Pamela Anderson Urges Danish Prime Minister To ‘Protect’ Public Health And Ban Fur
‘I hope you’ll respond by banning fur farms in Denmark, which would protect public health and spare countless animals miserable lives and violent deaths’
Celebrity actor and vegan advocate Pamela Anderson is urging the Danish Prime Minister to ban fur.
The Baywatch star’s demand follows multiple COVID-19 outbreaks on mink fur farms across Europe and the States. Moreover, the COVID-19 mink variant found on a Danish fur far could spark a new coronavirus pandemic, experts warn.
Anderson has therefore written Mette Frederiksen a letter, saying ‘now is the time for action’.
She wrote: “Like many people around the globe, I was alarmed to hear that a new, mutated strain of the novel coronavirus—one that could have ‘devastating consequences worldwide’ as you rightly pointed out—has been found in minks on Danish fur farms and that this strain has infected several humans.
“I hope you’ll respond by banning fur farms in Denmark, which would protect public health and spare countless animals miserable lives and violent deaths.”
‘Out of favor’
Anderson continues, describing fur as ‘out of favor’ even before the current pandemic. She says most designers and retailers such as Prada, Gucci and Ralph Lauren have already banned mink fur.
“Now is the time for action,” the star added. “Please, for everyone’s sake, ban [these] cruel, dangerous fur farms.”
Video shows mink pulled from cages and thrown ‘like rubbish’ into gas chambers on Dutch fur farms
Old news from 23 November 2020
Mink were pulled from cages by their tails or hind legs and hurled into mobile gas chambers on fur farms in the Netherlands, video footage has revealed. The rough handling of the animals breaks EU animal-welfare regulations.
Animal rights campaigners said the video shows a behind-the-scenes view of the cruelty of the Dutch industry, which is closing next year. It also highlights the need for the UK to stop sales of real fur, they added.
The footage, secretly shot on two farms last week by Dutch group Animal Rights, shows the animals being pulled roughly from cages and thrown one after the other towards mobile gas chambers, sometimes from a great distance.
In one clip, the mink are heard screeching with alarm or pain.
And workers are seen with their anti-coronavirus masks below their noses.
Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK said: “Live mink are seen being yanked from their cage by the tail or hind leg, in clear breach of EU regulations, and tossed like trash into the mobile gas chamber one after the other in quick succession.
The speed with which these sentient animals are thrown in together means they will almost certainly be dying in front of each other, again in breach of the rules.”
WAV Comment – “Denmark’s health ministry said last week that the C5 mink variant was “very likely extinct”. Well what else would you expect ? – time will tell over the coming weeks and months. Denmark is the world’s largest exporter of mink fur, and so we would expect nothing but an ‘all is ok, no need to worry’ from the health ministry.
By the way, we have still NOT had any response from the Danish Ambassador in London re our letter of the Danish mink cull situation. See:
We wonder why ? – do they not have answers or are things just so jumbled and up in the air, despite what the health ministry says ?
We also say ‘Karma’ – Denmark is now reaping what it sowed years ago by becoming involved with the fur trade. We have no sympathy.
Escaped infected Danish mink could spread Covid in wild
Scientists fear fur farm animals in wild could create ‘lasting’ Covid reservoir that could then spread back to humans
Escaped mink carrying the virus that causes Covid-19 could potentially infect Denmark’s wild animals, raising fears of a permanent Sars-CoV-2 reservoir from which new virus variants could be reintroduced to humans.
Denmark, the world’s largest exporter of mink fur, announced in early November that it would cull the country’s farmed mink after discovering a mutated version of the virus that could have jeopardised the efficacy of future vaccines.
Around 10 million mink have been killed to date. Fur industry sources expect the fur from the remaining 5 million to 7 million mink will be sold.
A number of Covid mink variants were identified by Denmark’s state-owned research body the Statens Serum Institut, but only one, known as C5, raised vaccine efficacy concerns. However, Denmark’s health ministry said last week that the C5 mink variant was “very likely extinct”.
Mink are known to regularly escape fur farms and the risk that infected mink are now in the wild was confirmed on Thursday.
“Every year, a few thousand mink escape. We know that because they are an invasive species and every year hunters and trappers kill a few thousand wild mink. The population of escaped mink is quite stable,” said Sten Mortensen, veterinary research manager at the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration.
This year, Mortensen said, there was a risk that about 5% of the minks that escaped from farms were infected with Covid-19.
