Animal welfare enhanced by Parliament in geographical indications revision
Eurogroup for Animals welcomes the recent vote in the European Parliament on the Commission’s proposal to strengthen geographical indications, a quality label for agricultural and wine products. The proposal identified that consumer concerns about animal welfare and sustainability are not adequately protected at present, which is welcome having in mind animal abuses previously denounced in the production of prestigious products like Parmigiano Reggiano or Jamon Serrano.
Last year the European Commission adopted a legislative proposal on revising the geographical indications scheme, aimed, among others, at strengthening the sustainability dimension of said scheme, notably by laying down requirements in light of the growing integration of these issues in GI value chains, validating those producers who have already integrated sustainability actions into their product specifications.
The amendments supported by the Parliament deviate from the Commission’s proposal in advantageous ways, notably by including language on animal welfare that was not originally present. Most notably, it expands the scope of EU rules that GI producers must comply with to include animal welfare and environmental rules, and specifies that compliance should be verified through appropriate controls.
The EU register of GIs currently contains almost 3500 entries, with a sales value of €74.8 billion, and the system is recognised worldwide as representing the excellence of the EU's agri-food sector. Increased attention to animal welfare is therefore essential to protecting the quality of GI products.
While GIs are commonly viewed as high quality by consumers, many producers do not currently respect even the EU minimum animal welfare standards. Indeed, investigations into GI products have uncovered illegal practices, such as brutal violence on farms breeding pigs for Parma Ham (Essere Animali, 2018 investigation), cows farmed to produce Parmigiano Reggiano unable to graze on pasture (Compassion in World Farming, 2017 investigation), and dead calves and serious hygienic/sanitary neglect on farms producing Grana Padano (Essere Animali, 2021 investigation).
Eurogroup for Animals will follow this process, to ensure the schemes referenced in the legislation are appropriate and to avoid it leading to humane washing.