An investigation reveals the horrific conditions for transporting live animals | Europe | Dr..

“You’d better have a drink of brandy before watching (the video),” Gabriel Bowen said. He works for Animal Conservation International and has made footage of his investigation available to DW. You can see cows covered in excrement, fainted in the back of trucks, sheep beaten and subjected to electric shocks during transport, and animals slaughtered by trained butchers in destination countries.

Almost no controls

For years, Gabriel Bowen and other activists have documented the movement of farm animals in and out of the European Union, often clandestinely, for fear of reprisals. There were always problems with the police. Bowen said that in Slovenia, a police officer forced him to sign a ticket with a gun in hand. It was scorching hot, and Bowen himself had previously called the police to check suspicious transportation: “((Officers) had no idea there were European laws (in this regard). They have to be on the streets to prevent trucks from circulating, as even the asphalt The animals in the trailers melted and died.

More than 3.8 million animals are transported across the European Union every day, but exporting live livestock to other countries for a long and grueling time is also big business. In 2020 alone, about 3 million head of live sheep and sheep were exported from the European Union. The biggest buyers are Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Cow's horn broken in a boat.

Cow’s horn broken in a boat.

The search committee requires clear regulations

In December 2021, a European Parliament commission of inquiry presented the results of an investigation conducted over 18 months, which revealed serious violations of animal welfare rules: “The animals had no water or food, they suffered from extreme cold or extreme heat. This is what the Greens summarized, Rep. Tillie Metz.

“I didn’t see any transportation all the time as there was no problem,” he said. The commission of inquiry will now put its demands to a vote in Parliament for legislative changes: a maximum of 8 hours for land and air transport. On ships, only 24 hours max. It is forbidden to transport animals that are breastfed during the first five weeks of life, as well as animals in an advanced stage of pregnancy.

In practice, Tele Metz believes the worst problem is that regulations are not formulated with sufficient precision and there is no trained staff and infrastructure to ensure they are followed.

Hens without spaces in cages

The European Parliament, for example, can limit how long animals can spend on the road.

There is no agreement on the export of live animals

The issue of exporting live animals is another challenge. In most of the countries to which it is exported, animal protection laws are weaker than in the European Union. Animal rights activist Gabriel Bowen spoke of the slaughter without anesthesia, which he filmed as it investigated in third countries, which could potentially be punished by the European Union: “The eyes of cows are pricked so they can’t see, and then they are cut off.” He said that the bands of the hoofs force the animal to fall to the ground and then cut its neck several times. It can take up to 40 minutes to kill a large animal.”

Animal rights organizations are calling for a complete end to the export of live animals from the European Union. The commission of inquiry does not go that far. The Greens are demanding, in the future, that exports only take place to countries where there are the same legal requirements for animals as in the European Union. However, this means a loss for most buyers.

The agricultural industry lobby is opposed to stricter regulation. A statement from Copa Cogeca, the European Union’s largest federation of agricultural lobbyists, told DW that regulations should be based on scientific findings and not on emotion: “In the debate about limiting the duration of transport or even prohibiting the transport of certain samples, such as lactating or pregnant animals, no Copa Cogeca can support certain limits by age or duration of relocation until the scientific and socio-economic outcomes are analyzed in the European Union.”

Frozen meat alternative

Although there seems to be a lot of reluctance to change, there are countries that are rethinking animal welfare. In 2021, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands called for an end to the transport of live animals to countries outside the European Union. The authority announced a review of the rules for animal welfare during transportation.

New Zealand, for example, bans the export of live animals for slaughter. Australia demands a lot of exporters which has resulted in export numbers dropping dramatically.

Activists hope that sooner or later exports of frozen meat, as well as embryos and sperm for reproduction, will replace the transport of live animals in the European Union.


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