Mink Farms Do Not Contribute to the Spread of COVID-19
Jun 08, 2020 by Mick Madsen
In the wake of the global Covid-19 pandemic, mink farming has achieved special attention following the outbreak of COVID-19 on three mink farms in The Netherlands in late April. Several other animals including cats, dogs, tigers, monkeys, bats, hamsters and ferrets, have proved susceptible to SARS CoV-2. The outbreak on mink farms in The Netherlands, however, also indicated the first case of animal-to-human transmission of the virus. Naturally, this gives rise to speculations about mink farming’s potential risk to public health, sometimes fueled by animal rights organisations, who are already opposed to fur farming for ideological reasons. In an extension of this, we would like to stress that mink farms are not contributing to the spread of Covid-19 amongst the human population. Both expert- and government bodies across the world continue to maintain there is no evidence of animals playing a significant role in spreading the virus that causes Covid-19. To illustrate the point, there are almost seven million people in the world, who have been infected by Covid-19 via human-to-human transmission, at the time of writing. By comparison, there are two cases of mink-to-human transmission (none of these is actually confirmed with 100% certainty). No more cases have occurred following the introduction of protective gear on infected farms in The Netherlands. As the virus is found to spread via droplets, it is furthermore unlikely that virus will spread over greater distances and make up a risk to for example neighbours to mink farms. This is further confirmed in research collecting dust and air samples the outside infected Dutch mink farms. The fur sector has issued extensive biosecurity guidelines to all mink farmers across the world. Naturally, it is our objective to keep SARS CoV-2 out of the farms in the first place. We are committed to the health of animals and people, and the guidelines are subject to updates should relevant new knowledge emerge, or other developments require it. A total of 13 mink farms in The Netherlands were found to be infected by the coronavirus. In all cases, the source of transmission is believed to be farm employees. On 3 June 2020, the Dutch Ministry of Health decided to cull the herds on these mink farms. Mink farmers have been financially compensated for their loss this year and can return to production next season. In summary: • Mink farms do not contribute to the spread of Covid-19 amongst human populations • Extensive biosecurity guidelines have been issued to mink farmers across the world • We monitor the situation closely and work together with fur associations, experts and national authorities to safeguard human and animal health
Other Stories In This Issue
Change in Fashion? Experts Say It is Now or Never
Jun 09, 2020 by Vladislava Gospodinova
The coronavirus is a chance for the fashion industry to start over, claim leading fashion experts. Leading industry professions see in Covid-19 an opportunity for the apparel and footwear industry to reinvent itself and move away from the mass production, contributing to its daunting environmental impact. "We will have to pick up the residue and reinvent everything from scratch once the virus is under control. And this is where I am hopeful for: another and better system, to be put in place with more respect for human labour and conditions," said Li Edelkoort, one of the world's most influential trend forecasters, advising fashion companies and brands around the world in an interview for Dezeen. According to the trend forecaster, the coronavirus epidemic also caused a "quarantine of consumption" which could change profoundly the way people think of fashion.
How we got here?The global health crisis caused by COVID 19 triggered an economic recession for the fashion sector, but also raised questions about overproduction and excessive consumerism driving the fast fashion industry. With retail shops closed and supply chains disrupted, warehouses started filling up with unsold overstock, exposing the unsustainability of fast fashion business model. Fearing the economic fallout, people started prioritising purchases and demand for fashion products dropped. Studies show that 65 % of consumers in Europe and the US decreased their spending on apparel and footwear. The result – products manufactured before the outbreak are filling the shelves of warehouses, for which even online shopping is not a remedy. Designed to create fast profit by producing, using and disposing of a product, the fast fashion has been evading any environmental responsibility for a long time. Now, combined with the unravelling health crisis and an economic recession, the fast fashion model, becomes a recipe for disaster with social and environmental implications. With high street brands pumping out as many as 10-15 collections per year, questions about the overstock are arising. According to The State of Fashion 2020 Coronavirus Update high-street fashion brands will try to sell the old collections at discounts to compensate for lost profit and lure consumers back in shops. This could harm small retailers and manufacturers, who don't have the same competitive advantage as the multinationals and don't manufacture products in advance. The report warns of the possibility that fast fashion brands could resort to old tricks such as sending clothes to incarceration. However, this could be a risky move triggering a backlash. Given the complexity of the situation, many experts are trying to promote more sustainable alternatives. In an interview for Euronews, the head of British Fashion Council (BFC) Caroline Rush said that upcycling the excess stock of garments could reduce to their environmental impact and prevent waste. "My optimism is, as we go through this, that we really think about the inventory challenge that we're facing for this season, and use that as a unique opportunity to really think down the line: what will happen to that stock, where will it go?" said Caroline Rush. According to her, fashion designers should be compelled to consider recycling their excess stock of garments, "so that the product we have is re-used, shredded, goes back into new yarns and created for the future". However, when it comes to recycling in fashion, statistics are grim - only less than 1% of all textiles worldwide are recycled into new textiles.
