Animal rightists have been badgering the UK government to ban the fur retail trade for years, and with their country…
Animal rightists have been badgering the UK government to ban the fur retail trade for years, and with their country now out of the EU and no longer bound by its laws, the government is seriously considering giving them what they want. Such a precedent would give a major boost to animal rights activists lobbying for similar restrictions in other European countries, and even the US and Canada. So while the UK may not be a major consumer market, it is imperative that anyone who supports the responsible use of animals should now take action to ensure that a UK fur-sales ban doesn't happen.
Of course, it's easy to feel jaded when it comes to the UK, and even write it off as a lost cause. After all, despite a long and noble history of championing responsible animal welfare, this tiny island is now a breeding ground for virulent animal rightists, right up there with California. Plus, few British people wear fur anyway, so does it really matter?
The answer is yes, it matters. Courtesy of its language, its history, the Beatles, and a host of other factors, the UK's influence on global trends is unquestionably profound. If the British decide to ban fur retail sales, animal rights campaigners will surely hold it up as a model for other countries – and their legions of Anglophiles – to follow.
The danger is especially evident when we consider who now has the ear of Prime Minister Boris Johnson. On May 29, he married Carrie Symonds. Who is Ms. Symonds? Well, for one thing she believes that "Anyone that wants to buy fur really is sick." She was also PETA UK's 2020 Person of the Year. And she's sleeping with the PM...
Now for the "good" news. Rather than just diving in head first with a ban, the government's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is testing the water thoroughly first. This it is doing by inviting everyone – including foreigners – to partake in a "call for evidence", with a deadline of June 28. The process is easy too: just click on DEFRA's online questionnaire and let your voice be heard. And as an added bonus, it will send you a link to download a PDF of your responses once you're done.
(Note: Don't be confused by the questionnaire's reference to Great Britain, rather than the UK. GB refers to England, Scotland and Wales, as the other UK member, Northern Ireland, remains in the EU Customs Union and will be unaffected by a ban.)
The questionnaire is also refreshingly different from previous polls on the fur trade. Rather than asking how we feel about fur, with multiple choices ranging from "Strongly approve" to "Strongly disapprove", almost all the 39 questions are looking for solid information. And there's something for everyone, so ignore the ones that don't apply, and let rip on the others.
Something for Everyone
Question 11, for example, is for ranting, if you so choose. "What is your attitude towards the import and/or sale and/or export of fur or fur products in GB?" it asks. TAF, however, opted for restraint, given our status as a voice for the trade. "It's a legal, regulated activity that should be allowed to continue," we wrote. "The government should always be vigilant about sources of fur to ensure only fur that is harvested humanely exists in the marketplace. However, it would be overreach on the part of government to ban all trade in fur, as this would be forcing the views of one sector of society on everyone. The UK is supposed to be a democracy in which everyone's views are respected. Banning fur would be a move in the wrong direction."
SEE ALSO: The Fur Truth: How a UK fur ban would damage and set back animal welfare. British Fur Trade Association.
Then there are a few "fun" questions to test your knowledge, like Question 12. "Other than for clothing and apparel, what uses of fur should we be aware of?" TAF came up with the obvious furnishings like pillows, rugs, etc., and the always-overlooked use of fur in fishing flies. Are there others DEFRA should know about? Are the markets for mink eyelashes and calligraphy brushes too small to mention?
Of course you might also find a couple of questions rather stupid, like Question 27: "What do you consider to be the total value (in £ sterling) of imports to and exports from GB in relation to (i) raw furskins; (ii) tanned or dressed furskins; (iii) articles of apparel and clothing; (iv) artificial fur?" We suggest a politely worded response like, "Look them up yourself. The UK government – which you represent – publishes these stats. It is irrelevant what anyone 'considers' them to be."
Perfect for North Americans
And then there are some great questions, including Question 38, which is just perfect for North Americans. Asks DEFRA, "We are interested in finding out more about other countries’ existing or planned restrictions on fur. Please provide any information and/or evidence that you are aware of."
Of course, TAF went to town describing the divisive, arbitrary, and counter-productive nature of fur retail bans in the US, especially in California. If you don't already know our myriad objections, here is just a sampling:
There's no justification for banning the sale of fur. February 17, 2020.
Fur industry sues San Francisco. January 15, 2020.
Fur ban proposals are based on a dangerous fiction. September 25, 2019.
6 reasons why banning fur sales is a very bad idea. April 11, 2019.
So whether you think it will make a difference or not, please do take the time to fill out this questionnaire. Because, as sure as the sun rises each day, animal rights groups will be giving it their full attention.
And as your parting shot, here's an idea for your answer to the final question, number 39. DEFRA asks: "Please provide any other relevant evidence you would like to include to inform decisions on the GB fur trade." TAF took the high road, and referred the UK government to our website. But we were sorely tempted to write, "We are concerned that Prime Minister Boris Johnson may be swayed by the fact his wife is rabidly anti-fur. Can DEFRA assure us that Mrs. Johnson will not unduly influence government policy going forward?"
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