Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category

Bees Need Urgent Help

March 14, 2013

beeSome insecticide products have been increasingly implicated in the decline of honeybees over the past decade, and there is serious concern that they pose unacceptable risk to wild bees and pollinators.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that of the 100 crop species that provide 90% of food worldwide, 71 are pollinated by bees.

Pippa Bartolotti, Leader of the Green Party in Wales said, “Bee-keepers and petitioners are anxious to hear how the Secretary of State has not failed in his duty of care to bee protection. By failing to act swiftly, he has allowed the seed crop for this spring to be impregnated with pesticides linked to the weakening of bee colonies, thus prolonging the harm being done. This is beginning to look like negligence.”

Today, the Wales Green Party wrote a strongly worded letter on behalf of petitioners and bee-keepers to David Jones MP, Secretary of State for Wales asking that he urgently carries out his duty under provision of the 1980 Bees Act to protect bees, as well as ensure the UK does not fall foul of European law.

Pippa Bartolotti said, “There are more than 40,000 concerned people who urgently need to know what the position of the Secretary of State is on this matter, for the sake of bees and other pollinators, Ministers should have no qualms in making bee survival their top priority. We do not understand why the Minister is dragging his feet.

“The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Secretary of State for Wales, are responsible for ensuring bees are not at risk from insecticides. The law requires that insecticides are robustly tested prior to authorisation being granted, and where risk assessment has not been finalised, we believe products should be immediately withdrawn from the market.”

Research at the University of Sterling found that colonies of Buff-tailed bumblebees exposed to the neonicotinoid Imidacloprid, produced 85% fewer queens than control colonies. The success and survival of new bumblebee queens is essential to ensure the viability of future bumblebee populations.

Pesticide risk assessment requires tests on very few species including the honey bee, which are meant to be representative for invertebrates as a whole. Neonicotinoids are systemic insecticides that permeate the whole plant, and residues of some neonicointoids may remain in the soil for at least 2 years.

Last year, EFSA, the European Food Standards Agency, had identified significant flaws in regulatory risk assessment guidelines for testing pesticides on honey bees, and highlighted a need for consideration of wild bees within the regulatory system. Upon further investigation of three neonicotinoids, EFSA scientists identified areas of high risk to bees from flowering crops, as well as a number of data gaps that would have to be filled to allow further evaluation of the potential risks to bees from clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam.

On Thursday 21st February, Pippa Bartolotti, Leader of the Wales Green Party handed in a petition of 40,440 signatures to John Griffiths, Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development, asking him to outlaw the use and sale of neonicotinoid insecticides in Wales.

Horse Meat Scandal: Regulate & Re-localise Our Food Supply Chain

February 12, 2013

burger-king-horse-meat-300x173THE GREEN Party has criticised the inadequate regulation of our food industry, and called for the re-localisation of the supply chain to support farmers and improve traceability.

The call comes amid growing concerns over the potential health risks associated with the horse meat scandal, after Anne McIntosh MP, Chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, advised the public to buy their produce locally, and supported a temporary ban on meat imports.

Caroline Allen, Green Party spokesperson, said: “With the news that Burger King is now admitting that horse meat made its way into their burgers, it’s time to reflect on the real problem here. This is a wake up call about our whole food supply chain.”

“Poor traceability, the search for cheaper and cheaper ingredients, large suppliers and distant producers mean that increasingly, we just can’t be sure what we are actually eating.

“Given the multiple crises affecting our food supply chain it is not surprising that cheap filler ingredients make their way onto supermarket shelves.

“The relentless rise of food prices – including feed price for animals – means that processors will have to be increasingly inventive to continue to provide the cheap food the supermarkets require. Meanwhile, increasingly unpredictable weather patterns mean that recent price rises are probably the beginning of a long-term trend.

“At the same time massive cuts at the Food Standards Agency have left it hardly able to provide its most basic duties regarding food safety and traceability. The work they carried out on issues such as food labelling and nutrition has all but ceased, at a time when it is most desperately needed.”

