Worldlog Week 10 – 2011

11 mars 2011

We, the Party for the Animals, after busy weeks of campaigning are currently challenging the government in the Lower House on its position on stopping the construction of mega stalls. Several weeks age, a majority in the Lower House voted for a moratorium on mega stalls. During this debate, the government announced its willingness to engage in a social dialogue on these gigantic animal-unfriendly stalls.
But we have the impression that the government does not take this important environmental and animal-welfare issue seriously. State Secretary for Agriculture Bleker must provide clarity about the social consequences of increasing the cattle density in this country. The Netherlands already has the highest cattle density in the world!

Furthermore, in a letter to the Lower House the State Secretary indicates that the capacity limits are to be raised considerably. Bleker wants to discuss mega-sized agricultural companies with more than 12,500 pigs for meat consumption or 160,000 laying hens. By doing so, he is muddying the discussion by confusing mega stalls, where many tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of animals are kept in a single stall, with mega-sized agricultural companies which can comprise multiple stalls in various locations. For the State Secretary, a stall with 159,000 chickens is not a mega stall. In other words, a stall with more chickens than the average Dutch town has citizens is not a mega stall in the view of Bleker. I consider this a mega-bad start to a social debate that should be held openly. When you consider that in the United States a bill is being drafted which will outlaw the taking of pictures of mega stalls from the public highway under penalty of 25 years in prison, it is not hard to understand that we must end this monstrous metamorphosis of our world wherever it occurs.

On Tuesday the Dutch animal welfare organisation ‘Anti Animal Tests Coalition’ presented its citizens’ initiative for a ban on animal testing involving dogs and cats. More than 75,000 dogs and 30,000 cats have been used for experiments in Dutch laboratories in the past few decades.

In the Netherlands, anyone can get issues discussed in the Lower House through a citizens’ initiative. The initiative must first have the advance support of more than 40,000 people before a debate in the Lower House can be requested. The Anti Animal Tests Coalition garnered upwards of 57,000 signatures and requested the Lower House to put an immediate end to these animal tests. The Party for the Animals wants to see all animal testing ended as soon as possible and, indeed, since the party entered the Lower House it has taken many initiatives to reduce the number of experiments on animals and to tighten animal testing policy in the Netherlands and Europe.

On Tuesday, my colleague Esther Ouwehand took receipt of the package of signatures. Esther said that a large majority of Dutch people had real difficulty with the issue of animal testing. Most parties in the Lower House ignore this fact, however. Fortunately, the broad social opposition to experimenting on living animals is penetrating through to the heart of our democracy. And this is a development we are very happy about!

The first International Day Against the Serengeti Highway will be held on 19 March. There are serious plans to construct a highway through the beautiful Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. To stop this from happening, an international campaign has been launched against this destruction of nature. The lives of many wild animals will be disrupted by this highway and the local population, largely dependent on tourism, will see their incomes plummet. Check this website to find out all about the activities planned for 19 March and about you can do to keep this beautiful and important nature reserve intact.

At the time of writing, Japan vas dealing with the immediate aftermath of an enormous earthquake and Tsunami. Nuclear reactors are offline and for the first time in Japan’s history, a nuclear state of emergency has been declared. The repercussions of this drama will be felt for a long time yet and the use of nuclear energy will again be the subject of a political and public discussion.

Until next week!