Animal Welfare

EU Animal Welfare Centre designated to Fur Animals


Oct 14 2019 - The European Commission has designated the second EU Reference Centre for Animal Welfare to the welfare of poultry and other "small farmed animals", effectively covering species farmed for their fur in Europe. The centre is constituted of a consortium formed by the Agence Nationale de Sécurité Sanitaire de l’Alimentation (France), and also composed of the Institut de Recerca I Tecnologia Agroalimentàries (Spain), Aarhus Universitet – Institut for Husdyrvidenskab (Denmark), and Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Lombardia e dell'Emilia Romagna (Italy). Paradoxically, animal lobby groups earlier this year protested against an Animal Welfare Reference Centre designated farmed fur animals, and vegan lobby group Four Paws raised this objection again at a meeting at the EU Platform on Animal Welfare on 7 October. However, now former Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis replied that if fur farming is based on science and animal welfare standards "it is not his business to ban the activity." He referred to his own upbringing in Siberia where fur clothes were necessary to keep warm. A new institution in the EU, the Reference Centres represent an important part of European animal welfare policy. The Reference Centres aim to improve the enforcement of the legislation on animal welfare, which is one of the Commission's priorities. They also contribute to the dissemination of good practices on animal welfare in the EU. In particular, by providing scientific and technical expertise, carrying out studies and developing methods for improving and assessing the welfare level of animals. The second EU Reference Centre for Animal Welfare will start operating in 2020.

Animal Welfare

It is time for a new European animal welfare law


Oct 08 2019 - EU’s animal welfare legislation is not comprehensive enough. This is the clear-cut conclusion of a survey undertaken amongst EU’s 28 chief veterinary officers on commission of the Finnish Presidency. No less than 88 percent of the 24 vets who responded to the questionnaire are in favour of stricter animal welfare legislation, Politico reports. "This is a very clear message from the state vets, and it matches the expectations of the European people, who repeatedly ask for more animal welfare according to the annual Eurobarometer surveys. I think it’s time to seriously consider a European animal welfare framework Law," Mette Lykke Nielsen, CEO of Fur Europe, said. The idea of having a single EU animal welfare framework law enjoyed support from 63 percent of the countries in the survey, while 87 percent said there is a need for additional legislation on areas where no detailed laws are in place at the moment. A whopping 91 percent answered that animal welfare should have a more central role in EU trade agreements with third-countries. EU has not adopted any animal welfare legislation since the killing method regulation from 2009. It is widely recognised in Brussels circles that this is due to animal welfare simply not being high on the political agenda. The Finnish Presidency however, seems determined to change that with the likely outcome being a European Council conclusion by the end of Finland’s term. Conclusions are adopted by the by consensus between all EU Member States and used to identify specific issues of concern, and influence EU’s policy agenda. "Animal welfare is clearly a common European matter, and all parts of our society is pointing in the same direction. We believe EU should take the cue and lead the way on animal welfare. When EU is passive on animal welfare they leave a room for all kinds of radical animal initiatives, and to be honest I think both people and animals are best off if we approach animal welfare with a base in scientific knowledge rather than emotional hysteria," Mette Lykke Nielsen said. She points out that EU already has the tools to efficiently improve animal welfare standards in Europe from the Welfare Quality project, the largest animal welfare project in the world to date, which set out to develop principles for animal welfare assessment from a multidisciplinary perspective. The European fur sector’s WelFur programme is based on and peer-reviewed against these principles. "WelFur has already been validated and adopted in the European Commission’s database for self-regulations. Soon we will have the assessment data ready and thus a clear picture of our welfare standards. The extensive data set is also the starting point for future welfare improvements as well as new research, for example under the umbrella of the new animal welfare reference centre for fur animals. This is the real quality of WelFur and Welfare Quality," Mette Lykke Nielsen said.

Animal Welfare

WelFur meets animal welfare standards of Kering Group


Sep 07 2019 - International luxury group Kering, who amongst its brands counts Gucci, Yves Saint Lauren and Alexander McQueen have published their animal welfare standards earlier this year. The European fur sector’s science-based animal welfare programme WelFur is highlighted in the report as it meets the ‘Kering Animal Welfare Standard’ for farmed fur. In addition to farmed fur, the Kering animal welfare standards apply to raw materials sourced from cattle, calves, goats, sheep, ostrich, crocodiles, alligators and python. "Improving the welfare of animals must be an imperative for our industry and Kering wants to amplify the focus of attention from a few species to all of the animals, including livestock, within fashion’s global supply chains. We hope for widespread adoption of the standards through collaborating with our suppliers, our peers in luxury, the fashion industry at large, and with the food sector, in these shared supply chains to ultimately shift how we, as a society, treat animals and nature," said Marie-Claire Daveu, Chief Sustainability Officer and Head of International institutional affairs, Kering. CEO of Fur Europe Mette Lykke Nielsen thinks the development within Kering is positive. "I can only applaud Kering for putting forward strict animal welfare demands to suppliers of natural fibres from animals. When WelFur was initiated it was exactly with the purpose to document the good animal welfare on European fur farms. Because of Kering's animal welfare initiative, we have worked with them professionally for a while, so I know from experience they do not take these things lightly," she said.