The Green Party believes that globalisation of the food supply has exacerbated many environmental and social problems and that answers lie in sustainable agriculture, re-localisation, shortening of food supply chains and self-reliance on a regional and local basis.

Ms. Allen said: “With inadequate policing of this massive industry these scandals will continue. It is surely time for a regulator of the supermarkets and food processors with real powers, a well funded body properly monitoring what is being placed in processed food.”

“But more importantly, we need to re-localise the food chain; reducing waste, improving traceability, supporting our farmers, and creating a system of food production with resilience in face of the challenges of a changing climate.”

“The discovery of pig and horse meat in beef burgers is scandalous but sadly unsurprising”

January 23, 2013

tescohorseCaroline Allen, Green Party Animal Welfare Spokesperson, says that given the multiple crises affecting our food supply chains it is not surprising that cheap filler ingredients make their way onto supermarket shelves.

“The relentless rise of food prices- including feed price for animals -means that processors will have to be increasingly inventive to continue to provide the cheap food the supermarkets require.

“Increasingly unpredictable weather patterns mean that recent price rises are probably the beginning of a long term trend. At the same time massive cuts at the Food Standards Agency have left it hardly able to provide its most basic duties regarding food safety and traceability. The work they carried out on issues such as food labelling and nutrition has all but ceased, at a time when it is most desperately needed.

“With inadequate policing of this massive industry these scandals will continue. It is surely time for a regulator of the supermarkets and food processors with real powers, a well funded body properly monitoring what is being placed in processed food. But more importantly we need to relocalise the food chain; reducing waste, improving traceability and supporting our farmers- creating a system of food production with resilience in face of the challenges of a changing climate.”

MEPs call for better animal welfare standards during transport but reject Green Party bid for clear time limits

January 15, 2013

cowLIVE animal exports from the UK will continue after MEPs rejected a bid by Greens to set a strict eight-hour time limit on the transportation of live animals to slaughter.

Adoption of an unequivocal support for an eight-hour limit for all animals transported to slaughter, which was proposed by the Green group in the parliament, would have put pressure on the Commission to come forward with a legislative proposal.

In turn this would mean an end to the vast majority of UK live exports, where animals exported from Ramsgate and other UK ports currently have to endure long journeys, often in cramped and dangerous conditions.

Today’s vote, apart from being a blow for animal welfare, also rides roughshod over the concept of citizen involvement in EU decision-making: more than one million people have signed a petition calling for an eight-hour limit to be imposed which was handed to the European Commissioner John Dalli earlier this year.

However, the position adopted by the parliament today does accept that improvements in animal welfare during transport are needed, and calls for animals to be slaughtered locally where possible.

Keith Taylor, South-East England’s Green Party MEP, who has long campaigned against all live animal exports, said:

“Greens were attempting to further embed the idea of an eight-hour maximum journey time for animals going to slaughter as promoted by the recent million-strong petition.

“This would have put much-needed pressure on the European Commission to propose legislation on this and effectively to put a stop to the vast majority of live animal exports through UK ports like Ramsgate.

“I’m surprised and disappointed that many MEPs who have signed a Parliamentary Declaration calling for an eight-hour maximum transport time did not support our calls for the same today.

“The vote today did not go as far as Greens believe was necessary, but it’s at least a step in the right direction and we will continue to call for improvements so that animals transported for slaughter can be better protected.”

London Green Party MEP Jean Lambert added: “Today’s vote sends a strong message that we need to strengthen EU rules on animal transport to give greater attention to animal welfare concerns. While this is clearly welcome, we regret the failure of a majority of MEPs to support a clear call for an 8 hour limit on animal transport times.

No Hunting Vote as Hunters Will Lose

December 26, 2012

fox2Moves to repeal the ban on hunting with dogs in England and Wales may not happen in 2013, a minister has said.  Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson appeared to rule out a vote next year.  But he insisted it was still the government’s intention to give MPs a free vote on lifting the ban. More than 300 hunts are to hold Boxing Day meets, a week after the RSPCA’s first successful prosecution of a hunt for operating illegally. It has been illegal to use dogs to hunt animals in England and Wales since 2005, and in Scotland since 2002. Mr Paterson told the Telegraph: “At the moment, it would not be my proposal to bring forward a vote we were going to lose.” But Mr Paterson insisted it was still the government’s intention to have a free vote “but we need to choose an appropriate moment”.

