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. 


Media contact: Sally Ivens, senior specialist media and communications for HSI/UK :  ; 07590 559299


  • 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 or by calling 020 7490 5288.

UK Government must ban fur imports and sales to protect animals and the environment, says Humane Society International/UK

Humane Society International / United Kingdom

Fur farm
Claire Bass/HSI

LONDON—The environmental impacts of mink, fox and raccoon dog fur production significantly exceed those of other materials used in fashion, including cotton and even polyester and acrylic used to make faux fur, according to a new report by carbon footprint experts at Foodsteps, commissioned by Humane Society International/UK, and reviewed by renowned sustainability expert Dr Isaac Emery. The report shows that the fur industry’s PR claim that fur is ‘the most environmentally friendly material available’, is inaccurate greenwashing and misleading to both consumers and retailers.

When compared to other materials in the report, per kilogram fur has the highest greenhouse gas emissions, which can include carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, with the carbon footprint of 1kg of mink fur found to be 31 times higher than that of cotton and 25 times higher than polyester. The three animal furs also scored worst for water consumption amongst all materials analysed―104 times higher than acrylic, 91 times higher than polyester and five times higher than cotton. Fur accessories such as fur trim on jacket hoods, and poms on hats and shoes, also come with a higher environmental price tag than their acrylic counterparts. For example, the study estimates that a raccoon dog fur bobble on a hat has a carbon footprint nearly 20 times higher than its acrylic faux fur bobble counterpart.

Around 100 million animals a year are used for fur globally, with around 10 million mink, foxes and raccoon dogs reared and killed on fur farms across Europe alone in 2021. HSI/UK’s report shows that if fur farming were banned across Europe, it would save nearly 300,000 tonnes of CO2-equivalent, the same as the annual carbon dioxide emissions of roughly 58,000 citizens in the UK. It would also save approximately 3,700 tonnes of water pollution and 11,800 tonnes of air emissions. Animals on fur farms also produce huge amounts of polluting excrement, and their fur pelts require large amounts of water, salt and a cocktail of chemicals like chromium and formaldehyde—listed as toxic carcinogens—to process into fashion items and stop them decomposing like dead skin and hair naturally would.

Humane Society International/UK leads the #FurFreeBritain campaign for a UK ban on the import and sale of fur. Claire Bass, HSI/UK’s senior director of campaigns and public affairs, says: “This analysis clearly shows that fur is one of the most environmentally damaging industries in the fashion world, its production creating a larger footprint than any of the other materials reviewed, including cotton and acrylic. Just like factory farming of animals for food, factory farming for fur places a heavy burden on the climate and environment, and keeping and feeding millions of carnivorous animals further amplifies the problem. Producing one kilogram of mink fur results in greenhouse gas emission seven times higher than one kilogram of beef and has 34 times the carbon footprint of chicken. In addition to the appalling suffering inflicted on animals on fur farms, this is a shockingly wasteful and damaging industry that is entirely out of synch with global sustainability goals. This report provides another compelling reason why the UK Government must ban the import and sale of fur, and all governments globally must act to end the fur trade.”

The fashion industry is estimated to be responsible for 2-8% of global carbon emissions and is a major polluter of water. Limiting fashion’s environmental footprint is therefore vital for meeting international climate change commitments, and HSI/UK believes its new report provides compelling evidence that the disproportionately large carbon and environmental footprint of the global fur trade should be eliminated, including by banning the import and sale of fur to the UK.

Fast facts from the report:

  • The carbon footprint of 1kg of mink fur (309.91 kg CO2-eq) is 31 times higher than cotton, 26 times higher than acrylic, and 25 times higher than polyester. Raccoon dog fur and fox fur also have high carbon footprints, approximately 23 times worse for the climate than cotton, and 18 times worse for the climate than polyester.
  • Mink fur produces air emissions 271 times higher than acrylic, 215 times higher than cotton and 150 times higher than polyester. Fox and raccoon dog fur produce air emissions roughly 104 times higher than that of acrylic, 83 times that of cotton and 57 times that of polyester.
  • Almost 30,000 litres of water is required per kilogram of fur produced. The average water consumption of the three furs is 104 times higher than acrylic, 91 times higher than polyester and five times higher than cotton.
  • The production of all three fur types has a staggering impact on water pollution; mink fur produces nearly 400 times the water pollution per kilogram of polyester, and on average all three furs are 100 times more water-polluting than cotton and 75 times more than acrylic.

