Party for the Animals calls for a European ban on mink farming

20 ינואר 2021

To prevent future pandemics we should end the production of mink fur, Party for the Animals’ MEP Anja Hazekamp urged the European Commission last week. ‘Introduce a European ban on mink breeding as soon as possible,’ she said. ‘Or do you think the breeding and gassing of mink for fur is more important than the health of employees and neighbours of these companies, and of the rest of the world's population?’. Only by means of a ban on the production -and- import of fur can we prevent fur farmers from simply moving their business abroad, Hazekamp warns.

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Anja Hazekamp’s contribution during last week’s Agricultural meeting of the European Parliament.

Factories of infectious diseases
In the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic, it has become obvious that fur farms pose a serious risk to public health. Since the first cases of COVID-19 in mink were detected in April 2020 on fur farms in the Netherlands, it has become evident that these animals are highly susceptible to the coronavirus and that the virus easily jumps back and forth between humans and mink. With the subsequent discovery of the coronavirus on mink farms in Denmark, Sweden, Greece, Italy, Spain, Lithuania, France, Poland and the US, it can now be reasonably concluded that the industry is literally sickening.

In Denmark, where COVID-19 was confirmed on 289 of its 1147 fur farms, scientist discovered that dangerous mutations in a mink variant of the virus had already spread to human populations and could potentially undermine the efficacy of future vaccines. The Danish government decided to cull all mink and to enact a temporary breeding ban. Yet cases of Danish mink-related mutations of the virus have shown up in people as far afield as South Africa and Switzerland, where these animals are not even bred.

‘I really do not understand why there is a lot of attention for the British and South African variants of the coronavirus - and rightly so - but not nearly as much for the mutations occurring in the fur industry,’ Party for the Animals’ MEP Anja Hazekamp said. ‘Besides being inhumane, mink farms are in fact factories of infectious diseases. Keeping thousands of animals crammed together under chronically stressful and unnatural circumstances is simply irresponsible.’

With the world's economy and society already disrupted, and the health of millions of people at stake, the Party for the Animals finds it indefensible that potential disease reservoirs continue to exist in animal populations cruelly farmed for a luxury product. As early as May 2020 it therefore posed written questions to the European Commission, asking the Commission to help bring a European ban about. ‘That was 8 months ago’, Hazekamp points out. ‘What are you waiting for? Please. Stop this ticking time bomb, before it’s too late.’

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Protest to end mink farming in the Netherlands, with Esther Ouwehand, leader of the Dutch Party for the Animals.

No future for fur
The good news is, there is already little future in fur. Fur industry fortunes have been plummeting for some time, even before COVID-19. The interest in fur has been declining and major fashion houses, such as Gucci and Versace, have decided to remove fur from their collections. Ever more European Member States have taken legislative action to ban and phase-out fur farming.

In the Netherlands, the long-term pressure by the Party for the Animals and corona finally brought about the permanent closure of all mink farms after years of resistance by the mink farmers. ‘This is an enormous breakthrough: we finally put an end to the killing of animals for their fur in the Netherlands,’ according to Esther Ouwehand, leader of the Dutch Party for the Animals. However, the party adds, animal suffering and health risks continue to exist as long as the Netherlands keeps facilitating fur industries abroad. It therefore urges the government to take the next step: a ban on the import of fur. A proposal to that end was adopted in Dutch Parliament two months ago.

According to Anja Hazekamp the Dutch fur industry has built up an international distribution network, in which the production of fur is being outsourced to Romania and other countries, while the fur is sold in the Netherlands. ‘Now the Dutch government should be consequent: it has rightly abolished fur farming, now it should ban the import of fur from abroad’. And, as Hazekamp warned during the online conference she co-organized with Humane Society International: we have to prevent Dutch mink farmers to simply move and extend their activities abroad. ‘I look forward to the day when we can end the suffering of all animals on fur farms and see a completely fur-free Europe!’

Outside Europe, bans on fur have been issued on a council level, for example in England and throughout the United States. Our Australian sister party Animal Justice Party successfully campaigned for a ban on fur in Sydney and several other councils across the continent last year.