Animal Health Law: MEPs must address animal diseases in a holistic way and improve animal welfare
Posted on 05/02/2014
On Tuesday 11 February, the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee will vote on the draft report concerning the future EU Regulation on animal health (COM(2013)260). This vote is of crucial importance as it has the potential to ensure that the proposed law will address animal diseases in a more holistic way. In the wake of numerous disease outbreaks that have severely impacted the health and welfare of millions of animals, Eurogroup for Animals calls on the members of the Agriculture Committee to vote in favour of amendments that will ensure that all animal health concerns will be addressed.
Whilst Eurogroup for Animals welcomes the Commission proposal, we are concerned that the proposal does not go far enough as it does not address the root causes of animal disease occurrences, which not only affect animals but which also pose environmental and public health concerns. Animal diseases pose a huge threat to a large variety of animal species, including pet animals, exotic pets, aquatic animals, and farm animals as well as the risk of transmission to humans. These threats are often magnified by poor animal management practices and a lack of legislation or proper enforcement of legislation that should ensure that basic requirements protecting health and traceability are met.
Eurogroup for Animals calls on all MEPs to support amendments covering seven key areas.
- Recognition of animals as sentient beings: The Commission's proposal provides no assurance that animal welfare requirements will be respected. This is of particular concern in the context of the proposed rules on prevention and disease control.
- Listing diseases that affect all animals: We agree that the criteria for listing diseases must include considerations of their impact on society and the environment, including their impact on animal welfare. However, the Commission proposal does not go far enough to ensure that all relevant diseases and species will be covered.
- Ensuring adequate scope of basic requirements: All establishments, species and movements pose a potential disease risk. Therefore basic requirements for identification and registration of animals, registration of transporters and approval of certain types of establishments as well as relevant record keeping requirements should apply to all animals.
- Recognising good animal welfare management practices as a component of prevention: Appropriate animal management practices should be supported in the context of disease prevention under the “responsibilities and knowledge” requirements of operators, and in the context of the provisions given for biosecurity, among other provisions. Measures should lead to among others a reduction in antibiotic resistance, improved farming practices and reduced transportation. Eurogroup for Animals opposes cloning of animals for food production, and on the import and sale of animal clones, their offspring and food products from animal clones and their offspring as well as semen and embryos from animal clones. We continue to call for an outright ban on the use of cloning, however until this is in place, traceability of these animals must be ensured.
- Supporting rational animal health visits and certificates: All animal health visits should also look at the welfare of the animals, and the requirement for an animal health certificate should cover all animals under human care and explicitly include cats and dogs for commercial movements as well as the exotic pet trade, markets, zoos, and circuses.
- Prevent animal suffering while eradicating disease: Suffering of affected animals must be minimized by ensuring that disease control measures, such as culling carried out in eradication programmes or contingency plans, are conducted as humanely as possible for each group of species, only when needed and on as few animals as necessary.
- Delegated and implementing acts as well as national measures: Implementing rules must be transparently decided, enabling stakeholder participation, proper assessment of their impact, and rational integration of existing rules where appropriate.
“The important link that exists between animal health and animal welfare, as well as public health and environmental challenges, has already been partially recognised by the Environment Committee’s Opinion but the Parliament must show that it is committed to ensuring that animal diseases are addressed in a more holistic way, by addressing important topics, such as preventing animal suffering while eradicating disease and improving animal husbandry to prevent disease and we urge the Agriculture Committee to vote in this direction,” said Reineke Hameleers, Director at Eurogroup for Animals.
“We also call on the Parliament to introduce the permanent identification and registration of dogs and cats moving across borders as this is of real concern to us and to animal health. The registration of such animals would enable them to be traced in the event of a disease outbreak, and enable vets to know if a sick animal they are treating has come from abroad,” she concluded.