To: Sir Terrence Leahy, the Chief Executive of Tesco,
Tesco House, PO Box 44, Delamare Road, Cheshunt, Herts, EN8 9SL
We, the undersigned, hereby strongly urge you to cease selling live turtles for food at your stores in China.
To farm, sell and butcher live turtles for food in your stores in China is unacceptable to us all.
To allow your customers to take home live turtles for food, to kill them in any way they wish, is not only unacceptable, but against the moral and animal welfare values we all hold.
We feel that your company has turned its back on your UK customer and public values, in search of profit in China. This is seen as an insult to the people who made Tesco what it is, the same customers who will now decide whether they want their money to be used in this way.
For the reasons above, we urge you to reconsider and stop the activity of selling live turtles for food in China.
The aim of this Petition.
Conservation - Reasons (3)
(Barbara Maas - Care for the Wild International )
Reason 1 - Threat of extinction.
Two thirds of the world’s turtles are threatened with extinction.
For Asian species, the figure is 75%. This is primarily the result of human consumption.
- Despite legislation restricting trade in many turtle species, enforcement is weak, and many internationally and nationally protected species still find their way onto Chinese plates.
- Up to 20 million turtles a year are consumed in China, and in 2000 alone, 25 tons were imported from Sumatra each week.
- Any action that endorses or participates in this devastating trade pushes wild turtles one step closer to extinction.
Reason 2 - Wild population hunting.
Turtle farming does not eliminate hunting pressures on wild populations and represents a major threat to the survival of wild turtles.
- Successive generations of farm-raised turtles show a marked decrease in reproductive capability. Farms therefore rely on supplementing existing stocks with wild-caught individuals. Wild turtles are also caught to establish new breeding facilities.
- Turtle species on farms are hybridised and escape into the wild, and high levels of parasites and water-born pollutants are discharged into the environment. Turtle farms therefore also endanger the health and viability of local wildlife.
- Chinese consumers believe that wild-caught individuals possess more potent tonic qualities. Wild turtles therefore continue to be exploited.
Reason 3 - Threatened Species
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists the sole remaining species of soft shell turtle sold in Tesco’s Chinese outlets, the Chinese softshell turtle (Pelodiscus sinensis), as Vulnerable as a result of harvesting for food.
- This means that Pelodiscus sinensis “is facing a high risk of extinction in the wild in the medium-term” as a result of population reduction.
- Because of the reasons set out under reason 1 and 2, Tesco should therefore cease all live turtle sales in its Chinese stores, including those of Pelodiscus sinensis.
" ... these turtles keep their heads out of the shell and can be beheaded easily ... ".
Photo: J Amato
Animal Welfare - Inhumane Killing
( Paul Davis - Turtlesco )
Tesco butcher these turtles while they are still alive, with no pre stunning. The procedure used to butcher them is to cut the head off and then to crush it.
Until the head is correctly crushed, destroying the brain, the turtle can remain conscious throughout the procedure. If the head is not correctly crushed, the turtle's severed head can continue to remain conscious for up to an hour before it dies.
These turtles are known to move their neck and head with lightning speed and can easily withdraw into their shell ( shown HERE ). This can make the butchering task very unpredictable and far from easy, only prolonging the pain and suffering of the turtle while it is being butchered ALIVE.
Clifford Warwick a leading Turtle expert has stated,
" ........ Tesco are way off the mark with their ill-informed conclusion re soft shelled turtles that:
Not only is it not a simple matter to decapitate these turtles when their head is extended ( because they are highly mobile , fast and elastic movers - often causing a bit of the head to be chopped off ) but also they commonly keep their head in, which they are very capable of doing!
Further, crushing the hard skull is itself notoriously unpredictable ...... "
A customer can choose to have the turtle they have purchased butchered alive in the supermarket, or they can choose to take the turtle home to end its life in whatever manner they choose, before cooking and eating it.
If any of you are unaware of how turtles can be killed in China, or feel that there is not an urgent need to sign this petition, here is a VERY GRAPHIC animation to help show you why your signature is very much needed.
VERY GRAPHIC ANIMATION
What the experts say ...........
