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Improving animal welfare ‘very important’ to sustainable food production, says EU Commissioner

News Section Icon Published 3/28/2023

European Commissioner Stella Kyriakides today (Tuesday 28th March) stressed the importance of improving animal welfare to achieve sustainable EU food production in her keynote address at a Brussels conference organised by Compassion in World Farming.

The event – called Overhauling EU Farm Animal Welfare and held at the Residence Palace in Brussels – was organised to highlight the urgent need to strengthen farm animal protection laws as part of the EU’s current legislative review. It provided a forum for discussion regarding the need to align EU laws with the latest science and move away from the cruel practices, such as the use of cages, that are so prevalent in animal agriculture.

Addressing the audience, Commissioner Kyriakides, said: “Better animal welfare improves animal health and food quality, reduces the need for medication and can help biodiversity. And this is why improving animal welfare is so very important to sustainable food production. In the same vein, revising the EU’s animal welfare legislation is an important part of the Commission’s endeavours to implement the European Green Deal.

“We are working very hard on the proposals that we intend to adopt later this year. We will strive for ambition but we will also strive for balance…I am committed… to working closely with Parliament in every subject and the council to deliver new and improved legislation on animal protection in the EU. Legislation that matches the latest science but also the social and economic realities. Legislation that is pragmatic in response to those realities but legislation that primarily has the interests of animals, farmers, citizens and the planet at heart.”

Hosted by MEPs Tilly Metz and Anja Hazekamp - President and Honorary President of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animal - the event included panel discussions with representatives of the governments of Sweden, Austria and Belgium, as well as from the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA).

The event also included a video message from Dr Jane Goodall DBE, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and a United Nations Messenger of Peace, who said: “It’s really important that the EU should formulate a proposal that takes into account our new understanding of the true nature of farmed animals. Caged farming, mutilations such as de-beaking and de-tailing and force-feeding, at least they should be phased out.

“Fortunately, more and more people are aware and increasingly concerned about the cruelty that goes on out of sight and they are moving towards a healthy plant-based diet. And this trend along with new regulations for the welfare of farmed animals will benefit small family farms, the environment and, most importantly, will mitigate the suffering of billions of animal beings throughout the EU”

Philip Lymbery, Global CEO of Compassion in World Farming, told the audience: “The time is now for decisive action to move away from industrial farming, centred on cages, that threatens to bring us all down. The time is right to ensure that animals are not only free from suffering but given the chance to experience the joy of life.

“Ending the Cage Age is not only about doing the right thing, but an essential step in saving the day for all of us. With the clock ticking, it is no longer a case of can we afford to ban cages, it is a case of, we cannot afford not to. Let’s move forward together, urgently, determinedly and with great timeliness, to end the cage age and bring about a brighter, more compassionate future for all of us.”

The event also saw MEPs, government and EU body officials, and representatives from science, farming and civil society take part in discussions on topics including: the political momentum for higher EU animal welfare standards; building European parliament consensus for higher standards; and accelerating the transition.

Delegates also got the chance to see an exhibition of photography from We Animals Media and take part in an interactive session with award-winning photojournalist and founder of the organisation, Jo-Anne McArthur. The exhibition included dozens of powerful images of animals - including rabbits, geese, pigs and chickens - in factory farms and during transport and slaughter.

For more information or to arrange an interview please email or call 01483 521 615.

Notes to Editors:

1. Compassion in World Farming was founded in 1967 by a British dairy farmer who became horrified at the development of intensive factory farming. Today Compassion is a global movement dedicated to ending factory farming and achieving humane and sustainable food. With headquarters in the UK, we have offices across Europe, in the US, China and South Africa.

2. See pictures of the event. 


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