Break­through thanks to Party for the Animals: European Parli­ament recog­nizes the need to tackle livestock industry to fight climate and biodi­versity crises

15 September 2021

Positive news from the EU after a summer of wildfires and alarming conclusions from the IPCC in its most recent report on climate change. Last week, a majority of the European Parliament’s Climate and Agriculture commissions, recognized the impact of our current food system on climate, health, and nature, and voted for substantial reform. A breakthrough long pushed for by MEP Anja Hazekamp of the Dutch Party for the Animals. ‘Moving away from factory farming and reducing the number of animals in the livestock industry leads to enormous climate benefits and positively impacts nature, our health and the animals. It is a real breakthrough that most of the European Parliament has now recognized this, and really wants to take action as well.’

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MEP Anja Hazekamp (Party for the Animals), one of the two primary negotiators on the Farm to Fork report on behalf of the European Parliament.

Towards a safer, healthier and more sustainable European agriculture
Our current food system needs to be reformed to stay within planetary boundaries. The current intensive meat production and large-scale monocultures have too negative an impact on humans, animals, the environment and climate, according to the latest ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy report that was co-authored by MEP Anja Hazekamp of the Party for the Animals. With its adoption last week, pressure is mounting on the European Commission to move to a more sustainable, healthier, more local and animal friendlier production of our food.

The adopted measures in the ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy report include diminishing livestock density in Europe and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from animal agriculture. They provide for financial support for farmers to make the transition to more sustainable and animal-friendly production systems, but state that agricultural sustainability funds should only be approved when the plans truly comply with the sustainability, climate and social goals set in the European Green Deal and the Paris Agreement.

Furthermore, EU subsidies should be redirected to promote the consumption of vegetables and fruit rather than the overconsumption of meat and heavily processed foods. Also, EU regulations should be amended to enable member states to lower taxes on healthy and sustainable food products. A majority also supported Hazekamp’s animal welfare proposals, such as the revision of European rules on slaughterhouses and animal transport, and the ban on the use of cages in animal farming. Finally, the report includes a binding ambition to reduce the use of pesticides in agriculture by at least 50% by 2030, and stricter criteria for the admission of new toxic substances.

No to Mercosur, Argentinian horse meat, and blood farms
Last but not least, the report emphasizes that the EU-Mercosur trade deal (between European and South-American countries) cannot be ratified as it stands, since it does not ensure the protection of the Amazon rain forest, nor guarantee farming standards. On the initiative of the Party for the Animals, the report also includes a general ban on the import of meat and other animal products from third countries that do not comply with European standards; in particular Argentinian horse meat, which up till now continued to enter the European market despite repeated reports of severe animal abuse, illegal practices and wanting hygienic circumstances. It also includes a ban on the import of the fertility hormone PMSG that is used in livestock breeding and produced on so-called ‘blood farms’ by structurally tapping blood from pregnant horses.

Why the food system is key - for climate, nature, animals and human rights

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‘Food and the Ecological and Climate Crisis’, a lecture by Dr. Helen Harwatt (Senior Research Fellow at Chatham House on Food and Climate Policy and fellow at Harvard University) at the Animal Politics World Conference ‘Saving the World with Fork & Knife (10th of July 2021).

The negative impact of factory farming and industrial, globalized agribusiness on climate, biodiversity, human rights, human health and animal welfare has become ever more visible. This year, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon hit the highest annual level in a decade, largely because of the European demand for soy (for livestock feed). Scientific reports show that huge reductions of meat and dairy consumption are needed to tackle the climate emergency.

‘The European Union has an enormous influence on which foods end up on our plates, and where and how it has been produced. “Brussels” should therefore use its influence on the food chain wisely, instead of actively aggravating the global climate and biodiversity crisis,’ according to Anja Hazekamp. The adoption of her proposals in the Farm to Fork report is another major step in that direction.

The Party for the Animals and its sister parties worldwide continuously push for a fundamentally different food system outside the European Parliament as well. The party recently gathered experts, politicians, pioneering entrepreneurs, NGOs and activists from all over the world at its conference ‘Saving the World with Fork and Knife’, to discuss the impact of our current food system and to share inspirational ideas for positive change. Want to get informed and inspired? You can watch the recordings now!