The event aimed to discuss proposals aimed at mitigating the negative impacts of the EU-Mercosur trade agreement. The inclusion in the agreement of animal welfare conditions for the liberalization of animal products and environmental safeguards would not only prevent mistreatment in intensive farming systems, but also curb deforestation and the loss of biodiversity.
Among the issues discussed during the meeting, participants debated the need to involve civil society in Mercosur countries in decisions related to the agreement, subsidies granted to the animal production industry, the use of natural resources by the farm animal industry and topics related to One Health, a concept that addresses animal health and environmental balance as essential to human health.
Stephanie Ghislain, Eurogroup Program Manager for Animal Trade and Animal Welfare, opened the event with a presentation on the importance of trade policy to improve not only animal welfare standards animal, but also human and planetary health. Stephanie pointed out that since many animal welfare standards do not apply to imports, trade agreements can have a significant impact on animals.
Reducing tariffs in trade deals can fuel intensive animal husbandry practices, meaning more animals could end up being raised to lower welfare standards. If welfare imports decline significantly, it may also become more difficult for the importing country to improve its standards. This is why it is important to address the impact of trade policy on animals.
Stéphanie Ghislain, Eurogroup Program Manager for Animal Trade and Animal Welfare
Daniella Battaglia, FAO Representative, presented the report published by FAO in partnership with other UN agencies titled “ A Multi-Billion Dollar Opportunity: Redirecting Agricultural Support to Transform Food Systems which discusses the urgency of action to spur the transition to a plant-based food system.
FAO urges policy and decision makers, financial institutions and all other stakeholders to direct agricultural support towards production practices and behaviors that promote sustainable food systems and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Daniella Battaglia, FAO Representative
MEP Saskia Bricmont noted that EU consumption is currently responsible for around 10% of global deforestation and pointed out that the EU's Sustainable Development Impact Assessment (SIA) has revealed significant detrimental and far-reaching consequences of further intensification of agricultural practices and the absence of effective provisions protecting animal welfare.
Not only the planet and nature will suffer, but also human beings. This is another reason why we cannot let the trade deal go any further.
Saskia Bricmont MEP
A joint letter with the proposals submitted by the participating organizations will be sent to the European Parliament and the European Commission by the end of May.
The European Parliament and the European Commission must understand that in order to combat deforestation and the climate emergency, it is necessary to take action to address the causes of these problems and, for this reason, there is an urgent need to raise standards animal welfare in the Mercosur countries and to promote the transition from a food system based on animal proteins to a system based on plants.
Carla Lettieri, Executive Director of Animal Equality Brazil