and Finland increased fears that fur farms could act as reservoirs of zoonotic diseases. In an article published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Professor Wendy Barclay, head of the Department of Infectious Disease and chair in Influenza Virology at Imperial College London, and Dr Thomas Peacock, a virologist in the Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial College London, warn that mink farming poses a risk for the emergence of future disease outbreaks and should be considered in the same risk level category as the bushmeat trade and live animal markets. The UK banned fur farming in 2000 but still imports fur from other countries including Finland, Spain, Canada and Poland, leading animal protection organisation Humane Society International/UK to call for a UK fur import and sales ban.  

In the PNAS article, Dr Peacock and Professor Barclay write that “fur farming takes place in a high-density animal environment that allows for rapid spread of viruses with pandemic potentialand for virus adaptation to animals that would be unlikely to occur in nature.” Minks are highly susceptible to infection with several viruses that also infect humans, and the article draws attention to the many outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 (the causative agent of COVID-19) that have been identified in farmed mink in Europe and North America since 2020.  

The PNAS article comes as animals including minks and foxes tested positive this month for highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 on 10 fur farms in Finland, with more farms under suspicion for the virus and awaiting test results. In October last year, the first recorded outbreak of avian flu on a fur farm took place—on a Spanish mink fur farm intensively breeding 52,000 mink, reigniting calls for an end to global fur farming, and for the UK to take action by ending fur imports. Reports in Science and Nature have raised fears that the avian flu virus could be demonstrating the potential to mutate and spread mammal-to-mammal, which in turn increases concerns of a future pandemic. Thomas Peacock was quoted saying that the outbreak is “incredibly concerning” and “a clear mechanism for an H5 pandemic to start.” 

Peacock and Barclay go on to say in the PNAS article: Fur farming is banned across many European countries and North American states or territories. Several other regions have set dates for phasing it out. These bans have historically been a response to ethical concerns about the treatment of these animals. We strongly urge governments to also consider the mounting evidence suggesting that fur farming, particularly mink, be eliminated in the interest of pandemic preparedness. Fur farming should be in the same category of high-risk practices as the bushmeat trade and live animal markets. These activities all increase the likelihood of future pandemics.” 

Fur farming has been illegal in the UK since the Fur Farming (Prohibition) Acts came into force in 2003. Despite this, HMRC records show that £41,970,308 of fur was imported to the UK in 2022, from countries including Italy, China and France. Humane Society International/UK leads the #FurFreeBritain campaign urging the Government to end this double standard by banning imports and sales of fur in the UK. 

Claire Bass, senior director of campaigns and public affairs at HSI/UK, said: “In addition to the appalling suffering animals on fur farms are subjected to as fashion victims, the fur trade also poses a very real danger to public health. These very worrying outbreaks of avian flu on fox and mink farms in Spain and Finland follow many hundreds of outbreaks of the COVID-19 virus on fur farms across Europe and North America and show that factory farming animals for fur is playing Russian roulette with public health, for an entirely frivolous product. The UK led the way by banning fur farming two decades ago, but to stop being complicit in this cruel and risky trade we need to ban fur imports and sales too. A fur trade ban has the backing of over three quarters of the public, more than 250 cross-party MPs and Peers, and now virologists are also advising we call time on fur. The Government has been dragging its heels on fur for years, but stopping the global fur trade from creating the next pandemic demands decisive and urgent action.” 

National polling in April 2022 shows that 77% of people in Britain think the Government should ban the import of animal products such as fur, where the production methods are already banned in the UK. More than 1.1 million petition signatures have also been gathered. 

In May 2021 the UK Government launched a Call for Evidence on the UK fur trade, with the stated intention of using the findings to inform possible future action. Almost 30,000 responses were submitted before the consultation closed in June 2021, but over two years on, officials are yet to release the results or set out a policy response. 

ENDS

Media contact: Sally Ivens, senior specialist media and communications for HSI/UK : sivens@hsi.org  ; 07590 559299

Notes:

  • Since April 2020, mink on 487 fur farms across North America and Europe have been reported as having tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.  The virus has been shown to pass from mammal to mammal on intensive mink fur farms and reports of farmed mink to human transfer has been reported in at least six countries. The most recent outbreaks were recorded in Poland in March 2023 and in Italy in April 2023. 
  • In its Action Plan for Animal Welfare in 2021, the Government stated: “Fur farming has been banned on ethical grounds in England and Wales since 2000, and since 2002 in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Whilst there are existing import restrictions on seal, cat and dog fur, it is still possible to import other fur from abroad, so we will explore potential action in this area.” 

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


Paw party
Forest Veterinary Centre

Host a pet party and raise vital funds for animals who aren’t as lucky as our own!

Where: your home, yard, garden, local park or workplace
When: anytime! Pick a date and time that suits you
Whom to invite: everyone you know and their four-legged companions

Getting involved is easy! You could host a Paw Party and charge an entry fee per dog, ask for donations on the day or sell homemade dog treats (we’ll send you recipes).

Sign up and get your free Paw Party pack here. Your pack is full of everything you need to plan and host the best Paw Party!

You can also use our invitations, games, recipe card and quiz.

Raising £50 could help pay for a comfortable crate for one large dog during a rescue and transportation from a dog meat farm, along with food and bedding during quarantine before the dog is re-homed.

If you have any questions or would like to find out more, please get in touch with us on info@hsiuk.org or by calling 020 7490 5288.

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