Europe's Ethical Eggs

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Europe's Ethical Eggs

Postby cooran » Fri Jan 13, 2012 7:11 pm

Hello all,

An interesting article by Peter Singer - Peter Singer is a professor of bioethics at Princeton University and Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne. His books include Animal Liberation, Practical Ethics, and The Life You Can Save.

Europe’s Ethical Eggs

PRINCETON – Forty years ago, I stood with a few other students in a busy Oxford street handing out leaflets protesting the use of battery cages to hold hens. Most of those who took the leaflets did not know that their eggs came from hens kept in cages so small that even one bird – the cages normally housed four – would be unable to fully stretch and flap her wings. The hens could never walk around freely, or lay eggs in a nest.

Many people applauded our youthful idealism, but told us that we had no hope of ever changing a major industry. They were wrong.

On the first day of 2012, keeping hens in such cages became illegal, not only in the United Kingdom, but in all 27 countries of the European Union. Hens can still be kept in cages, but they must have more space, and the cages must have nest boxes and a scratching post. Last month, members of the British Hen Welfare Trust provided a new home for a hen they named “Liberty.” She was, they said, among the last hens in Britain still living in the type of cages we had opposed.

In the early 1970’s, when the modern animal-liberation movement began, no major organization was campaigning against the battery cage. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the mother of all animal-protection organizations, had lost its early radicalism long before. It focused on isolated cases of abuse, and failed to challenge well-established ways of mistreating animals on farms or in laboratories. It took a concerted effort by the new animal radicals of the 1970’s to stir the RSPCA from its complacency towards the battery cage and other forms of intensive animal rearing.

Eventually, the new animal-rights movement managed to reach the broader public. Consumers responded by buying eggs from free-ranging hens. Some supermarket chains even ceased to carry eggs from battery hens.

In Britain and some European countries, animal welfare became politically salient, and pressure on parliamentary representatives mounted. The European Union established a scientific committee to investigate animal-welfare issues on farms, and the committee recommended banning the battery cage, along with some other forms of close confinement of pigs and calves. A ban on battery cages in the EU was eventually adopted in 1999, but, to ensure that producers would have plenty of time to phase out the equipment in which they had invested, its implementation was delayed until January 1, 2012.

To its credit, the British egg industry accepted the situation, and developed new and less cruel methods of keeping hens. Not all countries are equally ready, however, and it has been estimated that up to 80 million hens may still be in illegal battery cages. But at least 300 million hens who would have lived miserable lives in standard battery cages are now in significantly better conditions, and there is great pressure on the EU bureaucracy to enforce the ban everywhere – not least from egg producers who are already complying with it.

With the ban on battery cages, Europe confirms its place as the world leader in animal welfare, a position also reflected in its restrictions on the use of animals to test cosmetics. But why is Europe so far ahead of other countries in its concern for animals?

In the United States, there are no federal laws about how egg producers house their hens. But, when the issue was put to California voters in 2008, they overwhelmingly supported a proposition requiring that all farm animals have room to stretch their limbs fully and turn around without touching other animals or the sides of their cage. That suggests that the problem may not be with US citizens’ attitudes, but rather that, at the federal level, the US political system allows industries with large campaign chests too much power to thwart the wishes of popular majorities.

In China, which, along with the US, confines the largest number of hens in cages, an animal welfare movement is only just beginning to emerge. For the sake of the welfare of billions of farmed animals, we should wish it rapid growth and success.

The start of this year is a moment to celebrate a major advance in animal welfare, and, therefore, for Europe, a step towards becoming a more civilized and humane society – one that shows its concern for all beings capable of suffering. It is also an occasion for celebrating the effectiveness of democracy, and the power of an ethical idea.

The anthropologist Margaret Mead is reported to have said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” The last part may not be true, but the first part surely is. The end of the battery cage in Europe is a less dramatic development than the Arab Spring, but, like that popular uprising, it began with a small group of thoughtful and committed people.
http://www.project-syndicate.org/commen ... 82/English

with metta and karuna,
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
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Re: Europe's Ethical Eggs

Postby Ytrog » Fri Jan 13, 2012 10:03 pm

Yes, it's a good thing battery cages are banned here :D

How is the situation in Australia?
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Re: Europe's Ethical Eggs

Postby manas » Fri Jan 13, 2012 11:32 pm

Ytrog wrote:Yes, it's a good thing battery cages are banned here :D

How is the situation in Australia?


In the legislative sphere, we tend to follow along with what the U.S. does, not always, but often enough for us to look rather pathetic sometimes. Sadly, there is no legislation pending to ban battery hen cages in australia afaik.
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Re: Europe's Ethical Eggs

Postby Ben » Fri Jan 13, 2012 11:59 pm

manasikara wrote:
Ytrog wrote:Yes, it's a good thing battery cages are banned here :D

How is the situation in Australia?


In the legislative sphere, we tend to follow along with what the U.S. does, not always, but often enough for us to look rather pathetic sometimes.

I do believe you are in error, here.

manasikara wrote: Sadly, there is no legislation pending to ban battery hen cages in australia afaik.
Not yet.
Its a bit more complicated. In the absence of a blanket ban there are stringent animal welfare standards and laws at the local and state level and the RSPCA can launch legal action against persons and corporations for animal cruelty. Eggs from caged and non-caged birds are clearly labelled and free-range eggs considered by many as a premium product and instances of misrepresentation of caged birds as 'free range' do get wide media attention and offenders can be charged and fined under s52 of the Trade Practices Act (regarding misleading and deceptive conduct). There is a large degree of commercial and statutory pressure on traditional battery hen producers to move to free-range production inc. recent announcements Woolworths, one of our two major supermarket chains, that they will be reducing their holding of cage eggs and another announcement by McDonalds that they will only be purchasing free-range eggs.
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Re: Europe's Ethical Eggs

Postby Ytrog » Sat Jan 14, 2012 12:16 am

Ben wrote:Its a bit more complicated. In the absence of a blanket ban there are stringent animal welfare standards and laws at the local and state level and the RSPCA can launch legal action against persons and corporations for animal cruelty. Eggs from caged and non-caged birds are clearly labelled and free-range eggs considered by many as a premium product and instances of misrepresentation of caged birds as 'free range' do get wide media attention and offenders can be charged and fined under s52 of the Trade Practices Act (regarding misleading and deceptive conduct). There is a large degree of commercial and statutory pressure on traditional battery hen producers to move to free-range production inc. recent announcements Woolworths, one of our two major supermarket chains, that they will be reducing their holding of cage eggs and another announcement by McDonalds that they will only be purchasing free-range eggs.

That is not unlike the situation here from before the ban.
Suffering is asking from life what it can never give you.


mindfulness, bliss and beyond (page 8) wrote:Do not linger on the past. Do not keep carrying around coffins full of dead moments


If you see any unskillful speech (or other action) from me let me know, so I can learn from it.
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Re: Europe's Ethical Eggs

Postby manas » Sat Jan 14, 2012 1:04 am

Thanks for the correction and clarification, Ben. I was not aware that there is movement in that direction. I'm very glad to have been mistaken in this instance.

:anjali:
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Re: Europe's Ethical Eggs

Postby vidar » Sat Jan 14, 2012 12:23 pm

Those are good news :jumping:

I hope that many other countries follow the example of the EU.
All the world is on fire, All the world is burning, All the world is ablaze, All the world is quaking. That which does not quake or blaze, That to which worldlings do not resort, Where there is no place for Mara:That is where my mind delights. (SN 5.7)

By degrees, little by little,
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the wise purify themselves,
as a smith purifies silver.
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