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This morning, the Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals met to discuss the environmental and public health impact of industrial broiler production and to explore alternative production systems. Over 7 billion of broilers are raised each year in the European Union. Industrial broiler chicken production is predominant and accounts for 93.5 % of broiler production in the EU. This system raises welfare issues related, among others, to the selection for fast growth, high stocking density, and the lack of natural light, enrichment, or opportunities to display natural behaviour.

The meeting was chaired by John Flack MEP, Vice-President of the Intergoup, and was held on the very same day joint Motions for Resolutions were planned to be voted in the plenary. Karin Kadenbach MEP presented the demands included in the joint motion for resolution. As the rapporteur on the European One Health Action Plan against Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), she is very aware of the link between animal health, human health and the environment. She stressed that industrial broiler production raises concerns for animal welfare, public health, competitiveness and sustainability. She highlighted that the resolution is not against THE industry but it will support it in tackling the growing problem of AMR. The S&D, EPP, ALDE, ECR, Greens, GUE/NL and EFDD groups agreed on a joint motion for resolution to call on the Commission for specific actions to improve the production system and to protect public health. The resolution asks for clear mandatory marking on the production method for poultry meat, and an EFSA investigation on AMR for the more frequent bacteria. The resolution also addresses the question of selective breeding for fast-growth and the need to improve the implementation of the existing legislation on broiler welfare with animal-based indicators. In addition, the motion for resolution focuses on fair trade standards to ensure the competitiveness of the sector. Kadenbach MEP expressed her wish for a wide support for the motion in the Parliament.

Anke Sitter, Policy Advisor for Better Leven, presented a labeling system developed in Netherlands in partnership between the animal welfare organisations, the industries, the farmers and the retailers. The Better Leven label is now the best known label by consumers in Netherlands and set up standards above requirements of the legislation.  The objective is to improve animal welfare and sustainability step by step by using clear, feasible and recognizable criteria. The labelling system led to better conditions for 26 million of broilers. Consumers find a 5 to 25% increase in price for higher animal welfare standards acceptable. Farmers participating to the label create a higher income for themselves, gaining more resources for further improvements of animal standards. Even the lower level of the three-level system addresses key issues such as stocking density, selective breeding for fast-growth and enrichment. The improvements in animal welfare lead to better animal health and, consequently, a large decrease in antibiotics needed. To further develop this labelling system, international collaboration and recognition across borders would be necessary.  

The presentations were followed by a debate on key issues such as the need for animal welfare standards in trade agreements, the importance to develop initiatives in collaboration with farmers, the responsibility of legislation-makers, and the need for fair income for farmers. John Flack MEP ended the session by calling on the Members to strongly support the joint Motion for Resolution in plenary. He early afternoon, the European Parliament adopted the resolution by a large majority with 409 votes in favour and only 19 against.

 

To see the full recording of the Intergroup Session, please click here.

To see the agenda, the power point presentation and the attendance, please click here.

 

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