HSI praises Romanian Red Cross for unprecedented co-operation to help people with animals in war

Humane Society International


HSI’s Romania director Andreea Roseti delivers pet food to Romanian Red Cross for the Ukrainian relief effort.

Sibiu, ROMANIA—The Romanian Red Cross and animal protection organisation Humane Society International have launched an unprecedented agreement to get vital pet food and veterinary supplies into Ukraine to help tackle a worsening animal welfare crisis.

Hundreds of animal shelters, veterinary clinics and rescue centres, as well as thousands of families with pets who remain in Ukraine, are struggling to find food for the animals in their care, and providing veterinary care for injured or sick animals is increasingly challenging as supplies are at risk of running out. In recognition of the clear desire of people in Ukraine to care for the animals caught up alongside them in the war, the Romanian Red Cross will, for the first time ever, add life-saving aid for animals to its humanitarian aid transport. Humane Society International has donated the first tonne of pet food to the Romanian Red Cross, which the agency will take into Ukraine and distribute according to need.

Raluca Morar, executive director Romanian Red Cross Sibiu county, says: “In times like these, we, at the Red Cross know that our most valuable resource is kindness and compassion. Our humanitarian convoys will deliver not only supplies to people in desperate need, but also hope that help in on the way. In times like these we know that not only people, but also animals need help. We are happy and honoured to have Humane Society International on our side, making sure that much needed pet food will also reach Ukraine with our convoys. First ton of dry pet food has reached our loading point in Sibiu, and will be delivered to Ukraine within the next days.”

HSI/Europe’s Romania director, Andreea Roseti, says: “As this conflict continues, people and animals in Ukraine are suffering alongside each other, particularly in those animal shelters and homes where leaving animals behind has simply been an impossible decision to make. We are grateful that the Romanian Red Cross has recognised that the plight of animals in war is inextricably bound up with the plight of the people who live with them and care so deeply about their welfare. We have donated one tonne of emergency pet supplies, the first of many to come, that the Red Cross will distribute within Ukraine to help avert a worsening animal welfare crisis. There are large numbers of pet dogs and cats roaming the streets who have become separated from their families; they are bewildered, traumatised and in need of help. The tragedy of war doesn’t differentiate between two legs or four, and together with the Red Cross we will get aid to those people in Ukraine desperately asking for help to keep their animal friends alive in this crisis.”

HSI is also working with other local animal welfare groups in Germany, Italy and Poland to help Ukrainian refugees fleeing the conflict with their beloved pets by providing emergency supplies at refugee reception points. Supported by a generous donation from Mars, Incorporated, the charity is providing pet food, blankets as well as veterinary care for refugees arriving with animal companions. The people accessing these pet support services speak of their relief at being able to save their pets who are an enormous comfort in extremely stressful circumstances, especially for traumatised children. In Germany, HSI is working with animal welfare group Berliner Tiertafel to provide pet food and veterinary treatment. All over Berlin more than 30 vets are already supporting the project to provide aid to refugees and their pets, so that the animals receive urgent veterinary treatments alongside necessary vaccinations and microchips.

HSI’s Germany director, Sylvie Kremerskothen Gleason, says: “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is of course a devastating humanitarian crisis, but the beloved dogs, cats and other animals of those fleeing Ukraine are very much part of that refugee story. We have heard from refugees we’re helping in Berlin that the loyal companionship of their pets has kept them and their families going on the arduous journey to safety. For children especially, their pets are an enormous source of comfort to help them cope with the trauma of war. These refugees are frightened and exhausted, so being able to help them care for their pets means they have one less thing to worry about at a time when they need help the most.”

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Charity warns of worsening animal welfare crisis alongside humanitarian tragedy

Humane Society International / Europe


Charlotte Bröcker HSI in Germany and Berliner Tiertafel helping refugees and their pets arriving in Berlin with their pets.

BRUSSELS—Animal protection organisation Humane Society International, together with a generous donation from Mars, Incorporated, is helping Ukrainian refugees fleeing the conflict with their beloved pets by providing emergency funding and supplies such as pet food, blankets as well as veterinary care. The charity reports that refugees accessing their pet support services speak of their relief at being able to save their much loved animal companions who are an enormous comfort in extremely stressful circumstances, especially for traumatised children. While HSI and the local groups with which it works are providing a welcome lifeline for animal victims who make it to safety, the organisation warns of a worsening animal welfare crisis to come inside Ukraine as reaching people and animals with aid is likely to become more problematic.

