LONDON — Stella McCartney said Friday that she has stopped sourcing sustainable wool from the Ovis 21 network in Patagonia, Argentina, after viewing a video released by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which alleges the mistreatment of lambs there.
PETA’s video purports to show the sheep on an Ovis 21 farm being injured while being sheared, then being skinned and killed. McCartney said after viewing the video — made last year by PETA — her label conducted its own investigation into the ranches there, and found that one out of the 26 ranches mistreated its sheep. “It is one too many,” said McCartney in a statement on her Facebook page. “As a designer who built a brand on not using leather, fur or animal skins in its designs, I can’t tolerate it.”
McCartney said she would monitor suppliers “even more closely,” and is looking into developing a vegan alternative to wool, in the same way that her label has developed alternatives to leather and fur.
Outdoor clothing label Patagonia, which also works closely with the Ovis 21 network, posted a statement on its Web site Wednesday, calling PETA’s video “disturbing.” “We are not immune to shocking images,” the statement read. “There is no excuse for violent shearing methods and inhumane slaughter. We are investigating the practices shown,” the company said, adding that it will “work with Ovis 21 to make needed corrections and improvements, and report back to our customers and the public on the steps we will take.” Patgonia added: “We apologize for the harm done in our name.”
But Patagonia did argue that two of the practices in the video are standard across the wool industry – castrating select flock members to eliminate overcrowding and docking tails, to reduce instances of infection in sheep and improve hygiene.
Patagonia stated that it has worked in “close partnership” with Ovis 21 since 2011, to develop “a radical new way to grow wool — one that regenerates rather than depletes grassland [and] keeps alive a way of life in the Patagonia region.” “PETA does not believe in the use of animals for any human purpose; this is a belief we respect but do not share,” Patagonia’s statement read. “Nevertheless, PETA plays an important role in raising awareness of harmful practices involving animals, and we listen when legitimate concerns are uncovered, even if we become a target of their activism,” it added.
Ovis 21 released a statement Friday, saying that it had “identified and intervened [at] the property involved, which is now no longer a certified property.” “The images depicting inhumane treatment of lambs and sheep are unacceptable,” said Ricardo Fenton, co-founder of Ovis 21, in a statement. “We are very sorry and we are working to reverse this unpleasant reality.”
Fenton added that he regretted that Ovis 21 were not informed in December 2014, when the footage was shot, so they could “act immediately.” He added that Ovis 21 is working toward implementing third party animal welfare standards for its certified properties. Fenton noted that Ovis 21 manages a network of farmers who aim to create a “regeneration culture” in the Patagonian grasslands. “We work to improve biodiversity [and] revert widespread land degradation, migration from rural ares to cities and farmers’ bankruptcy.”
In its own statement on the video’s release, PETA called for all companies and consumers to stop using real wool. “Today, finding alternatives to hide, fur and fleece is easy, and no animal has to suffer when businesses make kind choices,” PETA’s U.K. director Mimi Bekhechi said.