Friday, 8 April 2011

A last few bits of research about the Fur Industry...

I think I could go on forever researching this topic, so Im going to have to start bringing it to a close... I think I must have read about a million articles, blog posts and interviews in the past two weeks. 

I came across This Article of the Guardian's Website entitled "Would you Rather Go Naked? Not Any Longer" which I would recommend to anyone interested in this subject. It looks at how the public appear to be turning more fur-friendly, how designers are using it and how the fur-industry is promoting it. Although it also highlights something I have come across, on how it can be difficult trying to find out the truth on certain matters, not biased opinions. There is also a few times where the author actually looks up on the source of information used as counter arguments against the idea that fur is green, and find its to be somewhat 'outdated' : 

"The fur apologists insist that real fur is natural, renewable, biodegradable and energy efficient in comparison to the synthetic versions. The truth of this is somewhat difficult to establish. According to the British Fur Trade Association, it takes a gallon of oil to make three fake-fur coats. Animal rights groups tend to hit back with a study by researchers at the University of Michigan that claims the energy needed to produce a real fur coat from farm-raised animal skins is 20 times that required for a fake one. But when I look for this study online, it turns out to be from 1979 and there is a limited amount of more recent academic research."

"For Newkirk "ethical fur" is an oxymoron. "It's a bunch of poppycock," she says calmly, sipping on a soya-milk coffee in Peta's London offices. "You can easily find wonderful, fashionable, glamorous alternatives to anything you have to steal from animals or kill animals to get… If you look at the amount of British thermal units of energy used to make a real fur, especially to farm a fur, versus even the most synthetic of synthetics, the real fur is the loser environmentally." (Later I look for evidence of this statement online and come up with a study from the Scientific Research Laboratory at Ford Motor Company that found a synthetic fur coat required 120,300 BTUs compared to the 7,965,800 needed to produce a coat from a cage-raised animal. Again, its findings are 30 years old.)"

Personally, I feel that compared to over 30 years ago people are much more environmentally conscious now, and there is a high possibility that fur farms and the fur industry has become more 'green' in 30 years, like many other industries. Therefore I not only feel that organizations concerned with the new campaign that 'fur is green' should look into getting more recent investigations done, but also that due to the date they were carried out they cannot be used as evidence against the claim that 'fur is green'. However this could be the case, and that since the article was published more investigations have been made into the fur industry and how green it is, as the article is about a year old.

Still, I feel that this raises a point I am concerned about, in that many people concerned about this issue are being misinformed from both sides (animal rights organizations and the fur industry) causing rumors and myths to crop up that are taken as fact. This is also addressed in a Channel 4 documentary that I came across, tilted "Kill it, Skin it, Wear it" - you can view the video Here on Youtube. 

One woman investigates the fur industry, and visits a fur farm, auction house, and goes out trapping with a professional trapper. It is very honest and balanced, although at the beginning she joins an anti-fur rally and hears things about the industry that she is skeptical about, although when she does indeed visit the fur farm she is taken aback with how humane it all seems. Although on returned to the UK she visits an Animal Rights Organization who shows her Horror Story undercover videos, which she are a stark contrast to what she has experienced. 

There is no doubt that those videos are horrible, and anyone watching them would be shocked and appalled. Although while researching into them I have read many claims about these farms being the absolute minority and 'used to condemn the whole industry' which is far from these scenes. If this was normal practice, why would Animal Welfare laws in Europe, America, etc, not have shut them down a long time ago? I have read many reports and articles where fur farms that are still being operated have time and time again passed inspections and tests, and that the animals are being kept humanely and healthy. It actually made me think about Dog Breeding, and I wonder if the Fur Industry is similar to it in the differences between this:

and this:

It upsets me that there are Puppy Farms and animas are being kept in these conditions, although I know how the majority of Dog Breeders do not keep there dogs in conditions even remotely like this. Although sadly it does go on, and those disgusting people taint the whole practice of responsible dog breeding. Could this be the same sort of thing as with the Fur Industry?

So I looked into these videos a little further, and found many people who believe they are staged. Why? Well I came across This Record  (which I would recommend reading) showing where certain animal rights organizations have commissioned or deceived people into staging videos in the past, so they can be used as evidence to fuel their ideas and campaigns. There are many on there, although I have only selected the few:

1972: The Canadian Association for Humane Trapping

produces a film entitled They Take So Long to Die.

Scenes of animals suffering horribly in inappropriate
traps are subsequently aired on CBS television. It is
later learned that the animals had actually been caught
in the wild and released into a compound to be trapped
and filmed at leisure. The film is withdrawn from
circulation, but the footage appears in another film,
Canada’s Shame, produced by the Association for the
Protection of Fur-bearing Animals.