The risk of the escapees infecting other animals was low, he said, because mink were “very solitary creatures”. But, if they did, the animals most likely to catch the virus would include wild animals such as ferrets and raccoon dogs and “susceptible domestic animals” such as cats.
The most likely transmission route, he said, would be by an animal eating an infected mink or via their faeces.
Mink do not normally die from Covid-19, he added. “Once a mink has had Covid it usually recovers well. Some might have a few days of respiratory difficulty, but most recover and develop immunity.”
The risk of Sars-CoV-2 moving into wild populations has drawn concern from other scientists. Prof Joanne Santini, a microbiologist at University College London, said that, once in the wild, “it will become extremely difficult to control its further spread to animals and then back to humans”.
Transmission to the wild meant “the virus could broaden its host-range [and] infect other species of animals that it wouldn’t ordinarily be able to infect”, Santini said.
Prof Marion Koopmans, head of viroscience at Rotterdam’s Erasmus University, in an email to the Guardian, said: “Sars-CoV-2 could potentially continue to circulate in large-scale farms or be introduced to escaped and wild mustelids [weasels, badgers, otters, ferrets, martens, minks, and wolverines] or other wildlife” and then “in theory, as avian flu and swine influenza viruses do, continue to evolve in their animal hosts, constituting a permanent pandemic threat to humans and animals.”
In the US, there are hopes a mink vaccine will soon be ready. Dr John Easley, vet and research director at the Fur Commission USA said he hoped “one of three vaccine possibilities” would be available by spring for mink farmers in the US and beyond.
However, a mink vaccine is a contentious issue for animal welfare organisations. “Instead of dealing with the fact that the appalling conditions of high-volume, low-welfare fur farming make mink so vulnerable to disease in the first place, it’s easier to distract everyone with talk of a vaccine that could be used like a yearly sticking plaster to compensate for the consequences of those poor welfare conditions,” said Wendy Higgins of Humane Society International.
Polish scientists have identifies the first cases of coronavirus in mink at a farm in the north of the country.
The Medical University of Gdansk said that eight animals were found to be infected at a breeding farm in the Pomeranian Voivodeship.
Poland, a major producer of mink fur, started coronavirus tests among its farmed mink and workers this month after a mutation of the virus was found in Denmark.
Veterinary and sanitary authorities in Poland said last week that 18 coronavirus cases had been identifies among mink farmworkers since the start of the pandemic, but it was unlikely that to have been spread by the animals.
“The obtained results indicate the possibility of transmission of the virus from humans to minks,” the Medical University of Gdansk said in a statement.
Poland is the world’s third-largest fur producer after China and Denmark, according to animal rights groups that are campaigning for an end to breeding animals like mink for fur.
Hungary Bans Fur Farming Of Minks, Foxes And Ferrets Due To ‘Public Health Concerns’ Amid COIVD-19
The announcement follows a slew of COVID-19 outbreaks on mink fur farms across the globe
Hungary has announced a ban on mink fur farming due to ‘public health concerns of zoonotic diseases’.
The ban also includes the farming of foxes, polecats/ferrets, and coypu. However, it does not include chinchilla.
The news follows COVID-19 outbreaks on slew of mink fur farms across the globe. Reports now suggest the COVID-19 variant found on a Danish mink fur farm could spark a new coronavirus pandemic.
‘A good outcome for human health’
Dr. Joanna Swabe is the senior director of public affairs for Humane Society International/Europe.
In a statement sent to Plant Based News she ‘applaued’ the Hungarian government for enacting the ban.
Swabe said: “Although these species are not currently farmed for fur in the country… This ban is more than just symbol politics. There’s a very real and present danger that fur farmers from elsewhere in Europe may attempt to move their operations to Hungary.
“This is a precautionary measure that shuts the door to that happening. [It] is a good outcome for human health and animal welfare.”
‘Make fur farming history’
Moreover, Swabe points out the ban ‘fails’ to include chinchila, who ‘could also be susceptible to viruses’.
She added: “As long as the animal exploitation of fur farming is tolerated, the potential for reservoirs of animal to human pathogens will persist….
“HSI hopes that the Hungarian government will also consider strengthening its ban by shutting down the country’s chinchilla fur farms too, and make fur farming history in Hungary.”