With the increasing availability of innovative, bio-based, next generation materials, including faux fur made using plant-based ingredients, HSI predicts that non-animal fabrics will continue to become ever more environmentally friendly. The Faux Fur Institute in Paris has launched a roadmap for innovative ways to create faux fur, called SMARTFUR, based on the principles of the circular economy. In September 2019, Stella McCartney joined forces with DuPont in partnership with ECOPEL to launch KOBA® Fur Free Fur, the world’s first fully recyclable faux fur made using plant-based ingredients and recycled polyester. This was followed by the launch of BioFluff by founders Ashwariya Lahariya and Martin Stübler, the world’s first fully plant-based fur.

The HSI report uses data published by luxury (and now fur-free) French fashion group, Kering, as part of its Environment Profit & Loss data published to encourage a greater movement towards sustainability in the fashion industry. It looks at the impact of materials across the supply chain, including raw material production, processing, manufacturing, assembly and operations to retail. Although this fashion industry standard lifecycle analysis does not include end of life disposal, HSI/UK adds that all clothing in the fashion industry can ultimately end up in landfill, with items including animal fur being no exception.

HSI/UK’s Claire Bass adds: “A significant amount of animal fur used today appears as trim on disposable fashion items such as collars and hoods for parkas as well as poms on hats, gloves and shoes, all of which are made using a variety of synthetics and other materials and are just as likely to be landfilled as their faux fur equivalent. While all materials have a carbon footprint to some degree, our report shows just how large an environmental impact fur production has and dispels any myths about its green credentials. This analysis puts beyond doubt that the intensive farming of millions of fur-bearing animals each year, and the factory processing of their pelts, cannot reasonably be described as natural or sustainable, and is far more environmentally destructive than the fur trade wants consumers to believe. That’s simply too high a price to pay for a frivolous fur fashion item no-one needs.”

Fast facts about ending fur:

  • Most of the world’s leading designers have introduced fur-free policies including all Kering’s six fashion brands—Saint Laurent, Brioni, Gucci, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga and Bottega Veneta—as well as names including Valentino, Prada, Armani, Versace, Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo, DKNY, Burberry and Chanel.
  • Despite banning fur farming in 2003 on moral grounds, the UK still imports and sells fur from countries including Finland and China, a double standard HSI/UK wants to see end. HMRC data shows that in 2022 the UK imported £41,970,308 of fur.
  • A YouGov poll shows that 93% of Brits don’t wear fur and 77% support a sales ban.
  • In addition to the UK, fur farming is also banned in Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Croatia, Estonia, France, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia. Lithuania, Poland and Romania are currently considering fur farming bans.
  • In the United States, the state of California banned fur sales in 2019. In total, 13 U.S. towns and cities have banned fur sales, Israel became the first country in the world to ban fur sales in 2021.
  • Mink on more than 480 mink fur farms across 12 countries have been found infected with COVID-19, and the potential for zoonotic disease spread on fur farms has been acknowledged by the World Health Organisation. In October 2022, an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1) on a mink fur farm in Spain led influential virologists to call it “a warning bell” for the practice to be ended immediately.

Download the Full Report

Watch HSI’s New Animation About the Fur Trade’s Environmental Footprint


Media contact: Sally Ivens:

Notes: British Fur Trade Tweet (March 31, 2021) 

‘Conservation can never be achieved down the barrel of a gun’, experts state ahead of House of Lords debate on a hunting trophy import ban

Humane Society International / United Kingdom

LONDON—A group of 103 wildlife conservation experts, scientists, government officials and community leaders who live or work in countries throughout Africa—including Botswana, Tanzania, South Africa,  Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe—have sent an open letter to Members of the House of Lords urging them to support a bill to ban the import of hunting trophies to the UK ahead of a Parliamentary debate on the issue on June 16th.

The signatories, who include Lt Gen Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama, former President of Botswana; Farai Maguwu, director of Centre for Natural Resource Governance, Zimbabwe; and David Kabambo, co-founder & executive officer, Peace for Conservation, Tanzania, directly challenge the “grossly over-simplified and unsubstantiated” pro-trophy hunting narrative promulgated by a small number of UK-based academics, and condemn the “Western-conceived, profit-driven trophy hunting industry that perpetuates colonial power dynamics”. The letter comes ahead of the June 16th House of Lords’ 2nd reading of the Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill and is being shared exclusively by animal protection organization Humane Society International/UK, which campaigns to end trophy hunting.

