Denmark eyes extending ban on mink farming

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Denmark, formerly the world’s leading exporter of mink fur, said Tuesday that it planned to extend a ban on farming them for another year after its controversial cull of all minks last year over a mutated strain of the coronavirus.

“The only thing to do is to extend by a year the ban that has been in place this year,” agriculture minister Rasmus Prehn told journalists.

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The aim was to protect Danes from so-called zoonoses – diseases and infections transmissible from animals to humans, he added. The mink is the only animal identified so far as being able to transmit COVID-19 to humans.

A draft law to extend the ban, already backed by most MPs, will go before parliament, Prehn said.

In November 2020, Denmark announced it would cull all of the country’s more than 15 million minks after the discovery of a mutated version of the novel coronavirus.

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Preliminary studies had suggested that the variant could jeopardize the effectiveness of future vaccines.

Health officials recommended extending the ban in June, arguing that mink breeding still presented “a human health risk of an unknown magnitude.”

Nevertheless, the cull proved controversial.

With the mass gassing program already underway, a court challenge to the order found that the executive’s decision had no legal basis, leading to the resignation of the previous agriculture minister.

Adding to the scandal, it was later revealed that the disposal of the dead animals posed an environmental threat. There were fears that phosphorus and nitrogen could be released in large quantities into the soil surrounding the mass graves due to the decomposition process.

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