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    FUR FREE FRIDAY: November 27, 2009

    On the eve of the 10th anniversary of the historic Seattle WTO protests, take action to protest Canada's World Trade Organization challenge to the European Union seal products ban!


    Canada's Seal Hunt: A Tradition of Cruelty

    With its annual seal hunt, Canada is responsible for the largest mass slaughter of marine mammals in the world. In 2006 alone, 325,000 harp seals, as well as 10,000 hooded seals and 10,400 grey seals were killed for their fur. The seals are clubbed (often with illegal weapons), hooked in the eye, cheek, or mouth to avoid damaging the fur, and are at times skinned alive because of the carelessness of the hunter. Canada's annual, government-subsidized slaughter, seeks to profit from the misery of seals by exporting fur for fashion, seal oil, seal meat, and seal penis bones (sold as an aphrodisiac in China.)

    European Parliament: Taking Action for Compassion

    The European Parliament placed an import ban on all Canadian seal products with the intention of finally ending the inhumane yearly hunt, which it considers "inherently inhumane." The ban will prohibit the sale of seal skin, meat, oil blubber, organs and seal oil . Canada exported roughly $2.5 million worth of seal products to European countries in 2008, considerably cutting Canada's profit if the ban were to be put in place. If upheld, the ban may be enacted as early as 2010.

    After the European Parliament's decision, Canada quickly announced that it will challenge the ban at the WTO if Canada is not exempted. Trade Minister Stockwell Day states that "if one country wants to ban the products of another, it has to have clear scientific, medically acceptable reasons for doing so."

    The WTO: Trading Away Animals' Lives

    According to Our World is Not for Sale, "The World Trade Organization was established in 1995. It includes 153 countries and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The WTO has been used to push an expansive array of policies on trade, investment and deregulation that exacerbate the inequality between the North and the South, and among the rich and poor within countries. The WTO enforces some twenty different trade agreements, including the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) and Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

    The WTO is inherently undemocratic. Its trade tribunals, working behind closed doors, have ruled against a stunning array of national health and safety, labor, human rights and environmental laws, which have been directly challenged as trade barriers by governments acting on behalf of their corporate clients. National policies and laws found to violate WTO rules must be eliminated or changed or else the violating country faces perpetual trade sanctions that can be in the millions of dollars. Since the WTO's inception in 1995, the vast majority of rulings in trade disputes between member nations have favored powerful industrialized countries. Consequently, many countries, particularly developing countries, feel enormous pressure to weaken their public interest policies whenever a WTO challenge is threatened in order to avoid costly sanction."

    The WTO has consistently ruled on the side of animal exploiters, treating efforts to protect animals as merely a barrier to trade in need of elimination. In the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean (ETP), some schools of yellowfin tuna associate with dolphins. Commercial fishing operations, including the Mexican fishing fleet, have consequently found that setting nets on dolphins to catch the tuna swimming underneath is a lucrative technique for tuna fishing, despite the fact the practice is extremely injurious to dolphins. In the past 40 years this practice led to the deaths of over 7 million dolphins. In 1984, the US banned dolphin-unsafe tuna under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, but in1995 the WTO ruled that that the US would have to lift this barrier to trade or pay compensations to Mexico or face severe trade sanctions. Under pressure from the Clinton administration Congress agreed to comply.

    The shrimp fishing industry catches sea turtles in purse seine nets, where they drown, and pushes them to the brink of extinction. New nets were devised that allowed the turtles to escape if entangled, and the U.S. refused to import shrimp from any country not using "turtle exclusion devices." But upon complaints from 4 nations in 1996, a WTO dispute panel found this policy in violation of free trade rules, and so the US was forced to accept imports of shrimp from countries using turtle-killing nets.

    The WTO also ruled against a 1989 EU health ban on bovine products with growth-promoting hormones, determining that the ban violates the US' right to trade freely. The EU has been paying trade ban concessions to the US rather than harm the heath of EU citizens. The US continues its practice of injecting bovine with hormones and will be trading freely with nations who will not be able pay trade concessions. rBGH has been reliably linked to health problems that cause extreme suffering to cows, including mastitis, a painful inflammation of the udder.

