The European Parliament has called for better enforcement of current legislation on animal welfare and the adoption of a 'science-based' framework on animal welfare.MEPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of the report, an EU Strategy for the Protection and Welfare of Animals 2012–2015, in Strasbourg this week. The call has been backed by leading farming associations in the UK as well as welfare measures to be reflected in farmgate prices.
NFU Vice President Adam Quinney said the European Commission now had a clear mandate to enforce current legislation on animal welfare before introducing new regulations.“Take journey times as an example. Some MEPs called for an eight-hour limit on the duration of transport of farmed animals. But we believe restricting journey times to an arbitrary eight hours has no scientific basis and does not guarantee improvements in animal welfare. It is the management of a journey that provides the greatest protection for animal welfare, not the length of it. A short journey, poorly managed and not adhering to EU laws will threaten the welfare of the animals much more than a well-managed and legal, longer journey. We are glad this was reflected in today’s vote,” said Quinney.The MEP report also calls for new measures to ensure the increased cost of implementing higher animal welfare standards is reflected in the farmgate price. He said “UK livestock farmers are some of the most welfare conscious in the world and are more than willing to continue working towards higher welfare achievements, but this has to be reflected in the price consumers are willing to pay otherwise our farmers will be simply pushed out of business. “Likewise, there will be no net animal welfare gain if we adopt high standards in Europe only for our producers to be undercut by cheaper, lower welfare imports from elsewhere. We need animal welfare commitments right along the food chain to make a real difference.” MEPs also voted against measures to ban cloning and the placing on the market of products from clones and their offspring. “The European Commission and the UK Food Standards Agency agree there would be no justification to ban products from the offspring of clones on grounds of protecting animal welfare, animal health or public health so we are pleased with the MEP support on this,” added Quinney. The non-legislative report was drafted in response to the European Commission's publication of the EU Strategy for the Protection and Welfare of Animals 2012–2015 in January this year. The Commission will now consider whether to draw up new legislative proposals on welfare.