Animal Welfare

Fur animal welfare: New WelFur protocol is underway


May 23 2019 - While the science-based animal welfare programme WelFur currently is being implemented on 3.200 mink and fox farms across Europe, the development of science-based measurements for a much less known fur animal are quietly underway. Finnraccoon, also known as a raccoon dog, is farmed commercially in Finland, and the production counted 160.000 pelts in 2018. Right now a pilot phase is taking place in which animal welfare researchers are testing the validity of measurements, while at the same time the calculation model is being developed. The new protocol - that effectively work as a manual for the independent third-party assessors - will be handed over to an external review committee by the end of the year. The committee will review the protocol for its scientific validity and alignment with the methodology and principles of the European Commission’s Welfare Quality protocols. “All animals matter, also when the production is quite small. The WelFur protocols developed for mink and fox are already a success before consumers can buy products from certified farms. As the only animal welfare programme in the world, WelFur has been obtained in the European Commission’s self-regulation database, and Fur Europe’s board did not hesitate in deciding to move on with a finnraccoon protocol,” CEO of Fur Europe, Mette Lykke Nielsen, says. Recently, it was also revealed that fur farmed species will be a part of the European Commission’s next reference centre for animal welfare together with poultry and rabbits. The reference centres gather species-specific animal welfare expertise across Europe, and Mette Lykke Nielsen is pleased with the focus on scientific knowledge: “We think independent, scientific knowledge should underpin decisions on animal welfare. The WelFur protocols are dynamic, scientific tools, and the protocols and score system will change as new research and better welfare measurements emerge. WelFur is based on animal indicators, and while everybody knows animal indicators are ‘state of the art’ in animal welfare assessment, the fur sector is the first industry to implement animal indicators across an entire continent,” Mette Lykke Nielsen says.

Animal Welfare

European Commission to establish centre for fur animal welfare


Apr 16 2019 - Despite massive protests from the animal lobby the European Commission have confirmed the establishing of a new EU supported animal welfare centre focusing on fur animals. International animal lobby NGO Four Paws has called the Commission’s plan “an unprecedented scandal”, but in spite of the massive protests, the Commission has now launched the call for European universities, who in cooperation will form the so-called EU Reference Centre for Animal Welfare. The centre will start in January 2020, and its focus is fur farmed species in addition to poultry and rabbits. “It’s beyond my understanding how animal welfare NGOs can be against more animal welfare research, but I applaud the Commission for siding with science, not populistic opinion, in this matter,” Mette Lykke Nielsen, CEO of Fur Europe said. In January, the European Commission added the fur sector’s animal welfare programme WelFur to the European Commission’s Self-Regulation Database. It is the first time ever an animal welfare programme has been added to this database, and it means the animal welfare programme has been scrutinised by the European Commission’s experts and found credible and robust enough for legislation purposes. The Brussels-based umbrella organisation Eurogroup for Animals who organises the protests against Commissioner Andriukaitis, encourages European Parliament election candidates to “oppose initiatives which provide EU endorsement to the fur industry”, but the animal lobby’s current focus on fur does not worry Mette Lykke Nielsen: “It is exactly because of many years’ pressure from the surrounding society the European fur sector is way ahead on animal welfare. We welcome the decision of the European Commission to include fur animals in the next EU hub for animal welfare expertise in Europe. It stresses that EU holds fur farming in high regard because we are working professionally with animal welfare, and we are demonstrating this with the ongoing implementation of our science-based animal welfare programme WelFur. The animal lobby has worked intensively to prevent fur from being included in the reference centre. It appears to me that by doing this they reveal their intentions are guided by ideology rather than a genuine wish to improve animal welfare,” Mette Lykke Nielsen says. The purpose of the EU reference centres for animal welfare is to gather existing scientific knowledge and contribute to the dissemination of good practices on animal welfare in the EU. The scientific and technical expertise of the centres are to be used to carrying out studies and developing methods for animal welfare assessment and –improvement.

Animal Welfare

WelFur gets stamp of approval by the European Commission


Jan 16 2019 - The European fur sector’s animal welfare programme WelFur has been endorsed by the European Commission as a Self-Regulation and Co-Regulation Initiative. It is the first animal welfare programme ever to be promoted in the Commission’s databaseof so-called ‘soft law’ initiatives. “The European Commission does not promote whitewashing, so it is a recognition of the credibility of WelFur and it shows the fur industry works responsibly with animal welfare and society,” Mette Lykke Nielsen, CEO of Fur Europe, says. Fur Europe is the umbrella organisation for the whole value chain of the European fur sector. Amongst other things, the Commission’s description of WelFur reads: “WelFur is a science-based, practical and reliable on-farm assessment systems as an instrument to monitor and improve welfare and demonstrate, in a transparent way, good animal welfare practices.” All programmes promoted under the Self-Regulation and Co-Regulation Initiative must go through an evaluation process in which the programmes are assessed against a range of principles, including stakeholder participation, transparency, reliability, feasibility and legal compliance. Consequently, programmes promoted under the Self-Regulation and Co-Regulation Initiative are quite often the backdrop for binding legislation, and this is the very purpose for Fur Europe. “Fur Europe supports the idea of taking binding animal welfare legislation to the next level, whether this is at national or EU levels. WelFur assesses the animals rather than the housing system. It is dynamic and future-proof, and it comes with serious sanctions towards non-complying farmers. If someone looks at fur animal legislation, there is real no reason to look elsewhere, because WelFur is exactly what animal experts recommend,” Mette Lykke Nielsen says. WelFur is developed by independent scientists at seven European universities, and is being implemented on 3.500 European mink and fox farms in the period 2017-2020.