A petition calling for an EU ban on the export of live farmed animals to third countries, with 900,000 signatures, was submitted today to the European Parliament by the world animal welfare organization FOUR PAWS, Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), WeMove Europe and Animals International. The joint petition asks MEPs to reinforce the recommendations of the Inquiry Committee on the Protection of Animals during Transport (ANIT) to also support a ban on the transport of unweaned animals and a maximum journey time on long transport distance of eight hours for adult cattle, pigs and sheep and four hours for poultry and rabbits.
The submission comes just days before a crucial vote by MEPs on recommendations following the inquiry into the protection of animals during transport inside and outside the EU. This could translate into a strong message from the European Parliament to the Commission to limit travel times and prevent the immense suffering this trade causes to millions of farm animals in Europe and beyond every year.
In December, ANIT members voted in favor of recommendations focused on enforcing existing rules rather than tougher measures that would ultimately ban exports to third countries. This would still allow the cruel and unnecessary long-distance transport of live animals to countries where the EU has no means of ensuring that animal welfare standards are met. The million signatures were handed over to MEP Tilly Metz, Chair of the ANIT Committee and Chair of the Animal Welfare and Conservation Intergroup in the European Parliament.
"Members of the European Parliament must listen to his constituents and should reflect the principle 0-4-8 in his vote: 0 hour of transport for vulnerable animals such as calves suckling, 4 hours for poultry and rabbits and 8 hours for adult cattle, sheep and pigs as the maximum transport time! Longer transports, exports of live animals and transport by sea must be completely prohibited. "Pierre Sultana, Director of the European Policy Office (EPO) in FOUR PAWS.
Stricter rules should be put in place
Under the current rules, pigs can be transported for 24 hours non-stop and sheep and cattle for 29 hours with only a one hour 'break'. At the end of these trips, a 24-hour break is mandatory, but after this break the cycle can be repeated as often as necessary until the animals arrive at their final destination, provided they may be on the move for days or even weeks.
"900 000 citizens in Europe send a clear message to the EU through our petition that these long and unnecessary trips are cruel to farm animals and should be banned," said Olga Kikou, responsible compassion in World Farming EU. “We urge MEPs to heed this call from citizens and show ambition by going beyond the recommendations of the ANIT committee, aimed at improving the lives of millions of farm animals. Stricter rules setting absolute travel time limits and specific measures for vulnerable animals should be put in place to prevent the suffering and agony experienced during such journeys.
“When taking up their responsibilities as representatives of European citizens, MEPs should also consider mass mobilizations and actions as the voice of their constituency. Europeans are sending a clear message to Parliament from all corners of the EU: we will take note of listening to their demands,” said Virginia López Calvo, Senior Campaigner at WeMove Europe.
“There was a lot of talk about the export of live products when I was in third countries, seeing no change in the way European animals are treated. This trade cannot be upgraded. It can't be human. It must be stopped for good, "said Gabriel Paun, director of Animals International.
On January 17, supporters of a ban across Europe will take part in a Twitter storm to amplify this message ahead of the plenary vote, which will take place on January 20.
Every year, millions of animals are transported thousands of miles - by air, sea or land - to be slaughtered or fattened for slaughter. During these trips, they suffer greatly due to stress, exhaustion, overheating and injuries. Even unweaned calves are transported from the age of 14 days on long journeys, suffering from hunger, thirst and heat stress which heavily affects their weak immune system. No special care is given to pregnant animals either, which sometimes end up giving birth in terrible conditions on board vehicles or ships.