Subject: End the cruel and deadly fur trade before it causes the next pandemic
The fur trade is a deadly business. Every year, around 100 million animals suffer and are killed for their fur. The vast majority are kept on intensive fur farms. Animals including fox, mink, raccoon dogs and chinchillas are kept for their entire lives in tiny wire cages, before being killed and skinned for so-called fashion.
Not only do these battery cage systems cause immense animal suffering, they are also now proven to present a serious public-health risk. The cramped conditions, poor hygiene, stress, injuries and disease, minimal veterinary care and lack of genetic diversity all mean that fur farms create ideal conditions for viruses to be transmitted and for viruses to mutate creating new strains.
Hundreds of mink farms in countries, including the Netherlands, USA, Denmark, Sweden, Italy, France, Greece, Spain and Lithuania, have been found to have animals infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19. On farms in Denmark, the virus has already mutated into new strains, which have, in turn, infected people. Disease prevention experts have expressed grave concerns, including the European Centre for Disease Control who stated in a November report that the evolution of the virus in mink could undermine the effectiveness of future vaccines in humans. The report also found that "continued transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in mink farms may eventually give rise to other variants of concern".
Governments cannot respond to this crisis simply by culling millions of animals and then allowing farmers to return to business as usual. The appalling conditions on fur farms make them a ticking time bomb for pandemic disease risk. Disease transmission experts warn that it is a matter of when, and not if, another deadly virus hits if we continue to keep animals in conditions that push them beyond the limits of their physical and psychological endurance.
Twenty countries have already acted to ban the farming of animals for their fur because it is cruel, outdated and unnecessary. In light of new evidence that fur farms can also act as reservoirs for deadly viruses, as well as create new viruses, we call on all countries to ban fur farms, and we call on G20 leaders to publicly acknowledge that fur farming must end.