(In no intended order)
"Cruelty and evil can never be excused on the grounds of 'culture'. The infliction of horrendous suffering on sentient beings of any kind is universally wrong, and all the more so when the motive is simply to make a quick profit. Companies operating multinationally have a moral duty to uphold and disseminate the best standards and highest ideals, not to sink to the level of the very lowest and most debased practices that exist wherever they do business. Make no mistake - in this case Tesco have descended into the gutter. The level of suffering they are daily inflicting upon live animals in their Chinese stores would result in criminal charges being laid against them were they to repeat these acts of barbarity in the UK.
For Tesco to claim that "it would be wrong" for them to cease the sale of live turtles and frogs because these practices are part of Chinese culture is absurd. If gross cruelty is a part of a culture, then that culture needs to change. Would Tesco willingly sell dogs to be tortured to death in Korea? Would they sell 'bushmeat' from primates in Africa? Would they sell whale meat in Japan? The answer would appear to be "Yes, they would" - and indeed, they already have offered whale meat in their Japanese stores. They were forced to retreat when a major consumer backlash in Europe threatened.
I do not believe most UK consumers will wish to support a company that behaves like this. Tesco need to learn that their customers have some moral and ethical standards, even if they don't. Demand that Tesco cease all involvement in this inhumane, grossly damaging trade.
Until they do, shop elsewhere."
Andy C. Highfield
"In my view, in the history of human-animal abuse few events are more brutal, inhumane and ecologically damaging than the current massive harvestation of turtles as food in China. Chinese culture is establishing itself as the world's centre of animal disregard, inhumanity and death. It is a stain on the reputation of the Orient.
As a specialist advisor on aspects of humane treatment of reptiles, I can dismiss at once Tesco's claim to have imposed any form of acceptable killing method.
That Tesco presently has its hands well and truly soaked in the blood of the disreputable business of selling live turtles as food is something that is set to tarnish Tesco for many years to come. Common decency should dictate that where protective laws are feeble or absent, moral standards should be at their compensatory greatest. Instead, Tesco have taken full advantage of the lack of animal protection in China to maximise their already weighty profits."
Clifford Warwick PGDipPHC(Med) CBiol EurProBiol FRSH FRIPH FIBiol
“China has no animal welfare standards of any kind and Tesco are happy to take advantage of that. They claim they demand ‘high standards of animal welfare’ but you couldn’t get worse welfare than this. They excuse it as being part of Chinese culture. Thanks largely to our patron Heather Mills, the EU has just voted to ban all cat and dog fur from China because of the abject cruelty of skinning animals alive. The British people have made a stand against cruelty in China, so has the EU and yet here is Tesco excusing it. Obviously every little helps when it comes to profit.”
Justin Kerswell - Vegetarians International Voice for Animals
"I see this as a two part situation. The first concerns the capture and sale of wild caught turtles. Turtles are very long-lived animals which, under normal conditions, have a combination of high adult survival and very low hatchling and juvenile survival. Low recruitment into a population is offset by the long breeding life of the adults under normal circumstances. These chelonian traits are what make them so resilient to external pressures with the exception of removal of the adults from the population. When an adult turtle is removed from the wild it is not just that turtle that is being removed, but also the reproductive potential of that animal over a breeding life that may exceed 50 years. Research has shown that there is no compensation of increased hatchling survival in response to a reduced adult population. (Brooks, Brown, Galbraith. 1991)
As a result removal of even a few adults from a population can result in the decline and eventual loss of the entire population. (Congdon)
An example of this can be seen in the extirpation of a healthy and protected Glyptemys insculpta population in just a decade after the area was opened to recreational usage. It is assumed that the sole difference in conditions was the removal of occasional adults by recreational users. (Garber and Burger. 1995).
Brad Compton noted similar results with Glyptemys insculpta in Maine. Compton found that reproductive recruitment declines as adults are continually removed. Compton built a demographic model to estimate the effect of the annual removal of a small number of adults from a hypothetical population of wood turtles. The model indicated that removal of a single adult annually from a stable population of 100 adult turtles would cause a 60% decline in over 100 years, and that removal of two animals annually would extirpate the population in less than 80 years. (Compton)
The second situation applies to the humane treatment of captive raised "farmed" stock.
