Worldlog Week 48 – 2012

٢٦ نوفمبر ٢٠١٢

This week Dutch television played a key role in the discussion on animal welfare issues. In both a good and a bad sense.

The programme De Slag om Brussel examined the financing of ‘mega stalls’ with European tax money. We learned how Europe is subsidizing the establishment in Romania of US pork producer Smithfield. Between 2008 and 2010 alone, this producer received more than 600 thousand euros in European subsidies. A EU civil servant interviewed in the programme said it was completely normal for a large company to receive that amount in subsidy funding. And the fact that this pushed smaller farmers out of business did not seem to be a problem. We consider it unacceptable that tax payers’ money is being spent on the further intensifying of the animal farming industry. My colleague Esther Ouwehand has therefore submitted a motion requesting that the government work on a tightening of the criteria for European agricultural subsidies.

Another television programme, Tros Radar, reported on the serious abuses that occur during chicken transports as exposed in an investigation by the animal-rights foundation Stichting Wakker Dier. This investigation revealed massive violations of animal welfare legislation in the transport of broiler and laying chickens. Each year one million chickens die during transportation to the slaughterhouse because they are crippled or wounded and for lack of food and water. As the law stands, each intensively raised chicken must have space equalling two-thirds of a piece of A4 paper. But even that minimum standard is ignored by transporters with impunity.

We want an immediate end to the poor enforcement of animal welfare legislation during animal transports, as I have asked secretary of state for agriculture Verdaas. Fortunately, Verdaas has indicated that he intends to fine abuses committed in the transport of animals more frequently. We will monitor this promise closely!

This week I submitted parliamentary questions on the preparation of the protected woodcock in the television programme De Wereld Draait Door. The cooks on the show prepared in the studio 'Bécasse à la Presse', a dish with woodcock. In the Netherlands the capture and hunting of woodcocks is illegal as these birds have protected status. The programme ignored this fact entirely.

Woodcocks may not be hunted in the Netherlands, but they may be imported from abroad. This is outrageous and an import ban is certainly in order. On YouTube there are several films showing woodcocks being shot. View this film for example to see how woodcocks are hunted. Hunters appear to enjoy shooting woodcocks owing to their capricious flight patterns and because the birds are difficult to hit (lethally)…

A trend that definitely must be stopped is cloned meat that is increasing being sold by European butchers. We are thoroughly against the cloning of animals. The genetic modification of animals simply cannot be reconciled with an animal’s physical integrity.

Cultivated meat was also in the news this week. At present we are not enthusiastic about cultivated meat. While the idea behind cultivated meat may deserve our sympathy as no animal has to die in its production, there are many better plant-based alternatives. Furthermore, in-vitro meat faces a high acceptance barrier: many people find the idea unappealing. Besides, the labelling and distinguishing of meat from farms and that from laboratories will be a hellish task. How can people be sure of what they are eating?

And this film is absolutely hilarious: Africa for Norway!

Until next week,