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External costs of animal sourced foods in the EU

Farm Animals
Report

Report by the Impact Institute, commissioned by Eurogroup for Animals - now with a new annex (updated September 2023).

Domesticated animals play a major role in human agricultural and food systems, both historically and today. The continuous growth in global wealth, as well as increased efficiency and industrialisation of animal sourced food production, has created both unprecedented quantities of, and access to, animal sourced food.

In view of these developments, Eurogroup for Animals commissioned an investigation into the true
costs of EU animal sourced food production and consumption. This report discusses the assessment of the EU’s production and consumption of animal sourced food. It evaluates the extent of external costs to human health, the environment, low animal welfare and human livelihood brought about by producing and consuming animal sourced food.

Moreover, the report discusses recommendations to address the externalities of the industrial animal food industry. This work can be used to inform policy and decision-making processes regarding the new EU animal welfare legislation.

The case against fur factory farming: a scientific review of animal welfare standards and ‘WelFur’

Wildlife
Report

In the first edition of this report, published in 2015, we examined the welfare of mink and foxes farmed for fur in Europe and evaluated the fur industry’s WelFur protocols for on-farm welfare assessment. We concluded that WelFur could not address the major welfare issues for mink and foxes farmed for fur, the issues associated with inhumane handling and slaughter methods, or the serious inadequacies in fur labelling and regulation in Europe.

In this revised edition of our report, we update the scientific evidence regarding the welfare of animals farmed for fur in Europe, assess claims that these animals are, or could be, domesticated, and the credibility of WelFur.

EU Positive List: a proposal to regulate the trade in animals destined for life as a pet

Wildlife
White Paper

Exotic pets in Europe are not only a mounting concern for animal welfare, public health and safety, and biodiversity conservation, but the patchwork of efforts to regulate the trade in Member States also undermines the internal market. The lack of uniformity in approaches across the Union makes the true extent of trade flows difficult to monitor and the enforcement of the rules that exist next to impossible.

As a solution, this White Paper proposes the establishment of an EU-wide positive list. This list would be elaborated using scientific risk assessments of which species can be considered ‘companion animals’ in full respect of their welfare needs, and their biological and husbandry requirements.

The grim reality of industrial animal farming

Farm Animals
Report

Though the EU recognises farmed animals as sentient beings, the current animal welfare legislation does not take into account their innate needs and natures. In fact, loopholes and oversights in the laws that were written to protect them mean these poor beings are often mistreated and neglected by those that are meant to care for them, as well as housed in miserable environments, fed poor diets, and slaughtered inhumanely after experiencing lives full of stress, frustration and anxiety.

This cannot continue. When the European Commission revises the animal welfare legislation later this year, they must include strong, precise, and species-specific rules that support and protect the mental, emotional and physical state of all farm animals. This report covers five species and issues that particularly need the Commission's attention.

This report was created in-line with this exposé video, which features undercover footage from our MOs of the issues it explores (https://youtu.be/1LqIK_JVadg).

Economics of slow growing broilers

Farm Animals
Factsheet

With over 330 companies (1) committed to the European Chicken Commitment (2), and a 38% increase since 2021, the evolution of broiler production towards higher welfare farming is clear. European citizens are driving this change, expressing their support for improving welfare standards (3).

To assess the costs of this transition, we commissioned a study from Wageningen University comparing the costs of conventional and ECC-aligned production in six EU Member States - the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Italy, Germany and France. The study shows that the costs vary between countries, and are about 18-19% higher on average. Of course, this comes as no surprise, as currently the prices of animal products are lowered by insufficient investments in their welfare. However, the increase in costs can be offset by financial support at national and EU level for higher welfare farming practices. It is indispensable to provide a financial incentive for farmers to drive this crucial change towards improved welfare standards. Retailers also play an important role in providing a fair price for the welfare-friendly products that farmers supply them with.

The transition to better welfare standards is a crucial step towards a brighter future for animals, and is in line with the goals of the Farm to Fork strategy (4). It is high time the EU follows the voice of EU citizens and incorporates higher welfare standards for broiler chickens in the revised animal welfare legislation.

(1) The Humane League, 'STATE OF THE CHICKEN INDUSTRY': http://bit.ly/3n6DtFZ
(2) The European Chicken Commitment: http://bit.ly/40lKuB1
(3) Eurobarometer, 'Attitudes of Europeans towards Animal Welfare': http://bit.ly/3Z1LGZu
(4) European Commission, 'Farm to Fork strategy': http://bit.ly/3yX5Jxz

Phasing out cages in the EU: the road to a smooth transition

Farm Animals
Report

Many producers, retailers and food manufacturers across the EU have already embraced society’s call to ‘End the Cage Age’. This report summarises numerous interviews with stakeholders involved in all different stages of the supply chain, focusing on shifting to non-cage systems for sows, rabbits, and laying hens. Contains case studies, scientific evidence, data and recommendations for a smooth and swift cage-free transition.

