Copenhagen, Nov 21 (EFE) .- The Danish Government’s decision to slaughter millions of minks due to a coronavirus mutation that could affect the efficacy of vaccines has closed the fur production of the world’s largest breeder of these animals and caused a storm policy that has already caused the downfall of a minister.
When the Social Democratic Prime Minister, Mette Frederiksen, ordered the slaughter of the nearly 15 million minks in Denmark on the 4th, following the advice of health authorities by detecting mutations that had passed to humans and weakening the ability to create antibodies , effectively ended a successful industry.
Mink farming in Denmark dates back some 90 years and in recent decades had placed this Nordic country at the head of the world in a criticized sector (several countries prohibit this practice for ethical reasons), a buoyant business that represented the 4 % of national agricultural exports and employed about 6,000 people, counting associated industries.
“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 figure had so far been greatly strengthened by the government’s speed to act in the midst of the pandemic in a country among the least punished in Europe.
What the Danish president did not foresee was the storm that broke out in the following days, when it was known that the minority Social Democratic Government did not have legal coverage to order the slaughter of all minks, but only in the farms where contagion had been detected or they were within 7.8 kilometers of the infected facility.
Although the Executive negotiated a reform on the fly with its center-left allies to give legality to the order and ban mink farming until 2022, pressure from the media, the opposition and its own parliamentary support forced them to resign on Wednesday to the Minister of Agriculture, Mogens Jensen.
Jensen left office on the same day that the results of three internal investigations were published, which reveal that he had already been warned in September, when the contagion of mink began to grow, of the legal problems of a possible sacrifice of the entire population, and that That message was also received a month later by the ministerial coordination commission on covid-19.
Frederiksen was not warned of the legal problem until four days after the announcement, according to the internal investigation, but did not stop the order, but only informed Parliament by letter, although the mink farmers did not receive any notification from the authorities until after 48 hours.
“It’s a bit weird that I keep getting asked this question when it comes to the health of Danes. We did not make the decision to sacrifice all minks for fun, “reiterated angrily two days ago Frederiksen, who like several of his ministers has publicly regretted the” mistake “and apologized.
Denmark, which has a population of about 5.7 million, has so far registered 68,894 coronavirus cases and 781 deaths, with a death rate of 13.3 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.
A PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSION WILL INVESTIGATE THE CASE
Taking advantage of Jensen’s departure, the Government has transferred its head of department to another ministry and reorganized several portfolios, but the measures have not satisfied the Danish media, who demand more responsibilities, or the opposition, which has used terms such as “ catastrophe “,” scandal “or” madness “for his performance.
The “minkgate”, as it has been baptized by the press, has become more entangled when it became known that the National Police, which acted in support of the authorities, urged their agents to inform the breeders of the obligation to sacrifice their minks to despite the fact that it was already known that the order was illegal if no previous contagion had been detected or the facility was not close to another infected one.
“It is a failure that I deeply regret. We have a lot of work to do and, unfortunately, sometimes there are glitches. I want to personally apologize to the breeders who have received erroneous information ”, said this Thursday the director of the National Police, Thorkild Fogde.
Several parties have already forced an appearance by the Minister of Justice, Nick Hækkerup, and have pressed for the creation of a commission to investigate the case, a request that the Government has finally accepted, although its nature and scope remains to be defined.
The media have resurrected the ghost of the “Tamil case”: in 1993 the government of conservative Poul Schlutter had to resign for lying to Parliament about the delay of the authorities in processing the demands of family reunification of several refugees from Sri Lanka, but it seems unlikely May this crisis reach those resignations.
But although the center-left parties that give the government the majority have already implied that Frederiksen is untouchable, the figure of the prime minister has been damaged: her style of strong leader who controls all the decisions that benefited her so much At the beginning of the pandemic it has played against him now, although there are no general elections planned until 2023.
POLEMIC FOR INDEMNIFICATIONS AND PROTESTS OF BREEDERS
The Danish Breeders Association has criticized what they consider an expropriation and a scandal and accused the government of “violating the Constitution”, in the words of its president, Tage Pedersen.
Hundreds of farmers from all over Denmark, mounted on top of their tractors, participated this Saturday in a double concentration held in Copenhagen and in Aarhus, the country’s second largest city, to protest the actions of the authorities in the case.
Between banners accusing the Government of violating the Constitution and calling for Frederiksen’s resignation, leading figures from all right-wing parties supported the protesters at a protest held next to the port of Copenhagen.
The Government continues to negotiate with the rest of the parties compensation for mink breeders, which in the absence of a final agreement seems to be much higher than the 2,800 million crowns (376 million euros) initially calculated by the authorities.
The foreseeable high amount of compensation has also raised criticism from other sectors affected by the pandemic, both due to the controversy surrounding a prohibited industry already in other European countries and the fact that the fur sector was experiencing economic problems in those countries. last years.
If in 2013 Denmark had 1,169 farms dedicated exclusively to mink farming, which achieved an average annual profit of 443,000 euros, six years later only 792 remained, the average loss was 0.7 million (94,000 euros) and exports had fallen by 63%, according to figures from the National Statistics Office.
While the political controversy continues to grow, the alarm created by the SARS-CoV-2 mutation has apparently disappeared: the health authorities this week declared the strain eradicated “with great probability” and lifted the harsh restrictions in the north ahead of time. of Jutland.