    Canada + WTO: A Deadly Combination for Animals

    In 1995, the EU passed legislation against the vicious steel jaw leghold trap and banned the importation of wild fur from nations where the legal trap was still legal - including the US, Russia, and Canada. In response, Canada, with US support, threatened a WTO challenge to the ban, Unfortunately, the EU backed down and leghold traps continue to be used in Canada and the US. Canada hopes for the same results with its challenge to the seal products ban.

    SEATTLE '99 - Teamsters and Turtles United Against Free Trade

    According to BattleinSeattleMovie.com "The '99 Seattle protests were commonly referred to in the popular media as the "Seattle Riots," though in fact they were a highly organized series of nonviolent actions by a diverse array of public interests -- labor unions, religious groups, student organizations, anarchists, environmentalists and national and international nonprofit organizations -- all of whom shared a common enemy, the WTO. .. [The protesters were ] a pinnacle moment in the history of social action -- many groups coming together to voice their concerns over globalization and corporate control of trade. This was the first protest primarily organized through cell phones and the internet, giving activists an unprecedented ability to organize on the streets. It took months for organizers to plan the protests, and it is now widely held as the most successful "mass action" to date." Among the lasting images of the Seattle WTO protests were activists dressed as sea turtles, protesting the WTO's ruling that the US cannot exclude shrimp caught with methods that endanger sea turtles. The slogan "Teamsters and turtles together at last" has come to symbolize the critical coalescence of diverse forced that made the Seattle protests such an overwhelming success. The November 27th Day of Action will kick off a week of protests by a broad range of social movements united around the message, allowing animal rights activists to once again unite with other campaigners for justice around the shared message "Our World is Not for Sale!" Learn more about the week of action at AM href=http://www.wiserearth.org/group/seattle10>http://www.wiserearth.org/group/seattle10

    Fur Free Friday: An Annual Tradition

    According to FurFreeFriday.com, "Fur-Free Friday, an annual event that takes place the Friday after Thanksgiving, aims to educate people about the horrors suffered by fur-bearing animals. Organized originally in 1986 by grassroots activists to abolish the fur trade, Fur-Free Friday has grown to be one of the most widely attended annual demonstrations of the animal rights movement." Fur Free Friday went worldwide for the first time in 2008. Join with activists around the world on Fur Free Friday 2009 to globalize animal liberation, not corporate free trade!

    Vancouver 2010 Olympics: A Critical Opportunity

    In the lead-up to the 2010 Winter Olympics will be held in Vancouver, Canada will be under unprecedented international scrutiny-- making this a perfect time expose opportunity to expose Canada's latest attempt to undermine animal protection and bring the world's attention once again to the horrors of the Canadian seal hunt. On November 27th, we will shine the Olympic spotlight on Canada's monstrous seal hunt and on its latest cynical effort to undermine animal protection efforts by the EU.


    Organize a protest on Fur Free Friday, November 27, 2009 at your local Canadian Consulate. For a list of Canadian Consulates in the US, visit http://www.quack.net/natda/consulates.html. One idea is to hold an "Animal Cruelty Olympics" a street theater event where activists dressed as Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other Canadian politicians club activists dressed as baby seals-- as an Olympic event! In the performance, Harper bludgeons the most seals and wins. But instead of winning a medal, he is given a giant golden seal penis, to symbolize Canada's trade in seal penis bone and awarded a title he richly deserves, "Biggest Dick in Canada." Global Justice for Animals and the Environment can support your action with literature, national publicity work, a template local press list, a press kit you can give to reporters, access to a media database that you can use to build a local press list, and advice on organizing an effective action. Contact us if you'd like to organize a November 27th action in your area.

    Global Justice for Animals and the Environment is a project of:
    Wetlands Activism Collective
    Phone: (718) 218-4523
    Fax: (501) 633-34761
    activism @ wetlands-preserve.org