Worldlog Week 39 – 2010

1 October 2010

The Party for the Animals was disappointed to hear of the coalition agreement between the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD, liberal) and the CDA (Christian Democrats) to form a minority government with anti-Islam campaigner Geert Wilders’ toleration of said government. The cabinet will start work this week under the motto of Freedom and Responsibility. What a shame that Compassion and Sustainability are nowhere to be found in this coalition.

This coalition government is talking about such things as discontinuing the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV). The ministry will therefore fall under the Ministry of Economic Affairs (EZ), but naturally the Ministry of Economic Affairs cannot ensure animal welfare, nature and food quality. We are therefore going to have to take an unmoveable position in upcoming debates and we will probably enjoy majority support. The argument of 'no longer leaving the bills for future generations to pay' is quite inappropriate, as the consequences of the policies put forward by this cabinet will pre-eminently harm future generations in terms of climate problems, loss of bio-diversity, a scarcity of materials and harmful effects on nature.

The Freedom Party (PVV, leader: Geert Wilders) gave animal welfare a prominent place during the election campaign. We hope to that the PVV party will ensure that animals are no longer reduced to a mere economic product. I also expect support for my legislative proposal for a ban on the unanaesthetised ritual slaughter that the Lower House will debate this autumn, hopefully before the start of the Islamic Festival of Sacrifice.

There are a few rays of light in this accord for the Party for the Animals, such as the promise of an animal police force with 500 animal cops. Plus there is a proposal for setting up an emergency line for animal abuse, which is a fantastic initiative, but it should not be limited to the pain and suffering of pets, but should also relate to animal suffering in intensive factory farming operations.

We are now seeing that for the first time in Dutch parliamentary history, animal rights can no longer be avoided as a subject for policy. The previous cabinet's coalition agreement included four points of consideration for animal welfare and the new coalition agreement contains six – three of which are due to the Party for the Animals' direct involvement.

Some other news in brief: The Party for the Animals has called the ministers of Agriculture and Public Health to account. They should present the Lower House with an explanation for the ever-increasing problem of Extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL) producing bacteria. These bacteria are for the most part resistant to antibiotics, meaning relatively simple infections can kill and it was announced last week that ESBL bacteria in the Netherlands has already claimed one victim. The Party for the Animals wants the government to take action and remove infected meat from the market.

Because of the large-scale, preventative use of antibiotics in factory farming, increasing numbers of bacteria are becoming resistant so the Party for the Animals has placed the issue of antibiotic overuse high on its political agenda. The ministers of Agriculture and Public Health can no longer deny that there is a clear relationship between factory farming and public health, and so they should step up to the plate in this regard. Otherwise they are irresponsibly valuing the economy over human health.

Finally, it has been a tense week for those who believe it is a disgrace that every year in the Netherlands 5 million minks are killed for their fur to produce useless luxury products such as fur coats for vain people. The senate was talking of placing a ban on breeding mink, but the latest word is that the fur breeders lobby have managed to turn the ChristianUnion party and so they will now vote against a ban. Let us hope that the ChristianUnion does not choose Mammon.

See you next week!