In Germany, HSI is working with animal welfare group Berliner Tiertafel at a dedicated aid station in Berlin, to provide care packages and veterinary treatment for the refugees arriving with animals. Some of the pets have severe medical issues like epilepsy for which they were provided medication.

HSI’s Germany director Sylvie Kremerskothen Gleason who has been in Berlin distributing pet supplies to refugees, says: “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is of course a devastating humanitarian crisis, but the beloved dogs, cats and other animals of those fleeing Ukraine are very much part of that refugee story. Leaving pets behind to starve or be injured in the conflict is understandably for many an impossible decision, and we have heard from refugees we’re helping in Berlin that the loyal companionship of their pets has kept them and their families going on the arduous journey to safety. For children especially, their pets are an enormous source of comfort to help them cope with the trauma of war. These refugees are frightened and exhausted, so being able to help them care for their pets means they have one less thing to worry about at a time when they need help the most.”

One of the refugees being helped by HSI and Berliner Tiertafel in Germany is Marianna, who fled Kyiv with her two children aged six and 12 years, her mother and their two dogs Erik and Liza the husky. Liza has epilepsy and had a seizure during the traumatic escape, but has now received veterinary attention thanks to HSI.

Another refugee, Karyna, also came to HSI and Berliner Tiertafel for help in Berlin. Her cat, Bonifacio, was in her foster care from a local shelter in Kyiv when the war began and she didn’t want to leave him behind. Karyna says there are around 60 other cats still left at the shelter. Bonifacio has several pre-existing injuries including a hip trauma and brain injury.  Karyna is relieved her cat is now receiving the veterinary care he needs.

HSI teams in Berlin and Trieste in Italy have also packed hundreds of kilos of pet food and supplies to make the journey to the Ukraine border to reach shelters and homes struggling to keep going. Inside Ukraine, HSI has also teamed up with Kyiv-based animal organisation UAnimals to provide them with the funds they need to help rescues, veterinary clinics and even zoos caring for hundreds of animals.

HSI/Europe’s executive director, Ruud Tombrock says: “We are deeply concerned for the people and animals in Ukraine for whom the threat of injury or death from the fighting is compounded by the increasing challenge of safely finding food and supplies. Our first shipment of emergency funds and goods will reach many shelters, rescues and families struggling to cope. But the longer this conflict continues, the more challenging it may become. Significant numbers of dogs are now roaming the streets and seeking shelter in abandoned or bombed buildings because shelters have been damaged. There will also be animals on farms and in zoos for whom evacuation is just not possible. So alongside the human tragedy of this invasion we face the possibility of a worsening animal welfare crisis.”

You can help by making a donation to HSI’s emergency response for Ukraine and other life-saving efforts.

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Humane Society International / Europe


Waldo Swiegers/AP Images for HSI

BRUSSELS —Animal protection campaigners have urged the European Commission to increase its cooperation with the Vietnamese authorities to tackle the illegal trade in African wildlife species. At an online conference, hosted by the Belgian Green MEP Saskia Bricmont, a report from the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) was presented, which highlighted the significant role of Vietnamese wildlife crime networks operating in Africa. It explored the scale of illegal trade from Africa to Asia facilitated by such syndicates and its impact on Africa’s wildlife and those authorities mandated to protect it.  

The panel debate, which included representatives from the Vietnamese CITES Management Authority, Vietnam Customs and Environmental Police, the European Commission and a Nigerian wildlife protection NGO, addressed the shared challenges faced by law enforcement authorities in Vietnam and Nigeria in disrupting transnational criminal networks trafficking wildlife from Africa to Asia. During the discussion, the panel looked at how Vietnam can further tackle its role in wildlife crime and sought to identify ways in which the EU could support Vietnam to achieve this, including through the provisions of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) 

Belgian MEP Saskia Bricmont (Greens/EFA), who hosted the event, said: 

“We are in the midst of a global biodiversity crisis. Urgent and concerted action is needed to clamp down on the trafficking of wildlife. The EU-Vietnam trade deal explicitly commits both Parties to adopting and implement appropriate effective measures to bring about a reduction of illegal trade in wildlife, such as awareness raising campaigns, monitoring and enforcement measures. I urge the European Commission to reach out to the Vietnamese government to offer both financial and technical assistance to help them combat the scourge of wildlife trafficking, which is pushing so many species towards the brink of extinction.”  

