We are currently fighting to ban the import of fur products produced with animal cruelty to Switzerland. This text is taken from the website of the recently launched popular initiative to ban the import of fur (english translation here).
FAQs / Frequently asked questions
What's the definition of "fur" and "fur product"?
According to Swiss law, fur is the skin of a mammal with its hair. A fur product is an article made of fur or containing fur.
What does the initiative demand?
The initiative "Yes to banning the import of fur products produced with animal cruely " demands a general import ban on fur and fur products.
Is fur production allowed in Switzerland?
Yes, in principle the processing of animals into fur products from ordinary hunting is allowed in Switzerland. However, since the introduction of high legal hurdles, fur farms are no longer operated in Switzerland as they are not profitable.
Which furs belong to products produced in cruelty to animals?
In Switzerland, virtually all methods used to produce imported furs are considered cruel to animals and are prohibited. We're talking about fur farms, as they exist in China and in Northern or Eastern Europe. Animals are often isolated and kept in small wire cages. However, cruel trapping methods, such as leghold traps, snare traps or killing traps, are still practiced in Switzerland.
Why must the import of fur products produced in a cruel manner be banned?
Swiss legislation regulates issues related to the keeping, breeding and slaughter of animals. The various laws and ordinances are enacted on the basis of current scientific knowledge, taking into account the interests of animal keepers and producers. A principle of the Swiss Animal Welfare Act is that no one may unjustifiably cause pain, suffering or harm to an animal or otherwise disregard its dignity. The fact that the import of furs from animals that have been mistreated and kept in an animal-cruel manner continues to be permitted is a mockery of the animal and our legislation and shows great hypocrisy. This must finally be put to an end.
Will an import ban be easy to enforce?
In its response to the motion 19.4425 "Import ban on fur products produced eith animal cruelty" by National Councilor Matthias Aebischer, the Federal Council stated on February 19, 2020 that such a ban would be difficult to implement because there is no international definition of animal cruelty. It would also require expensive on-site inspections to determine how the furs are produced. However, contrary to the Federal Council's announcements, implementing a ban is neither complicated nor costly. Also, the WTO has a clear definition: If something offends public morality - which clearly applies to cruel fur production - an import ban can be imposed.
Is an import ban on fur products produced with animal cruelty compatible with Switzerland's international trade agreements?
In an 2009 article, "Tier im Recht" explains that an import ban is quite compatible with WTO / GATT law. According to Swiss legal understanding, the common fur production methods as a whole clearly mean cruelty to animals and thus affect public morality in the sense of Art. XX lit. a GATT. An import ban would also not violate the so-called chapeau provision of Art. XX GATT, whereby all requirements of Art. XX lit. a GATT would be fulfilled. A Swiss import ban on fur products would therefore be WTO-compliant. Today, the Federal Council - based on the Animal Protection Act (TSchG) - would already have the competence to prohibit the import of such products, because Article 14 paragraph 1 TSchG states: "The Federal Council may, for reasons of animal protection, attach conditions to, restrict or prohibit the import, transit and export of animals and animal products." Switzerland has also enforced import bans (of cat and dog fur and seal products) in the past, so further import bans should not pose any problems.
How many animals are killed for their fur each year?
Worldwide, about 100 million animals are killed for their fur each year - 37 million of them in the European Union. A 2018 census of European fur farms counted 34.7 million mink, 2.7 million foxes, 166,000 raccoons and 227,000 chinchillas.
How many tons of fur are imported into Switzerland?
Each year, about 350 tons of fur are imported into Switzerland in the form of whole animal skins or finished garments and accessories (1). This corresponds to about 1.5 million animals killed just for their fur. (1) 306,079 kg in 2020, 365,256 kg in 2019, and 384,672 in 2018. More than half of the imported furs come from China, where the animals are kept and slaughtered under the most terrible conditions - in many cases they are skinned alive. Other important producers who import furs to Switzerland are: Denmark, Russia, Finland, USA, Netherlands, Norway and Poland. 22 other countries also export fur to Switzerland (4).
(1) Survey conducted by the NGO Humane Society International (HSI) in 2020 after visiting a dozen Chinese fur farms.
(2) With stricter laws in 2017 making fur farms unprofitable, the last fur producer went out of business in 2019.
(3) Six of Austria's nine provinces have banned fur farming.
(4) Import volume accounts for less than 1% for each of these 22 countries.
In 2015, Swiss television SRF was able to film a mink farm that is considered a "model" by the fur industry. However, the footage showed deplorable husbandry conditions. Journalists then filmed other farms unannounced, revealing the dramatic living reality of millions of farmed mink.
Is fur a "natural" product?
Fur is often called as a "natural" product, although its processing requires a highly toxic chemical process and the final product has nothing to do with a natural product. An animal's raw fur is treated with a mixture of chemicals to protect it from decay and decomposition. Other chemicals are then used to ensure that the coat retains its suppleness. These chemicals must then be disposed of and often end up in the surrounding waters. An estimated 80-85 percent of fur comes from fur farms, where husbandry, feeding and reproduction require large resources and cause significant environmental impacts. Finland consumes about 80 million kilograms of corn and about half [AR1] of Finland's herring catch to feed fox fur farming. The excreta of the many millions of captive animals that fall through the grid floors, the baths and chemical treatments of the skins pollute the environment and the water bodies.
Why wear fur?
Fur used to be a welcome additional product from hunting for food and was used to protect against cold. Due to the development of our civilization and prosperity in the last centuries, fur became a pure luxury product. Today there is no reason to wear fur anymore. Modern textiles have long had better properties than natural fur. The purchase of fur products is now only for selfish reasons. The horrible pictures that showed how animals had to suffer for fur production contributed to consumers increasingly turning away from buying fur since the 1980s. Unfortunately, this trend has been changing for a few years now and manufacturers are increasingly processing fur again into accessories, such as fur collars, gloves, trims or even for furniture and design objects. So fur is affordable for everyone today. For the animals, the horrific suffering inflicted on them is still the same.
Is the declaration regulation, which is supposed to inform about the origin of fur, effective?
According to the ordinance, since 2013, fur and fur products sold in Switzerland must be declared in a clearly visible and easily legible manner so that consumers are adequately informed about the type, origin and husbandry/production method. Eight years after the declaration requirement came into force, it is still insufficiently implemented.
In its latest report, dated November 9, 2021, the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO) complains that almost 80 percent of the stores inspected do not comply with the current regulations.
For the FSVO, "the high complaint rate is an indication that the fur declaration is still not implemented correctly by many sales outlets and that knowledge in the industry is still very patchy."
What are other countries' views on the import ban?
Many countries and cities already have import bans in place. In Los Angeles, for example, the sale of fur products has been banned outright. A detailed list of countries and cities can be found on PETA's website: https://www.peta.de/themen/pelzverbot/
Dieser Text ist von der offiziellen Webseite der Pelz-Initiative übernommen.