‘Animal cruelty’

Responding to the comments, Labour’s shadow environment secretary, Mary Creagh, said the public did not support an end to the hunting ban.  She said: “Most people back Labour’s ban on hunting wild animals with dogs and accept there is no place for animal cruelty in a civilised society.  People are worried about their incomes falling, prices rising and losing their jobs, yet this out of touch Tory-led government wants to bring back hunting.”

‘Illegal hunters fined’

The RSPCA prosecution of two members of the Heythrop Hunt has led to claims illegal hunting is still going on.  The hunt’s Richard Sumner and Julian Barnfield admitted unlawfully hunting with dogs on four separate occasions.  Heythrop Hunt Ltd also pleaded guilty at Oxford Magistrates Court on 17 December to four counts of the same charge.  Sumner was ordered to pay a £1,800 fine and £2,500 in court costs, Barnfield was ordered to pay a £1,000 fine £2,000 in costs and Heythrop Hunt Ltd was fined £4,000 and £15,000 in costs.

‘Only 15% of people want to scrap the ban’

Hunts are no longer allowed to use dogs to chase down foxes, but are instead supposed to use techniques such as drag hunting, where dogs set off on the trail of a scent laid about 20 minutes in advance by a runner or rider dragging a lure.  Animal welfare charities, including the RSPCA and the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS), have commissioned research which suggests that only 15% of people want to scrap the ban.  Joe Duckworth, LACS chief executive, said the organisation was “intensifying our campaign against illegal hunting.  Three quarters of people in this country want to see fox hunting stay illegal,” he told the BBC.

For details of local hunts see the Hunt Watch website.


February 1, 2012

Keith Taylor, the Green MEP for Kent and the South East, has called on Thanet Council to raise the fee for boats using Ramsgate port to export live animals. Keith has written to the local authority asking them to increase the fee for exporting animals so that it reflects the additional costs arising from the extra police, staff and security required for this controversial trade.

Keith said, “At the moment these export costs are being covered by the public purse, despite widespread opposition locally and nationally to the practice of exporting live animals. This means that the public are effectively subsidising an activity that’s inhumane, unnecessary and unjustifiable. I hope that Thanet council will endorse a levy that reflects the true costs of this horrific industry”.

Keith recently detailed his concerns about live exports at a public meeting in Broadstairs, along with local MPs and campaigners. He has previously visited Ramsgate to meet with campaigners who are demanding an end to live animal exports from the port. Keith has written to James Paice MP, the Minister of State for Agriculture and Food, to ask whether DEFRA is adequately monitoring EU transportation standards and whether these standards are being met at Ramsgate port.

At an EU level Keith has written to European Commissioner Dalli to raise his concerns over live animal exports and to ask him to support an eight hour limit on animal transport times, as a step to banning all live exports.

Keith is urging his constituents in the South East to support a Compassion in World Farming campaign (1) which encourages people to write to Thanet Council requesting an increase in the export levy and an end to the inhumane live animal export trade. The charity has recently worked with actress Joanna Lumley to launch a campaign to end live animal exports in 2012.


Notes to Editors

1. To support the Compassion in World Farming campaign, visit

For more information on the work of Keith Taylor MEP, please contact Alice Taylor on 0207 250 8418 or

Follow Keith at @GreenKeithMEP

Green MEP To Visit Organic Farm To Highlight Need For EU To Support Sustainable Farming & Higher Animal Welfare

October 13, 2011

Keith Taylor, Green MEP for Oxfordshire and the South East, will visit Step Farm in Faringdon on Friday 14 October to meet with farmer Daphne Saunders to discuss animal welfare issues and the reform of the EU’s Common Agricultural policy.

