'Animal Fur Is Obsolete': Lawmakers Push Bills to Ban Sales in California, Hawaii and NYC
By Michael Sainato and Chelsea Skojec
In the 1980's and 90's, fur activists were mocked and viewed in the mainstream as a radical nuisance, embodied by a stereotype of dousing wearers of fur coats in red paint. Since then, undercover investigations and campaigns targeting leading fashion corporations have swayed public opinion against the use of fur in the fashion industry, and lawmakers have started to respond with proposals to ban its sale and manufacturing.
West Hollywood, California was the first city in the U.S. to pass a fur ban in 2011. Berkeley followed in 2017, with San Francisco passing their own fur ban in March 2018 and Los Angeles, the largest city to ban fur, passing the sale and manufacturing of fur within city limits in September 2018. As cities in California have led the way to banning fur in the U.S., a bill in the state assembly was recently proposed that would ban the sale and manufacturing of animal fur throughout the state of California.
"The City of Los Angeles has just gone through their process to ban the sale of fur, San Francisco had already done it and several other cities, so I felt it was time to have the conversation at the state level," said California Assemblymember Laura Friedman, the author of the legislation, AB44, which passed a vote in the appropriations committee and will likely reach a floor vote within a few weeks. "We have a lot of evidence and heard from clothing manufacturers that it's nearly impossible to find out whether the fur was sourced for clothing is raised in a humane way."
In the U.S., the animal fur industry is widely unregulated and receives little to no oversight from the government. The results of this lack of transparency have been uncovered in recent investigations of animal fur farms in the U.S.
"The secrecy of the fur industry, and the secrecy they're allowed by law enables them to have so much cruelty within their industry," said Lewis Bernier, an activist with the animal rights organization Direct Action Everywhere (DxE). In 2018, Bernier led an investigation of a chinchilla fur farm in Ohio. Dxe declined to disclose the exact name, location of the farm or dates of the investigation due to legal concerns. "The cages were very tightly packed, row to row, wall to wall, with open cage designs so the ones on the bottom were being defecated and urinated on by the chinchillas on top of them. There was cannibalization and no way they were being provided necessary medical care."
This cruelty and secrecy within the animal fur industry has driven consumer demand for cruelty-free products within the fashion industry, as leading fashion brands have stopped using animal fur. Gucci banned animal fur in 2017, as its CEO called it "outdated." Michael Kors phased out using fur in December 2018. Versace announced its ban in March 2018. Chanel banned animal furs and exotic skins in December 2018. Gucci and Coach also went fur-free in 2018, joining other fashion brands such as Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani, Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and others that stopped using fur in previous years. For the first time, London's fashion week in 2018 was completely fur-free as a requirement for brands to participate. On May 22, 2019, Prada announced it will begin phasing out the use of animal fur for its products.
"This is a clear global movement away from the use of animal furs, especially among the world's most respected brands and retailers," said Joshua Katcher, a New York City fashion designer and author of Fashion Animals. "The demand for brands to stand proudly of how things are made, not just what they look like. The demand for the beauty of an object and how it was made, more and more consumers want that and want to support these new systems they want to see flourish."
Katcher noted these demands are felt by young designers who are seeking cutting edge, sustainable and ethical materials over materials like animal furs. "Animal fur is obsolete at this point," he added.
In New York City, city council members are currently in the process of deciding on a bill to ban the sale of new animal fur products within the city after public hearings were held on May 15. A recent poll conducted by Mason-Dixon found 75 percent of New York City voters support the ban. No date has yet been set on when the city council will decide on the legislation.
Dan Matthews, senior vice president of campaigns at PETA, was one of the bill supporters present at the hearing to demonstrate to council members the type of animal traps used by fur traders to catch animals.
"Trap lines are completely self regulated, nobody can check on them because only the trapper knows where they've placed the traps and the coyote trap I've been showing to council members is a coyote trap meant for coyotes, but they don't discriminate. They often trap family dogs, cats, owls, other wildlife," Matthews said. He noted the traps are used as close to New York City as Westchester County and Connecticut.
PETA has been one of the leading organizations against the animal fur industry, conducting several undercover investigations and targeted campaigns against clothing brands.
"We found minks in Maryland being injected with weed killer. We found a fur farmer in Indiana who electrocuted chinchillas with cords attached to a car battery, and he often didn't use enough voltage so animals would come alive on the skinning table, which he thought was funny," added Matthews. "So these fur farmers and trappers, they have no veterinary training and no interest in training, yet they are involved in killing animals for their business."
In Hawaii, a bill to ban the sale of animal fur was introduced for the first time this year.
"I thought of all places our state doesn't really need fur clothing given our warm, tropical climate," said State Senator Mike Gabbard (D), who proposed the bill in January 2019. The bill, which received five co-sponsors in the Hawaii State Senate, was referred to the consumer protection and health committee, but did not receive a hearing this legislative session. "Sometimes it takes a couple years to get good legislation like this moving, so I plan to reintroduce the bill next session, in January 2020, and I hope Hawaii can be one of the first states to pass a fur ban."