1994: Posing as representatives of an American hunting
magazine, a film crew commissioned by IFAW tricks a
man into committing acts of extreme cruelty against
kangaroos. The film is used by the animal rights group
Vegetarians International Voice for Animals (Viva!),
which claims it shows an “experienced, unlicensed but
commercial killer” and portrays standard industry
practice. The film crew flee Australia before they can
be prosecuted, but the shooter in the film is taken to
court. During the trial, it is discovered that he is not a
licensed ‘roo shooter, does not supply ‘roos to the
commercial industry, and did not have permission to
shoot on the property he was filmed on.
Despite the findings, Viva! continues to use the film,
claiming that it shows kangaroos being hung via gashes
in their legs “whilst still alive”. In fact, movements seen
in the tails and other limbs are clearly muscle spasms.

Mid-1990s: In 1996, video footage of a brutal dolphin
slaughter is used in a campaign to raise money and
generate public support for embargoes against
Venezuela’s two exports, oil and tunafish. As they
market the video, various groups claim the film
“proves” that 40,000 dolphins are killed annually in a
country where dolphin kills are illegal. No proof exists
except the film. When the uncut film footage is finally
discovered, it becomes obvious that the film was staged.
The filmmaking crew had represented themselves to
the fishermen involved as scientists from the local
university, saying they needed to kill a dolphin for
research and that they would take total responsibility.
“Act natural!” yells the cameraman to the fishermen.
The filmmakers supply the knife used to inhumanely
butcher the animal while they direct the action. “More
blood! Get me more blood!” yells the cameraman.

1997 - 2003: People for the Ethical Treatment of
Animals releases edited videotape of a facility in Illinois
which shows acts of cruelty to foxes, plus electrocution
of foxes, a method of euthanasia not approved in Illinois.
PeTA claims the footage depicts “modern fur farms” in
the US, and complains about lack of regulation.
Subsequent investigation reveals that the facility in
question is not a fur farm but a scent-producing facility, 
its main business being to sell scent to wildlife biologists

and others as a lure for wild animals. It is permitted not
by the Illinois Department of Agriculture but by the
Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and does not
qualify for an agricultural operations exemption from DNR
permits since the bulk of its animals, which include fox,
raccoons, deer and other critters, come from the wild.
The Illinois Bureau of Animal Welfare becomes
involved, and fines and penalties follow. But PeTA’s
assertion that this is a fur farm is shown to be untrue. Also
shown to be false is PeTA’s assertion that regulation is
lacking. The State of Illinois not only responded
quickly,(1) but showed layers of bureaucracy in place to
prosecute those who break animal welfare laws.
As of 2003, PeTA still has not delivered the full,
unedited footage with sound to the fur industry, the
media or officials in Illiniois (who had been forced to
prosecute the owner from the edited clips only).
Meanwhile, PeTA has exported the edited film around
the world, misrepresenting its source and using it to
smear responsible fur farmers while raising donations
for its coffers.

1998: Using videotape supplied by commercial news
company SweepsFeed, US television stations air
footage of dogs and cats being abused. The footage,
claims the Humane Society of the United States, had
been taken in China, and depicted the source of fur
which will be mislabeled and exported to the US. On
Jan. 16, 2000, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.
investigative program “UnderCurrents” reports that
SweepsFeed executives could not vouch for the origin
or accuracy of this video; it had been given to them by
an animal-rights group, and SweepsFeed had not
verified its authenticity. Says a SweepFeed
spokesperson, “How do we know that video wasn’t a
fake video? We don’t, because we didn’t shoot it in
that case, and that’s a rare instance [that we don’t
produce our own programs].”

1999: In a campaign to have fur products labeled with
how the animals involved may or may not have been
killed, dozens of hours of interviews are surreptitiously
conducted with furriers and retail clerks in Beverly Hills,
then edited to make nonsense of their answers. Snippets
of discussions about farm-raised animals are played off
against remarks about trapping. While the many correct
and informative answers are edited out, every incorrect
answer is used. Luke Montgomery, a leader in the
campaign, states on National Public Radio that furriers
consistently referred him to the fur retailers’ trade
association for more information. Not one of these
referrals makes it into the final edited tape.(4)
Trapping scenes used in the film, when reviewed by
professional trappers, reveal startling discrepancies
only trappers would notice.
For good measure, footage is added of a man struggling
to kill mink in a highly irregular manner, carelessly
tossing the animals into a bucket. This raises the
eyebrows of fur farmers who review the tape, not only
as to the non-standard method of kill, but also because
animals prized for their pelts are always laid out
carefully and separately. If they are laid together, let
alone all tossed into one bucket, the body heat will
cause “singe”. The fur will hold a shape in the same
way as human hair treated with a dryer and brush, and
the tips will curl up as if singed by a fire."

I have read a quite a few other thing similar to these, and to be honest it does make me skeptical about the origins of these anti-fur videos. I guess it is up to you what view you want to take on it, and if you take them as evidence or not against the industry.

Anyway, this is where my project comes in! I aim to create a book/zine that is balanced and presents the facts on this subject. I feel that many people are misinformed about it and so many rumours and myths are taken as the truth, and that for someone who wants to find out more about fur it is difficult to decide which sources can be trusted. I feel that people should be presented with an unbiased look into the issues surrounding it, so that they can make an informed decision on wether or not they wish to wear fur.

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