Mary Rice, Executive Director of the Environmental Investigation Agency, said: 

“Vietnam has made sterling efforts, such as revising its Penal Code to significantly penalise wildlife crime, to tackle the illegal wildlife trade in-country. However, Vietnam’s reputation is tarnished by the fact that it is the primary destination for illegal wildlife products sourced from across Africa and shipped by criminal networks directly or indirectly to meet the demand in Vietnam and beyond. These networks are accelerating the decline of Africa’s biodiversity and are exacerbating corruption and weak rule of law in many source and transit countries in the continent. It is unfortunate that the actions of a minority of Vietnamese citizens—and not to mention the complicity of EU citizens in this wildlife trafficking too—are sullying the country’s reputation and undermining their efforts to stamp out the illegal trade.”   

Dr Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs for Humane Society International/Europe notes: 

“The EU also needs to step up to help the African nations whose wildlife populations are being blighted by poachers and organised criminal networks seeking to profit from the illegal trade in endangered species, and most certainly needs to better penalise EU citizens who are involved in this heinous trade. For example, we have recently seen a case involving both Polish and Vietnamese nationals who have attempted to launder rhino hunting trophies imported legally into the EU into the Southeast Asian rhino horn trade. In addition to increasing European collaboration with and providing more support to the Vietnamese authorities, we also need to make sure that here in Europe wildlife crime does not pay. At present, this kind of crime is often viewed as being relatively low-risk and high income generating due primarily to the lack of severe penalties and low chances of being apprehended or prosecuted. We hope that the revision of the Environmental Crime Directive will help rectify this situation in the EU, as well as the updated EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking providing greater resources and impetus for combating illegal wildlife trade.”  

The event was organised by Humane Society International/Europe and the Environmental Investigation Agency. Speakers and panellists included:  

  • Mrs. Ha Thi Tuyet Nga, director for Vietnam CITES MA  
  • Mr. Jorge Rodriguez Romero, deputy head of unit at EU Commission for DG Environment 
  • Ms. Linh Nguyen, wildlife campaigner for EIA UK  
  • Mr. Wilson Ogoke, wildlife policy coordinator for Africa Nature Investors
  • Moderator: Ms. Judith Kirton-Darling, chair of the Domestic Advisory Group for the EU-Vietnam FTA 

Background 

  • Vietnam has made important progress in tackling wildlife crime, both in terms of improving as well as implementing relevant national legislation. For example, Vietnam’s revised Penal Code, which came into effect on 1st January 2018, significantly increases penalties for wildlife crime. There have also been a large number of cases resulting in deterrent penalties imposed on individuals convicted for wildlife crime offences.  
  • Despite this, a review of wildlife seizures originating from Africa made at seaports in Vietnam since 2018 highlighted that, not a single ivory and pangolin scale seizure at seaports in Vietnam has resulted in arrests, prosecutions or convictions, suggesting that investigations have been inadequate. Between 2018-21, the seized ivory and pangolin scales represent at least 2,200 dead elephants and 36,000 pangolins and provide yet more evidence that organised criminal syndicates continue to exploit Vietnam as a hub for illegal wildlife trade. Vietnam has also made several attempts to communicate with South African enforcement authorities in the interest of cooperating to crack down on illegal wildlife trade, but most of these have been unanswered. 
  • According to EIA seizure data, since 2015, Nigeria has become the primary African country implicated in ivory and pangolin scale smuggling incidents destined for Vietnam with seizures of at least 18 tonnes and 68 tonnes respectively. 2020 saw a drop in ivory and other wildlife seizures due to the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic yet since 2021, approximately 17 tonnes of ivory and pangolin scales have been seized either leaving Nigeria bound for Vietnam or in Vietnam arriving from Nigeria, clearly demonstrating the ongoing illicit trade corridor. 
  • The Trade and Sustainable Development chapter of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), which recently entered into force, includes a number of important provisions relating to wildlife protection. These provisions should allow the EU to assist Vietnam with reducing the demand for wildlife products and increasing the Vietnamese government’s enforcement capacity with the training and tools it needs to tackle the scourge of wildlife trafficking.  
  • In December 2021, the European Commission adopted a legislative proposal to revise the existing Environmental Crime Directive.  
  • The existing EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking is currently being reviewed and a revised version is anticipated to be published by the European Commission by the summer of 2022. 

