Send a Cow in Christmas move to bust gift myths

An agricultural development charity that sells virtual gifts has published a guide defending the environmental record of its scheme after a spate of criticism in the press.

Send a Cow has sent the information sheet, Blessing, Not a Burden, to journalists to "bust some of the myths" about buying livestock for families in Africa.

The charity has also publicised the leaflet in its magazine for supporters and will use it to respond to comments from members of the public.

Last year, Animal Aid and the World Land Trust condemned charities that sell 'give-a-goat' gifts, claiming that the animals exacerbate poverty by using water and damaging land (Third Sector, 29 November 2006).

"Send a Cow and some of the other major charities offering ethical gifts did get some bad press last Christmas," said a spokeswoman for the charity. "This year we have produced a leaflet to reassure people who are keen to buy ethical gifts."

The Send a Cow leaflet assures supporters that the livestock gifts they buy are sent only to families that request them, so all the gifts are needed.

It says the environmental impact of its gifts is reduced because, before the charity delivers large livestock to families, it checks that they have reliable water supplies, shows them how to harvest rainwater and advises them about how to use fodder rather than allowing animals to graze freely.

Last month, the charity also presented independent research showing that its programmes capture more carbon than they emit.

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