#Animal Welfare
Belgian MEPs in the ENVI and AGRI Committee

We’ve been treating animals like commodities for too long. Now that’s come back to bite us.

70% of infectious diseases in humans come from animals, and COVID-19 is no different. Changes in land and sea use and loss of habitat for agricultural purposes, especially for the intensification of animal farming, cause more frequent and closer interactions between animals both farmed and wild, humans, and ecosystems.

COVID-19 was transmitted from wildlife to humans as a consequence of the sheer number of species sold in wet markets in Asia – but it could just as easily have originated here. The EU is a major destination for exotic pets, including primates, reptiles, and amphibians, which are legally and illegally traded and transported to be sold and kept in EU homes, with no sanitary controls.

But the next – and potentially even worse – pandemic could easily emerge from what is now the norm in food production in most developed parts of the world: intensive farming. Farmed animals kept by the billions (trillions, if we consider fish in aquaculture) are reservoirs and pathways for diseases that can be dangerous, if not devastating, for humans.

In the EU, hundreds of millions of pigs and billions of chickens are kept in intensive industrial conditions, and are potential incubators of zoonotic Influenza A viruses. The (mis)use of antibiotics in intensive farming is a major contributor to antimicrobial resistance, which is only increasing in the EU in spite of sustained efforts to reduce the use of antibiotics in farmed animals.

COVID-19 has made it clear: we can no longer address public health without also addressing our treatment of animals: how we trade, keep or farm them.

The Farm to Fork Strategy, currently being drafted as part of the European Green Deal, offers a unique opportunity to move away from intensive animal agriculture to protect public health, animal health and welfare.

I call on You, Member of the European Parliament to integrate the following recommendations in the text of the Own Initiative Report on the Farm-to-Fork strategy of the EU Green Deal:

- An animal welfare dimension should be inserted as a stand-alone sustainability pillar for food systems.
- The CAP needs to be reformed so that public money is used to help farmers transition to less-intensive farm methods.
- Efforts to promote alternative (plant-based) sources of proteins for human diets must be further supported by helping researchers and farmers to better develop and market plant protein products.
- Integrated ecological approaches, organic and regenerative farming practices invested in under Horizon 2020 need to be further enhanced and promoted so that they can be applied by farmers throughout the EU.
- Stamping out pandemics means stamping out animal exploitation, now and forever.

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The Covid19: ask your Belgian MEPs to stop intensive farming petition to Belgian MEPs in the ENVI and AGRI Committee was written by Eurogroup for Animals and is in the category Animal Welfare at GoPetition.