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Hon. Ferraresi and Flati in partnership with Humane Society International: ’A crucial step to stop Italy’s involvement in this anachronistic and cruel practice that endangers the survival of many wild species.’

Humane Society International / Europe


Lions
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ROME—Today, in honoring World Wildlife Day, the Honorables Vittorio Ferraresi and Francesca Flati (M5S) presented a bill at the Chamber of Deputies to ban the import and export of hunting trophies of endangered species, the first of its kind in Italy. The bill was presented in partnership with Humane Society International with Martina Pluda, director of HSI in Italy, at the chamber for the occasion.

After close collaboration with key stakeholders, including HSI, Bill nr. 3430 would amend Law no. 150/1992, which regulates the trade of threatened and endangered species in Italy and will position Italy as a strong champion in the fight to protect global biodiversity and to institute sustainable, effective conservation initiatives for imperiled wildlife. This initiative follows the recent publication of HSI/Europe’s report: “Trophy Hunting by the Numbers: The European Union’s role in global trophy hunting” which highlights the European Union’s devastating contribution to the trophy hunting industry as the world’s second largest importer of hunting trophies after the United States. The items being imported include trophies from threatened and endangered species.

The bill provides for:

  • the ban on the import, export and re-export to and from Italy of hunting trophies of species protected under Annexes I and II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
  • a penalty, in case of violation of the prohibition, of up to three years in prison, a fine of up to 200,000 euros for primary violations, a fine of up to 300,000 euros in cases of recidivism, and confiscation of the hunting trophie(s).

From 2014 to 2018, the EU imported nearly 15,000 hunting trophies of 73 internationally protected species–with Italy importing 322 of the total trophies. Similar numbers were also confirmed from 2019-2020, despite the COVID-19 pandemic; during this period, Italy imported 105 hunting trophies of 13 different mammal species protected under CITES, including threatened lions, endangered African elephants, and critically endangered black rhinos. From 2014-2018, Italy was the largest EU importer of 145 hippopotamus trophies, the fourth of wild African lion trophies and the fifth of African elephant trophies. Over 80% of the lion trophies imported to Italy over the period were bred in captivity or derived from “canned hunting” practices, a type of trophy hunting which involves shooting bred animals in enclosed spaces to guarantee a kill.

The importation of hunting trophies to Italy is currently legal despite the majority of Italians opposing hunting wild animals for the purpose of a trophy.  In fact, according to the results of a recent survey by Savanta ComRes and commissioned by HSI/Europe, 86% of the Italians interviewed oppose the trophy hunting of all wild animals, and 74% are in favor of a ban on the import of hunting trophies to Italy.

The Honorable Vittorio Ferraresi, first signatory of the bill, said: “This bill aims to combat the killing of protected and endangered species that we may never see again, and the violence that is perpetrated against them. The protection of biodiversity is also an important factor in human survival and when it is undermined, the future and quality of life of future generations is at risk.”

The Honorable Francesca Flati stated: “Animals are not trophies to be exhibited, but living, sentient beings. With this bill we want to put an end to unregulated hunting. Let’s immediately stop the import and export of hunting trophies! With the 5 Star Movement we are in the front line and working to stop this despicable practice.”

Martina Pluda, director for Italy, Humane Society International, says: “With this bill we are giving Italy the opportunity to take the side of wildlife and their real protection. We urge Parliament to stop the practice of hunting protected animals for fun and importing them to Italy as macabre trophies, to be hung over a fireplace for boasting. It is a step that meets the favor of Italians who have demonstrated clear opposition to this elitist and anachronistic practice that has nothing to do with the conservation of species and biodiversity.”

Senator Gianluca Perilli, who in December 2021 promoted, together with other senators, an amendment to the Budget Law on the issue, expressed his support with the following statement: “Our commitment to protect animals and biodiversity goes beyond our national borders. With the approval of the constitutional reform, which introduces the protection of the environment, biodiversity and animals into the Constitution, we have taken a very important step for our society, but we are aware that other regulatory measures will have to follow. Banning the import and export of hunting trophies at international level means safeguarding those wild species threatened with extinction and protecting biodiversity.”

