Farming News - Peta advert banned for misleading ‘wool is just as cruel as fur’ claim

Peta advert banned for misleading ‘wool is just as cruel as fur’ claim

04 Sep 2019
Frontdesk / Livestock

An advertisment for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) has been banned for claiming that “wool is just as cruel as fur”.

The advertisement was featured on the sides of buses in February, saying : “Don’t let them pull the wool over your eyes. Wool is just as cruel as fur. Go wool-free this winter.”

Complaints said the cruelty claim was misleading because sheep needed to be shorn for health reasons and wool could therefore not be compared to fur.

Peta’s ad was banned
Peta’s ad was banned Credit: ASA/PA

Responding to the complaints, Peta claimed abuses and suffering in the fur trade had also been documented in the wool industry but were not as well known by the public.

The organisation said research indicated that the need to shear sheep was a result of selective breeding over the years by humans to increase the yield of wool for use in textiles.

It said the industry had created “unnatural animals” with the use of artificial selection and genetic manipulation that led to a genetic condition which “caused them to suffer as they may overheat and would undergo the pain and stress of shearing”.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the advert was presented as a factual claim and a direct comparison between the fur and wool industries.

The watchdog noted that DEFRA guidelines for livestock welfare stated that every mature sheep should have its fleece removed at least once a year by experienced and competent trained shearers who should take care in ensuring that the sheep’s skin was not cut.

The Advertising Standards Authority stated: "Sheep were not killed for their wool as animals were in the fur industry and there were standards in place relating to their general welfare including relating to the shearing process"

Additional guidance covered the health, treatment, transportation and living conditions that sheep should be kept in for the overall benefit of their welfare, which the ASA said “demonstrated that in the UK, there were standards to prevent cruelty to sheep”.

The ASA said: “We considered people who saw the ad would interpret the claim “wool is just as cruel as fur” as equating the conditions in which sheep were kept and the methods by which wool was obtained with the conditions and methods used in the fur industry.

“However, sheep were not killed for their wool as animals were in the fur industry and there were standards in place relating to their general welfare including relating to the shearing process.

“We therefore concluded on that basis that the claim was misleading and in breach of the Code.”

NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker comments‘NSA is pleased to hear this decision by ASA that exposes PETA’s advertising for what it is, grossly inaccurate jargon which is misleading the public as well as damaging farmers reputations and livelihoods. The simple undeniable fact is that removing wool from sheep is necessary for their health and welfare. It does not harm them, and it does not exploit them. Wool is a by-product of their existence.”
 
Mr Stocker continues: “British wool is a wonderful resource with highly valuable properties. It is sustainable, renewable, and natural, and is also a stable store of carbon. The real scandal is that organisations such as PETA are dressing up synthetic alternatives as being better, and nothing could be further from the truth. It’s right that PETA has been called out for suggesting that UK farmers obtain wool cruelly and it is about time they realised that removing wool is in the sheep’s interests.” 
 
NSA is continuing to promote the benefits of wool and is currently running an auction mart road trip alongside British Wool, speaking to sheep farmers up and down the UK. NSA is also working with a British manufacturer to produce 100% British wool ties, which it will begin selling in coming weeks.