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Monday, 17 February, 2003, 12:33 GMT
Action demanded on cat and dog fur
British cats in a cage
Campaigners say cat and dog fur is finding its way to Europe
Members of the European Parliament are renewing demands for an import ban on cat and dog fur, which they say is finding its way onto European markets.

We are appalled by some of the pictures of this trade that we have seen, but we can only act within the laws that we have

Beate Gminder
European Commission
The fur is used as trims on jackets, handbags and other products, the MEPs say, with customers being misled or deliberately left in the dark about its origins.

The MEPs have signed a letter calling on the European Union to ban the products - although the European Commission insists that it currently has no powers to do so.

"We are appalled by some of the pictures of this trade that we have seen, but we can only act within the laws that we have," said Beate Gminder, spokeswoman for Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner David Byrne.

Italy has already banned the products, and the commission in Brussels says each individual country within the EU should decide whether it wants to follow suit, given the lack of European legislation.

Campaigners claim that up to two million animals are slaughtered every year in countries including China.

What we are dealing with here is massive consumer fraud

Struan Stevenson
British MEP
An investigation by the Humane Society of the USA said cats and dogs were kept in cruel conditions in animal farms, and that many were skinned alive to prevent the furs losing their condition after the animals' death.

The fur finds their way on to the market with misleading labelling, campaigners claim.

Cat fur might be labelled as rabbit, or dog fur might say "Asian wolf", says Louise Stevenson of the Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade.

"There are lots of euphemisms, as manufacturers know that consumers would not buy cat and dog," said Ms Stevenson.

"Some shops are even assured by their suppliers that the fur is fake."

If you can have laws to ban child pornography, surely you can ban other things that are morally and ethically questionable

Louise Stevenson
Anti-fur campaigner
British Conservative MEP Struan Stevenson, among those to sign the letter to Mr Byrne, disputes the Commission's claims to be powerless to act.

"What we are dealing with here is massive consumer fraud," he said.

Campaigners also insist that the EU has a moral duty to act.

"If you can have laws to ban child pornography, surely you can ban other things that are morally and ethically questionable," Ms Stevenson said.

"I think it is a lack of will rather than a lack of legislation."

The European Commission says it believes only relatively small amounts of the fur are coming in, although campaigners say there has been a surge into Europe since a US ban on the fur was introduced two years ago.

See also:

22 Nov 00 | Politics
12 Nov 02 | Entertainment
29 Feb 00 | Talking Point
17 Nov 99 | Politics
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