From Cape Town, Audrey Delsink, wildlife director for HSI/Africa, points out: “Trophy hunting has been shown to have a detrimental impact on the conservation of wildlife. There are many ways that trophy hunting can negatively affect population dynamics such as low reproductive output, reduced offspring survival, lower adult survival and increased mortality rates in species such as lions, leopards and cougars to name but a few. In addition to this threat, trophy hunting does not support local communities, which continue to live in conditions of extreme poverty. Indeed, a study of eight African countries shows that while overall tourism is between 2.8% and 5.1% of the gross domestic product, the total economic contribution of trophy hunters is at most about 0.03% of GDP.”

“This bill represents a concrete political action to stop our country’s shameful involvement in an anachronistic and cruel practice that contributes to endangering the global survival of many wild species”, conclude Ferraresi, Flati and Pluda.

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Media contacts:

  • Eva-Maria Heinen, communications and PR manager for Italy: emheinen.hsi@gmail.com
  • Martina Pluda, Italy country director: mpluda@hsi.org; 371.4120885

Humane Society International / Europe


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BRUSSELS—Animal charity Humane Society International/Europe applauds the European Commission for advising all EU Member States to relax veterinary paperwork requirements for the dogs, cats and other companion animals travelling with refugees seeking safe passage in EU Member States.

In a communication shared with HSI and other members of the EU Animal Welfare Platform, Bernard Van Goethem, director of Crisis Preparedness in food, animals and plants at the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety, wrote to the Chief Veterinary Officers and Permanent Representations of all Member States, saying:

“In view of the concerning developments of the situation in Ukraine and to avoid possible difficulties with refugees coming from Ukraine with their dogs, cats or other pet animals… the Commission suggests that to ease the process and address appropriately this emergency situation, Member States may develop permit arrangements that would apply to pets travelling with refugees and authorise their entry without a prior individual application for a permit. This approach would allow you to inform your staff at borders to ensure awareness and therefore avoid any problems.”

Ruud Tombrock, executive director for Humane Society International/Europe, says: “We are deeply concerned for the people and animals impacted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and so we welcome the European Commission’s recognition that people fleeing the conflict care deeply about their companion animals as beloved members of their family and will want to keep them safe. Those seeking refuge will be greatly relieved to know that they can make evacuation plans to EU countries with their pets without unnecessary delay. This is a precedent setting compassionate stance from the EU that we very much hope will be replicated around the world during similar conflict situations. People should not have to jeopardise their own safety in efforts to prevent their animals from being left behind to fend for themselves.”

During any conflict situation, immediate focus will understandably be on human casualties, but animals can also become victims, suffering injury, loss of life or being left to fend for themselves during evacuations. An inability to transport animals has also hindered and delayed evacuations of people from conflict and disaster zones as people do not want to leave their beloved animals behind. While HSI does not have operations in Ukraine, we are closely monitoring the situation including reaching out to local groups to assess if and how we can best support those in need.

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Humane Society International / Europe


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BRUSSELS—The European Parliament has adopted a resolution which calls for the EU Commission and Member States to help consumers eat a more healthy, plant-based diet and reduce overconsumption of meat to reduce cancer risks. It also calls for greater investment in non-animal biomedical test methods to replace obsolete animal models in cancer research. Europe accounts for a quarter of the world’s cancer cases with 1,3 million EU deaths each year.

The adopted resolution on Strengthening Europe in the fight against cancer—towards a comprehensive and coordinated strategy comes in advance of Cancer Prevention Action Week, and follows the EU’s launch of a 4 billion euro Beating Cancer Plan. Amongst a raft of other measures, the resolution:

  • “emphasises the role of a healthy diet in preventing and limiting the incidence and the recurrence of cancer, and stresses that individual cancer risks can be reduced by an increased consumption of sustainably-produced plants and plant-based foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes;
  • emphasises the need to address the overconsumption of meat and ultra-processed products, and products high in sugars, salt and fats;
  • asks the Commission and the Member States to encourage and help consumers to make informed, healthy and sustainable choices about food products by means of the adoption of a mandatory and harmonised EU front-of-pack nutritional label based on robust and independent scientific evidence;
  • supports fiscal measures to make fresh foods (such as fruits and vegetables, pulses, legumes and wholegrains) more affordable and accessible at national level;
  • calls for comprehensive nutrition public campaigns and supports nutrition counselling to be available in primary healthcare.”

