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Mills McCartney holds up a coat made of dog fur during a media conference in Brussels.
Beatle wife: Ban pet fur trade
MARCH 1, 2005

BRUSSELS, Belgium (Reuters) -- Choking back tears and holding aloft a coat made from the skins of 42 Alsatian puppies, Heather Mills McCartney, wife of former Beatle Paul, called for a European ban on cat and dog fur imports on Tuesday.

"I became aware of this (trade) only four months ago," she told a news conference in Brussels at the European Parliament.

"It was a big shock to myself and my family considering my husband and his late wife Linda were involved in animal rights ... and none of them knew about the dog and cat fur exports from China and the fact that Europe (is) importing it."

Animal rights activists estimate that 2 million cats and dogs are killed in Asia each year for their fur which is imported into Europe under false labels, saying it either fake fur or exotic Asian species, to make soft toys, blankets, coats and fur trims on hoods.

"It's barbaric that this is still going on," said McCartney. "It's more disgusting that the fashion industry where a lot of people are actually aware of it buy this because they know it's cheaper than using the fox, mink and sable that is labeled."

Five European Union states -- Belgium, Denmark, France, Greece and Italy -- have banned imports but the absence of a 25-nation bloc total ban means the trade cannot be halted.

British Conservative member of the European Parliament Struan Stevenson has campaigned for the past five years for an EU-wide ban.

Stevenson said the new EU Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner Markos Kyprianou should act immediately to draft legislation outlawing the trade.

"The vast majority of the citizens of Europe want a ban, the majority of the MEPs want a ban," said Stevenson. "Mr Kyprianou, it is over to you."

The Commission said it was investigating the situation.

"Commissioner Kyprianou is very concerned about this practice and has asked his services to look into the legal avenues which are open to the Commission to act," said European Commission consumer protection spokesman Philip Tod


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