On Wednesday the European Commission announced plans to reform the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Reforms include giving small landowners in remote areas more financial assistance and reducing the payments made to large landowners. The reforms will also require farmers to carry out certain environmental measures to receive subsidies. 30% of current direct payments to farmers will be conditional on farmers doing more to protect the environment, such as leaving 7-10 per cent of land without crops on it, ensuring arable farms grow at least three crops and extending hedgerows.

Keith and his fellow Green MEPs have argued for stronger measures in the CAP to promote sustainable farming systems. Keith has also been working to raise the issue of poor animal welfare with the UK’s major supermarkets and has called on them to sell either free range meat or meat produced to RSPCA ‘Freedom Food’ standards.

Keith said: “British organic farms are a great example of an approach to food production which is less harmful to the environment, protects biodiversity and ensures a higher level of animal welfare. This week the European Commission proposed changes to the Common Agricultural Policy which are a step in the right direction, but represent a missed opportunity for fundamental reform of farming in the UK. Sustainable farming and food systems are crucial for tackling the challenges agriculture is now confronted with, like climate change, loss of biodiversity and water and soil protection.

Keith continued: “The Common Agricultural Policy should be a vital tool to promote sustainable agriculture and fair incomes for farmers and the Commission’s proposals represent a missed opportunity for fundamental reform. But this is not the end of the road; the proposals will go to the European Parliament later this month. I will work with my Green colleagues to press for a European agriculture policy which takes seriously the challenge of fighting climate change, protecting biodiversity and promoting a food system that offers healthy food and fair distribution of public money for all.”

Keith added: “It’s fantastic that Step Farm has such a high regard for animal welfare. I believe all consumers have a right to know that the meat they eat has not been produced in a way that has a detrimental impact on animal welfare. Earlier this year I wrote to the EU Commission to ask them to put pressure on EU member states to fully enforce the Pigs Directive, which sets out pig welfare standards.”

Step Farm is a 345 hectare mixed farm in the upper Thames valley near Faringdon, where the Saunders family have been producing food organically since 1982. They have a mixture of enterprises including dairy cows, sheep, beef and cereals. Step Farm has a doorstep milk delivery scheme operating in Oxfordshire and its shop supplies organic beef and lamb. Conservation is an important aspect of the work on the farm. A pond has been created and new hedges provide valuable wildlife corridors through the farm. The farm has a site of special scientific interest that supports a host of rare species, including the yellow rattle, hairy buttercup, black hairstreak butterfly and great green cricket.

Legalised Free-for-all Shooting of Badgers

April 14, 2011

As a long time campaigner on animal protection issues, I was horrified to read of ministers’ plans for a legalised free-for-all shooting of badgers in our countryside (‘Shooting badgers to be legal under plans for big society cull’, 14 April). The idea that ‘groups of volunteers’ would be given permission to organise their own ‘shooting expeditions’ in a manner akin to bloodsports is obscene and unworkable. Given that the Government has so far failed to respond publicly to the Defra consultation on a badger cull, this proposal also smacks of cowardice and looks suspiciously like policy on the hoof.

Even aside from the free shooting proposal, the determination of this Government to introduce culling as a solution to bovine TB is highly misguided. The Independent Scientific Group on Badger TB conducted a randomised cull trial over a 9 year period, at a cost to the taxpayer of £50 million, which destroyed 10,000 badgers. In its final report, the ISG concluded that “badger culling can make no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control in Britain. Indeed, some policies under consideration are likely to make matters worse rather than better”.

Eighty percent of bovine TB transmission is thought to be caused by cattle-to-cattle infection. Given that it is a respiratory disease, this high rate can be attributed to the trend towards intensive dairy farming, in which cattle are kept in crowded conditions. Rather than cruel and ineffective mass culling, restrictions on cattle movement and contact between badgers and cattle should be given high priority, in addition to research into vaccination as an effective alternative.

With this in mind, ministers should urgently take heed of the concerns raised by the National Wildlife Crime Unit and animal protection organisations about the practical and ethical implications of a free shooting policy – and drop its blind commitment to the cruel and unnecessary culling of a legally protected species.