Dr Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs for Humane Society International/Europe, said:

“There is mounting scientific evidence that the consumption of meat and dairy products can have a detrimental impact on human health. The World Health Organisation warns that processed meats are carcinogenic, that red meat probably increases your risk of bowel cancer and that eating the equivalent of less than two slices of bacon a day increases your chance of colorectal cancer by 18%. So it is heartening to see the European Parliament acknowledge the risk factors associated with animal products, as well as the protective benefits of eating a more plant-based diet. Alongside reducing climate change emissions and sparing animals suffering on factory farms, the human health advantages of eating more plant-based foods present another compelling reason to transition Europe to a more resilient food system.”

The adopted resolution also highlights the importance of non-animal research methodologies as more efficient and reliable in cancer research, and recognises the significant role of real-world data, mathematical modelling, artificial intelligence and digital tools in developing innovative and cost-efficient cancer treatments, which will reduce the use of animals in research.

Cancer is one of the main areas of experimental animal use in Europe, using nearly one million animals in 2017 (the latest EU statistics available), with animal use increasing despite the very poor translation of animal data to human use. The largest proportion of drug failures is in cancer, where there is approximately 5% likelihood of a drug being approved following animal trials. This means that 95% of the drugs that seem to offer hope for cancer treatment when tested in animal models (mostly mice) fail to have an impact for patients. The adopted resolution:

  • “stresses the importance of investing in the development of non-animal research methodologies [to] increase efficiency in research, and reduce unnecessary and often less reliable experiments on animals;
  • underlines that non-animal methods for testing the carcinogenicity of environmental chemicals, such as testing strategies focused on the underlying biological mechanisms that lead to cancer, should provide more relevant information than the animal-based methods currently in use for chemical safety assessment, thus enabling authorities to take swifter measures to limit exposure to harmful chemicals that could lead to cancer.”

Helder Constantino, director of research policy for HSI’s Research & Toxicology department, added:

“The EU Beating Cancer initiative offers an excellent opportunity to promote and seek additional funding for more advanced and human biology-based research approaches with the potential to overcome the limitations associated with current animal models and provide more human data to tackle the dramatic rise in cancer in Europe. HSI welcomes the Parliament’s emphasis on the importance of investing in new, non-animal research technologies, such as next-generation computing and miniature human organoids. ,  Non-animal methods for testing the cancer-causing potential of environmental chemicals should provide more human-relevant information than the old, slow and unreliable rodent tests currently in use. This will enable authorities to take swifter measures to reduce human exposure to chemicals of concern.”

Although the adopted resolution is non-binding, Humane Society International urges the European Commission and Member States to take note of its crucial message, and to continue to take concerted efforts to promote the protein transition, as well as to grant additional funding for the development and use of non-animal research methods.

Background information

Following the European Commission’s adoption of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan in 2020, the European Parliament established a Special Committee on Beating Cancer (BECA) in recognition of the disproportionate impact of cancer on Europeans. The number of cancer diagnoses in Europe is projected to increase from 3.5 million to more than 4.3 million newly diagnosed cases by 2035.

    • The WHO has classified processed meats, including ham, bacon, salami, sausages and frankfurters, as a Group 1 carcinogen (i.e. known to cause cancer). Processed meats have been linked to increased risk of colorectal cancer, with experts concluding that each 50g portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%. Red meat, such as beef, lamb and pork, has been classified by the WHO as a Group 2A carcinogen (i.e. probably causes cancer). Consumption of red meat was linked to colorectal cancer, as well as pancreatic and prostate cancers.
  • All animal proteins stimulate the growth hormone IGF-1; the more IGF-1 present in your bloodstream, the higher the risk for cancer development. Research shows that only those following a fully plant-based, vegan diet will experience cancer protection due to decreased growth hormone and increased binding protein levels.[1], [2]
  • Research shows that high-fibre diets protect against colon cancer and can even increase survival of those already diagnosed with the disease. Stomach cancer and breast cancer are less common with high-fibre diets. The best sources of fibre are minimally processed whole grains, beans, peas, lentils, vegetables, and fruits.[3],[4],[5],[6], [7], [8], [9]Beta-carotene, present in dark green, yellow, and orange vegetables, also helps protect against lung cancer and may help prevent cancers of the bladder, mouth, larynx, oesophagus and breast.
  • In October 2020, the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) produced a freely available knowledge base of over 900 non-animal models for breast cancer research. According to the JRC, while “breast cancer is now estimated to be the most frequently occurring cancer, accounting for 13.3% of all new cancer diagnoses during 2020 in EU-27 countries”, disseminating human-biology based methods is key to develop new treatments because “current breast cancer research is too reliant on animal models, mostly using rodents. But rodents provide a poor model for human diseases.”
  • According to a scientific expert group of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, “It is now well recognized by the scientific and regulatory community that the conventional approach to carcinogenicity testing, particularly the use of the rodent cancer bioassay has many limitations in terms of reliability and relevance. It is not considered sufficiently fit for the purpose of human health hazard assessment”.

