Day: April 15, 2021

“Compassion is the basis of all morals” (A. Schopenhauer)

Speciesism demands a strict separation between humans and animals. He demands special solidarity with all members of our species.

He assumes that all people have the same value (egalitarianism).

In our society, this is even called a humanistic attitude.
The result is the categorical devaluation of all non-human living beings.

This violent ideology is arbitrary and unfounded like the attitude of a despot who believes that his special power over other living beings also gives him special rights.

All species must have the right to life, freedom, integrity, and protection. Only then is it a right and not a privilege of the ruler.

Fight for basic rights for all feeling, thinking individuals.

regards and good night, Venus

EU: The EU-Mercosur trade agreement will fuel intensive farming.

The EU-Mercosur trade agreement will fuel intensive farming

14 April 2021

WAV Comment – find out more about the agreement by clicking on this link:

The European Union and Mercosur states – Argentina, Brazil Paraguay and Uruguay – reached a political agreement for an ambitious, balanced and comprehensive trade agreement.

Nearly two years after the end of the EU-Mercosur trade negotiations, the European Commission finally published the related final Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA), which confirms the findings of the draft SIA published in July 2020: if ratified as it stands, the agreement will fuel intensive farming, which is detrimental to animals, people, and the environment.

This SIA was released as the ratification of the EU-Mercosur agreement is for now uncertain due to the various concerns raised by civil society organisations. The European Parliament and several Member States, including Austria and France, have pledged not to ratify the deal “as it stands”, mainly because of the significant negative impact the deal will have on deforestation. 

In this context, the SIA tries to defuse some of these concerns by downplaying the impact the deal will have on the expansion of agriculture, and therefore on deforestation. Indeed, the SIA recognises that, in the beef sector, “EU  imports  from  Mercosur  will  increase  in  both  scenarios  (…) but that most of  the deforested  area  is  used  for  low-efficiency  cattle ranching”. Hence,  the SIA suggests that “there  is  great scope  for  expanding  production  by  intensifying  beef  production  in  these  areas  without  inducing deforestation”. However, fuelling the intensification of animal farming is extremely detrimental to animal welfare, but also to people and to the environment as intensive farms often not only rely on crop-based feed, whose production fuels deforestation, but also generates high levels of air, ground and water pollution.  Furthermore, the SIA seems to ignore that, according to a research by Global Forest Watch, the impact of the beef sector on deforestation is five times higher than any other industry, and deforestation rates are increasing worldwide. For instance, in Brazil alone, over half of the country’s deforestation over the last twenty years came from the beef sector, mainly due to the conversion of forests into cattle pasture. As a reminder, the Ambec report – the impact study commissioned by the French government – concluded that, as it stands, the EU-Mercosur agreement would generate an extra 25% of deforestation in the six years following its entry into force. 

The SIA also draws worrying conclusions concerning the Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD) chapter. It recognises that the potential  impact of  TSD provisions are uncertain,  “insofar  as  they  remain  contingent upon  implementation  in  good  faith  of  all  parties”. The decentralisation  of  environmental  regulation in  key countries like Brazil  can  increase this uncertainty. Hence, the environmental concerns are not likely to be addressed unless there is unilateral EU legislation guaranteeing imported products are deforestation-free, or that EU standards, including  animal welfare standards, apply to imported products.   

We regret the late publication of this SIA, which according to the Commission’s own policy, should have contributed to discussions during the negotiations of the agreement. It is worth noting that the European Ombudsman found that:

“the failure of the European Commission to ensure the finalisation of the sustainability impact assessment before the end of the EU-Mercosur trade negotiations constitutes maladministration” and “risks weakening European and national parliaments’ ability to comprehensively debate the trade agreement”

The European Commission also published a Position Paper commenting on the main findings of the SIA report, but it does not not mention any strategy to address the underlined shortcomings or any next step to be taken. For instance, on the beef sector, it supports intensification of the production, regardless of the very negative impact it would have on animal welfare, public health and the environment. Instead of endorsing intensive farming, which is the main driver of deforestation in the Amazon forest, the European Commission should acknowledge that addressing deforestation cannot depend solely on the political will of EU and Mercosur countries, given the economic weight of the beef sector in Mercosur, and the constant imports of beef and soy from the EU.