The African experts, who also include Bantu Lukambo, director general, Innovation for the Development and Protection of the Environment in the Democratic Republic of Congo; Timothy Kamuzu Phiri, executive director of Mizu Eco-Care in Zambia; and Boniface Mpario, Maasai elder, Kenya; alert Peers to the fact that the trophy hunting industry “has displaced local people, obstructed opportunities for community land ownership and management of natural resources based on indigenous knowledge and facilitated corruption.” They urge Peers to reject trophy hunting activities as “colonial relics” and end the UK’s involvement in the “selfish, destructive and myopic business of trophy hunting.”

The letter is signed by a number of community representatives from Tanzania, where the government has forcibly evicted thousands of Maasai to make way in part for trophy hunting. Signatories state: “We are people who live and work in Africa; we are scientists, industry representatives, conservationists, academics, sustainable development experts, economists and wildlife stakeholders. We experience the trail of greed and destruction left by trophy hunters both personally and through the work we do every day. We recognize both the immediate and long-term damages that the industry and its apologists ignore. This Bill stands in solidarity with the views of millions of Africans who believe trophy hunting to be a morally reprehensible and insulting waste of our remarkable nature, and who believe that conservation can never be achieved down the barrel of a gun.”

The letter continues: “We are well aware that a small number of UK-based academics have been extremely outspoken in the UK media in their defense of trophy hunting in Africa and their associated opposition to this Bill. Although they purport to speak for Africa, they present grossly over-simplified and unsubstantiated arguments, and it is critical for Honourable Members of the House of Lords to acknowledge that they do not represent the views or experience of many scientists and community members living and working throughout the African continent. […] We wholly refute the claim that trophy hunting is a “necessary evil,” as promulgated by certain conservation scientists, many of whom have proven funding ties to the trophy hunting industry. […] We also reject the fallacious proposition that banning trade in hunting trophies is neocolonialist or racist. The irony of this claim is that it is in fact the Western-conceived, profit-driven trophy hunting industry that perpetuates colonial power dynamics and continues to drive social and economic inequalities every day across many communities.”

Noma Dube, founder of Zimbabwe Elephant Foundation, said: “Trophy hunting creates major equity challenges for African rural communities. Every year trophy hunters deposit vast sums of money into foreign bank accounts of hunting companies in order to kill the biggest, rarest animals. That money never returns to African communities, and only a fraction of the amount paid for licence fees and permits is ever received by the communities whose land was set aside to create hunting concessions on the boundaries of National Parks. In the case of elephants, when trophy hunters kill the biggest and often older animals, this typically leaves social groups destabilised which can significantly increase the likelihood of animals coming into conflict with nearby communities. It is insulting to suggest that trophy hunting is in any way good for conservation or African communities.”

Timothy Kamuzu Phiri, executive director of Mizu Eco-Care in Zambia, said: “Nothing bothers me more than the use of African ‘representatives’ to defend the supposed ‘benefits’ of trophy hunting. The true victims of the perils of trophy hunting as an unethical ‘conservation tool’ remain voiceless in rural African communities. Sadly, the local African communities are not the true beneficiaries of trophy hunting. The actual beneficiaries are the hunters and business operators, and hunting businesses which are largely in private hands and so-called, self-proclaimed ‘defenders of African conservation’, who in most cases are not based in Africa. These individuals wear the label of conservation experts or academics and weaponize pre-determined studies they call ‘science or evidence based’ against indigenous knowledge systems.”

Claire Bass, senior director of campaigns and public affairs at Humane Society International/UK, said: “Government officials, scientists, conservationists and community leaders from across the African continent have a clear message for the House of Lords: trophy hunters are robbing African countries of their most irreplaceable wildlife. Motivated by self-interest, those defending the practice are selling a lie, wilfully overlooking the corruption and mismanagement that underpins the industry, and the damage it causes. We urge Members of the House of Lords to put an end to this cruel colonial hangover, and protect threatened species by passing the Bill into law.”

The open letter and full list of signatories can be viewed here. 