A Catalyst for ChangeGlobal crises are known to trigger an unexpected change in consumers behaviour. After the 2008 financial crisis, many people shifted to "fewer, but better" philosophy by investing in good quality timeless goods rather than buying into volumes. Now experts predict a further rise in popularity of slow fashion, a shift led by consumers trying to be more responsible in their purchases. This could also mean a surge in the repair services and second-hand shops as a means to prolong the lifespan of clothes. These two aspects of both slow fashion and fur also offer more affordable opportunities for consumers. "People are keener than ever before to celebrate longevity and imperfection in clothes, particularly now that we are so aware of the impact our throw-away culture is having on the planet," said Suzie de Rohan Willner from the British slow fashion label Toast for Vogue. Isolation gave time to consumers to slow down and rethink their entire approach towards fashion, consumerism and sustainability. "Climate change is the next great challenge we need to address together, and this pandemic is forcing us to acknowledge that economic, environmental and human health are all deeply interconnected, and meaningful solutions will only be possible if integration, collaboration and transparency are at the forefront of a new industry paradigm," said SAC Executive Director Amina Razvi. Economists estimate that despite the contraction of 27 to 30 %, the fashion would also be among the first one to recover. But a crisis is always a catalyst for change. Many hope that now, facing consumers demand for a change, the global apparel and footwear industry would finally do what it was promising for a long time – slow down and take responsibility.
EU Needs Compehensive Legislation on Animal Welfare
Jun 09, 2020 by Vladislava Gospodinova
The European Fur community welcomes the recent publication of a roadmap for the evaluation of the EU legislation on the welfare of farmed animals. The Fitness Check is part of the actions on animal welfare foreseen by the Farm to Fork Strategy to help the European Commission reflect on what further legislative and non-legislative actions are needed to align the EU’s animal welfare regulatory framework with the objectives of the F2F Strategy and the Green Deal. According to the fur sector, a simplified legislative framework and appropriate communication and information to consumers are the two critical aspects for a successful strategy. Far before the release of the F2F Strategy, Fur Europe has been advocating in favour of a single and comprehensive EU legislative framework for animal welfare. Up to now, the legislation mostly includes general provisions (e.g. Directive 98/58/EC concerning the protection of animals kept for farming purposes) and some rules regarding species-specific issues but no overarching legislation. Thus, various animal production systems and different parts of the value chain are covered by differing requirements, which has caused a fragmentation of animal welfare rules for livestock. The solution against this fragmentation is the adoption of a single and comprehensive Animal Welfare Framework Law on the model of Regulation (EU) 2016/429 on transmissible animal diseases (‘Animal Health Law’). The latter lays down general and specific rules for the prevention and control of transmissible animal diseases and ensures a harmonised approach to animal health across the EU. Similarly, a comparable Framework Regulation for animal welfare should apply to the entire EU livestock sector to streamline the amount of existing legislative acts and identify a harmonised set of science-based animal welfare principles. This includes clarity of duties and harmonised training for all actors of the value chain (farmers, transporters, vets, competent authorities), a uniform AW assessment methodology and sharing of good practices between the Member States. A new legislative framework will only be effective if it leads to a shift from input-based to output-based indicators. Animal scientists called for adopting animal-based indicators as a way to measure animals’ wellbeing rather than resource-based as they look directly at the individual animal and assess their physical and mental states. The WelFur programme, developed and launched by the fur sector in 2009, is a good example of such an approach. The Welfur certification requires three farm assessments and the maintenance of the certificate involves one assessment per year. It covers all EU fur farms, and without it, fur farmers cannot sell their production via international fur auction houses. Despite total compliance with animal welfare requirements and private industry initiatives like WelFur, often, consumers’ knowledge of animal welfare is not based on the reality of farming systems but prejudices and received ideas. The mismatch is often attributed to the disconnection between the rural and urban world. European farmers rely on adequate communication to help consumers understand fully the animal welfare improvements taking place on farms. Adequate discussion about animal welfare should start with a clear definition and explanations about measuring methods expending beyond emotions and anthropomorphism. In this regard, the EU should take a position in favour of fact-based and science-based indicators for animal welfare. But the Union also has another role; to encourage certification and labelling systems based on science and third-party assessments, on the model of WelFur, through financial and non-financial incentives. Such a move could steer consumers’ purchasing habits through reliable product information and offer a commercial advantage to producers adopting responsible practices. Such a step would be in line with the increased transparency foreseen by the F2F Strategy and is directly linked to the objective of improving animal welfare within the EU livestock sector. Fur Europe will gladly bring its contribution to the European Commission’s fitness check by hoping that Commission will agree that AW is not a cost but an asset. Farmers’ livelihoods depend on the quality of their products, which in turn depends on the good health and welfare farmers provide to animals. This asset requires an overarching Animal Welfare Framework Law relying on science and fostering transparency and labelling schemes.
We already know fur has long life time. Here is how it gets longer
May 19, 2020 by Mick Madsen
There is a technical lifetime to clothing, and then there is a social life of clothing. The technical lifetime is about the physical strength of materials, how long does it last without breaking or ‘wear out’. "A product like natural fur has the technical potential for long lifetime, so it is important to work with the social side," said Ingun Grimstad Klepp, a research professor at Consumption Research Norway, Oslo Metropolitan University. She conducts research on sustainable textile and clothing, with a particular focus on the user-phase of clothing. This area of clothing is somewhat underexposed in the sustainability debate, yet understanding how and why people wear their clothes is critically important to reduce the environmental impact of fashion. This is based on the simple observation that the more we wear the same clothes, the less we will buy new, resource-demanding clothes. The user-phase of clothes can be studied empirically as the connection between material and cultural aspects of clothing and consumption. Here you can find answers to why some garments become favourite clothes, while other garments are hardly used, if ever. Lifetime is impacted by a number of social or cultural factors, important ones being whether the clothes fit, and what use we have for the particular types of clothes in our wardrobes – active outdoor people will utilise outdoor garments more excessively. What is ‘in fashion’ is less important to active use than people may think, but reflects that active use of clothing sometimes changes over time. "Waterproof suits became more used when the design became more light and functional. A wedding dress, on the other hand, will not be worn more than once by the same user," Ingun Klepp said.