We  thus call on the EU to uphold the objectives of the Farm to Fork Strategy, which are to use trade policy “to obtain ambitious commitments” from partners in key areas such as animal welfare, and to take this opportunity to negotiate the adoption by Mercosur countries of EU-equivalent legal standards in key sectors (cattle, broiler chicken, laying hens), as well as in terms of transport, or to agree on conditions on animal welfare and sustainability to access tariff-rate quotas or liberalisation in animal products, including the respect of EU-equivalent animal welfare standards.

Regards Mark

CIWF London: 15/4/21 – Time to End the Cage Age – a ban on cages for farmed animals receives overwhelming support at EU Parliament hearing.

Photos – CIWF.

Time to End the Cage Age – a ban on cages for farmed animals receives overwhelming support at EU Parliament hearing

15 April 2021


Press Release

Today (15th April 2021), the European Parliament held a three-hour public hearing on the End the Cage Age European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI), which was warmly welcomed by the three European Commissioners present during the debate. A large number of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) made interventions and, overall, the ECI received overwhelming support.

The End the Cage Age ECI calls on the EU to phase out the use of cages in animal farming. Today’s public hearing was a milestone for the ECI in the run-up to the official response from the European Commission, expected in the next few months.

The EU claims to be a leader in animal welfare, yet every year it condemns more than 300 million farmed animals to lives of misery in cramped cages. This medieval practice is cruel and completely unnecessary since viable cage-free systems not only exist but are also in use in some parts of the EU. A number of pioneering Member States and businesses have led the way in ditching cages. Now it is time for the rest of the EU to catch up. In line with the ambitions of the European Green Deal and Farm to Fork strategy, we call on the European Commission to propose a phase-out of cages in farming through a revision of the 1998 Directive on the protection of farmed animals.

Reineke Hameleers, CEO, Eurogroup for Animals

MEP Norbert Lins, Chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (Group of the European People’s Party, Germany) concluded at the hearing that “most speakers welcomed this initiative” and noted that “the ball is now in the Commission’s court.”

Before the hearing, on 13th April, EU citizens and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) rallied behind the End the Cage Age ECI Initiative on Twitter, encouraging MEPs to support the ECI during the public hearing. A total of 35.000 tweets were sent, reaching a potential number of more than 3,7 million views, making public support for the ECI undeniable.

The End the Cage Age ECI launched on 11th September 2018 and closed exactly a year later. With 1.4 million verified signatures from citizens across the EU, it became the first successful ECI in farmed animal welfare.

Bo Algers, Professor Emeritus at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, said: “EU law for farmed animals is incredibly outdated. Since 1998, when the EU adopted its Directive on the protection of farmed animals, the output from the animal welfare science has on average been tenfold. Today, we have a much better understanding of how physical, physiological and psychological factors relate to animal welfare. A wide range of species-specific ethological needs are not, or cannot be, provided in a cage, whether enriched or not. It is now crystal clear that cages, due to their inherent physical and behavioural restrictions, cannot provide good welfare, no matter how good the management.”

MEP Eleonora Evi, Vice-President of the Animal Welfare Intergroup and co-chair of its cage-free working group, said: “Today’s public hearing marked another fundamental step towards the objective of a cage-free Europe. Together with many like-minded MEPs, we gave a voice to the over 300 million animals that every year, in the EU alone, spend all, or a significant part, of their lives imprisoned in cages. The enormous support received by this European Citizens’ Initiative throughout Europe cannot be ignored by the European Commission, which needs to come forward with a legislative proposal to end the unnecessary cruelty of caged farming as soon as possible, bringing EU farming practices closer to our citizens’ expectations and more aligned with nature and the protection of public health.”