Media contact : Wendy Higgins, director of international media, Humane Society International


  • 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.
  • The Bill, which passed its Report Stage and Third Reading in the House of Commons on 17th March 2023, would prohibit the import into the UK of 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).
  • 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.

Celebrities write to the Prime Minister asking for urgent action on animal welfare pledges, as leading animal protection organisations stage Downing Street demonstration

Humane Society International / United Kingdom

Peta UK

LONDON—Two years on from the publication of the Government’s Action Plan for Animal Welfare, which promised to “revolutionise the treatment of animals in the UK”, celebrities including Dame Joanna Lumley, Leona Lewis, Will Young and Susie Dent have written to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stating that animals “have been badly let down”. The celebrities, joining forces with leading UK animal charities Animal Aid, Compassion in World Farming, FOUR PAWS UK, Humane Society International/UK, PETA UK and the RSPCA, lament a lack of progress on addressing issues such as ending live animal exports, exploring action on the import and sale of fur products and banning keeping primates as pets. The signatories call on the Government to deliver its Action Plan in full.

In addition to the letter from celebrities, 25 of the country’s largest animal protection groups including the RSPCA have published an open letter to Rishi Sunak, detailing the Government’s inaction on vital animal welfare measures over the last two years and stating, “Our patience, and our trust, has now been exhausted. The organisations urge the Prime Minister to ensure that his Government will not abandon its promise of world-leading action for animals that millions of British people are waiting for.

Of the dozens of “game changing welfare measures” pledged in the Action Plan to better protect animals at home and overseas, only around a quarter have been delivered so far. The Kept Animals Bill, containing several Conservative manifesto promises, such as banning live exports for slaughter and fattening and stopping the cruel trade in puppies, has not been given Parliamentary time for over 17 months. The Action Plan’s flagship legislation recognising animal sentience and requiring it to be considered when formulating and implementing Government policy has still not been brought into force.

Claire Bass, senior director of campaigns and public affairs at Humane Society International/UK, said: “The Government’s apparent disinterest and unwillingness to deliver its own Action Plan for animals is frankly baffling. MPs tell us they receive more constituent correspondence calling for better animal protection than any other issue, so passing legislation like the Kept Animals Bill and a ban on fur imports should be an easy and obvious choice in terms of popular policy. But instead, we and animals are enduring endless delays, seemingly deprioritised by this Government despite huge public concern. We urge Mr Sunak to remember his Party’s promises to animals and start delivering the action that they deserve, and voters expect.”

Elisa Allen, PETA vice president of programmes, said: “Animals are in peril, and the government has seemingly abandoned them as time is running out for it to make good on its word. PETA is calling on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to ensure the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill becomes law, along with every other piece of promised pro-animal legislation without further delay.”

Chris Sherwood, RSPCA chief executive, said: “Sadly, animals have been left in limbo by continued inaction on key animal welfare issues by this UK Government. The RSPCA’s landmark Kindness Index found that 80% of people in the UK believe animal welfare should be protected by the government through legislation but sadly we have seen far too little progress from some of the key pledges contained with the UK Government’s Action Plan for Animal Welfare. We urge Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to end the gridlock, revive the Kept Animals Bill and ensure this administration keeps its promises for the nation’s animals – helping deliver a country where all animals are respected and treated with kindness and compassion they deserve.”

Coinciding with the letters, the animal charities held an eye-catching demonstration in Westminster with campaigners dressed as Rishi Sunak and Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey staging a scene of animals being ‘hung out to dry’ on a washing line in front of Downing Street.

National polling carried out in April 2022 shows that Brits want to see the Government follow through on its promises to enhance animal welfare. The poll found 72% of respondents – and 71% of those who voted Conservative in the last general election – would like the Government to pass more laws designed to improve animal welfare and protect animals from cruelty.

  • Photos from the action outside Downing Street can be downloaded here (credit: PETA).
  • The open letter from celebrities to Rishi Sunak can be viewed here. The full list of signatories is:
    Evanna Lynch, Jan Leeming, Dame Joanna Lumley DBE FRGS, Jodie Prenger, Kirsty Gallacher, Leona Lewis, Dr Marc Abraham OBE, Megan McCubbin, Pete Wicks, Peter Egan, Rula Lenska, Dr Scott Miller BVSc MRCVS , Susie Dent, Tracy Edwards MBE, Will Young.
  • The published letter from animal protection NGOs to Rishi Sunak can be viewed here.