Caroline Lucas MP

The Great Animal Rights Betrayal

November 15, 2010

Government scraps protection for hens, game birds, pigs, cows, sheep – and circus animals

Labour’s environment minister, Jim Fitzpatrick, said he was ‘minded’ to ban performing wild animals after research showed that 94 per cent of the public supported a ban

Millions of hens will have their beaks mutilated; game birds will remain in cages; pigs, sheep and cows in abattoirs will lose crucial protection from abuse; badgers will be culled and lions, tigers and other wild animals will continue to perform in the big top.

In a series of little-noticed moves, the Coalition has scrapped or stalled Labour initiatives to improve animal welfare some weeks before they were due to come into force.

The Agriculture minister James Paice, who part-owns a farm in Cambridgeshire, has been behind most of the moves – which have infuriated welfare groups. In the latest of a series of controversial decisions, Mr Paice this week delayed by five years a ban on beak mutilations of laying hens due to come into force in January.

Related articles

Peter Stevenson: Coalition stance on industrial dairy farms will see cows suffer

Millions of hens have part of their beaks sliced off to stop them pecking at each other in confined units, but campaigners say there is no need for this if flocks are well managed.

The delay in the beak-trimming ban emerged in a press statement headed “New safeguards for chickens”, which hailed the introduction of a limit on overcrowding of meat chickens which will have little impact. The RSPCA said it was “extremely disappointed” by the decision, describing beak trimming as “an insult to hens’ welfare”.

Another policy reversal, affecting hundreds of thousands of game birds, was taken following lobbying from the Countryside Alliance and other shooting groups. Mr Paice rewrote the new game-bird farming welfare code to remove a ban on keeping them in cages.

In an additional move, the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) halted a series of prosecutions of abattoir operators based on secret footage which caught slaughterhouse workers kicking cattle, pigs and sheep. Tim Smith, head of the Food Standards Agency, which enforces slaughterhouse standards, said of the images: “The cruelty on show is the worst I have seen.” Defra said the prosecutions would have failed because the footage had been obtained by trespass. Animal Aid, which shot the film, described the decision as “political”.

Furthermore, the Government is reducing the presence of official veterinarians at livestock markets, to the concern of the British Veterinary Association. According to the BVA, Mr Paice has also expressed doubt over plans compulsorily to label kosher and halal meat from animals killed without being stunned.

Defra has been stalling on a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses, which Labour indicated in March it would introduce, keeping 40 tigers, elephants, zebras and other animals performing tricks. Defra says it will announce its plans “later in the autumn”.

Mr Paice again pleased farmers and angered welfare groups by overturning Labour’s opposition to a badger cull and proposing farmers trap or shoot the protected mammal in order to curb the spread of bovine TB, which can be spread by badgers. He downgraded a research programme into vaccination, an alternative method of controlling the disease that killed 25,000 cattle last year. A cull is likely to provoke widespread protests.

Another Conservative proposal – to hold a free vote on overturning the ban on fox hunting – will be fiercely opposed.

Current concern, however, is greatest about the U-turns on farm animals because of the huge numbers involved. While there are no authoritative figures, the proposed game-bird cage ban would have improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of the 40 million game birds bred annually for shooting. Beak trimming is estimated to take place on 20 million of the UK’s 29 million laying flock. Tabling plans to limit the keeping of broiler chickens to 39kg per square metre, a more crowded level than the industry’s basic standard of 38kg, Defra revealed it would ban trimming by hot blades but allow the less brutal but still painful infra-red method.

The Government’s vets on the Farm Animal Welfare Council had recommended allowing infra-red trimming because of the egg industry’s failure to prepare for the ban, which had been scheduled for eight years.

Compassion in World Farming was “deeply disappointed” by the decision. Its chief policy adviser, Peter Stevenson, said: “It is frustrating that the egg industry has not managed to meet the 2011 deadline. At the same time as the British industry has been failing to phase out beak trimming, the Austrian industry has successfully reduced the practice so that now less than 2 per cent of hens are beak trimmed.”

