While the majority of stories during the current global coronavirus pandemic have focused on generosity, bravery, collaboration and survival, there have also been a few despicable tales of people attempting to profiteer from others' misfortune.
Many in the global wool industry are reeling at the audacity of a well-known animal rights organisation that this week announced it had, "taken advantage of the COVID-19 market slump to purchase stocks in nearly two dozen companies-including Ralph Lauren, Urban Outfitters, Guess, and Capri Holdings [the parent company of Michael Kors and Versace] in order to push brands to ban wool, mohair, and cashmere".
"So we're heading to the boardroom to pressure retailers not to sell items that are devastating to the environment and that goats, sheep, and other animals suffered and died for," People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said.
With shares in more than 56 companies, PETA takes great pride in declaring it buys the stock of target businesses to attend board meetings and pressure management to make change in-line with their vegan-based beliefs.
PETA says their publicity-driven campaigns have been hugely successful, claiming they inspired Elon Musk to switch to vegan leather in Tesla car interiors and companies such as H&M, Calvin Klein, Stella McCartney and Marks & Spencer, have halted the use of Angora in their fashion lines following the release of a video showing the mistreatment of rabbits.
As the New York Post reported, PETA purchased $4000 worth of shares in luxury apparel company Canada Goose when it publicly listed and 40 protesters, dressed like mangled coyotes and bloodied geese, carried on like pork chops outside the New York Stock Exchange.
With COVID-19 impacting consumer confidence and retail sales, we have seen many apparel company shares dive by up to 30 per cent, including Raul Lauren's down by 26pc over the past month.
The fact that PETA has openly declared a shopping spree for cheap stocks to create mischief should not sit well with many people.
While we are all entitled to our views, it is pretty poor to be preying on companies suffering ill-fortune in an unprecedented global health crisis.
This is a time to support each other, buy local, help sustain jobs and enable company executives to be focused on re-building, not wasting time at shareholder meetings.
For the wool industry, there has never been a more pressing time for growers, brokers, buyers, processors and retailers to unite and tell the world of the ethical and sustainable wool growing practices committed to by our farmers.
We can't let misinformation become a reality because we failed to raise our voices to tell our story.
- Stewart Raine is Roberts Ltd's Tasmanian wool manager. Contact him at email@example.com or 0436 452 505.