EFSA scientific opinions on the welfare of animals during transport
7 September 2022
The European Food Safety Authority publishes its recommendations to improve animal welfare during transport. Eurogroup for Animals welcomes the new research but we would have hoped for stronger recommendations given that the evidence of animal suffering is there.
Terrestrial animals (pigs, cattle, domestic birds, small ruminants and rabbits)
We welcome EFSA’s opinion on the welfare during transport of pigs, cattle, domestic birds, small ruminants and rabbits. The research confirms and enumerates the many hazards associated with the loading/unloading, transport by road, rail or sea and handling for several species: group stress, handling stress, heat stress, injuries, motion stress, prolonged hunger, prolonged thirst, respiratory disorders, restriction of movement, resting problems and sensory overstimulation, and the list continues.
Although for the different species there is clear evidence that negative mental states such as pain, fear, fatigue, boredom, discomfort and stress are present from the beginning of the transport and only get worse as the duration of the journey increases, EFSA doesn’t recommend shorter journeys for the majority of the species, stating, for example that rabbits and domestic birds can be transported for up to 12 hours. Moreover, EFSA provides recommendations to mitigate the risk related to high stocking densities. In the majority of the species, these recommendations do not even allow animals to lie down comfortably during the journey.
EFSA concludes that sea transport adds even more hazards to animal welfare than other types of transport for all the species analysed. Nevertheless, the opinion doesn’t take any conclusion regarding this topic, even suggesting that more evidence is needed. During the past decades we witnessed continuous failures of sea live exports, which provided plenty of evidence. The European Commission (EC) should not need more evidence, nor tragedies, to support a ban on live exports.
On the specific case of unweaned calves, although there is clear evidence that there are higher risks for these animals, EFSA doesn’t recommend a ban, taking a weaker stance and recommending that they can be transported after 4 weeks of age.
Although we are disappointed that the EC has not gathered the latest scientific knowledge on the welfare of fish and other aquatic animals in these EFSA opinions, we are reassured by Commissioner Kyriakides recent written response to MEPs confirming that the EC will mandate EFSA to gather this knowledge in support of provisions to be introduced through delegated acts.
Finally, we welcome EFSA’s recommendation to transport fertilised eggs and support on-farm hatching in order to reduce the transport and handling stress of day-old chicks.
Although the EFSA opinions regarding the welfare of pigs, cattle, small ruminants and domestic birds during transport demonstrate the continued suffering of these animals, they lack stronger conclusions to protect their welfare. Animals experience several negative affective states, such as hunger, stress, pain and discomfort, from the very beginning of the journey. Their condition increases in severity with the journey duration. Over the years, practical experience, scientific evidence and experts’ opinions have demonstrated that there is no possible mitigation for the hazards that long journeys over rail, road or sea pose to animal welfare. There is an urgent need to reduce maximum journey times overall, and to introduce a ban on live exports and on the transport of certain types of animals such as unweaned calves. Ultimately, the solution is to replace live animal transport with a meat and carcasses trade
Reineke Hameleers, Eurogroup for Animals CEO
Eurogroup for Animals welcomes EFSA’s scientific opinion on the Welfare of equids during transport. The new research confirms that transport is a critical stressor with high implications for their welfare, and corroborates the need for stricter legislation on the transport of horses, donkeys and their hybrids.
EFSA’s recommendations align with Eurogroup for Animals’ proposals on the training requirements for transporters and handlers and confirm the need to develop protocols to assess the welfare of horses during transport. We also acknowledge and support EFSA’s suggestion to use technological tools and systems to ensure and monitor microclimatic and animals’ conditions.
Although we acknowledge EFSA’s recommendation to maintain journey duration to a minimum, we note with concern the absence of clear recommendations on species-specific maximum journey times. Evidence analysed by EFSA clearly demonstrates the need to set limits on journey times at 8 hours, including for equines destined for slaughter. With the abundance of research on the topic, we urge the European Commission not to further delay action.
