Day: February 21, 2022

EU: Study About EU-Mercosur Agreement Wrongly States That Animal Welfare Standards Apply to Agri-Food Trade.

17 February 2022

A study requested by the International Trade (INTA) committee of the European Parliament analyses the trade aspects of the EU-Mercosur agreement and recognises that the animal welfare provisions foreseen in the agreement are weak. However, the study wrongly states that imports of animal products must comply with EU animal welfare standards.

Eurogroup for Animals welcomes the study published in November 2021 as far as it recognises that animal welfare “is closely linked to sustainable development” and that the current deal “gives rise to questions as to whether [it] fully responds to the EU’s strong stand on the issue of animal welfare as such and its potential trade implications”. As long stated by Eurogroup for Animals, the EU-Mercosur agreement is a bad deal for animals, nature and people.

However, the study misunderstands the requirements that imports of animal products need to comply with, and hence wrongly concludes that the conditional liberalisation for egg products included in the deal is “closing a gap” for imports of animal products. Indeed, the study argues that in the EU, “animal welfare standards are quite ambitious”, and that given the ongoing revision of the animal welfare legislation and the European Citizen Initiative “End The Cage Age”, these standards “are likely to be defined even more strictly in the future”. As a consequence, the study suggests trade implications “since exporters are often required to conform with EU legislation by way of a certificate on equivalence to be presented on importation (calves, pigs, slaughtering, transports)”. Furthermore, the study, while analysing the liberalisation of agri-food trade, wrongly states that “in general, all products need to fulfil animal welfare standards”.

This seems to be a confusion between animal welfare standards and general import standards. Imports of animal products, which are often produced under poor animal welfare standards, do not need to comply with EU-equivalent animal welfare standards (on farm practices or transport), except for those at the time of slaughter. And imports of live animals, which are low, need certification mainly on health issues. Import standards are for instance, veterinary controls and maximum residue levels (MRLs) for pesticides.

This misunderstanding possibly led the study to assume a “notable exception” for egg products that would not need to comply with animal welfare standards. This “notable exception” would be “addressed by the preferential scheme on eggs, as the EU attached a condition to its liberalisation offer in view of compliance with relevant EU standards”.  However, the conditional liberalisation on shell eggs, far from “closing a gap”, is merely a step in the right direction with the first animal welfare-based condition in a trade agreement. 

Eurogroup for Animals calls on the EU to uphold the objectives of the Farm to Fork Strategy, and to take the opportunity of the revision of the animal welfare legislation to include a trade aspect in the future EU legislation on animal welfare. In parallel, the EU could extend the conditional liberalisation of the trade in shelled eggs, and to agree on animal welfare and sustainability-based conditions required to access tariff-rate quotas or liberalisation in all animal products, including the respect of EU-equivalent animal welfare standards. 

Regards Mark

Standards – What Standards ?

The victims of the meat eaters

What is the ultimate justification for abusing animals?
How do people justify their horrible treatment of animals?
Preferably not at all, of course, and that’s a shame, because most people are familiar with the problem of meat consumption.

In 100 years, people will judge animal eaters with the same disgust we view slave owners today.

regards and good night, Venus

Lawsuit against Elon Musk’s Neuralink: 16 laboratory monkeys dead

A U.S. medical group has filed a lawsuit and federal complaint against UC Davis (University of California)  over sometimes-fatal monkey experiments at a lab funded by Elon Musk.

The animals had parts of their skulls removed in order to implant Neuralink electrodes in their brains.

Neuralink was founded in 2016 by Elon Musk.
His vision of the company’s goals is to use this start-up to develop high-bandwidth brain implants that could then communicate with phones and computers, for example.

In July 2021, the US broadcaster CNBC reported that the start-up Neuralink received 205 million US dollars from several investors.
These included Google Ventures, Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman.

OpenAI LP is a company engaged in research into artificial intelligence and is funded by Microsoft, among others, in addition to the fact that Musk is also investing money in OpenAI-CEO.
Google Ventures is part of the investment arm of Alphabet Inc., the company formed in October 2015 through a reorganization of Google.
Thiel was a former Facebook investor, PayPal co-inventor and is considered one of the most successful founders and investors in Silicon Valley.
This brings the total investment in the company to $363 million.

