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Denmark wants to ban mink farming until end of 2021 as it plans to kill 15m over Covid-19

The Danish government said it wants to ban mink farming until the end of 2021, as it presented a law proposal that would allow for the culling of 15 million minks as announced last week.

Minks at a farm in Gjoel, Denmark. Source: Associated Press

The culling is meant to contain a mutated version of the new coronavirus that can be transmitted to people, though there is no evidence so far that it is more dangerous.

The government needs a new law as it does not have the right to order the killing of healthy animals.

The opposition criticized the government for starting the cull before the law was in place and before defining plans to compensate the breeders and their staff.

"I regret the course of events," Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told the 179-seat Parliament during a question-and-answer session Tuesday.

"Although things went fast, it goes without saying that it must be completely clear that a new legislation is required here," Frederiksen said.

Under the proposed law, mink farming will not be allowed until December 31, 2021, though a limited number of mink can be held privately, as pets for example.

The ruling Social Democrats have 48 seats in Parliament and need support to reach the majority of 90 lawmakers.

Taking a safety-first approach, the Danish government on Wednesday ordered the cull of all minks bred at Denmark's 1,139 mink farms and has put more than a quarter million Danes in a northern region of the country into lockdown.

It said the mutated version of the virus was found in 11 people infected by minks.

Public authorities and mink breeders have started the culling, putting down some 2.5 million animals - infected and healthy - so far

Denmark, the world's largest mink fur exporter, produces an estimated 17 million furs per year.

Kopenhagen Fur, a cooperative of 1,500 Danish breeders, accounts for 40 per cent of the global mink production. Most of its exports go to China and Hong Kong.