MEP Anja Hazekamp, President of the Animal Welfare Intergroup and co-chair of its cage-free working group, said: “Hundreds of millions of animals in Europe are locked up in cages for farming purposes. These animals have no chance to exercise their natural behaviours and the conditions in which these animals are kept are so bad that their lives become one big agony. Cages are cruel, but also outdated and unnecessary. It’s a milestone that more than 1.4 million citizens have stood up for these animals to put an end to the ‘Cage Age’. We are now looking at the European Commission and the Member States to prove that they take their call seriously, and that they take the European Citizens’ Initiative as a democratic instrument seriously. A legislative proposal to ban the use of cages in agriculture must be put forward without delay.”

Věra Jourovà, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for Values and Transparency, said during the hearing: “The Initiative is fighting for a cause that is topical in the current public debate to improve animal welfare for farmed animals and to invest in sustainable farming. These are valid objectives, which the Commission has embraced in its political ambitions to design fair, healthy, and environmentally-friendly food systems and which have found their way in the Farm to Fork Strategy adopted in May last year.”

Stella Kyriakides, Health and Food Safety Commissioner, said during the hearing: “We are taking steps to tangible action because, as I have repeatedly stated, animal welfare and animal health are very high on our agenda.” She added: “We are very much aware that we need to do more, and we need to strive for better. And we are absolutely determined to do so. The European Citizens’ Initiative is a timely reminder of that. It is a heartful example also of democracy at its best.”

Janusz Wojciechowski, Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner, said during the hearing that EU farm subsidies and recovery funds “can also be used in part to phase out caged farming and implement alternative methods”, and added “you have the full support from the European Commission to implement this transformation.”

Ruud Zanders, co-founder of the high animal welfare poultry farm, Kipster, said: “I grew up on my parents’ intensive poultry farm, which ended up going bankrupt in 2007. This made me rethink the model of production we were using. With Kipster, we set off to create the most animal, environment and people-friendly poultry farm on this planet. It turned out to be a golden egg for us, as our business is both profitable and scalable. We do not only want to respond to consumer demands but anticipate change and even set an example in the world that better ways of farming are possible.

The hearing was organised by the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development in association with the Committee on Petitions.

The hearing’s programme can be found here

The hearing’s recording can be accessed here.

Regards Mark

the happy face spider from Hawaii

Theridion grallator is a species of spider in the genus Theridion that is found exclusively in Hawaii.
The underside is light yellow and somewhat transparent.

Depending on the food consumed, it can be red, black, and white in color.
T. grallator gets its name from its long, spindly legs (grallator meaning “stilt-walker” in Latin).

It gets the nickname happy-face spider because of the yellow color on most of the body and the patterns on the abdomen.
The pattern is similar to a smiling face.
Therefore the common English name is also “happy face spider”.

This polymorphism could counteract the applicability of their hunters’ prey schemes.
The females live as solitary animals under leaves in forests.
They defend their egg balls aggressively and look after the brood for a while after they hatch.
It can happen that some young animals of the brood are taken in by foster mothers.

They mostly live predatorily and feed mainly on captured arthropods, especially insects that they suck out.
For this purpose, the prey animals are first dissolved with an enzyme-containing digestive juice, which the spider brings into its victim, which has been killed with its jaw claws.

It is absolutely harmless to humans.
Despite its restricted habitat, the Theridion Grallator is not considered endangered according to the IUCN

Text: Together for the animals

Not all happy-face spiders have such striking markings, and some are nearly all orange or all blue.
The Hawaiian name is nananana makakiʻi (face-patterned spider).
In addition to the variety of color polymorphisms present in T. grallator, this spider also demonstrates the interesting quality of diet-induced color change, in which its appearance temporarily changes as it metabolizes various food items.

T. grallator spiders do not utilize webs to capture prey, so they do not follow the sit-and-wait method of web-building spiders. Instead, they will forage freely, often traveling to nearby leaves to capture insects.

During prey capture, T. grallator spiders use their silk.
Common prey include Dolichopodidae and Drosophilidae.

A very likable animal and a splendid specimen of the genus!

My best regards to all, Venus