Worldlog Week 51 – 2008

15 דצמבר 2008

On the last day before the Christmas recess, the Lower House of the Dutch Parliament showed its animal-friendly side. A House majority supported a motion we introduced during the agriculture budget debate calling for the Netherlands to be allowed to implement tougher rules on the transport of animals than currently required at the European level. With a rumbling from the parliamentary benches, House members indicated their delight that the Netherlands could now act more forcefully than fellow European Member States on the transportation of live animals. Recently, agriculture minister Verburg expressed her regret at not being able to take action on the transport of live pigs to Russia. Thanks to the Party for the Animals, she now has another opportunity to impose a ban.

This cabinet should also draw up an action plan for tackling the illegal trade in exotic animals, as called for by a House majority following a motion submitted by the Party for the Animals. Studies show that those involved in the illegal trade in exotic animals have a free reign in the Netherlands and that enforcement falls badly short. It is taking years for a ‘position list’ (that limits the animals species that may be kept) to be actually implemented. This motion will mark a beginning of the end to the ransacking of nature. The Netherlands is the centre of Europe’s trade in endangered animal species.

We have also been able to ensure that the ban on “enhanced chicken cages” for laying hens will go into effect in 2017. That’s four years earlier that the minister had wanted. Had the minister had her way, it would have been 2021 before we saw a ban on this “wallpapered battery cage”. The industry had even suggested waiting until 2026. Immediately following its election to the Lower House in 2006, the Party for the Animals demanded a ban on these cages – and with success.

I also submitted parliamentary questions to the ministers of Agriculture and Health concerning the public health risk attached to eating game. Hepatitis B and hepatitis E have been detected in large ungulates in the Veluwe, a nature reserve in the Netherlands. A number of prominent institutes have determined that the hepatitis E virus can be transmitted from animal to human in offal that has not been cooked properly. In one of my questions, I asked the minister if she was prepared to launch a major public information campaign on the risk of hepatitis infection linked to eating meat and game.

Next week I will put the finishing touches on an essay entitled “het gelijk van de dieren, het geluk van de mensen” (loosely translated: the truth (as the animals know it) and people’s happiness), in which I show that the many crises affecting us are the result of our lack of consideration for animals, nature and the environment. Choosing the side of animals, nature and the environment will only bring us happiness in a sustainable world.

On Christmas Eve I will be a guest on the television programme ‘Alles is Kerst’ where I’ll be singing a Christmas song along with TV presenter Ron Brandsteder. During this Christmas special, several Dutch celebrities will be singing Christmas songs and highlighting the work of the Stichting Vluchteling, which assists refugees all over the world.

As the Dutch parliament goes into recess for three weeks over the Christmas period, my next worldlog will be on 18 January. I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a good 2009! See you soon!