by Rochelle Regodon
(PNS) -- Last month, the U.S. government imposed limits on textile imports from China in response to massive lay-offs and mill closings in America. Now, the European Union is set to slap its own restrictions on the "Made in China" label and has requested formal talks with Beijing officials.
However, the E.U. and the U.S. -- indeed the rest of the world -- should look at another kind of restriction: banning animal pelts from China and the suffering stitched into every single fur coat, collar or cuff.
In recent years, China has eclipsed all other countries combined to become the world's largest supplier of fur, thanks in part to its cheap labor and lack of regulations. China has no laws governing fur farms, so farmers can house and kill animals however they choose.
But the bargain prices of Chinese pelts come at the expense of animals that are literally skinned alive. That's what undercover investigators from the Taipei animal rights organization E.A.S.T., who toured fur farms in China's Hebei Province, documented. The investigators spent a year researching China's fur industry and the farms where foxes, rabbits, minks and other animals are raised. It quickly became clear why outsiders are banned from visiting.
Workers were caught on tape grabbing animals by their hind legs and slamming them head-first against the ground in a crude attempt to kill them. Other animals were bludgeoned with metal rods or wooden sticks, which only kills some animals, leaving many others merely stunned.
In their report, the investigators wrote that injured animals were seen "convulsing, trembling or trying to crawl away. Workers made no attempts to ensure that animals were dead before skinning."
The investigators filmed animals that were kicking and writhing as workers ripped their skin from their bodies. If the animals struggled too much, workers stood on the animals' necks with their full weight in order to strangle them. Or they beat the animals' heads with knife handles until the creatures stopped moving.
After their fur was peeled, the animals' bodies were tossed into a pile like so much trash, some still alive, breathing in ragged gasps and blinking slowly. One investigator recorded a skinned raccoon dog, tossed onto a heap of carcasses; it had enough strength to lift its bloodied head and stare into the camera.
The globalization of the fur trade has made it impossible to know where fur products come from. Fur from China ends up in virtually every mall in the United States. High-end brands such as Ralph Lauren and P. Diddy's Sean John line include fur-trimmed garments carrying the "Made in China" label, right alongside the cheaper knock-offs.
But raw-fur pelts often move through international auctions before being sewn in other countries so even if a garment says, "Made in Italy," or, "Made in France," the animals were likely raized and killed somewhere else.
Killing animals for something as frivolous as fashion, either in the United States or overseas, is impossible to justify. At the very least, we shouldn't be paying someone else in another part of the world to do it for us.
June 10, 2005 (http://www.albionmonitor.com) All Rights Reserved. Contact email@example.com for permission to use in any format.
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