Turtles have evolved to be highly tolerant of low oxygen environments as can be seen by the ability to hold their breaths for extended periods. As a result of this decapitation is not an acceptable method for killing prior to slaughter. The turtle experiences pain and awareness long after a typical mammalian species would. The only humane method of ending the life of a turtle or tortoise that I know of outside a veterinary laboratory would be destruction of the brainstem by captive bolt.
As wild turtles can not be removed without harming the species as a whole and the slaughter of farmed animals can not be done humanly under existing conditions, I fully support the separation of any commercial business from any aspect of turtles for the food trade.
Turtles are a precious natural resource, seeing them and yes, holding them as well, is a part of growing up that should be experienced by all children. Sadly this experience will disappear we do not protect our existing populations."
Director - World Chelonian Trust
Turtle Survival Alliance - Steering Committee Member
IUCN Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group- member
IUCN / TSA Indotestudo elongata Taxon Management Group Point Person
"China’s hunger for turtle meat has sparked an extinction crisis. By selling freshwater turtles for food in their Chinese outlets, Tesco acts as an accessory to the escalating conservation demise of these species. Care for the Wild International has been campaigning to dissuade Tesco from selling live frogs and turtles for food in its Chinese outlets since June 2006. Although Tesco introduced changes to address some of the animal welfare problems associated with selling live turtles after assessing information provided by Care for the Wild International and carrying out its own research, these changes don’t go far enough.
Two-fifths of the world’s tortoises and freshwater turtles and three quarters of Asian species are threatened with extinction as a result of human consumption. Despite legislation restricting trade in many turtle species, enforcement is weak, and many protected species still find their way onto Chinese plates. Any action that endorses or participates in this devastating trade pushes wild turtles one step closer to extinction. No western supermarket should have a hand in the extermination of these imperilled animals.
Tesco argues that turtles sold in its stores are farmed, but this does not mean there is no impact on wild populations. Recently published research by confirmed that turtle farming too represents a major threat to the survival of wild turtles. Conditions on turtle farms and during transport are poor and animals are over-crowded, which affects their welfare. In-store display for these sub-tropical to temperate species too is inappropriate (e.g. on ice or in nets), raising further significant concerns. Consumers believe that wild-caught individuals possess better potent tonic qualities. Wild turtles therefore continue to be exploited. Successive generations of farm-raised turtles show a marked decrease in reproductive capability. Farms therefore rely on supplementing existing stocks with wild-caught individuals. Wild turtles are also caught to establish new breeding facilities. Turtle species on farms are hybridised and escape into the wild, and high levels of parasites and water-born pollutants are discharged into the environment. Turtle farms therefore also endanger the health and viability of local wildlife.
The softshell turtle Pelodiscus sinensis is now the only species Tesco currently sells. But Pelodiscus sinensis is listed as 'Vulnerable’ in the Red List of Endangered Species, as a direct result of harvesting for food. This means that this species faces a high risk of extinction in the medium-term.
Selling softshell turtles for food supports a destructive market that is fuelling a global extinction crisis, and Tesco should therefore cease all live turtle sales in its Chinese stores".
Dr Barbara Maas
Care for the Wild International
With no legal protection for animals in China, the scale of suffering is unimaginable. Instead of promoting a more compassionate consumerism, Tesco hides behind "cultural differences" and "consumer choice" and cashes in on this suffering. Turtles are complex creatures with complex needs but Tesco apparently cares little for the pain they endure. Is there nothing this corporate giant won't do to add a few pounds more to its profits?
"Decapitation will not cause immediate loss of consciousness in a reptile. Unconsciousness will occur when the oxygen concentration in the brain falls below a critical level. This takes up to an hour in a reptile because the rate at which reptile tissues consume oxygen is much lower than that of mammals.
Decapitation is an acceptable method of killing only if the brain is rendered unconscious prior to, during, or immediately after the procedure. Prior to decapitation the captive animals will be stressed, and the longer they are held the greater the suffering that is caused. Between decapitation and destruction of the brain the animal will be experiencing the pain of the wound inflicted.
It is good practice, and essential to the welfare of the animals killed, that each animal is confirmed insensible before the next is started. In a method of killing that requires the operator to be skilful and consistent if it is to be humane, the batches of animals killed should be small.