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Uncovering the horrific reality of octopus farming

Aquatic Animals
Case Study

Eurogroup for Animals and Compassion in World Farming are calling for the world’s first commercial octopus farm to be scrapped, after plans obtained for its development revealed the animal cruelty and environmental consequences it would cause.

The plans, submitted to the General Directorate of Fishing of the Government of the Canary Islands by the company Nueva Pescanova, and uncovered by Eurogroup for Animals, have raised serious concerns, which are outlined in this case study.

We are calling on the EU to ban octopus farming, and restrict the use of public funds to support octopus farming developments, or any other new industrial animal-based farming in the light of significant and growing scientific evidence that it is killing our planet.

Present state and future prospect of fur farming in Finland

Wildlife
Report

This report discusses the present state and future prospects of fur farming in Finland. The report was carried out as part of the ORSI research project investigating fair and robust methods to make Finland environmentally sustainable. The ORSI looks at structural changes linked to changing societal values, causing some industries to shrink or disappear while others emerge, offering new job opportunities. Gradually losing societal acceptance, fur farming is one example of an industry experiencing such disruption.

This report explores the structural changes in the Finnish fur farming sector, paying particular attention to future options.

The future of insect farming: where’s the catch?

Farm Animals
Report

Since 2017, European industry has started significantly scaling up the industrial farming of new animals, including several species of insects. It aims to rear trillions of insects annually, which would make them the most industrially-farmed animals in Europe. This report takes a look at how this type of farming could impact the wellbeing of insects, as well as how this new source of animal feed could have a knock-on effect on the livestock farming sector, along with the sustainability of Europe’s food systems.

Review of investigations on the exotic pets online trade

Wildlife
Report

This review aims to provide an overview of past studies and investigations conducted to analyse the online exotic pet trade in the EU. It focuses on investigations conducted to determine the number and species of live animals traded from, into and within the EU through digital means.

The future of farming in the EU

Farm Animals
Position Paper

In this Position Paper, we explain how we’d like the food and farming sectors to have evolved by 2050 in the EU, with a focus on animal welfare, plant-based products and the end of industrial agriculture.

The current pet trade in the EU and its variation between Member States

Wildlife
Report

The EU is known to be one of the world’s largest wildlife markets and a central hub for the exotic pet trade. Millions of exotic pets are estimated to be owned in private households, including among others mammals, birds and reptiles.

This report provides some insight into the scale of the pet market in the EU in selected Member States, as well as an overall estimation of the number of, CITES listed, wild animals imported into the EU as pets over the last ten years.

Animals in disasters: the need for protection and coordination across Europe

Cats & Dogs
Report

In this overview report we examine the response of the European Union, its Member States and the non-governmental organisations to animals affected by Russia’s war in Ukraine in 2022.

The objectives of this report are to summarise the shortcomings identified during the work of the Taskforce, as well as to open a discussion about what could be done by the EU and its Member States in order to improve the protection of animals in the event of disasters.

This overview report also aims to support the inclusion of animal welfare actors in a coordinated emergency response mechanism in the EU and its Member States.

Analysis of animal welfare standards for animal products imported to the EU

Trade & Animal Welfare
Policy Briefing

Applying EU animal welfare standards to imported animal products would consistently offer to EU consumers the type of products they ethically feel more comfortable with, and would ensure that European consumption does not fuel inhumane and unsustainable models of production beyond the EU’s borders. The revision of the EU’s animal welfare legislation is a unique opportunity for the EU to lead the global transition towards sustainable food systems. The animal welfare requirements that are mostly considered are the following: ban of cages, stocking density and space allowance, mutilations, enrichment, and male chick culling.

This document reviews the animal welfare standards in the top countries exporting animal products to the EU. It also reviews the standards in countries with which the EU is negotiating a trade agreement (FTA), as these are likely to export increased quantities of animal-based products to the EU in future, and including animal welfare based conditions in trade agreements is an exception.

Seeking alternatives to lethal management

Wildlife
Position Paper

In the EU, a large number of species are subject to lethal control. The objective of such control varies from one species to another. It is important to note that the classification of a species can differ from one Member State to the other, and even from a locality to another within this Member State, depending on the local context. Hence, some species can be protected in a Member State while considered a “pest” in another. Some species can also be classified in several categories.

This is a position paper on preventing, planning, and promoting the use and exploration of non-lethal alternatives prior to the use of lethal management.

Why new genomic techniques will not solve the problems linked to intensive animal agriculture

Farm Animals
Position Paper

New Genomic Techniques (NGTs) come at the moment in which the international community attempts for a transition towards a more plant-based diet, and consumer demand for higher animal welfare standards is at an all-time high. While the promises of increased animal welfare, improved productivity and decreased environmental pressure are thought-provoking, there are concerns about the use of NGTs as they will not bring about any change to methods of production in general. This paper outlines Eurogroup for Animals' position.

