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TEXAS – An apparel industry working group set up to ensure down is produced responsibly lacks transparency and puts industry profit above animal welfare, claims a leading animal rights organisation.

PETA has now withdrawn from Textile Exchange’s (TE) Responsible Down Standard (RDS) International Working Group (IWG) Charter in protest at an alleged bias towards down producers and suppliers.

PETA expressed dismay that the group requires a confidentiality agreement and allows discussions to be off the record, accusing the group of a “shady lack of transparency.”

In a letter to the group, PETA also notes that the RDS requires only 50 percent compliance with “minor” RDS standard requirements which, says PETA, “allows suppliers to get away with practices that systemically harm animals—including punching holes in birds’ feet; clipping their wings; declawing, dumping, and throwing hatchlings; and failing to provide them with protection from extreme weather conditions or predators.”

PETA claims the confidentiality agreement reveals a further bias toward the interests of companies, suppliers, and producers that profit from down rather than a commitment to animal care.

“PETA has pushed the committee since day one to act to reduce suffering, but it’s clear that it’s focused on protecting companies, not animals,” said PETA director of corporate affairs, Anne Brainard. “PETA will continue to work directly with companies to urge them to ditch down and embrace warm and sustainable feather-free materials that no animal has to suffer and die for.”

PETA claims there is no such thing as “responsible” down because, “no matter what efforts are made to reduce cruelty, all birds suffer and are slaughtered in this industry.”

PETA is highly critically that RDS meetings now use the Chatham House Rule. In its letter, it added: “Stakeholders have already voiced concerns regarding cost and expressed apprehension that farmers may find the criteria too restrictive. They’ve also suggested that parallel production at slaughterhouses can’t be enforced, that it would take too much time and effort to inspect parent farms where live plucking is rampant, and that certain requirements would be inconvenient.”

The Responsible Down Standard is an independent, voluntary global standard which was developed with input from industry experts, animal welfare groups, brands and retailers.

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