Tuesday, October 23, 2007

New Global Network Against the Fur Industry

There is a new international network of organizations against fur, which includes groups and individual activists from the animal rights/liberation movements from various countries: Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom.

It is called Global Network Against the Fur Industry, it was formed this autumn and it’s started its activity with a campaign against the ESCADA group.

Escada is a high fashion international company, with headquarters in Aschheim/Munich, Germany. It is involved in many stages of the process of fur garments production and sales: from designing its own collections to producing them in its own factories, to selling them in its own shops, in shop-in-shops and in concessions in department stores.

The ESCADA Group owns a sussidiary company called Primera, which in turn owns other brands: apriori, BiBA, cavita and Laurèl. All these companies and brands use fur for their collections.

There are 240 ESCADA stores all over the world, mainly in Europe (130), Asia (86) and North America (25), with a few in South America, Africa, Australia. In addition, there are the stores of other brands owned by the company: almost 400 stores, mostly in Europe but also worldwide.

The choice of ESCADA as a target is due to the fact that this is a company which has a huge influence on the catwalks of the world; if Escada stops using fur, this will send a signal to the fashion industry as a whole.

The Global Network Against the Fur Industry has organized a first weekend of international action against ESCADA’s fur trade on 12th – 14th October 2007. Many protests have taken places worldwide.

In Florence, the Escada store remained closed all day on Sunday 14th October, to avoid bad publicity in view of the protest, with consequent loss of revenue. As a result, the campaigners moved their protest to a department store, COIN, to force them to stop selling fur following the example of two other major Italian department stores chains, La Rinascente and UPIM.

The ZARA, Guess, H&M campaigns show how important global cooperation of anti-fur organizations is and how effective it can be in changing the policies of major retail groups.

Visit the Global Network Against the Fur Industry new website.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Human health and animal ethics

Human health and animal ethics posts

Human health & animal ethics: an introduction to this Category
Mesothelioma and asbestos
Carcinogens, food poisoning and meat
The greatest scientific event of the millennium
Thalidomide tragedy, side effects, history
Carcinogenicity studies on animals
Cancer and animals
The half vegan monks who are the world's healthiest people
Eating bacon and sausages every day increases cancer risk by 20%, new authoritative report says
Growth in animal farming increases disease risks for humans, says FAO
Meat workers health problems

Human health & animal ethics: an introduction to this Category

Of all the major areas of animal exploitation, two of them, animal experimentation and farming, have two fundamental characteristics in common, which will make them, in my opinion, the real battleground on which the case for animal rights and equality will be fought.

What vivisection and farming have in common is: 1) they involve an enormous number of animals, far superior, at least in the case of farming, to other areas of animal abuse; 2) there is an appearance (I underline “appearance”) of genuine conflict between the liberation of animals from these two forms of abuse and human health, which in many people’s minds, unfortunately, justifies them on moral grounds.

For this reason I’ve created a special category in the current blog, Human health and animal ethics, to explore this assumed conflict between human and non-human animal interests. In animal testing, the conflict is purported to be in the fact that renouncing it would deprive medicine of an irreplaceable tool of immense value, or at least this is the claim. In animal farming, the conflict is said to derive from the fact that humans need to eat animal flesh products to stay healthy, believed by many people to be true despite the repeated assertions to the contrary by the most prestigious medical authorities and organizations in the world, who say that the opposite is true and vegetarianism is indeed a healthier option.

All other forms of animal exploitation do not involve any real, important human interest. Nobody can claim that they will die or become ill without a fur coat (not even Eskimos), if they don’t attend circuses, if they don’t visit zoos, don’t go fishing or hunting.

The lame excuses of some of these animal abusers, like hunters justifying torturing foxes to death because they are “pests”, are only seriously believed or appeared to be believed by themselves and their close supporters.

But with vivisection and animal farming, the belief that they are necessary for human health is widely held by a majority, so it needs to be addressed with empirical and logical instruments. I’ll do that in this category, which has the advantage of tackling both major areas of animal abuse with one common approach useful for both, and I will also explore the tricky question of whether veganism can really be suitable for human health: on this issue I have to say that I am not convinced myself. People wouldn’t need vitamin tablets to supplement a vegan diet if the latter were an appropriate, fully well-balanced diet. And if you look at it from a naturalistic viewpoint, the human species is not a herbivorous species: we use a similar argument against meat-eating when we say that humans are not a carnivorous species, so it seems to me that, if we are intellectually honest, we recognize that the argument cuts both ways.

Friday, October 12, 2007

San Marino bans vivisection

Maybe a small step, but it seems highly significant to me: the Republic of San Marino, an independent state lying entirely in north-east Italy, has abolished all experiments on animals.

This tiny country on the Adriatic Coast, which already has the record of being the oldest republic in the world, now can be proud of another record in the history of civilization: to be the first country on the globe to totally forbid animal experimentation.

In February of this year the Associazione Sammarinese Protezione Animali (A.P.A.S.) presented a law proposal supported by citizens’ signatures to ban vivisection, which on the 20th September 2007 has been approved by the General Council, San Marino’s legislative body.

Now San Marino can call itself a “cruelty-free country”, at least as far as animal experimentation is concerned.

"We are very happy of this result, so good and quick" say Marina Berati from NoVivisezione.org and Massimo Tettamanti, Europe manager for I-CARE (Centro Internazionale per le Alternative nella Ricerca e nella Didattica), who, along with Stefano Cagno from Rome’s Lega Anti-Vivisezione, have been helping to achieve this outcome, "and A.P.A.S. volunteers have been extremely determined and successful. From now on San Marino will be off-limits for chemical and pharmaceutical companies carrying out animal tests and for all research institutions, both public and private, often funded by unaware members of the public, which base their research on vivisection".

A.P.A.S. Press Office says that thanks to this new law, which heavily punishes animal experimenters, San Marino Republic will represent a pole of attraction for companies using methods alternative to vivisection, which are better, more reliable and cheaper too.

I don’t know how many animal tests were conducted in San Marino before the introduction of this law. But I don’t think that the number of animals saved is the only issue here. I believe that this is a breakthrough anyway, because it establishes a precedent and has great historical significance, morally and politically.