Equines in the revised animal welfare legislation

Equines
Policy Briefing

Equines have varied status within the EU. They can be used for multiple purposes including companionship, leisure, sports, production or work. Sometimes, they fulfil more than one of these roles in their lifetime. Although bred for these other roles, many are subsequently used for meat production purposes. This situation means that equines often fall between the lines of legislation and are not adequately protected.

The objective of this briefing is to define the modalities for inclusion of equines within the different instruments forming the revised animal welfare legislation.

Review of investigations on wild animal pet markets

Wildlife
Report

Wild animal pet markets, also called exotic pet fairs, shows, exhibitions or expos, are events organised by the industry and breeder associations; where multiple businesses and hobby breeders display and sell live animals and related-products to visitors. Some of these markets solely focus on traditional pets while others also cover or are dedicated to exotic animals including a wide range of species of birds, reptiles and amphibians, but also mammals and fish and other animals such as spiders or snails.

This review is based on 9 investigations that have been carried out in wild animal pet markets in the EU and UK, addressing animal welfare, public health and invasiveness concerns. In this review, the key findings from these investigations are presented, highlighting key knowledge gaps that must be addressed to further understand and tackle the exotic pet trade.

Working equids in the European Union

Equines
Report

Domesticated to harness their potential as transport and draught power, working Equidae such as horses, donkeys and mules have become an integral part of human history and culture. Lessening labour burdens, assisting agricultural productivity and enabling travel, trade and development, equids demonstrate considerable versatility and can be found in a range of modern-day roles including equestrian sport, tourism, agriculture, forestry and environmental management and as contributors to human wellbeing.

Globally, over 100 million working equids support over 600 million people. The total population of equids within the European Union has been estimated at around seven million.

In a time of increased global dialogue about sustainable practice, particularly within the framework of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, working equids should be recognised and provided for, not necessarily as an alternative to modern technology to be employed out of context, but as an existing and complementary contributor to sustainable lives and livelihoods within the EU.

Briefing: Vietnam. Animal welfare in the implementation of the EU-Vietnam FTA

Trade & Animal Welfare
Report

This report examines what is at stake for animals in EU-Vietnam trade relations, calling for the Parties to make full use of EVFTA’s provisions on animal welfare cooperation and on Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD) to improve the lives of millions of animals. It first looks at the evolution of the trade in animal products between the partners, as well as at animal welfare legislation in Vietnam. It then presents the sectors that should become priorities for EU-Vietnam cooperation on animal welfare, as well as key animal issues that should be addressed under the TSD chapter.

Fur farming and public health

Wildlife
Report

With more than 600 million confirmed cases since its emergence in late 2019, and more than 6.5 million deaths, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the devastating human and economic cost of emerging infectious diseases. Approximately three quarters of emerging human infectious diseases are zoonotic (originating in animals).

This report examines the role of animals farmed for fur in the COVID-19 pandemic and their potential role in the emergence of future pandemics of human respiratory disease.

Raising the issue of tiger trade within the Domestic Advisory Group on EU-Vietnam FTA

Trade & Animal Welfare
Policy Briefing

Although the domestic and international trade in wild tigers for commercial purposes is prohibited in Vietnam, the trade remains highly active due to weak law enforcement and the demand for tiger parts in Vietnam and China. The prominence of illegal trafficking in Vietnam means EU-bred tigers exported to Vietnam are at high risk of being trafficked or killed for their parts. The export of these tigers also encourages the trade in captive-bred tigers (introduced in Vietnam to relieve pressure on the wild population) and, by encouraging the consumption of tiger parts, continues to threaten wild tiger populations. This note invites the EU Domestic Advisory Group (EU DAG) set up under the EU-Vietnam free trade agreement (EVFTA) to examine the tiger trade in Vietnam in light of Article 13.7.3 (d) and (e) of the Trade & Sustainable Development (TSD) chapter, which commits the parties to implement appropriate effective measures to reduce wildlife trafficking.

Enhanced animal welfare Method of Production (MoP+) labelling and sustainability labelling

Farm Animals
Position Paper

The Farm to Fork strategy aims to reduce the environmental and climate footprint of the EU food system and facilitate the shift to healthy and sustainable diets. As part of this commitment, it seeks to further empower consumers through labelling information. A proposal for a sustainable food labelling framework is scheduled for 2024, and the same time, the European Commission is considering options for animal welfare labelling. This report details what we at Eurogroup for Animals believe should be included for a meaningful and effective animal welfare label, along with how such a label can fit together with the sustainable food labelling framework, and our key considerations regarding the methodology that would underpin the above.