The procedures described in the Chinese facility do cause suffering to the turtles.
Presumably the practice is permitted because suffering in a reptile is not considered significant."
Robert Reynolds BVSc CertzooMed MRCVS
What the Professionals say ...........
(In no intended order)
"I was astounded to hear that Tesco are supporting this appalling practice. You have done a great public service in drawing this to widespread public attention. "
JONATHAN EVANS MEP (Wales)
Chairman Transatlantic Legislators Dialogue
“That Tesco in China butchers live turtles in a way which causes extreme suffering is despicable and should be stopped. Its UK customers would be appalled to hear this practice exists, so you are to be commended for raising its awareness. The fact that this is being done to an endangered species makes it even worse, yet again highlighting that commercial interests are too often allowed to trample on the fragile biodiversity of the planet.”
Liberal Democrat MEP for the West Midlands
“The sale of live animals for customers to kill in anyway they like is completely unacceptable, whatever animal we’re talking - and wherever it takes place.
“If we’re talking about species which are endangered from a conservation point of view it’s not only cruel – it’s completely unethical from a bio-diversity point of view.”
“Minimum animal welfare standards should be adopted everywhere, and their enforcement should be a condition of doing business for any firm or country wanting to trade with or set up shop in the EU. This should be a top priory of the regulation of world trade, and until it is we must all put pressure on Tesco – and all other businesses engaged in such unacceptable practises – to stop, now.”
I support Turtlesco’s campaign to stamp out this barbaric trade and I urge you to join me and sign its petition. This isn’t about the imperialistic imposition of Western standards on China – it’s about respecting common minimum welfare standards for animals worldwide.”
Dr Caroline Lucas MEP (Green Party, South-East England)
"As a UK-based firm, TESCO should follow UK animal welfare standards in its food stores abroad and not promote practices which are cruel and also threaten conservation of rare species."
Dr Phyllis Starkey MP
Labour Member of Parliament for Milton Keynes South West
"I fully support the campaign to stop Tesco to sell living turtles. Many species of turtles are indeed endangered, and that is reason enough to stop selling turtles. Mankind should learn to respect animals and avoid in any case unnecessary and cruel killing of all animals. Turtles in particular are vunerable and they deserve our full respect and protection. They deserve respect from Tesco!"
Dr. Dorette Corbey, MEP
Party of European Socialists
Jean Lambert MEP
"Britain is often seen as leading the way in the practice of high animal welfare standards. Corporate social responsibility is supposed to drive standards upwards. Companies should therefore be adopting high welfare standards abroad as well as at home. By selling live turtles in China, Tesco are demonstrating that this is clearly not happening: they are not meeting their animal welfare responsibilities."
“This trade is absolutely barbaric. Tesco must lead the way in exporting good practice to China, and abandoning this dreadful practice immediately. The world needs food, and this must be done sustainably and humanely. There is no excuse for the sale and butchering of turtles”
Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson for Guildford
What the Celebrities say ...........
(In no intended order)
Photo: Russ Gurley (Turtle and Tortoise Preservation Group)
Tesco have been provided with the information that is displayed here and asked to immediately stop selling and butchering live turtles in China.
One would expect any ethical and moral company to instantly cease selling and butchering live turtles to ensure that their activity is humane and in the interests of conservation.
Against all the advice shown here, Tesco it appears are quite happy to shun all the expert advice and work against what the World is trying to achive in the fields of conservation and animal welfare.
Tesco it appears are quite happy to continue to sell and butcher live turtles, in their daily search for profit.
This sadly is a Company that promotes itself as being Green !
Sir Terry Leahy, Tesco's Chief Executive, was knighted by the country where the public have mainly supported Tesco policies and helped make it what it is. The same country that now also looks to Sir Terry Leahy to advise its Prime Minister Gordon Brown on the Business Council for Britain.
Sir Terry Leahy - Your reputation is seriously being tainted by the blood of these turtles and your apparent disregard for the conservation issues set before you. This will be further damaged in the eyes of the World, and in the Country that has afforded you the positions you hold there, if you do not immediately cease selling and butchering live turtles in China.
Paul N Davis