We support the conclusions of EFSA on the transport conditions of equines destined for slaughter, highlighting that these animals are often transported over long journeys and in poor conditions, because they are considered of lower value and often suffer from health issues prior to their final journey. Along with EFSA, we also encourage further research on whether control posts really address animal welfare concerns during long journeys and support EFSA’s recommended period of minimum 12-hour rest for equines at a control post, including loading and unloading.
While EFSA mentions that there are no agreed scientific guidelines on fitness for transport, World Horse Welfare, Eurogroup for Animals and other organisations contributed to the Practical guidelines to assess fitness for transport of Equidae (horses, donkeys and their hybrids) supported by the European Commission and WOAH.
EFSA’s scientific opinion on the welfare of equidae during transport clearly demonstrates the need to set maximum journey times. The evidence is there, it is now time for the European Commission to act. The new research reminds us that transport conditions affect the welfare of all equines, calling for stricter rules for all these animals, regardless of their destination.
Reineke Hameleers, Eurogroup for Animals CEO
All the scientific opinions can be found on EFSA’s website.
New documentary SLAY exposes the cruel use of animals in fashion
8 September 2022
Premiering today, the new documentary SLAY follows filmmaker Rebecca Cappelli as she exposes the fur, wool and leather fashion industry for its greenwashing and cruel treatment of animals. Produced by Keegan Kuhn (known for his work on What the Health and Cowspiracy), the film asks an important question: is it ever acceptable to kill animals for fashion?
From Europe to China, SLAY spans 5 continents as it uncovers the unethical practices of the fashion industry on a global scale, emphasising the horrific ways the animals are kept and killed, all in the name of fashion and profit. The documentary features interviews with animal welfare and sustainability experts, as well as representatives from the fur industry itself.
Cappelli spent the last 3 years investigating animal skins in fashion, examining the devastating impact on people, the environment and animals.
If someone would have told me even half of what I discovered doing this film, I wouldn’t have believed it.
The fur industry
The documentary is bold in debunking the argument that fur is a sustainable product, and also stresses workers rights, but the real emphasis is keeping the cruel treatment of animals in focus. SLAY shares behind the scenes footage of the animals kept in confined spaces, unable to stand or move around. The film depicts the abhorrent ways that the animals are killed, with the priority given to the protection of the quality of fur, rather than the welfare of the animal.
The documentary also shines a light on the scale of mis-labelled fur products on the market, including within the EU. Although often seen as a luxury item, fur has often been uncovered on the high street on low cost garments and accessories. Consumers are often unaware that they are purchasing fur products when they buy items such as bobble hats and fur trimmed hooded coats. Due to the mis-labelling of fur, many consumers are not given a choice and are unwittingly supporting the fur industry.
The fashion industry has been keeping animals out of people’s minds for too long, together we can change that.
SLAY breaks outside of echo chambers and aims to make a real difference for the animals, for the planet, and the people who live at the mercy of the fashion industry.
From 8th September, the film will be available to watch on WaterBear Network. The free streaming platform is dedicated to sustainability, activism, and conservation.
Fur free Europe:
I am English but I love so much about the Dutch / Netherlands:
Taking the factory farming tour truck across the Netherlands:
Eating the earth
The world’s wildlife is rapidly disappearing, and with it the foundations of humanity’s survival.
We are experiencing the world’s sixth mass extinction. From the tiny earthly critters that underpin essential biological functioning, to majestic land animals that roam the Earth – worldwide wildlife is on the brink of annihilation. The clock is ticking: currently one million species are threatened with extinction.
At the heart of this problem is our demand for meat, dairy, fish and eggs. It is the number one driver for wildlife species loss world-wide.
The time left to act is dwindling, but there is still a narrow window to make a difference. Going Vegan Now! is the only way we can save the world’s wildlife and ensure our own survival.