Hundreds of mink farms in countries including the Netherlands, USA, Denmark, Sweden, Italy, France, Greece, Spain, Lithuania, and Canada have been found to have animals infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19. On farms in Denmark, the virus has already mutated into new strains, which have in turn infected people. Disease prevention experts have expressed grave concerns, including the European Centre for Disease Control who stated in a November report that the evolution of the virus in mink could undermine the effectiveness of future vaccines in humans. The report also found that “continued transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in mink farms may eventually give rise to other variants of concern”.
Governments cannot respond to this crisis simply by culling millions of animals and then allowing farmers to return to business as usual. The appalling conditions on fur farms make them a ticking time bomb for pandemic disease risk. Disease transmission experts warn that it is only a matter of when, and not if, before another deadly virus hits if we continue to keep animals in conditions that push them beyond the limits of their physical and psychological endurance.
Twenty countries have already acted to ban the farming of animals for their fur because it is cruel, outdated, and unnecessary. In light of new evidence that fur farms can also act as reservoirs for deadly viruses, as well as create new viruses, we call on all countries to ban fur farms, and we call on G20 leaders* to publicly acknowledge that fur farming must end.