Animal Aid’s campaign manager Kate Fowler said: “The Coalition Government has wasted no time in removing a raft of popular measures that provided important protection for farmed and wild animals.

“It seems the Lib Dems can’t or won’t rein in the Tories. The commitment to repealing the Hunting Act is the most high profile part of the Government’s anti-animal welfare package. But badgers, animals at markets, game birds and animals in circuses are also under threat. As for slaughterhouse cruelty, if this Government’s vets can’t or won’t take action and the Government won’t prosecute, then there is no one to stop slaughterhouses becoming a free-for-all.”

Mr Paice said: “These comments are surprising and disappointing. Cutting bureaucracy doesn’t equate to poorer welfare for animals – we listen to expert groups and always base decisions on robust scientific evidence, including that of the Farm Animal Welfare Council. As far as bovine TB is concerned, these groups appear to ignore the welfare of cattle.”

The Betrayals

Game Birds

Issue: Keeping of game birds such as pheasants in cages.

Number of animals: affected Hundreds of thousands.

Last government policy: In one of its last acts in power, on 15 March 2010, Labour introduced a new Code of Practice for “game bird” production which in effect would have banned the use of battery cages for breeding pheasants within months.

What the Coalition has done: Animal Welfare minister James Paice withdrew the code and replaced it with a new version which allowed “enriched” cages to remain. The decision followed lobbying from shooting organisations, such as the Countryside Alliance and the Game Farmers’ Association.

RSPCA comment: “The RSPCA is concerned that the Government has overturned expert recommendations against the use of cages to breed game birds in England. The Society is calling for proper scientific research to establish how to best meet the birds’ needs under Section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act. In the meantime, the aim is to persuade the industry to act in accordance with the scientific principles of welfare and avoid using cages.”

Circus Animals

Issue: Use of performing wild animals such as tigers and elephants.

How many animals affected: Around 40. Four British circuses use wild animals: the Great British Circus, which has tigers, lions, camels and zebras; Peter Jolly’s Circus (camels, zebras, snakes and crocodiles); Circus Mondao (camels and zebras); and Bobby Roberts Circus (camels and elephant).

What was going to happen?: On 25 March 2010, Labour’s environment minister, Jim Fitzpatrick, said he was “minded” to ban performing wild animals after research showed that 94 per cent of the public supported a ban.

What the Coalition has done: The Coalition said it was considering whether to proceed and would announce its position “in the autumn”. James Paice told the Commons he was sympathetic to a ban but said his colleague Lord Henley was mulling over issues.

RSPCA comment: “The RSPCA believes the circus is no place for a wild animal. It does not believe that wild animals should be subjected to the confinement, constant transportation and abnormal social groups associated with circus life. The UK Government promised three years ago that wild animals in travelling circuses would be banned – yet lions, tigers, elephants and other animals still tour the UK. We want to see the urgent introduction of regulations under the Animal Welfare Act.”

Slaughterhouse Cruelty

Issue: Cruelty against pigs, sheep and cattle by abattoir workers.

Number of animals affected: 29 million.

What was going to happen?: Prosecutions had been started against four operators at five abattoirs, and nine workers, following an undercover investigation by an animal welfare charity, Animal Aid. It found poor conditions at six of seven slaughterhouses it investigated between January 2009 and April 2010: footage showed animals being kicked, slapped, stamped, and picked up by fleeces and ears and thrown into stunning pens. Some sheep had their throats cut while not properly stunned.

What the Coalition has done: The Department for Food and Rural Affairs dropped the prosecutions, saying it had become aware of legal precedents where courts had refused to accept “unlawfully obtained video footage”. Instead, the Food Standards Agency has asked the 370 slaughterhouses in England and Wales to install CCTV cameras.

RSPCA comment: The RSPCA does not wish to comment on specific court cases.

Badger Cull

Issue: Spread of bovine TB from wild badgers to cattle.

How many animals affected: 6,000 badgers could be killed in the first year.

