Centre for Animal Welfare Round-up 2018

11 Dec 2018

A round-up of 2018 news and events from the Centre for Animal Welfare

December 2018 news

11 Dec. 2018

Fake fur: fake news?

Recent news has highlighted that two major retailers are planning to stop selling real fur as faux fur. The news was brought to light by the BBC Watchdog programme. Here, Winchester animal welfare and ethical fashion experts share their thoughts on the worrying trend of real fur being sold as fake or 'faux' fur, and what can be done about it.

Andrew Knight, CAW Director: “Tighter regulation”

"There have been a number of these reports over the years. Vegan faux furs have become so desirable that some unscrupulous manufacturers are faking them by using real fur. While consumers are far more likely to avoid animal cruelty if they buy a 'faux fur' product than if they bought one labelled as real fur, clearly regulations and inspections surrounding labelling need to be tightened up."

Philip Lymbery, CEO of Compassion in World Farming and CAW Visiting Professor: “Worrying trend”

"This is a real and increasingly worrying trend at the moment. It was something that I discussed recently at a gathering of luxury brands in Paris. Clearly, there needs to be stronger enforcement and the labelling laws around fashion items containing fur of any description need to be relooked at because they are not working at the moment."

Dr Savithri Bartlett, Senior Fellow of Knowledge Exchange and Lecturer in ethical fashion: “Important to keep up the pressure"

"This issue has been highlighted in the press by PETA, who have gone undercover in China and recorded animal cruelty and the deliberate practice of mislabelling fur as faux fur. The fast fashion industry is profit-driven and fickle but they will respond to publicity that has a detrimental impact on their sales, so it is important to keep up the pressure. French Connection, for example, permanently banned the use of angora fur after being bombarded with emails by 100,000 PETA members who demanded they stop using the rabbit fur.” Dr Bartlett was informed that since banning angora wool, the drape and feel of the wool was achieved by means of a combination of animal-free fibres.

“At the high end of the market, luxury brand Burberry has recently announced it has stopped using fox, mink, angora/rabbit and Asiatic raccoon fur; their collection at London Fashion Week in September this year was fur-free (find out more). Tom Ford has recently said he has plans to use only food by-product fur rather than fur from animals bred solely for their pelts. He is sceptical about faux fur, due to its negative environmental impact (find out more). Versace, Gucci, Michael Kors, Armani, Stella McCartney and Vivienne Westwood have also stopped using fur in their seasonal collections, and many high street shops have banned fur from their premises.”

November 2018 news

Recent CAW speaking engagements

CAW members have been extremely active in recent weeks, delivering presentations on animal welfare topics at national and international conferences.

In November, Dr Steven McCulloch delivered three presentations on animals in public policy, at the ECAWBM Annual Congress in Berlin, and the RebLaw UK conference in London.

In October, Professor Andrew Knight delivered a plenary lecture on livestock and climate change, along with several others on animal welfare topics, at the IVSA Animal Welfare Conference at the University of Munich. In the same month, he also delivered presentations on animal welfare careers at the Universities of Cambridge and Nottingham, as part of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons' ‘Fellows on Tour’ lecture tour.

CAW event highlights the dangers and rewards of being on the frontline of rhino conservation

22 Nov. 2018

On 21 Nov. we welcomed Amanda Smith, who presented 'Rhino wars: the dangerous but rewarding frontlines of African rhino conservation'. Of the 26,000 species threatened with extinction, few are more iconic than the rhinoceros. In this gripping presentation from the frontlines of African rhino conservation, Amanda shared her personal stories as a conservation volunteer. She explored factors underpinning the international trade in rhino horn and proposed strategies for mitigating its devastating impacts. She also provided key advice for anyone interested in conservation volunteering in Africa.

Having made a difference to communities in Hampshire for over 30 years as a police officer, Amanda Smith was moved to join the conservation war in South Africa to protect rhinos from poaching. In early 2018 she spent several weeks volunteering with conservationists on the dangerous and heart-breaking but also highly rewarding frontline of rhino conservation.

"Brutal trade for a medicine that does not work"

"Working with orphaned rhinos was the beginning of my personal journey in conservation", said Amanda, pictured above with the CAW mascotte. "Being so close to this iconic species, listening to their adorable but heart-breaking cries, I pledged that I would not give up fighting for them. I will play my part to ensure that there is an end to this brutal trade in their horn for a medicine that does not work."