Europe’s fur industry is back in the spotlight after Denmark’s mass culling of millions of mink following an outbreak of coronavirus at farms in the country.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced that all mink would be slaughtered. Denmark is the world’s biggest mink producer, farming up to 17 million of the animals, and Covid has swept through a quarter of its 1,000 mink farms.
Officials say this “reservoir” of disease poses a significant health risk for humans, and worry that mutations detected in mink-related strains of the virus might compromise a future vaccine.
But images of mink mass graves and farmers in tears were followed by outcry after the government admitted its order had no legal basis. The agriculture minister has since resigned. On Saturday hundreds of tractors drove into central Copenhagen to protest about the handling of the crisis. There have also been protests in the cities of Aalborg and Aarhus.
The proposed ban on mink farming until 2022 now has parliamentary backing but negotiations over compensation are dragging out.
Authorities say all 288 infected herds have been killed and they have put down approximately 10 million animals. It is believed the majority of remaining mink on farms where no infection was detected have also been killed. In a short while, Denmark’s fur industry has almost been wiped out. Around 6,000 jobs are at risk.
“It is a de facto permanent closure and liquidation of the fur industry,” said Danish Mink Breeders Association chairman Tage Pedersen in a statement. “This affects not only the mink breeders, but entire communities.”
Mink farmer Per Thyrrestrup doubts business will ever come back: “To have the same quality of the skins, to have the same colour – it’s going to be 15 to 20 years before that’s possible.”
The world’s largest fur auction house, Kopenhagen Fur, has also announced a “controlled shutdown” over two to three years until this season’s pelts and older stockpiles are sold.
Thousands of buyers, mostly from China, once flocked to auctions held in the Danish capital. It has been a giant in the business, trading 25 million Danish and foreign furs last year.
But even before the pandemic struck, there were signs it was struggling.
A decade ago trade boomed, fuelled by an appetite for luxury goods as Chinese incomes grew. In 2013, Kopenhagen Fur sold about $2bn (£1.5bn) of furs, with global mink production worth $4.3bn.
Mink pelts then cost over $90 (£69) each, but the bubble burst and last year skins fetched only a third of that. Local farmers have struggled to make money – and it is a pattern seen elsewhere. China is by far the biggest fur importer, but it is a major producer too.
Else Skjold, head of fashion at the Royal Danish Academy, says this competition has driven prices down: “A lot of new farmers went into the market and so there was simply an overflow of fur.”
There’s also significant fur farming across Europe. In 2018 there were 4,350 fur farms in 24 European countries, says industry group Fur Europe. Poland, the Netherlands, Finland, Lithuania and Greece are the biggest producers after Denmark – though the US, Canada and Russia also operate farms.
Since the cull began prices have shot up. “People were concerned that there might be a shortage,” says Mark Oaten, chief executive of the International Fur Federation (IFF). Denmark accounts for at least a quarter of the global mink trade.
No mink farmer tested positive to mink-related coronavirus in France so far..
France has ordered the culling of one thousand minks after lab analyses detected a mutated version of the coronavirus in one farm.
All animals at a farm in the Eure-et-Loire region of Western France will be culled and all animal products will be eliminated, the French government said in a statement published on the website of the Ministry of Agriculture.
French authorities have been testing four mink farms since mid-November after a mutated coronavirus strain that threatened to make future vaccines less effective was found in mink farms in Denmark.
Tests found no trace of mutated strains of the virus in one of the four mink farms.
Analyses are still underway in the other two farms, and results are expected by the end of the week. If they come back positive, the French government says it will order the culling of all minks on the farms.
So far, all French farmers in contact with minks have tested negative to the coronavirus, the French government said. Preventive measures remain in place in all the farms.
Several mutated strains of the coronavirus have circulated since the beginning of the pandemic.
But the discovery of one strain, which Danish scientists called “cluster five”, in mink farms in Denmark alarmed many public health experts worldwide because it appeared to be less sensitive to antibodies developed by people who had already had Covid-19.
The Danish government decided to cull its entire mink population – between 15 and 17 million – after scientists found that 12 people had been infected with the mutated strain. They said the strain posed “a major risk to public health”.
Coronavirus cases in mink have since also been reported elsewhere in Europe, notably in Sweden, Greece and the Netherlands.
Coronavirus pandemic in France: Authorities cull minks after finding virus at farm – France 24
French authorities ordered the culling of all minks in a farm after analysis showed a mutated version of the coronavirus was circulating among the animals. The French government said in a statement Sunday that about 1,000 minks have been culled and all animal products have been eliminated in the farm located west of Paris.