Kimberly Moore, spokesperson for the Fur Free Society, a non-profit that helped write the bill with Senator Gabbard, added, "The fact it was taken up as a legislative matter is extremely heartening because more and more countries are banning fur around the world."
She cited examples of countries that have either banned fur farming or the sale of animal fur outright, including Serbia, Luxembourg, Norway, Croatia, Czech Republic, Macedonia, UK, Belgium, Japan, Austria, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and partial bans and regulations in several other countries around the world.
"The private market itself is moving away from fur and exotic skins. In the last couple of years, the movement against using fur has really accelerated," Moore noted. "There was a little activity in the 1990s with PETA, but in the last couple of years there has been major movements by governments to ban the sale of fur. That trend is being picked up by more municipalities in the United States."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
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By Melissa Hawkins
After sustained declines in the number of COVID-19 cases over recent months, restrictions are starting to ease across the United States. Numbers of new cases are falling or stable at low numbers in some states, but they are surging in many others. Overall, the U.S. is experiencing a sharp increase in the number of new cases a day, and by late June, had surpassed the peak rate of spread in early April.
Seven day rolling average of number of people confirmed to have COVID-19, per day (not including today). This chart gets updated once per day with data by Johns Hopkins. Johns Hopkins university doesn't provide reliable data for March 12 and March 13. Johns Hopkins CSSE Get the data
To Have a Second Wave, the First Wave Needs to End.<p>A wave of an infection describes a large rise and fall in the number of cases. There isn't a precise epidemiological definition of when a wave begins or ends.</p><p>But with talk of a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/27/new-covid-19-clusters-across-world-spark-fear-of-second-wave" target="_blank">second wave in the news</a>, as an <a href="https://www.american.edu/cas/faculty/mhawkins.cfm" target="_blank">epidemiologist and public health researcher</a>, I think there are two necessary factors that must be met before we can colloquially declare a second wave.</p><p>First, the virus would have to be controlled and transmission brought down to a very low level. That would be the end of the first wave. Then, the virus would need to reappear and result in a large increase in cases and hospitalizations.</p><p>Many countries in <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-020-0908-8" target="_blank">Europe and Asia have successfully ended the first wave</a>. <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/08/new-zealand-abandons-covid-19-restrictions-after-nation-declared-no-cases" target="_blank">New Zealand</a> and <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/06/08/how-iceland-beat-the-coronavirus" target="_blank">Iceland</a> have also made it through their first waves and are now essentially coronavirus-free, with very low levels of community transmission and only a handful of active cases currently.</p>
Different States, Different Trends<p>Looking at U.S. numbers as a whole hides what is really going on. Different states are in <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html" target="_blank">vastly different situations right now</a> and when you look at states individually, four major categories emerge.</p><ol><li>Places where the first wave is ending: States in the Northeast and a few scattered elsewhere experienced large initial spikes but were able to mostly contain the virus and substantially brought down new infections. <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/new-york-coronavirus-cases.html" target="_blank">New York</a> is a good example of this.</li><li>Places still in the first wave: Several states in the South and West – see <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/texas-coronavirus-cases.html" target="_blank">Texas</a> and <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/california-coronavirus-cases.html" target="_blank">California</a> – had some cases early on, but are now seeing massive surges with no sign of slowing down.</li><li>Places in between: Many states were hit early in the first wave, managed to slow it down, but are either at a plateau – like <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/north-dakota-coronavirus-cases.html" target="_blank">North Dakota</a> – or are now seeing steep increases – like <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/oklahoma-coronavirus-cases.html" target="_blank">Oklahoma</a>.</li><li>Places experiencing local second waves: Looking only at a state level, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/hawaii-coronavirus-cases.html" target="_blank">Hawaii</a>, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/montana-coronavirus-cases.html" target="_blank">Montana</a> and <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/alaska-coronavirus-cases.html" target="_blank">Alaska</a> could be said to be experiencing second waves. Each state experienced relatively small initial outbreaks and was able to reduce spread to single digits of daily new confirmed cases, but are now all seeing spikes again.</li></ol><p>The trends aren't surprising based on how states have been dealing with reopening. The virus will go wherever there are susceptible people and until the U.S. stops community spread across the entire country, the first wave isn't over.</p>