Amanda's talk has generated a great deal of intererest, with CAW subsequently receiving many requests for further information on rhino conservation volunteering.

Considering the implications of Brexit on animal protection

20 Nov. 2018

With Brexit in the offing, CAW is concerned about the possible negative implications for animal welfare legislation, particularly farmed animals. Over the decades of EU membership, the UK has had a major impact on EU animal protection laws, while as a member state, it has been substantially influenced by EU law.

On 18 Nov., former CAW Acting Director Dr Steven McCulloch published the paper 'Brexit and Animal Protection: Legal and Political Context and a Framework to Assess Impacts on Animal Welfare' in the journal Animals. The paper provides a useful overview of the legal and political context of Brexit and discusses animal protection in the UK and the EU.

"A major threat that Brexit poses is importing lower-welfare meat and dairy products to the UK", writes Dr McCulloch, and he identifies reform of agricultural policy to reward high animal welfare outside of the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) as a major opportunity post-Brexit. He also examines the implications of a hard and soft Brexit.

Read the full article

'Governments should unite to curb meat consumption', says CAW Visiting Professor Philip Lymbery

15 Nov. 2018

In a letter to Nature yesterday, co-signed by CAW Director Prof. Andrew Knight and CAW Associate Member Prof. Neil Messer, CAW Visiting Professor Philip Lymbery makes the forceful point that governments should unite to curb meat consumption if we are to meet our greenhouse gas emissions targets.

Read the full letter

“Blaming badgers deflects attention from the main cause of the spread of bovine TB” - Why the government’s handling of bovine tuberculosis is flawed

12 Nov. 2018

In a letter to the Chief Vet Dr Christine Middlemiss, a campaign group of vets has accused Defra of telling "barefaced lies" about the effectiveness of badger culls. Prof. Andrew Knight, CAW Director, is one of the signatories; here he explains the problem with the government's approach.

"Government policy continues to blame the badger for the spread of bovine tuberculosis. However, recent evidence supports the theory that the disease is being spread by infected cattle, especially when moved to new areas. The main test used to certify cattle as free of the disease is an intradermal skin test. Previously, this was thought to be highly sensitive; however, recent evidence indicates it only detects around 50% of infected cows. Hence, around half of infected cows have not been identified using this test, and have often continued to spread the disease within and between cattle herds. Government statements that the disease incidence is falling in some areas have also been shown to be incorrect, with incidence rising and prevalence remaining unchanged or rising.

Blaming badgers deflects attention from the main cause of the spread of bovine TB: other infected cattle. Shooting badgers is demonstrably inhumane – evidence indicates that due to small target areas and difficulties in obtaining a ‘clean kill’, a significant proportion endure prolonged suffering before they die."

The government should come clean about the true sensitivity of the intradermal skin test, and use the more effective tests available. It should stop falsely certifying herds as free of the disease when there is no good evidence that this is the case, and should correctly acknowledge infected cattle as the main sources for the spread of this disease. Most of all, it should end its inhumane policy of badger shooting, in an ineffectual effort to control the spread of bovine TB."

October 2018 news

Prof. Knight was on the expert panel at the October meeting of the All-party Parliamentary Dog Advisory Welfare Group (APDAWG) at the Houses of Parliament on 30 October. The meeting focussed on welfare issues in greyhound racing, and Prof. Knight released his new report Injuries in Racing GreyhoundsFind out more about the APDAWG meeting.

Prof. Andrew Knight with report on greyhound injuries

August 2018 news

Professor David Clough, CAW Visiting Professor and Professor of Theological Ethics at the University of Chester, has been awarded funding for a ground-breaking three-year project on the Christian ethics of farmed animal welfare. Read on.

July 2018 news

PhD success

Congratulations to CAW research student Madelaine Leitsberger, who has passed her PhD viva with no corrections. Her thesis is titled 'Unleashing the synergisms of animal ethics to advance animal protection'. Madelaine's PhD is the first completion in our series of 175 Studentships, fully funded studentships to celebrate the University's 175th anniversary. Find out more about research degrees at Winchester and our studentship opportunities.

