Esther’s Blog: Team Planet in action!

30 april 2021

The world is in urgent need of governments that show courage to make the choices necessary to keep the earth livable, for all of its inhabitants. That’s what I wrote at the end of March, in the aftermath of the Dutch elections. During these elections, the Party for the Animals grew once again, and we didn’t waste a minute in getting down to business. We asked the outgoing Minister for Agriculture to push for an end to European subsidies on bullfighting at the European Union, a proposal that was adopted. Last year, the European Parliament already voiced its opposition to subsidies for the breeding of fighting bulls as well, thanks to a proposal from the Party for the Animals. Animal cruelty should be stopped, not financed.

Besides this, we have called on our outgoing Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation to take responsibility for stopping the massive deforestation happening around the world by drastically restructuring our trade policies. Starting with a boycott of products that contribute to deforestation. A recent report by Global Forest Watch shows a gigantic loss of forest cover, with the Netherlands being one of the largest culprits, being the single-largest European importer of palm oil and soy for fodder. Our livestock industry requires a lot of soy for fodder, causing forests to be cut down in other countries. In 2018, we already denounced the destructive trade policies of the Netherlands and the EU in a successful world conference together with our sister parties.

We also asked the Dutch government for stronger regulations regarding the use of agricultural toxins. Recent scientific research points to a possible connection between the lifelong consumption of dairy products and an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease. This connection could be caused by the pesticide remains that cows consume in their fodder, which finds their way into the milk. Unbelievable. It’s one of the many reasons why we’re strongly urging the EU to stop funding marketing campaigns for meat and dairy.

International demonstration in Portugal against the trade policies of the European Union, contributing to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, amongst other things.

International action
In my last blog, I spoke of the most recent example of animal suffering during animal transports. Cows that were shipped from Spain on old vessels were crammed together for months, starved and dehydrated, without a proper space to rest. Our MEP Anja Hazekamp went to Spain to witness the horrors in person and to put pressure on the European Commission to abolish such horrific transports as soon as possible.

This month, New Zealand announced that they are doing what’s right: they are ending the live transports of animals over sea. Anja has now sent an urgent letter to the European Commission, together with our sister parties from around the world, in which they’re asking for an immediate ban on animal transports outside the European Union. Like a New Zealand vet said: “It's a trade whose time has come, it's a trade we should have got out of years ago.” So, EU: What are you waiting for?

The EU has a lot of work left to do. This month, during an official hearing, they received an appeal to introduce a ban on keeping animals in cages. It was the result of the successful European Citizens’ Initiative End the Cage Age, which was signed by 1.4 million (!) citizens. Over 342 million animals in the livestock industry in Europe spend their lives in horrible cages. EU citizens have already recognised this as a disgrace, now the European Commission needs to realise the same thing. As far as we are concerned, they cannot ignore this appeal by our inhabitants.

Meanwhile, multiple of our sister parties have achieved success recently. The Australian Animal Justice Party ensured stronger punishments for animal abusers in the state of New South Wales (NSW). They also ended breeding programmes for dolphins, whales and porpoises used for entertainment. An amazing example for the rest of the world! Our Portuguese sister party PAN - Pessoas-Animais-Natureza booked a historic win, when its bill to ban shooting live birds for sport was passed in the Portuguese parliament. At last, our Cypriotic sister party Animal Party Cyprus ensured that a special police unit will be founded to tackle cases of animal abuse.

Esther together with the members of the Animal Welfare Party from the United Kingdom.

These examples show just how important it is that our international political movement is growing. It’s bound to be an exciting year in that regard as well, as a lot of elections are coming up. In June, our Finnish sister party will participate in the local elections, and later this year there will be elections coming up for our sister parties in Germany, Australia, and Canada. But first, at the beginning of May, there will be local elections held in Madrid (Spain) and the United Kingdom. In Spain, our sister party PACMA will be taking part, and they have been gaining more and more votes with each election. Madrid really needs a party like PACMA as well, as evidenced by a recent decision by the city to kill all parakeets.

In the United Kingdom, our sister party Animal Welfare Party will participate in the regional elections in London and the national elections of Scotland. Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was able to visit the two amazing leaders of the party, Vanessa Hudson and Jane Smith. Beautiful, driven people that rightfully prioritise caring for humans, animals and our planet above all else. As we all should.

I wish all of our sister parties the best of luck! You are indispensable.

Until next time!

Esther Ouwehand
Party leader Dutch Party for the Animals