Several US media have now reported that Musk had paid more than $1.4 million to the US University of California, Davis (UC Davis) by 2020.
The money funded a research partnership that allows for the use of laboratory facilities where university scientists helped the company test its technology on macaque monkeys.

The nonprofit organization Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) has now filed a clearly worded lawsuit and federal complaint against UC Davis over suspected lethal monkey experiments at the Musk-funded lab.

The website of the PCRM, a national non-profit organization with more than 17,000 medical members, reports that “Elon Musk and Neuralink experimented on rats, pigs and monkeys to develop a new brain-computer interface (a system , which enables the human brain to communicate directly with a computer)”.

However, studies have shown that the development “of these interfaces can be achieved using human-relevant, non-animal and non-invasive methods,” according to information from the PCRM.
Invasive means to interfere with an organ for diagnostic purposes.

The allegations against Musk and Neuralink are immense and would confirm frightening events.
The lawsuit is based on nearly 600 pages of existing documents that were only released after the Medical Committee filed a first lawsuit for access to public records in 2021.
In addition, the Medical Committee filed a second lawsuit in Yolo County Superior Court against the release of documents to compel the university to release videos and photos of the monkeys. According to the PCRM’s website, the lawsuit states:

“Most of the animals had parts of their skulls removed in order to implant electrodes in their brains as part of Neuralink’s development of a ‘brain-machine interface’.”

The US website Daily Beast wrote to Musk about the findings and allegations.
He replied that Neuralink was doing everything possible to take care of “our animals”.

Continue reading “Lawsuit against Elon Musk’s Neuralink: 16 laboratory monkeys dead”

EU: Decerle Report Prioritises the Economic Interests of Farmers Over and Above the Welfare of Farmed Animals.

Press Release

16 February 2022

European Parliament backs retrogressive report, which lacks ambition for animal welfare and flies in the face of citizens’ wishes

On February 15, the European Parliament (EP) adopted the Implementation report on on-farm animal welfare with 496 votes in favour, 140 against and 51 abstentions. 

Eurogroup for Animals, along with its members Compassion in World Farming and Four Paws, strongly opposed the adoption of the final report asking Members of the European parliament (MEPs) to adopt the alternative ENVI opinion instead. 

Despite the use of “animal welfare” in its title, the adopted report focuses more on farmers’ economic interests rather than improving the conditions of animals in EU farming systems.

When the report was announced civil society had great hopes that the European Parliament would pay full attention to a fundamental issue, close to citizens hearts and EU policy makers, as reflected in the European Commission’s Farm-to-Fork Strategy and their commitment to revise animal welfare legislation, as well as in the Parliament’s own position to phase out the use of cages.

The final Resolution – the adopted form of the report – even goes as far as contradicting what was adopted in previous Parliamentary Resolutions, specifically: 

  • Foie gras, which involves force-feeding, is presented as respecting animal welfare criteria despite the fact that the EP recognised the incompatibility of foie gras production and animal welfare in its recent resolution on the ECI “End the Cage Age”.
  • The report suggests focusing on more clarity rather than improving standards. This is not in line with the EP’s resolution on the Farm to Fork Strategy which considers it important to set higher legal standards for animal welfare.
  • The report erroneously claims that some measures believed to improve animal welfare may in fact be counterproductive and undermine other aspects of sustainability, namely health and safety on farm, as well as the the fight against antimicrobial resistance and efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is diametrically opposed to the Parliament’s own Resolution on the Farm to Fork Strategy, which clearly states that a high level of animal welfare is important to sustainable development and has the potential to strengthen the economic and environmental sustainability of European farmers.

An implementation report is, unsurprisingly given its name, supposed to assess the implementation of current on-farm animal welfare rules. In this, the adopted Resolution from the EP fails in two respects: it neither addresses the problems with the current rules, nor does it focus on welfare of the animals themselves. Instead it preoccupies itself with the maintenance of a broken system that incentivises the worst kinds of farming for the environment, health and, most of all, for the animals.

MEPs have sent contradictory messages to an ambitious and progressive European Commission. Earlier in the term, they wanted better welfare, new systems of farming and a shift in-line with the Commission’s Green Deal. Yesterday they voted for something that is nothing other than a defence of the status quo. Whilst we commend those MEPs who fought for the far more ambitious opinion from the Parliament’s Environment committee, who stood up for the welfare of animals in-line with citizens’ wishes, the European Parliament has, as a whole, backed down to the narrow interests of big agriculture.

