Esther's Blog: Protecting human and animal health as much as possible

8 September 2020

A lot has happened this summer. First of all, on behalf of our Party for the Animals, I would like to express my condolences to all the victims of the terrible explosion in Beirut. Many human and animal lives have been destroyed in a country that was already struggling. In recent years, we have gotten to know many people from Lebanon who dedicate themselves with heart and soul to a society in which the protection of people, animals, nature, and the environment is central. International support and solidarity is badly needed.

Protect health as much as possible

In the meantime, the Party for the Animals has been busy to improve the protection of citizens’ health in the Netherlands and in the European Union. In the European Parliament, a motion from, among others, the Party for the Animals has been passed in which it is stated that the European Union (EU) must do more against exposure of citizens to chemicals at work and in daily life. Toxic chemicals are used in agricultural poisons, food packaging, toys and cosmetics, among others. The motion also includes a call to stop testing chemicals unnecessarily on millions of animals. After all, such experiments are cruel and outdated.

The COVID‑19 pandemic has shown that governments must better protect our health and living environment. Scientists have found convincing evidence that air pollution leads to a greater impact of the coronavirus, in other words: the more polluted the air, the more infections, hospitalizations, and deaths.

However, governments have continued to place the interests of major polluters, such as livestock and industrial sectors, above the interests of citizens' health. For decades, our governments have let these major polluters earn a bundle off of making people unhealthy and abusing animals. That must change.

Focus on prevention

Traffic sign with the text “Stop eating animals”.

In order to better protect the health of citizens, it is crucial that governments do more prevention. Something that hardly happens now. That is why the Party for the Animals has proposed a number of preventive measures:

  1. Governments should increase taxes on unhealthy food and polluting products. That is why the Party for the Animals is going to submit a bill on taxing the slaughter of animals via a so-called "slaughter tax". After all, meat production causes damage to the environment, the climate, health, and biodiversity. According to research, Dutch society now indirectly pays for the social costs of meat: annually there is 1.23 billion euros in climate damage, 2.97 billion euros in environmental damage, and 280 million euros in other damage such as health damage. It’s time for the meat industry to pay for this. Conversely, healthy products such as fruit and vegetables must become cheaper.
  2. Promoting healthy, plant-based products helps to reduce the impact of, for example, the coronavirus on society. That is why governments must stimulate plant-based nutrition and stop subsidizing the meat industry. This summer, the Dutch parliament voted against European subsidies for meat promotion through a motion by the Party for the Animals. The EU is now wasting millions of euros in taxpayers' money, for example on campaigns to encourage the consumption of pork among young people. Completely irresponsible, given the enormous damage that the livestock industry causes to the environment, animal welfare, food safety, and health.

Growing resistance to the animal industry

Canadian animal rights activist Regan Russell.

The livestock industry is doing everything it can to hide the horror that is happening in the industry. In more and more countries, the industry is trying to pass laws that make it virtually impossible for animal protectionists, whistleblowers, and investigative reporters to publicize abuses and animal cruelty.

This summer, a new law came into force in the Canadian province of Ontario that criminalizes the disclosure of abuses in the animal industry. A direct attack on basic civil rights such as the right to information and the right to demonstrate. A few days after this new law passed, Canadian animal rights activist Regan Russell was killed after being run over by a cattle car during a peaceful demonstration at a slaughterhouse. The new law promotes aggressive treatment of peaceful animal activists, rather than protecting them.

This has to stop. People worldwide have the right to know where their food comes from. Since the Dutch government maintains close trade relations with Canada, I have put forth written questions about this to the responsible Dutch ministers. Fortunately, there is increasing opposition to the laws described above.

In the summer we also saw growing international opposition to the way we treat animals in other areas. For example, the last mink farm in Bosnia and Herzegovina has been closed. Our proposal to close all mink farms in the Netherlands this year is now also being implemented. However, each mink farmer receive 1.7 million euros as a gift. Turning people who make money from torturing animals into millionaires is unacceptable. We have filed a motion to stop that immediately.

Two representatives of the Italian Party for the Animals.

In addition, the international political movement for animal rights and a livable planet grew steadily this summer. A new Party for the Animals has been established in Greece and our Danish sister party “Veganerpartiet” made history by collecting 20,000 declarations of support to participate in the national elections. Groundbreaking!

Finally: our Italian sister party Patito Animalista will participate in the regional elections on 20 and 21 September in Campania, Apulia (Puglia) and the Aosta Valley (Valle d’Aosta). They too want to tackle the destructive livestock industry as quickly as possible, and protect citizens, animals, and their living environment as much as possible. A much needed voice in Italian politics.

On to good election results!

Until next time,

Esther Ouwehand