Copenhagen, Nov 21 (efe-epa).- The Danish government’s decision to cull millions of mink because of a mutation of the coronavirus that could affect the effectiveness of vaccines has closed down the fur production of the world’s largest breeder of the animals, triggering a political storm that has already caused the resignation of one minister.
When the Social Democrat Prime Minister, Mette Frederiksen, ordered about 15 million mink in Denmark to be culled earlier this month, following the advice of health authorities after they detected mutations of the virus that had jumped to humans and weakening the ability to create antibodies, she put a sudden stop to a highly lucrative industry.
Dating back 90 years, mink breeding in Denmark accounted for four percent of its agricultural exports, employing some 6,000 people.
“We have been forced to make this decision and the conclusion is not negotiable. That is our conviction,” said Frederiksen at the time, whose political profile had been boosted by the government’s speedy and effective response to the pandemic.
What the Danish leader did not foresee was the storm that would break out in the following days, when it was discovered that the minority Social Democratic government did not have the legal backing to order the cull of all mink in the country, but only on farms where the infection had been detected or were within a radius of 7.8 kilometers of the infected facilities.
Although the government improvised a reform with its center-left allies to give the order legality and ban mink farming until 2022, pressure from the media, the opposition and its own parliamentary supporters forced Agriculture Minister Mogens Jensen to resign on Wednesday.
Jensen left office on the same day that the results of three internal investigations were published, which revealed that he had already been warned in September, when the mink outbreak was starting to grow, of the legal problems of a possible cull of the entire mink population. The inquiries also found that this message was repeated a month later by the ministerial task force on Covid-19.
Frederiksen was not warned of the legal issue until four days after the culling announcement, the internal investigation found, but she did not stop the order, instead limiting herself to informing Parliament by letter, while mink farmers did not receive notice from authorities until 48 hours later.
“It’s a little strange that I keep getting asked this question when it comes to the health of the Danes. We did not make the decision to sacrifice all the minks for fun,” she reiterated two days ago. Freriksen, like several of her ministers, has publicly regretted the “mistake” and apologized.