Cat and Dog Fur Sept03
East Anglia shoppers
may be unwittingly encouraging a cruel trade in cat and dog fur when they
buy hats, gloves, shoes and cuddly toys. Over 2 million cats and dogs are
slaughtered each year in China alone, in order to satisfy demand in Europe
and it has been estimated that 66 tonnes of cat and dog fur was imported
into Britain in 2001.
These animals are
raised, and in some cases farmed, under deplorable conditions and then
killed either by stabbing or hanging. Occasionally, they are even skinned
alive. After being turned into full-length coats, fur trimmings, or
linings in ski boots and gloves, these goods are purposefully mislabelled
as rabbit, fox or simply as fake fur. This trade in cat and dog fur is not
only an act of barbaric animal cruelty, it is a blatant display of
consumer fraud since most of us are unaware of what we may be purchasing.
At a Council of
Agriculture Ministers meeting in November last year, eight ministers from
the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Austria, the Netherlands and Denmark
strongly supported Sweden's request for an EU-wide ban on sales, as well
as imports and exports of cat and dog fur and skins. However, EU Health
and Consumer Protection Commissioner, David Byrne, argued that this is not
an EU-wide problem and that it should be up to individual countries to
address the issue.
I disagree with the
Commissioner as this is clearly a matter for EU control. The EU's single
market with open borders allows these goods to make their way easily from
one member state to another. While Italy has already banned such sales,
individual state action is not enough. Only a complete EU-wide ban will
put an end to this barbaric trade.
Instead of outlawing
the trade, the British government has so far simply welcomed a voluntary
labelling scheme which is being set up by the fur trade itself as of this
month. This scheme is not compulsory and will do nothing to stop the trade
in dog and cat fur.
In the European Parliament this week, we have
submitted a declaration requesting the European Commission to immediately
draft a regulation under internal market powers to ban the import, export,
sale and production of cat and dog furs and skins across Europe. If the
declaration is signed by more than half of the 626 MEPs, an outright EU-wide ban on the cat and dog fur trade
will then become the policy of the European Parliament.
I urge consumers and
animal lovers across Suffolk and Essex to put pressure on their local
Westminster MPs to raise this matter with the Government and to write to
Commissioner Byrne (European Commission, Rue de la Loi 200, B-1049
Brussels, Belgium) demanding that he take immediate action to ban the
import, export and sale of these products.
I will continue to push
this issue in the European Parliament until this cruel trade is stamped