Media contact: Sally Ivens, Humane Society International/UK , ; 07590 559299

Dame Joanna Lumley leads celebrities, MPs and Peers in sending giant Mother’s Day card to Defra calling on them to facilitate ‘The Crate Escape’ for mother pigs

Humane Society International / United Kingdom

Compassion in World Farming. The Crate Escape event. The Houses of Parliament, London. © Nacho Rivera

LONDON—New polling data shows that less than one in five people in Britain (19.8%) support the use of pig farrowing crates. Yet, every year on UK farms, over 200,000 mother pigs are confined for up to five weeks at a time in small cages in which they can’t even turn around.

Today, The Crate Escape campaign led by Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation, Humane Society International/UK and Compassion in World Farming held a Parliamentary reception hosted by Mark Francois MP calling on the UK Government to ban farrowing crates and support farmers to transition away from their use. The reception, which was attended by cross-party MPs and Peers, raised awareness of the suffering sows endure when they are forced to spend almost a quarter of their lives in cages so small, they cannot even turn around.

A giant Mother’s Day card signed by dozens of MPs, Peers and celebrities, including Dame Joanna Lumley, was delivered to Defra after the reception. The card asks Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey to ‘please give pigs a happier Mother’s Day’ and urges her to deliver on the Government’s 2021 commitment to launch a consultation for a farrowing crate ban.

The reception coincided with the publication of a new Survation poll [1], carried out in March 2023, which also found that two-thirds of those polled would support the Government providing financial support to farmers to move to free-farrowing methods. Only 15.5% would presently oppose a ban on farrowing crates.

Speaking at the reception, Anna Firth, Conservative MP for Southend West, said: “Pig farrowing is one of the most inhumane, restrictive farming systems still in existence in the UK and the European Union. Pig farrowing crates have to go. […] I’m proud of the fact that this Government has introduced the Animal Health and Welfare Pathway, which amongst many things, pledges to explore reforming our use of pig farrowing crates. So we have a Government that’s committed to a future where this system is no longer necessary, which I commend, but what that means is that we must hold their feet to the fire, we must, all of us, urge this Government to continue putting pressure to make sure that this aim becomes a reality.”

Speaking at the reception, Shadow Defra Spokesperson Baroness Sue Hayman said: “These are mothers. I’m sure I’m not the only mother in the room, how would we feel if it was the practice to put us in a cage […] it’s an absolute outrage, there isn’t any other way of putting it. […] The Government has talked about [banning farrowing crates] so it is time that the UK caught up and actually started the process to make banning an actuality.”

Claire Bass, senior director of campaigns and public affairs at Humane Society International/UK, commented: “Pigs are intelligent and sensitive animals, and the torment they suffer while confined in tiny cages for weeks on end is heartbreaking. Our polling shows that the majority of Brits, over 60%, had not even heard of farrowing crates despite their widespread use. That’s a worrying indication of how disconnected consumers are from the grim reality for animals suffering on factory farms. If we’re truly a nation of animal lovers then we can and must do better than this, mothers should not be kept in cages.”

Lorraine Platt, co-founder of Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation, commented: “We were delighted to see Parliamentarians, NGOs, charities and campaigners come together as one voice in Parliament to call for an end to the use of farrowing crates in the UK. The Crate Escape reception was a clear display of the strong public and political will to end the suffering 60% of our national pig herd endure every year.

We would like to thank our host Mark Francois MP, as well as our other speakers including Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation Head of Research Dr Steve McCulloch, Shadow Defra Spokesperson Baroness Hayman, and our Patron Anna Firth MP. The Crate Escape will continue to support the Government’s aim for farrowing crates to longer be necessary, and we look forward to seeing this objective become a reality.”

James West, senior policy manager at Compassion in World Farming, commented: “Around 200,000 sows are confined in crates in the UK each year. Stuck in pens so narrow that they can barely move, mother pigs are forced to feed their piglets through bars. The use of these cruel cages causes unimaginable suffering.

The UK Government has promised to review the use of cages in British farming, and recent polling shows that the British public want a ban, with less than one in five people supporting the use of farrowing crates. It’s time for the Government to listen to public opinion and take the next step to facilitating The Crate Escape by finally publishing the long-awaited consultation.”