What was going to happen: In July 2008, the then Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn, ruled out a cull, saying a cull would worsen rates of bovine TB outside of culling areas. Instead he committed £20m more into trials of a vaccination programme for badgers in six areas.

What the Coalition has done: Proposed that farmers in areas of heavy TB infestation cull badgers by cage-trapping and shooting them, or by “free shooting” as animals emerge from their setts. It has scaled back trial vaccinations to one area.

RSPCA comment: “On the basis of the current science, welfare concerns and practicality, any decision for a widespread cull of badgers would be totally unacceptable. Farmers or any non-statutory agency carrying out a cull… would make the welfare issues involved in killing badgers worse. It would be near impossible to police or monitor such a cull and could make enforcement of the Protection of Badgers Act very difficult.”

Beak Trimming

Issue: Mutilation of laying hens.

Number of animals affected: 20 million.

What was going to happen?: Labour decided to end beak trimming, which is carried out to prevent laying hens pecking and cannibalising each other in cramped battery cages. A ban enacted eight years ago was due to come into force on 1 January 2011.

What the Coalition has done: After the egg industry said it was not prepared for the end of beak trimming, the Coalition will delay a complete ban by at least five years, until 2016. Instead, the Government banned trimming with hot blades and allowed another technology which still causes pain – infra-red.

RSPCA comment: “The RSPCA is extremely disappointed that no specific date has been set for a ban on beak trimming for laying hens. The mutilation of all livestock is undesirable.”

Dairy Farms

Peter Stevenson: Coalition stance on industrial dairy farms will see cows suffer

Peter Stevenson is chief policy adviser of Compassion in World Farming

The Conservatives, the dominant members of the Coalition Government, are traditionally the farmers’ friend yet it would be unfair to accuse them of being any worse than Labour on the welfare of farm animals.

There have been positive measures and there have been black marks but they are certainly no worse than the last government and are better than we expected.

Related articles

The great animal rights betrayal

I have met Jim Paice and have found him to be someone we can have a dialogue with. However much I disagree with him on issues such as industrial dairy herds, it would be wrong to say he’s insensitive to animal welfare issues. Oddly, the mutilation of hen beaks is an issue on which I would give him half a tick in the box. We are totally opposed to beak trimming, it’s a dreadful practice, but compared with what might have happened, his attitude has been surprisingly positive.

The last government announced they would ban the practice in 2002 but it failed to put sufficient pressure on the industry to comply.

Rather than dropping the ban altogether, Mr Paice has set a new timetable for a ban, something Labour refused to do. Trimming hens’ beaks with hot blades is still going to be banned next year; what will continue is trimming using infrared, which the industry hoped would allow them to say the procedure didn’t hurt the animals – there is some scientific evidence that suggests infrared is just as painful as the blades. And it still causes distress because their natural behaviour is to peck, which trimming prevents.

One issue on which the Government has scored very badly, however, is industrial dairy herds. Mega-dairies will in all likelihood become widespread if allowed and the Government is refusing to come out against them as it should. It’s galling. The cows are likely to suffer hugely and the idea of cattle that can’t graze in fields is something I think most people find appalling. Similarly, the cloning of farm animals concerns us greatly and will have serious consequences for the welfare of livestock because of the stresses on their bodies. Yet the Government, in refusing to oppose the use of the offspring of cloned livestock, has in essence given the industry the message, “It’s OK, chaps, you can carry on cloning.”

EU Seal Ban Takes Effect

September 23, 2010

On August 20, the EU ban on seal product trade came into effect. While the ban does not have the total protection animal activists had hoped for, this ban is definitely worth celebrating.

The current ban does remove a primary market for the global commercial sealing industry. Sadly, one complication surfaced before the ban took place, a temporary suspension exempting a group of commercial and Inuit sealing interests for a few weeks, pending a hearing.

Over the past few weeks, animal activists expressed their concern with some conditions of the ban, especially the lack of protection for harp seals.

With so many people in support of protecting seals, millions of people in Europe, 550 elected Members of the European Parliament, and 24 European countries who voted in favor of the ban, all wish to see trade in seal products put to an end.