Weekly Times Brian Clancy
BRITISH retailers have denied they are going soft on their push against surgical mulesing. British Retail Consortium sustainability policy officer Catherine Pazderka said although the retailers were pushing for more transparency as to whether or not wool growers were still surgically mulesing their sheep, that was no indication British retailers were losing their resolve.
The ultimate goal of British retailers is to eradicate mulesing and this position will not change, nor will it soften over time,” Ms Pazderka told The Weekly Times this week.
“However, after missed deadlines and slow progress towards eradication, it is apparent that our message is not penetrating strongly enough to the farm level.
“Therefore, the emphasis on transparency and need for wool growers to sign up to the NWD (national wool declaration) was seen as a need to find a more effective mechanism to achieve eradication.”
Ms Pazderka said the development of transparency and traceability systems was the trend that retailers were seeing in other commodities such as palm oil and timber.
She said apparel members of the BRC were committed to sourcing wool and woollen products from farms where the highest animal welfare practices had been adopted to protect sheep from blowfly strike.
“The BRC recognises the very real threat that blowfly strike poses to sheep in countries like Australia, but the use of surgical mulesing, which causes pain and suffering to animals, is not acceptable to British retailers or their customers,” Ms Pazderka said.
She said the only acceptable long-term solution to surgical mulesing was through selective breeding.
“However, until such time as breeding programs take full effect, interim strategies such as integrated farm management practices and the use of intradermals must be adopted to reduce risk of flystrike,” Ms Pazderka said.
“Some retailers may, as a transitional arrangement, also accept wool from flocks where clips have been used.
“We acknowledge that the Australian wool industry has already taken a number of steps towards achieving this goal, but as of 2011, these efforts fall short of our requirements and customer expectations.”