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Media contact: Yavor Gechev: +359889468098; ygechev@hsi.org

[1] Allen NE, Appleby PN, Davey GK, Kaaks R, Rinaldi S, et al. The associations of diet with serum insulin-like growth factor I and its main binding proteins in 292 women meat-eaters, vegetarians, and vegans. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2002;11:1441-8.

[2] Allen NE, Appleby PN, Davey GK, Key TJ. Hormones and diet: low insulin-like growth factor-I but normal bioavailable androgens in vegan men. Br J Cancer 2000;83:95-7.

[3] Song M, Wu K, Meyerhardt JA. Fiber intake and survival after colorectal cancer diagnosis. JAMA Oncol. 2018;4:71-79.

[4] Ben Q, Sun Y, Chai R, Qian A, Xu B, Yuan Y. Dietary fiber intake reduces risk of colorectal adenoma: a meta-analysis. Gastroenterology. 2014;146:689 – 699.

[5] O’Keef  SJ, Li JV, Lahti L, et al. Fat, fibre and cancer risk in African Americans and rural Africans. Nat Commun. 2015;6:6342-6356

[6] Zhu B, Sun Y, Qi L, Zhong R, Miao X. Dietary legume consumption reduces risk of colorectal cancer: evidence from a meta-analysis of cohort studies. Sci Rep. 2015;5:8797-8804

[7] Risch  HA,  Jain  M,  Choi  NW,  et  al.  Dietary factors and the incidence of cancer of the stomach. Am J Epidemiol. 1985;122:947-959.

[8] Lubin F, Wax Y, Modan B, et al. Role of fat, animal protein and dietary fiber in breast cancer etiology: a case control study. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1986;77:605-612.

[9] Farvid MS, Eliassen AH, Cho E, Liao X, Chen WY, Willett WC. Dietary fiber intake in young adults and breast cancer risk. Pediatrics. 2016;137:e20151226 – e20151239

Humane Society International / Europe


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Brussels Yesterday, the European Parliament voted in favour of a retrograde report from its Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development on the implementation of on-farm animal welfare, disregarding science and uncritically supporting the continuation of intensive animal agriculture, particularly if animal welfare improvements would be accompanied with financial costs.  

Humane Society International/Europe’s senior director of public affairs, Dr Joanna Swabe, issued the following statement after the Plenary vote:  

“It is lamentable that a majority of MEPs followed the position taken by their AGRI committee colleagues, many of whom have vested economic interests in farming. The foxes are effectively in charge of the henhouse. From the outset, allowing producers to carry on with business as usual took precedence over improving the welfare conditions under which billions of sentient animals are intensively kept for food production. Worse still, the report’s claims that there are no reliable solutions to tail-biting in pigs – and that all is well with the welfare of force-fed ducks and geese – fly in the face of animal welfare science.  

“None of this bodes well for the future revision of the EU animal welfare acquis. While we anticipate that the Commission will deliver a progressive proposal in 2023, there is likely to be a major battle ahead to ensure that this is not diluted by those whose sole interest is maintaining the status quo.”   

Nearly 1.4 million EU citizens signed the recent European Citizens’ Initiative to End the Cage Age for farmed animals. It is vital that Members of the European Parliament, as well as EU Member State governments, pay heed to their calls and take decisions that are not at odds with societal attitudes towards animal welfare. It does not help that Member States are already failing to adequately enforce the existing and now outdated body of EU animal welfare legislation. 

