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Infectious disease experts have signed an open letter to Boris Johnson emphasizing the connection between fur farming and pandemic disease risk. The letter comes ahead of the G7 Summit, taking place soon in the UK. Activists are calling on the government to ban fur sales and imports after the government announced an open call for evidence and information on the practice.

The letter reads, “Fur farms have the potential to act as reservoirs of Sars-CoV-2. The intensive breeding conditions typical on fur farms – animals unnaturally crowded together, poor hygiene, stress, injuries and low genetic diversity – are ideal for the creation and spread of novel pathogens. The trade creates potential for the many tens of millions of animals on fur farms to act as immediate, intermediate or amplifier hosts for viral pathogens. To risk jeopardising our ability to control and end this or future global coronavirus pandemics, for the sake of fur fashion production, would seem imprudent.”

67 health experts signed the letter, including Alastair MacMillan, a former UK government chief scientific adviser and chief vet, and Alick Simmons, a former government deputy chief vet.

Claire Bass, executive director of HSI/UK said in The Independent,  “We can no longer ignore that fur farms make for a perfect petri dish for pandemics. As the first country in the world to ban fur farming two decades ago, the UK as G7 host is in a unique position to urge world leaders to take decisive action.”

The first infections on mink fur farms were found in April and the Dutch government used the opportunity to take a stance against the industry and call for closing all farms by March 2021. Over a million mink were killed during the pandemic. Read more about mink and fur farms during coronavirus, including the coronavirus spread through Dutch farms, a million mink killed by Dutch fur farms during coronavirus, and the Dutch government’s previous statement on mink and the coronavirus.