Fashion And Fur And The Harm It Causes. Hello everyone, I hope you are well. In today’s post, I will be sharing a guest post from Dr Clair Linzey and Professor Andrew Linzey, Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, co-authors of ‘An Ethical Critique of Fur Factory Farming’. They will be looking at the impacts of fur factory farming on humans and the environment and why it is so much worse than just killing a few cute animals.
Fashion And Fur And The Harm It Causes
It is hard to be exact about the number of animals killed by the fur industry each year as many countries only count the pelts produced, not the number of animals that die—and some countries do not keep count at all—but it is estimated to be 100 million.
Almost all fur comes from fur factory farms. Animals are kept in rows of barren wire cages in open-sided sheds. A typical cage for fox measures just 0.8 metres square or two and a half feet square.
Labels such as “Welfur” and “Furmark” are tools used by the fur industry to suggest that the animals killed for their fur lived a good life beforehand. The reality is sadly far from a good life. On the contrary, the fur factory farm system is inherently inhumane. It causes suffering, either mental or physical, or both. Welfur, the industry’s best welfare standard, does not prevent the infliction of significant animal harm, such as unhealed injuries, missing half-tails, and severely bent feet.
After a life spent entirely in close confinement, unable to exercise their natural behaviours, they are inhumanely killed. Most fur farm kills are caused by electrocution, gassing, neck-breaking, or poison. One recent study of fur farming in China found foxes were being electrocuted, beaten and skinned alive.
It is not just the sentient animals affected by the choice to support the fur industry. Fur has a substantial environmental impact, far worse than faux fur. Scientific studies indicate that fur farming contaminates the water supplies surrounding the farms. While all textile production has an environmental impact, fur farming is one of the worst.
A 2011 Delft report concluded that the environmental impact of mink fur was two to twenty-eight times higher than other common textiles. Moreover, studies have found that treating the fur to make it a wearable textile involves exposing humans to toxic chemicals with long-term health implications.
Fur farming also significantly impacts public health, as the recent pandemic demonstrates. Fur farms were some of the worst affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, as the animals are kept in such close conditions that the virus spreads quickly from one animal to another.
The worst COVID-19 outbreak hit mink farms in Denmark, suspended mink fur farming until 2022 and embarked on a massive “culling” (killing) fur-farmed mink. The decision was taken to kill 17 million mink as more than one in five farms was revealed to have been infected. Many other countries also saw COVID-19 spread in their fur farms, including the US and nine other EU member states.
Although the fur industry has been impacted by the resulting legislation banning fur production and sales in some parts of the world, there are still millions in cages. Consumers can choose not to support this inhumane industry by choosing not to buy fur. Although fur farming is banned in Britain, we can help end the fur trade by encouraging lawmakers to end fur imports.
In ethical terms, to show that something is necessary requires more than a simple appeal to what is fashionable or even desirable. Human wants do not by themselves constitute moral necessity. Some ethicists hold that deliberately causing animals suffering is intrinsically wrong. Others hold that the good procured must be essential and that no alternative means are available.
Some also hold that because humans are moral agents capable of knowing right and wrong, we should not be the kind of people to cause animal suffering. Such actions damage us, among other things, through desensitisation. Viewed from these perspectives, it can be seen immediately that fur farming fails basic moral tests. The wearing of fur, while conceivably pleasant, fashionable, or even desirable, cannot reasonably be defined as essential. Fur is a luxury item.
Fur does not kill sentient animals; it ruins the environment and puts humans at risk of further zoonotic pandemics and toxic chemicals. There is no reason to support this cruel industry when there are other fashionable alternatives to fur.
Since fur is a luxury, vanity product, the most fashionable and ethical choice possible is not to buy fur.
I hope you enjoyed that.
About The Authors
Andrew Linzey and Clair Linzey direct the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics.
They are also the authors of An Ethical Critique of Fur Factory Farming.