Now France slaughters its mink: Up to 1,000 animals are culled at farm in western France after Covid positive test after cases in Denmark, Sweden, Greece and the Netherlands
Mink infected with coronavirus been found in France and are set to be culled
One thousand mink will be slaughtered after tests identified the virus at a farm
Officials locked down swathes of northern Denmark where variant originated.
Mink infected with coronavirus have been found in France and are set to be culled after the virus was detected at a farm in the western part of the country.
One thousand mink will be slaughtered after tests identified the virus at a farm in the Eure-et-Loire region of western France after the country started testing its four mink farms in mid-November.
It comes after officials locked down swathes of northern Denmark where a new Covid-19 variant originated and ordered the culling of 17million mink earlier this month in a bid to stomp out the strain before it became widespread.
Cases in mink have also been reported elsewhere in Europe, notably in Sweden, Greece and the Netherlands.
A French Ministry spokesman said: ‘At this stage, tests have shown the virus circulating in an Eure-et-Loire farm.
‘A second farm is unscathed. Tests are still under way in the last two farms, with results expected during the week.’
The new Covid-19 variant — called Cluster 5 — caused global panic after it was found to be resistant to antibodies, substances made by the body to fight off infections.
It was feared Cluster 5 would be able to slip past promising new Covid-19 vaccines, which work by stimulating an antibody response.
Officials locked down swathes of northern Denmark where the strain originated and ordered the culling of 17million mink earlier this month in a bid to stomp out the variant before it became widespread.
In a statement today, the country’s health ministry said there had been ‘no new cases of Cluster 5 since September 15’ which led it to conclude it ‘has most likely been eradicated’.
Scientists believe the mutant virus jumped from fur farm workers to mink in the summer before it was passed back to humans. As it crossed between species, a mutation occurred on its ‘spike’ protein, which it uses to enter human cells. It was significant because the leading vaccine candidates work by targeting this protein.
When news about the new strain broke earlier this month, Britain banned non-British citizens returning from Denmark and introduced strict quarantine rules for any Brit who’d recently returned from the country.
At the time, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned the mutated could have ‘grave consequences’ if it became widespread.
The Danish health ministry said in a statement on Thursday : ‘There have been no new cases of the Cluster 5 mink mutation since September 15, which has led to the Danish infectious disease authority SSI to conclude that this variant has most likely been eradicated.’
The Government said most of the strict lockdown rules imposed on November 5 on seven municipalities in North Jutland would be lifted on Friday. They had originally been due to stay in place until December 3.
Cluster 5 has only been found in 13 people living in the region, which is home to 280,000 people.
All minks in the seven municipalities have been culled, totalling 10.2 million, and the slaughter is still ongoing in other parts of the country.
With three times more minks than people, the Scandinavian country is the world’s biggest exporter, selling pelts for around £596million ($792m) annually, and the second-biggest producer behind China.
Farmers living in regions of Denmark not affected by the mutated strain of Covid-19 are still allowed to sell mink fur — but must still kill all their livestock this month.
Five different strains of mutant mink coronavirus have been spotted in 214 people in Denmark since June.
Analysis by Denmark’s State Serum Institute revealed only Cluster 5 was less sensitive to antibodies.
Antibodies are disease-fighting proteins made and stored by the immune system to fight off invaders in the future by latching onto their spike proteins.
But if they are unable to recognise proteins because they have mutated, it means the body may struggle to attack a virus the second time and lead to a second infection.
It raised fears the new strain could be harder to treat or vaccinate against.
It is not uncommon for viruses to be able to jump between humans and other animals – which was also the case for H5N1, or bird flu, and H1N1, swine flu.
The sole purpose of any virus is to replicate as many times as possible. So when a virus jumps from one species to another it naturally mutates to adapt to a new host.
With Covid-19, tiny changes in its DNA occurred when it was passed to mink. It means that when the virus was passed back to humans its biology was different, so it may behave differently to other strains while inside humans.
It’s not just mink: Foxes and raccoon dogs on fur farms ‘may infect humans with coronaviruses’, scientists warn
Exclusive: The whole industry has the potential to act as a virus factory, say animal-welfare activists
Other animals reared for their fur – such as foxes and raccoon dogs – can catch coronaviruses and pass it to humans, scientists have warned, after millions of mink across Europe were culled over fears they could spread Covid-19.