CAW report documents plight of New Zealand sows kept in crates

Last month, Prof. Knight’s report Uncaging New Zealand’s Sows: Scrutinising Farrowing Crates was published by SAFE, a leading New Zealand animal advocacy organisation. It documents the plight experienced by around 15,000 New Zealand sows annually, who are confined within metal cages barely larger than their own bodies, in a practice claimed to decrease piglet mortality. The report was delivered to NZ’s Primary Production Select Committee along with SAFE’s own submission. The Committee is reviewing a 112,844-signature petition (the largest in 5 years), delivered to Parliament in March, which requested a ban on sow farrowing crates. See also the related media release, fact sheet and more.

June 2018 news

CAW research features in Images of Research exihibition

CAW research into vegetarian companion animal diets featured prominently in Images of Research, an exhibition celebrating the breadth and impact of research carried out at the University of Winchester. The exhibition was displayed throughout June in the Winchester Discovery Centre, in the heart of the community, and attracted many visitors. It can still be enjoyed as an online exhibition.

May 2018 news

Documentary Eating our Way to Extinction

In May 2018, Prof. Knight was interviewed for a forthcoming cinematic feature documentary called ‘Eating our Way to Extinction’, which looks at the great need for a global shift towards a plant-based diet. The film’s pre-production trailers on Facebook have been viewed over 43 million times and the production's release to a global audience is planned for 2019. "I am excited about this film", commented Prof. Knight. "And about the enormous number of people it will reach, and the good it will do concerning this extremely important topic."

Vegetarianism for companion animals

Also in May, he was interviewed for a forthcoming virtual ‘plant-powered dog food summit’. Prof. Knight is a specialist in vegetarian diets for companion animals; the article 'Vegetarian versus meat-based diets for companion animals', co-written with Madelaine Leitsberger, was the most viewed and downloaded article in the journal Animals for 2016. Extending his research to vegan diets, he recently published 'How to safely veganise your cat or dog' in Green for Life.

CAW joins calls to ban fur imports

In late May, Prof. Knight was one of the signatories of a letter signed by 50 experts calling on the UK government to ban fur imports post-Brexit.

How the Conservatives can use Brexit to improve animal welfare governance – and their image

Through re-shaping animal welfare policy in light of Brexit, the government has an historic opportunity not only to preserve the UK’s position as a global leader in this area, but also to give the Conservatives a name as a progressive party, writes Steven McCulloch in his LSE blog on 11 May. Read on.

April 2018 news

The risks of Brexit to animal welfare

In his Huffpost blog, Dr Steven McCulloch's argues that 'the Conservative government simply must pay no less than full regard to animal welfare'. Read on.

February 2018 news

Annual IFAW & University of Winchester MSc AWSEL Essay Competition: Winners and Runners Up

Hawaii-based Shannon Noelle Rivera has won the CAW/IFAW 2017-18 MSc annual essay competition. Shannon's winning entry Playing Politics with Animals: Corruption in CITES and the International Wildlife Trade is a critique of a CITES, a fundamental piece of the international wildlife regulatory landscape.

Alice Oven, of London, and Holly Hackney of Sussex, have been awarded running up prizes. Alice's essay is titled Why Compassion Must Unify Our Call for Conservation: The Power of Public Support and Protest. Holly wrote A Discussion on Shark Conservation and the Shark Fin Trade. Shannon, Alice and Holly are all MSc Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law distance learning students at the University of Winchester. All three essays will be published on the IFAW website. Shannon will be invited to write a guest blog on the IFAW website related to her winning essay. All of the essays were of an excellent standard and congratulations to all three students!

CAW submits response to EFRA Committee and Defra consultation on the Animal Welfare (Sentencing and Sentience) Bill

The Centre for Animal Welfare has submitted responses to consultations on the Animal Welfare (Sentencing and Sentience) Bill to the EFRA Committee and Defra.

The CAW submission calls on the government to not weaken animal protection during Brexit. Thus, Clause 1 of the Bill should effectively transpose Article 13 of the Lisbon Treaty. The CAW response can be found at this link: CAW_response_to_EFRA-2018. The EFRA Committee's published pre-legislative scrutiny refers to 'Animal Welfare Impact Assessment' as a possible model for government accountability for animal welfare policy. Animal Welfare Impact Assessment was a key recommendation in CAW's consultation response. Government recognition of animal sentience and an effective mechanism to pay full regard to animal welfare in formulating and implementing policy are of critical importance to animal welfare and the Centre will continue to focus on this issue.

For 2017 news and events, click here.

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