Day: November 28, 2021

European zoos want to cull gorillas!

Gorillas in the wild are critically endangered. Too many of them live in European zoos. Now some are supposed to die. The outcry is great.

They actually live in the African rainforest, are intelligent, sensitive and threatened with extinction in the wild: Western lowland gorillas, the smallest of the four gorilla species, are between 1.20 and 1.80 meters tall and in tests achieve an intelligence quotient between 70 and 90
People don’t do much better on average, most people score somewhere between 85 and 115…

In the wild they are critically endangered. The exact number of western lowland gorillas is not known because they inhabit some of the most dense and remote rainforests in Africa.
Because of poaching and disease, the gorilla’s numbers have declined by more than 60% over the last 20 to 25 years.

In contrast, so many of these gorillas live in European zoos and animal parks that it is getting crowded. From a certain age, male animals are often kept separate from younger and female conspecifics.

Zoo operators are therefore considering killing male lowland gorillas, reports the Guardian.
This emerges from previously secret documents from the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA).

Castration and culling – that is, targeted killing – are options for reducing overpopulation in zoos, according to the association’s papers. Currently, 463 such gorillas live in the almost 70 EAZA zoos, 212 of them are male.

The gorilla action plan, released to stakeholders in zoos, admits that culling would be “the most appropriate tool if strictly talking from the biological point of view,” but that the decision could be unpopular with the public.

“From a biological point of view, killing is the best means.
“It is wrong in many ways to castrate or kill a healthy gorilla for human convenience.”
Ian Redmond, BBC presenter

Animal rights activists are appalled by the plans.
The lowland gorillas are threatened with extinction and are protected by international law.

The conservationist Damian Aspinall, whose foundation has already released gorillas, wants to save the animals.
“It’s so sad that zoos are considering killing gorillas when they can be released into the wild,” Aspinall said.

The world community has only just committed to protecting biodiversity.

However, the release into the wild is difficult, especially with great apes, says primate expert Garrod.

Gorillas from Europe, for example, could introduce diseases into the African wilderness, which would have devastating effects.
In addition, an area would have to be found that is far away from other gorillas – and from villages, in order to avoid conflicts between animals and humans.

Poachers and disease have decimated the population by more than half in the past few decades.

An EAZA spokeswoman confirmed the killing plans to the Guardian as “part of the management plan” (!!!)
The zoos would, however, support reintroduction if the conditions are suitable.

But she also emphasized that there had been no culls so far and that the association would not currently recommend this explicitly. Castration, on the other hand, is common practice to control the number of animals.

Continue reading “European zoos want to cull gorillas!”

EU: Member States – Insects Authorised for Human Food and Animal Feed.

House Crickets

Insects authorised for food and feed

25 November 2021

If the legal framework is still in development, why are authorisation procedures moving forward?

The European Commission (EC) will ask Member States to authorise two new insect species for human consumption on 30 November (Comitology). Previously the EC had told Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) in a written answer that “the Commission will continue to develop the legal framework for insects”.

During the last meeting of the Standing Committee on Plant, Animals, Feed and Food (PAFF), an Implementing Act authorised the sale of Locusta Migratoria, commonly known as grasshoppers, as a novel food. On 30 November, the Commission will present a draft implementing act to authorise Tenebrio Molitor, mealworms, and Acheta Domesticus, house crickets as a novel food.


These authorisations follow an amendment to the “Feed Ban” which allowed the use of processed insects in poultry and pig feed. Although authorisations for feed and food products may differ from a toxicological point of view, in terms of the market for the insect producing industry, both are connected and share similar areas of concern. 

The time is now to have a broader political discussion on how to develop an appropriate framework for this growing industry. There is still a significant lack of knowledge surrounding insects and how best to rear them industrially. Taking hasty authorisation decisions today may prove costly further down the line.

Specifically, Eurogroup for Animals suggest considering carefully the following points:

  • Industrial insect farming’s ecosystem impacts: Large scale insect farming may have consequences for local ecosystems, threaten food security and biodiversity. In addition to the destruction of crops or forests, high insect concentrations pose a health hazard as they can spread pathogens, can be parasitic and create extra competition for resources for other species. 
  • The changing climate increases the capacity of invasive alien species to establish: An increased risk of insect-borne pathogens would pose an additional threat to already struggling wild-living insects that are essential for the ecosystem, such as pollinators. Beyond the economic impact, the impact on local ecosystems would compromise both biodiversity and food security. Accidental releases from insect farms can, therefore, lead to inordinate concentrations of a species in a given area or the introduction of invasive alien species into European ecosystems. The economic consequences could be significant, considering that invasive species are the cause of a 14% reduction in global food production.
  • Industrial insect farming is energy intensive and has potential high climate and environmental impacts: While insect protein is touted as an alternative feed that requires less land use, this case can only be made if the insects are fed on by-products. In practice, most producers do not rely on food waste to feed their insects. Life Cycle Analyses (LCA) show that insect farming is energy intensive and uses more land than generally assumed. The EU’s goal “to reduce the environmental and climate footprint of the EU food system” by ensuring that the food chain has a neutral or positive environmental impact may be incompatible with the generalisation and intensification of insect farming. In fact, the EFSA notes that the environmental impact of insect farming will be comparable to other forms of animal production.
  • Placing industrial insect production into the EU’s broader goals: promoting a sustainable food system instead of boosting factory farming: Insect-derived protein is presented as a solution to diminish the use of imported soy and other feed crops linked to deforestation, as well as replacing the use of fishmeal from depleted oceans. Promoting industrial insect production will, ultimately, sustain intensive animal production models instead of facilitating the transition to a sustainable food system as envisaged by the European Green Deal.  A sustainable food system should focus on reducing the amount of animal products and supplying them from systems with higher welfare standards. Animal consumption patterns, therefore, should shift primarily to plant-based diets. Boosting industrial insect production for animal feed will sustain factory farming with its serious animal welfare and environmental concerns. Indeed, the European Commission’s Agricultural Outlook forecasts that the increased supply of insect meal and lower prices could support conventional intensive animal production if the practice is fully commercialised and existing restrictions lifted. 

Read the position paper:


Position Paper – Insect farming: a false solution for the EU’s food system – October 202148


Or you can go Vegan !

Regards Mark





New report presents key recommendations to improve animal welfare under the modernised EU-Chile trade agreement.

25 November 2021

Press Release

In the midst of national elections in Chile, Eurogroup for Animals and Vegetarianos Hoy launched a report calling on the EU and Chile to better address animal welfare in their modernised trade agreement. The conclusion of the first EU-Chile agreement, back in 2002, was followed by increased intensification in the Chilean livestock and aquaculture sectors. The new text must do better and contribute to a transition towards sustainable food systems, in which the animals’ wellbeing is promoted and respected.

The first round of the Chilean presidential and parliamentary elections just occured last weekend. In the run up to these elections, the debate around the finalisation and ratification of the modernised EU-Chile association agreement increased in the EU. The two leading candidates that will run against each other in the second electoral round (19/12) have not expressed clear opposition to concluding such an agreement with the EU. 

In 2002, when the EU and Chile concluded their first trade agreement, they added, for the first time ever, provisions on animal welfare cooperation. Even if this cooperation was only based on animal welfare standards established by the World Organisation for Animal health (OIE), the inclusion of these provisions contributed to fast-forwarding the adoption by the Chilean government of a national law on the protection of animals in 2009. 

As negotiations are ending, Eurogroup for Animals and the Chilean based organisation Vegetarianos Hoy reiterate their call on both partners to seize the opportunity offered by the modernisation of the EU-Chile agreement to guarantee that EU-Chile trade does not have a detrimental impact on animals, and that the new trade deal contributes to a transition towards sustainable food systems that would benefit animals, people and the environment.  

The timing has never been better for the EU to engage with Chile on this topic: the Chilean Parliament is currently debating two pieces of legislation about the legal status of animals and cage-free egg production. 

There is also urgency to act. Since the entry into force of the 2002 trade agreement, the livestock industry in Chile has grown and intensified significantly. Exports of Chilean salmon, chicken and pig meat to the EU have increased as well, and, as the 2002 agreement did not condition trade preferences with the respect of any animal welfare-related conditions, this trade between the EU and Chile has indirectly contributed to the spread of this more intensive model of livestock farming – which is not only detrimental to animal welfare, but also fuel global challenges such as the spread of zoonoses, the surge of antimicrobial resistance, biodiversity loss, deforestation and climate change.  

This phenomenon could even worsen as Chilean producers indicated more market access would provide them with more incentives to develop their exports to the EU. If the modernised EU-Chile trade agreement were to provide such significant market access to Chilean animal products, it should also condition this preferential access to the respect of EU-equivalent or higher animal welfare standards. Moreover, the modernised deal must include ambitious provisions on animal welfare cooperation, with a recognition of animal sentience and cooperations aiming at regulatory alignment with EU rules.

The first EU-Chile agreement was a turning point for animal welfare in trade policy. Yet, the intensification of livestock farming and aquaculture that followed shows that stronger tools are needed to ensure trade policy does not negatively impact animals. The EU must use the modernisation process around the EU-Chile agreement  to condition the granting of further market access on the respect of EU-equivalent animal welfare standards. By doing so the EU would not only contribute to improving the welfare of animals, but also incentivise farmers and producers to switch to more sustainable and humane methods of production.

Reineke Hameleers, CEO, Eurogroup for Animals

All eyes are on the EU to reconcile the objectives of the Green Deal, and, as foreseen in the Farm-to-Fork strategy, use its trade policy to “obtain ambitious commitments from third countries in key areas such as animal welfare”.

Chile – Animal Protection in EU Trade Negotiations


Briefing: Chile | Animal Protection in EU Trade Negotiations – November


Regards Mark