Notes to editor

  1. Polling carried out by Survation via online panel, with 1,074 total respondents, on 2nd-3rd March 2023. Results released on 16th March 2023.

Humane Society International / United Kingdom

Christopher Shoebridge/We Animals Media

Pigs are sensitive and highly intelligent animals, and they are suffering on British farms. Across the UK, around 200,000 mother pigs (sows) are kept in ‘farrowing crates’—cages barely bigger than their own bodies—for up to five weeks at a time, several times a year.

What are farrowing crates?

Shortly before she is due to give birth, a sow would naturally follow her instincts to build a nest to protect and nurture her babies. But on factory farms, sows are instead moved into farrowing crates to give birth. Farrowing crates are metal cages which severely restrict a sow’s movement.

Sows on factory farms are forced to spend much of their lives behind bars. A typical sow spends almost a quarter (22%) of her adult breeding life in a farrowing crate only slightly larger than she is, preventing her from turning around or caring for her newborn piglets in the ways she naturally would. This is the devastating reality for around 60% of mother pigs in the UK. Investigations show that living in such cramped conditions can clearly cause mental distress for the sows, and physical wounds from repeated rubbing against the bars are common.

Farrowing crates are used by some British farmers as an attempt to reduce piglet mortality; however, in well-designed and well-managed free-farrowing pens, piglet mortality can be as low as, or even lower than, in farrowing crates.

What’s the alternative to using farrowing crates?

Several indoor free-farrowing systems are commercially available and in use in a number of countries, including the UK. These systems permit the sow to move freely, whilst still reducing the risk of piglet mortality. Free-farrowing systems designed and produced in Britain are being used in the UK, USA and Canada. Farrowing crates have already been banned or severely restricted in Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Austria and Germany, and the European Commission has pledged to end the use of cages and crates for farming animals.

Banning farrowing crates

Humane Society International/UK has joined forces with Compassion in World Farming and Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation for ‘The Crate Escape’—our campaign calling on the UK Government to outlaw the use of pig farrowing crates. The Government committed to review the use of farrowing crates in 2021, and it’s time for them to follow through on this commitment, starting with a consultation. We need our politicians, as well as major retailers, to financially support pig farmers to transition away from using farrowing crates.

HSI/UK commissioned a poll that revealed that less than 1 in 5 surveyed people support the use of farrowing crates on British farms.

Take action to ban farrowing crates.

You can also help animals at every meal by taking them off your plate.


Humane Society International / United Kingdom

Around 40% of pigs on British farms are already crate-free, but we need the government to support farmers to make that 100%.

British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force chef instructors tried their hands at creating plant-based meals in a culinary masterclass held by Humane Society International/UK, Veganuary and Plant Futures

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


LONDON—Military chef instructors from across the Royal Navy, British Army, Royal Air Force and Civil Service have taken part in a masterclass on plant-based cuisine as part of a culinary training workshop held by Humane Society International/UK, Veganuary and Plant Futures.

Chef instructors from the UK Defence Food Services Training Wing at Worthy Down, Winchester, undertook HSI/UK’s Forward Food training in January. The session covered the fundamentals of making 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, resulting in dishes such as oyster mushroom tacos with corn salsa, soba noodles in a rich umami broth topped with crunchy fresh vegetables, and creamy chickpea and butternut squash curry served with flatbreads and onion bhajis. Drawing on her experience of cooking on ships and in remote locations, Jenny advised the chefs on how to create healthy vegan meals even when working in small kitchens with limited equipment, such as in the field or on naval ships at sea.

The chef instructors also tried a variety of new and innovative products from across the plant-based industry at the Plant Futures innovation table, and took home goody bags filled with vegan food products courtesy of Veganuary.

Charlie Huson, HSI/UK’s Forward Food programme manager, said: “Delivering a Forward Food workshop to the chef instructors at Worthy Down was a pleasure. They were keen to learn how to create tasty, healthy plant-based dishes and are now well-placed to pass on this knowledge to their students. With more and more people reducing their consumption of animal products, HSI/UK’s Forward Food programme is equipping chefs with the skills to meet the rising demand for plant-based options. By supporting organisations like the Ministry of Defence – which serves millions of meals to military personnel every week – to put more plants on plates, we can help reduce demand for factory farming and combat climate change.”

