Pawel Rawicki

Co-founder @ Anima International
86 karmaJoined Jun 2020

Bio

One of the co-founders and currently the CEO of Otwarte Klatki - Polish part of Anima International. 

Comments
6

Thank you, Emre. That's great point. This was one of the early goals for CARE Conference. I think that as a movement we are in better place than 10 years but still a lot to improve when it comes to learn about activism beyond the English speaking countries.

Yes, exactly as you say. But I don't think it was clear motivation to do something good. It is possible that this was also attempt to push forward something that the media and the public opinion would value as good thing. 

Of course, animal advocacy organizations had indirect impact. Years of campaigning had some impact here. But for instance, no organization in Poland in 2020 campaigned about ritual slaughter. On the other hand, fur farming was part of legislation because of years of work of the animal advocates. 

There is also one more nuance in this: Jarosław Kaczyński, long time leader of Law and Justice, honestly cares about animals. You can see him in this video speaking against fur farming. This is unusual because he never does such videos. He also intervened several times behind the scenes to stop initiatives of his own government and party that could be negative for the animals. However, in 2020 he was too politically weak to win.

We and other organizations helped MPs with data about fur farming and we were also trying to provide them basic data and science about ritual slaughter. But at no point organizations were asked about what we think should be part of the legislation. No one asked about what transition time for fur farmers would be good. We fought for the legislation but we didn't have much say about the details of it.

Once lab-grown meat is approved for human consumption in EU, it will be difficult for one country to have such national ban. I'm far from being expert on this but I understand that it would violate the common market of EU. It has to be read as mostly PR political action for current Italian government. 

I’ve been involved in animal welfare campaigns in Anima International Poland for many years and I need to say that it is amazing to see now EFSA’s report as sort of confirmation of our efforts. We published our first investigation from cage-eggs farm in 2014 and have been doing corporate outreach and policy  work since then. In recent years we also started working on improving the welfare of broiler chickens. My colleagues from Anima International Denmark have been running similar campaigns for an even longer time. Of course we’ve been just a part of huge EU-wide pressure created by organizations working nationally and internationally (Compassion in World Farming, Eurogroup For Animals and many others). It could be said that animal welfare groups in the EU campaigned and put a lot of public pressure to make EU institutions improve the welfare of farmed animals in Europe. 

Obviously EFSA’s report is independent scientific research. But I think it is reasonable to say that years of campaigning (especially about cage-eggs) created the circumstances in which the probability of EFSA working on this topic was much higher than without such campaigns. EFSA reports don’t necessarily lead to legislative changes. However, EFSA report appearing in the context of EU-wide campaigns for welfare improvements has in my opinion much bigger chances to influence the legislation. We should think of EFSA report as scientific and objective but still I think organizations in Europe should celebrate how their campaigns lead to this important change for the animals. Moreover, these reports are important tool for organizations to continue their campaigns and increase the chances of achieving the important goals.

From the point of view of farmed animals welfare organizations in EU and of Anima International, I can say that we wouldn’t be able to run such impactful campaigns without big support from Effective Altruism community, especially from Open Philanthropy and Farm Animal Funders. It is important to recognize here how their financial support brings another step toward real changes. 


 

My gut reaction is this is a map of the formerly low hanging fruit, now picked

Not necessarily. Netherlands used to be bigger mink fur producer than Poland before they banned fur farming completely. I think it was more about some opportunity that came up in the right time and not just low hanging fruit.  Poland almost got the fur farming ban in 2020 but political chaos stopped it. 

The strategy in Europe has been to introduce the bans country by country when the opportunity appears. Sometimes it means country like Netherlands with big fur industry and sometimes country like Slovakia where one fur farm operated. This strategy has the goal to achieve the European momentum to get the EU ban. It seems that we are on the path to that

Thank you writing about this important topic! I've been co-running fur farming ban campaign for  more than 10 years in Poland (as co-founder of Otwarte Klatki, part of Anima International) so I'll try to response to some things here from more practical point of view.

Build nets to stop bird:mink contact.

From my experience with fur farming industry, this is going to be very difficult. Several years ago Polish government introduced regulation to force mink farms to have double fencing around the farms. It was supposed to limit the number of minks escaping the farms. It took several years for the farms to adjust and some even today break this basic regulation, with no reaction from the government or institutions. We published this report back then (sorry, it is in Polish). This is example of small adjustment but it took years and still it hasn't been fully implemented.

Next problem is that minks still escape from the farms to the wild. And other animals dig under the fences to get into the farms. Here you can see the video showing rats in the mink farm.

Shifting from wet to dry food

Mink feed is distributed by special vehicles prepared for wet food. I suppose such change would require also change of technique of delivering the feed. You can see the feeding in this video. Moreover, in most cases the feed is brought to the farms, not prepared at the farm. Especially in bigger facilities.
 


Despite falling demand, as of December 2022 about 100 million minks are killed for pelts annually, meaning there are about 50 million in pelt farms at any given time.

I think this number is wrong. In this article there is information about 27 million of all animals killed for fur in China. In this document from China Leather Industry Association it is mentioned that mink fur production in China in 2021 was under 7 million. In Poland, the 2nd biggest mink producer, there are 5-7 million minks. 
Also "50 million in pelt farms at any given time" is wrong information. Mink farms have biggest number of animals between June and December and then only breeding animals are kept (I think around 10-20% of the capacity).

In Polish mink farms there are outbreaks of sars-cov-2 being detected every few weeks. From people living near the farms I know that no restrictions required by laws are implemented in the farms where sars-cov-2 is detected. No masks. Some workers travel between several mink farms. This problem is completely ignored by farmers and institutions that are supposed to control the farms.

All of this makes me pretty certain that it could be easier to ban mink farming (or fur farming) completely than to try to implement some small adjustments. Advocating for fur farming ban is much easier in the public debate than advocating for adjustments in mink farms. However, I'm writing here mostly about Europe because I don't know enough about situation in China. 

And finally I will add here that European Citizen Initiative Fur Free Europe has already collected over 1.5 millions signatures. The Initiative calls for both fur farming ban and for fur import ban. If succesful, this could impact global market. 

If you think I could provide some information from Poland where still 5-7 million minks are killed for fur, please let me know.