Reineke Hameleers, CEO, Eurogroup for Animals

Regards Mark

EU: The Dog and Cat Meat Trade: Interview With MEP Petras Auštrevičius.

Office of Petras Auštrevičius

18 February 2022

Four Paws

As investigated by Eurogroup for Animals’ member, Four Paws, every year over 10 million dogs and cats are killed for their meat in Southeast Asia, with Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam hosting the most robust dog meat trade in the region.

Animals of unknown health status are sourced to supply the trade from multiple locations. Traumatised, diseased, with depleted immune systems and without food and water they are transported in poor hygiene conditions, in many cases, for thousands of kilometres and cross-border, often mix with other species at marketplaces, slaughterhouses and restaurants. Why should it matter to the EU to bring this trade to an end?

MEP Petras Auštrevičius, is Chair of Companion Animals Working Group of the European Parliament Intergroup on Animal Welfare and Conservation.

Many people do not realise that while in the EU most cats and dogs are treated as companion animals, there are other parts of the world where cats and dogs would be qualified as farm animals. Would you be able to elaborate on that? Why is such meat imported and what are the countries that import it?

It is estimated that annually 10 million dogs and cats are killed for human consumption in Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia. The trade involves extreme animal cruelty during capture, transport, holding and slaughter with dogs and cats often stolen or forcefully taken from their owners. In Vietnam the trade kills approximately 5 million dogs and 1 million cats, in Cambodia 3 million dogs and an unknown number of cats, and in Indonesia 1 million dogs and hundreds of thousands of cats. The trade is also existent in Africa, although poor data on the topic are available. The meat is largely found as a delicacy, however, there is quite poor social support for continuation of this trade. A great majority of Vietnamese, Cambodian and Indonesian citizens do not see the future for the cat and dog meat trade. The speakers and participants agreed that now is the time for ASEAN countries to ban the cat and dog meat trade and enforce their legislation on animal movement and rabies eradication to protect the consumers and prevent future pandemics.

Looking at the immediate impact on animals, why is it a particularly cruel trade for the animals?

Animals of unknown health status are sourced to supply the trade from multiple locations. Traumatised, diseased, with depleted immune systems and without food and water they are transported in poor hygiene conditions, in many cases, for thousands of kilometres and cross-border, often mix with other species at marketplaces, slaughterhouses and restaurants.

Why does the dog and cat meat trade matter to Europe? What risks does this trade bring?

The cat and dog meat trade and consumption pose a significant human health risk and severe diseases like rabies, cholera and trichinellosis are associated with it. Moreover, the meat contains high levels of antibiotic residues leading to antimicrobial resistance. Finally, mutated canine influenza or canine coronavirus carry a potential of infecting and spreading to humans giving sufficient ground to future pandemics. While human health risks are largest in the source countries, EU citizens can be affected as well. Disease outbreaks and zoonoses can jeopardise European travellers in Southeast Asia. Mutated viruses can be imported through pets rescued from the meat trade. Therefore, the EU has a direct interest to stop the cat and dog meat trade. Nobody expected the outcomes of COVID-19, that is why we must not be complacent.

Are there regulations in place at EU level to address this situation? Have these been sufficient?

ASEAN Delegation outlined the need for the European Parliament to address this issue, as well as for the ASEAN Delegation to commit relevant ambassadors to change. There are certainly things the European Parliament has and will be calling for, however the initiative for any concrete action lies with the European Commission. As there is currently no exchange of data on the movement of cats and dogs, as well as no tracking of animals, even across the EU, it is quite easy to imagine the worst case scenario. In particular, with the increase of demand for cats and dogs, and trends across the foreign rescue animals which is concerning when the health status of the animals is not properly screened.

Is there a way that we can encourage the EU and Member States to improve their response and finally put an end to this trade?

Certainly, the EU and the Member States must raise awareness among their citizens. A ban on the trade and consumption of dog and cat meat and introduction of legislation, as regulation would not resolve the cruelty involved therein and alleviate all health risks are the way forward. Such bans exist in China, the Philippines, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Thailand.

Want to learn more about the dog and cat meat trade? 

Visit Four Paw’s website

Regards Mark