The World Organisation for Animal Health has advised countries to monitor for infection “susceptible animals, such as mink and racoon dogs”, as well as humans in close contact with them.
A scientific paper this summer warned that raccoon dogs “are susceptible to and efficiently transmit” Covid-19 and “may serve as intermediate host” for it – meaning they may transmit Covid-19 to people.
It prompted animal-protection lobbyists to claim “all fur farming has the potential to act as a virus factory”.
A scientific paper in 2004 reported that foxes in a wildlife market in Guanzhou, China, were found to have been infected with Sars-CoV, which causes Sars, another type of coronavirus.
It’s estimated that more than 32 million foxes and raccoon dogs are held in fur farms around the world, their pelts mostly destined for markets in Asia.
An outbreak of coronavirus in mink in Denmark earlier this month prompted the country to begin a cull of all 17 million of the animals on its fur farms. Some were suffering a mutated form of the virus, which infected more than 200 people.
Governments in four other countries – Spain, Greece, the Netherlands and Ireland – have also issued orders or advice to cull their farmed mink populations.
Experts are worried that the new human coronavirus vaccines may not be effective against mutated strains.
The British Fur Trade Association insists that species other than mink, “such as fox and wild fur” are not affected by the virus. It says fur farms worldwide have put in place extensive biosecurity measures after the mink outbreaks.
But the paper by 17 scientists stated that raccoon dogs “were suspected as potential intermediate host for both SARS-CoV6 and SARS-CoV2”. The authors wrote: “Rapid, high-level virus shedding, in combination with minor clinical signs and pathohistological changes… highlight the role of raccoon dogs as a potential intermediate host.
“The results are highly relevant for control strategies and emphasise the risk that raccoon dogs may represent a potential SARS-CoV-2 reservoir.”
Raccoon dogs in a wildlife market in Shenzhen, China, were also found to have been infected with Sars.
Christian Drosten, director the Institute of Virology at the Charité Hospital in Berlin, has even suggested fur-farm raccoon dogs, rather than pangolins, were the source of Covid-19, telling The Guardian earlier this year: “Raccoon dogs are a massive industry in China, where they are bred on farms and caught in the wild for their fur. If somebody gave me a few hundred thousand bucks and free access to China to find the source of the virus, I would look in places where raccoon dogs are bred.”
Most zoonotic diseases in modern times, from the 1918 flu pandemic onwards, have had animal origins, with viruses infecting humans emerging from birds, farmed animals and wild hunted animals.
The stress of being caged literally drives animals mad and also suppresses their immunity, making them especially susceptible to disease, scientists say.
Globally, 94 million animals are farmed for their fur, including 61 million mink, 20.1 million foxes and 12.4 million raccoon dogs, according to figures from Humane Society International, with China the biggest single fur-producing country.
The UK has banned fur farming but still imports of real fur. The value of imports rose from about £55m in 2016 to £70m-£75m in the following two years, but then last year fell back to £55.9m last year, according to HMRC figures.
Raccoon dogs, which originate in Asia and are distant cousins of foxes, are a separate species from raccoons, natives of America.
Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International (HSI) who has visited fur farms, said: “Fox and raccoon dogs who are reared for fur in their millions across Europe, China and north America can also become infected with SARS-CoV-related viruses, and considering the appalling conditions in which these animals are forced to live, it’s little wonder that fur farms have the potential to act like virus factories.
“If we learn anything from the tragic scenes of mink culls, it must be that we cannot continue to exploit and push animals beyond the limit of their endurance, not only causing them immense suffering but also putting human lives at risk, all for a frivolous fur fashion item that nobody needs.”
HSI says the fur trade has been “in freefall” for several years, with average pelt prices at auction houses dropping and growing numbers of financial institutions, including Standard Chartered and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, adopting policies not to invest in the trade.
Ms Bass said the fact that the virus had spread and mutated within stressed mink populations was “another major nail in the coffin” of the fur industry, and accused the UK of being complicit in the cruelty by importing fur.
A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “Fur farming has rightly been banned in this country for nearly 20 years. Once our future relationship with the EU has been established, there will be an opportunity for the government to consider further steps it could take in relation to fur sales.
“We have also co-created the leaders’ pledge for nature, which includes a commitment to working globally to address the links between how we treat our planet and the emergence of infectious diseases.”
The Independent has asked the British Fur Trade Association and the International Fur Federation to comment.