What Could a Second Wave Look Like?<p>It is possible – though at this point it seems unlikely – that the U.S. could control the virus before a vaccine is developed. If that happens, it would be time to start thinking about a second wave. The question of what it might look like depends in large part on everyone's actions.</p><p>The <a href="https://dx.doi.org/10.1086%2F592454" target="_blank">1918 flu pandemic</a> was characterized by a mild first wave in the winter of 1917-1918 that went away in summer. After restrictions were lifted, people very quickly went back to pre-pandemic life. But a second, deadlier strain came back in fall of 1918 and third in spring of 1919. In total, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1918-commemoration/1918-pandemic-history.htm" target="_blank">more than 500 million people were infected</a> worldwide and upwards of <a href="https://theconversation.com/compare-the-flu-pandemic-of-1918-and-covid-19-with-caution-the-past-is-not-a-prediction-138895" target="_blank">50 million died</a> over the course of three waves.</p><p>It was the combination of a quick return to normal life and a mutation in the flu's genome that made it more deadly that led to the horrific second and third waves.</p><p>Thankfully, the coronavirus appears to be much more <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.meegid.2020.104351" target="_blank">genetically stable</a> than the influenza virus, and thus less likely to mutate into a more deadly variant. That leaves human behavior as the main risk factor.</p><p>Until a <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-needs-to-go-right-to-get-a-coronavirus-vaccine-in-12-18-months-136816" target="_blank">vaccine or effective treatment is developed</a>, the tried-and-true public health measures of the last months – <a href="https://theconversation.com/this-simple-model-shows-the-importance-of-wearing-masks-and-social-distancing-140423" target="_blank">social distancing,</a> <a href="https://theconversation.com/masks-help-stop-the-spread-of-coronavirus-the-science-is-simple-and-im-one-of-100-experts-urging-governors-to-require-public-mask-wearing-138507" target="_blank">universal mask wearing</a>, frequent hand-washing and avoiding crowded indoor spaces – are the ways to stop the first wave and thwart a second one. And when there are surges like what is happening now in the U.S., further reopening plans need to be put on hold.</p>
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By Emma Charlton
Gluts of food left to rot as a consequence of coronavirus aren't just wasteful – they're also likely to damage the environment.
Methane on the Rise<p>Not only is this a tragic waste of food at a time when many are going hungry, it is also an <a href="https://donatedontdump.net/2014/07/07/the-effects-of-food-waste-on-the-environment-by-junemy-pantig/" target="_blank">environmental hazard</a> and could contribute to global warming. Landfill gas – <a href="https://www.epa.gov/lmop/basic-information-about-landfill-gas" target="_blank">roughly half methane and half carbon dioxide (CO2)</a> – is a natural byproduct of the decomposition of organic material.</p>
Food decay leads to production of greenhouse gases, methane and carbon dioxide. EPA<p>Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, 28 to <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/02/SYR_AR5_FINAL_full.pdf" target="_blank">36 times more effective than CO2 at trapping heat</a> in the atmosphere over a 100-year period, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.</p><p>"Many export-oriented producers produce volumes far too large for output to be absorbed in local markets, and thus <a href="https://unctad.org/en/pages/newsdetails.aspx?OriginalVersionID=2333" target="_blank">organic waste levels have mounted substantially</a>," says Robert Hamwey, Economic Affairs Officer at UN agency UNCTAD. "Because this waste is left to decay, levels of methane emissions, a greenhouse gas, from decaying produce are expected to rise sharply in the crisis and immediate post-crisis months."</p>
Food supply chains are easily disrupted. UN FAO<p>Dumping food was already a problem before the crisis. In America alone, <a href="https://www.refed.com/?sort=economic-value-per-ton" target="_blank">$218 billion is spent growing, processing, transporting</a> and disposing of food that is never eaten, estimates ReFED, a collection of business, non-profit and government leaders committed to reducing food waste. That's equivalent to around 1.3% of GDP.</p><p>Since the pandemic took hold, <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-52267943" target="_blank">farmers are dumping 14 million liters</a> of milk each day because of disrupted supply routes, estimates Dairy Farmers of America. A chicken processor was forced to <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/11/business/coronavirus-destroying-food.html" target="_blank">destroy 750,000 unhatched eggs a week</a>, according to the New York Times, which also cited an onion farmer letting most of his harvest decompose because he couldn't distribute or store them.</p>
Food Prices Collapsing<p>The excess has also seen prices collapse. The <a href="http://www.fao.org/worldfoodsituation/foodpricesindex/en/" target="_blank">FAO Food Price Index</a> (FFPI) averaged 162.5 points in May 2020, down 3.1 points from April and reaching the lowest monthly average since December 2018. The gauge has dropped for four consecutive months, and the latest decline reflects falling values of all the food commodities – dairy, meat, cereal, vegetable – except sugar, which rose for the first time in three months.</p><p>All this while the pandemic is exacerbating other global food trends.</p><p>"This year, some 49 million extra people may fall into extreme poverty due to the COVID-19 crisis," said António Guterres, Secretary-General of the UN. "The number of people who are acutely food or nutrition insecure will rapidly expand. <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGhLKAbNDiY&feature=youtu.be" target="_blank">Even in countries with abundant food, we see risks of disruptions in the food supply chain</a>."</p>
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