Analysis of the EU campaigns to promote meat, eggs and dairy
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While the Farm to Fork Strategy states that “moving to a more plant-based diet with less red and processed meat and with more fruits and vegetables will reduce not only risks of life threatening diseases, but also the environmental impact of the food system”, the EU spends around 200 millions of euros each year on subsidising campaigns, of which around 60 million go to promoting meat, eggs and dairy.
Most of these campaigns, such as This is European Poultry! High-Quality Poultry with European Guarantee or Meat with European Quality, make unsubstantiated claims of high standards of animal welfare
The EU Poultry campaign, for instance, aims to raise public awareness of EU poultry meat and states that animal welfare is one of the main goals of the European poultry sector. In reality, billions of birds are reared, transported and slaughtered in highly inadequate conditions. Breeding has created chickens which grow at record speed with enormous breast muscles which the skeleton and cardiovascular system cannot support. As a result, many broiler chickens suffer heart failure, painful fractures and premature death.
Furthermore, the analysis points to the claims made by the “Meat with European Quality” campaign which states that producers maintain high standards of animal welfare. In fact, although some of their requirements may marginally exceed the current minimum EU legislation for raising pigs, producers are still allowed to use sow stalls during the perinatal period, during lactation and for some weeks whilst the sow is inseminated and is in the first stages of her pregnancy. Consequently, the sow will experience considerable frustration and stress due to not being able to build nests for her piglets, interact with them or move further than two steps forwards or backwards, without ever being able to turn around.
Lower animal welfare practices and intensive farming have no place in sustainable diets. Financing of these farming systems will only halt the transition to a truly sustainable food system.
Between March and June 2021, the European Commission will be reviewing the promotion policy in order to “enhance its contribution to sustainable production and consumption, and in line with the shift to a more plant-based diet, with less red and processed meat and more fruits and vegetables.” Eurogroup for Animals believes that the EU should end the funding for animal products in order to enable the crucial shift to more sustainable, plant-based diets in line with the Farm to Fork strategy.
The public consultation is open until 23 June 2021. To respond to it, click here.
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