Worldlog Week 34 – 2008

22 אוגוסט 2008

This week was set aside for working visits that we as members of parliament undertake during the parliamentary recess. Together with colleague Esther Ouwehand and our board member Diederik van Liere, I paid a visit to the ‘animal hotel’ at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, one of the major hubs in international animal transportation. The animal hotel has been operating for more than fifty years and a lot of criticism has naturally been levelled at Schiphol for its past role as a transit point in the trade in endangered animal species. Our visit, however, left us with the impression that much has clearly changed and that Schiphol is willing to make every effort to offer the best possible care for animals and to respect the law. Yet its efforts still leave much to be desired. KLM transports mostly dogs and cats, horses, tropical fish (both caught in the wild(!) and bred), but also dolphins if requested. In addition, KLM also transports day-old chicks and animals intended for zoos. I saw tropical fish caught in the wild and 'packaged' in taped-up cardboard boxes containing polystyrene foam and hundreds of small plastic bags, each holding water and a fish. The fish are denied food for three days prior to the trip to prevent the water from becoming contaminated with droppings. Simply tragic – is all I can say about it. And it's all perfectly legal. There is not even a law governing the number of hours that an animal may be transported by air! I heard only today that a horse owner or trader is perfectly free to put a horse on a plane for 30 hours without the animal being able to lie down or move.

A small ray of hope is the fact that KLM in principle will not transport laboratory or circus animals. KLM adheres to stricter “packaging” rules for animal transportation than is required under international law, and is, unfortunately, one of the few to do so in the airline world…

On Thursday I went on a working visit to Germany to the Deutsches Institut für Lebensmitteltechnik to speak with Dr. Helmut Steinkamp about vegetable meat substitutes. I was very impressed by the expertise in this area at the institute. I am certain that vegetable meat substitutes have a bigger future than in-vitro meat, also known as laboratory-grown or cultured meat.

Last week I submitted parliamentary questions about the use of night-vision equipment by hunters of wild boar. The Veluwe, the Netherlands’ most-densely forested area, is currently the scene of mass slaughter by hunters.
5200 of the 6000 boars, nearly 90% of the population, are being killed because it is claimed that the animals cause damage and form a danger to traffic.

Total nonsense: in fact, the mass culling of animals triggers a natural urge to procreate so that the animals spared in the cull reproduce far more prodigiously. Moreover, the destruction of family units means that surviving animals start to roam, creating unsafe traffic situations.

The hunters requested permission to use night-vision equipment during the night-time culling of animals at feeding areas. However, a treaty between the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg forbids such night-vision equipment during the boar hunt and no exemptions are possible. Although an official governmental advisory body (the fauna fund) came to the same conclusion, the Netherlands government still granted an exemption to accommodate the hunters. Disgraceful!

I have requested clarification from the minister and I am considering reporting this to police if the exemption is not quickly revoked.

Until next week!