Brazilian CSOs urge the EU and Brazil to include animal welfare conditions in the EU-Mercosur Agreement
A group of over 40 civil society organisations (CSOs), congress people, and animal welfare specialists in Brazil sent joint letters to the European Parliament, Council and Commission, and to the Brazilian Government this week, requesting the inclusion of animal welfare clauses in the additional protocol of the EU-Mercosur FTA.
The central objective of the request is to ensure that the trade deal will not aggravate animal cruelty, but rather promote the wellbeing of farmed and wild animals. Indeed, as it stands, the deal will further fuel intensive animal agriculture, with an exponential increase in the export of products of animal origin to European countries.
The letter also suggests that by conditioning trade preferences to specific animal welfare standards, the deal would contribute to tackling deforestation and public health issues. The main driver of deforestation is the expansion of pastures and grain farms, such as soy used in animal feed, in biomes not covered by the EU regulation on imported deforestation, such as the Pantanal wetlands and the Cerrado savanna. Conditioning trade preferences to animal welfare standards would contribute to improving animals’ health, reducing the use of antibiotics and the risk of spreading zoonotic diseases, which can be transmitted from animals to humans.
The inclusion of animal welfare in the Additional Protocol is a crucial step, and a unique opportunity to foster higher standards in Mercosur countries. If civil society organisations are listened to, it will be possible to establish a sustainable food production system in Mercosur countries and mirror the EU animal welfare standards.Carla Lettieri - Executive Director of Animal Equality Brazil
The draft EU-Mercosur FTA already has an animal welfare condition for shelled eggs. Unfortunately, this is not the most traded animal product between the regions - these are beef and chicken meat. The EU-New Zealand FTA, which was agreed most recently, reserves the preferential tariff for beef products derived from grass-fed animals, hence explicitly excluding feedlots for sustainability related reasons. The time is thus now right to ensure a similar treatment for beef in the EU-Mercosur FTA, but also to add conditions for other animal products, especially where the trade volume is higher.
According to a 2016 Eurobarometer, 93% of EU citizens want imported animal products to respect the same welfare standards as those applied in the EU. In Brazil, a survey carried out by Instituto Datafolha, at the request of the Fórum Nacional de Defesa e Proteção Animal, indicated that 88% of Brazilian consumers care about the welfare conditions of animals.
Animal welfare is a key concern for EU and Brazilian citizens. It is time for the EU to address animal welfare in its trade policy. The coming revision of the EU animal welfare legislation provides a clear opportunity to apply more requirements on imports, but in the meantime the EU needs to condition all trade preferences granted in the EU-Mercosur agreement to the respect of animal welfare standards equivalent to those applied in the EU.Stephanie Ghislain, Political Affairs Manager, Eurogroup for Animals