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A ban on fur would be unworkable and unsustainable. Here's why

Frank Zilberkweit

Frank Zilberkweit | British Fur Trade Association

4 min read Partner content

On 31st May, a bank holiday, the Government slipped out a four week call for evidence on the UK fur sector that could be the precursor to restrictions or a complete ban.

We welcome this opportunity to contribute, and we will set out in detail the exacting animal welfare standards and extensive laws and regulations that govern the sector and why fur remains popular with sales increasing by 200 percent in the last decade.

We will also set out the many damaging consequences that implementing a ban on fur would have including why it would do nothing to improve animal welfare and why the majority of people in this county do not support such a move.

There is no majority for a ban on ethically produced fur in the UK and we strongly believe that informed individuals should be free to make up their own minds. It is also clear that restrictions on fur would be the thin end of the wedge and would simply open the door for bans on other animal products including wool, leather and silk as well as modern farming methods and field sports.

Animal rights activists, who are long campaigned for a UK fur ban and have done much to use their links with unelected individuals close to the Prime Minister to push this call for evidence, want to see an end to the use of all animal products or materials including in food consumption. Their narrow views do not represent the silent majority and nor do they care about the consequences.

There are exacting standards and rules in place governing the fur sector, banning natural fur would do nothing to improve standards in animal welfare and is a purely symbolic move pushed by animal rights activists. George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, confirmed this very point in 2018 when he said in Parliament “It is not possible to make a difference just through the restriction on trade to the UK, because we represent a tiny portion, about 0.25 percent, of the entire global market. We would probably be more effective agitating for change through international forums such as the World Organisation for Animal Health, CITES and others.”

 A ban would also not work and would be unenforceable. It would simply push sales online, untaxed and unregulated and to those who care little about animal welfare.  It would also impact on the indigenous groups, who still depend on fur for their survival in places like Greenland and Canada, and on religious groups who wear items of fur.

It would lead to thousands of job losses and closed businesses in the UK. It would also damage London as a global fashion hub with many designers and brands using fur (yes, fur was at London Fashion Week in recent years) and it would disrupt trade relations with some our closest allies who are major fur producing and manufacturing countries including Canada, the United States and many EU states. What does it say about Brexit Britain and its commitment to free trade if one of the first things it does is to ban a highly regulated, international trade?

A ban could not operate in Northern Ireland, that remains part of the EU Customs Union and it is noticeable that the call for evidence only covers Great Britain. We would therefore have the prospect of one part of the UK being free to trade and sell fur but would be blocked from selling or exporting its goods to the rest of the UK. This directly contradicts the aim of the Internal Markets Act that was designed to guarantee the free movement of trade between the four nations of the UK.

Fur is a natural, sustainable material, far better for the environment than oil based synthetic fast fashions. It would be entirely illogical and counter productive for the Government to move forward with restrictions on a natural material that would lead to an increase in the consumption of synthetic materials in the same year as it is hosting the global climate conference, COP 26. It sends out entirely the wrong message for a Government that wants to be seen as global leader in tackling climate change and improving the environment.

Banning natural fur is a retrograde, damaging step and no sensible Government particularly given the scale of other priorities in dealing with the pandemic would consider implementing such a draconian step.

I would urge everyone to get involved in the call for evidence and take the opportunity to say No to a Fur Ban: The Fur Market in Great Britain - Defra - Citizen Space


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Read the most recent article written by Frank Zilberkweit - Natural Fur: delivering on the COP26 agenda, part of the climate change solution

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