Hannah Weller, corporate engagement manager for Veganuary, said: “Veganuary was delighted to have worked closely with Plant Futures and HSI/UK to make this plant-based culinary masterclass happen. The kitchen was filled with energy and creativity as the MOD chef instructors created colourful plant-based dishes, packed full of flavour which were a big hit with the military personnel who got to sample it all. Members of the MOD Veg Network, which joined the Veganuary Workplace Challenge this year, loved the food and are looking forward to seeing more plant-based meals in their mess halls soon! We look forward to working with the MOD further to support them on their plant-based journey.”

Indy Kaur of Plant Futures said: “It is an important moment in food when we see plant-based foods and new cooking techniques start to be integrated across all culinary disciplines. Highlighting the importance plant-based foods play in delivering diversified protein sources, healthy and wholesome nutrition and providing good hearty meals. A momentous occasion as we acknowledge this first of its kind workshop and continuing our conversations. With thanks to the MOD and Veg Network for their enthusiasm and drive to make this event happen along with HSI/UK and Veganuary, a good team effort all round!”

Major Javed Johl RLC, Food Services Training Wing, said: “As diets of choice increase in popularity among the UK public, the Armed Forces must reflect this in our offer to service personnel. Upskilling our Chef Instructors at the Food Services Training Wing is the first step to achieving this. In collaboration with HSI/UK, we have laid the foundations of introducing a healthier and more sustainable diet across the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force.”

Members of the MOD Vegan and Vegetarian Network attended tasting sessions throughout the day, and discussed following a plant-based diet while serving in the military.

It has been widely recognised that on average, animal-based products have higher greenhouse gas emissions than plant-based options. Reducing meat and dairy consumption presents a critical opportunity to decrease both the number of animals suffering on farms and the greenhouse gas emissions associated with animal-derived food.

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 plant-based options across the country and helping people make compassionate culinary choices.

About HSI’s Forward Food programme:

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


Media contact: Sally Ivens, senior media and communications manager, HSI/UK : ;07590 559299

HSI/UK releases footage of animal suffering on fur farms in China, which exports millions of pounds worth of fur to the UK, renewing calls for a UK import and sales ban

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


LONDON—Heart-wrenching scenes of baby foxes, raccoon dogs and minks suffering on Chinese fur farms have been released by Humane Society International/UK as the animal protection charity renews calls for a ban on UK fur imports and sales. Millions of pounds worth of fur from China is imported into Britain every year, despite the UK having banned fur farming two decades ago on ethical grounds.

HSI’s investigation at nine fur farms in northern China — one of the world’s largest fur producing countries — focuses on a side of the fur trade rarely exposed in investigations, the suffering of babies and their mothers forced to live in cramped, filthy, unnatural conditions. Many of the older animals were found to be exhibiting behaviours signifying psychological distress, such as repetitively pacing their tiny cages. The film also showed a raccoon dog cub struggling to walk on wire mesh floor in a cage, adult foxes peering out from cages barely longer than their body length, and mink circling around in dirty cages, above piles of excrement.

Fur farming has been illegal in the UK since the Fur Farming (Prohibition) Acts came into force in 2003. Despite this, His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs records show that £28,492,281 of fur has been imported to the UK from China in the last five years. HSI/UK is 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 Humane Society International/UK, said: “HSI’s latest investigation has once again highlighted the inhumane treatment animals suffer as fur fashion victims. The fur trade would prefer that the grim realities of fur farming were out of sight and out of mind, but as a country we owe it to these animals not to turn away, and to stop being complicit in their suffering. Many Britons will be horrified to find out that it is perfectly legal for fur from farms like those we investigated to be sold in Britain. A fur sales ban has the backing of over three quarters of the public, and should be an open goal for this Government to deliver on its ambition to be a world leader in animal welfare.”

National polling carried out in April 2022 revealed that 77% of British citizens think the Government should ban the importation of animal products such as fur, where the production methods are already banned in the UK. The #FurFreeBritain campaign has so far gathered over 1.1 million petition signatures calling on the UK to ban fur imports and sales.

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.”

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. Around 30,000 responses were submitted before the consultation closed in June 2021, but 18 months on, officials are yet to release the results, or set out a policy response.

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Media contact: Sally Ivens: 07590 559299;

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