Humane Society International will continue to push for meaningful changes to improve the lives of animals kept for food production in the EU. This includes an end to caged confinement for farmed animals and the development of welfare standards for species for which there is presently no species-specific legislation.  The farming industry itself has the highest possible stake in the adoption of stronger welfare standards during this legislative revision process. In the end, this approach will futureproof the farming industry. If farmers must make additional investments, then it must be in systems that will still be viable, from an animal welfare science perspective, in the coming decades.  

Background information 

  • In 2020, in the framework of its Farm to Fork Strategy, the European Commission committed to revising and broadening the scope of the existing animal welfare legislation, also bringing it in line with current scientific knowledge. It is expected to deliver its legislative proposal, including a ban on caged confinement of food animals, in the fourth quarter of 2023. 
  • There were nearly 60,000 responses to a recent Commission consultation on the revision of EU animal welfare legislation. The vast majority of respondents were EU citizens.   
  • The AGRI report was initially drafted by French MEP and cattle breeder Jeremy Decerle (Renew Europe). While marginally improved through amendments at committee stage, the report is weak and compromised by fallacious claims that are not substantiated by animal welfare science. 
  • The report adopted by the AGRI committee included the claim that the fattening process for birds in foie gras production “respects the animals’ biological parameters”. However, it is an undisputed scientific fact that the force-feeding of ducks and geese leads to steatosis of the liver, which causes great suffering and makes it difficult for the birds to walk and breathe normally. In stark contrast, the ENVI Opinion unequivocally calls for a ban on force-feeding.  
  • It also fallaciously claimed that “no reliable solutions whatsoever have been found thus far for the problem of tail-biting in pigs”. Tail-biting occurs in pigs when they do not have a suitable outlet for their natural instinct to investigate their surroundings. The Pigs Directive requires that farmers provide enrichment materials, such as straw, hay, or wood, as well as improve the pigs’ overall housing environment and the farm’s management systems. Finland and Sweden have proved themselves perfectly capable of eliminating tail-docking as a routine practice to prevent tail-biting. However, as DG SANTE audits have illustrated, in most other EU countries 98,5%–100% of pigs are still being tail-docked. Tail-biting persists only because producers are failing to provide adequate levels of environmental enrichment along with the other management practices that would permit them to abandon tail docking. 
  • The AGRI report states that ‘a distinction should be drawn between anecdotal cases of non-compliance… and the vast majority of farmers who follow the rules’. As illustrated by DS SANTE’s audits, non-compliance with EU animal welfare rules is far from anecdotal, but a structural problem in some sectors.   
  • The AGRI report continues to reference the outdated ‘Five Freedoms’ model, whereas – as acknowledged by the ENVI Opinion – the Five Domains Model is the more up-to-date framework used for animal welfare assessment. These domains are: 1) Nutrition, 2) Physical Environment, 3) Health, 4) Behavioural Interactions and 5) Mental State. 
  • Further, the economic implications of animal welfare requirements and the burden this may place on producers, as well as any future mandatory animal welfare labelling, was a key focus of the AGRI report. Impact assessments are deemed necessary before any decisions are taken, which implicitly suggests that economic considerations should take precedence over improvements in animal welfare.  The report notes that all producers should be compliant with existing standards before additional burdens are placed on them and lengthy transition periods would be required to make changes, which is tantamount to ensuring the continuation of poor animal welfare conditions irrespective of current scientific recommendations.

Media contact: Yavor Gechev, +359889468098; ygechev@hsi.org

Humane Society International / Europe


sirius_r/iStockphoto

BRUSSELS—Last week at a virtual meeting with cabinet representatives of several European Commissioners, Humane Society International handed over a 155,000-strong petition demanding action by the EU executive to phase animal use out of European science and chemical safety regulations. The HSI petition echoes a resolution of the European Parliament from September 2021, which recognised that a pro-active and coordinated approach for full replacement of animals is lacking. That resolution called on the Commission to develop an ambitious, EU-wide action plan with concrete milestones for monitoring progress. 

During the virtual petition hand-over, HSI highlighted several examples of the EU backsliding into animal testing as a default, rather than “only as a last resort” as required by law. For example, a recent Commission proposal to revise chemical information requirements—with the potential to trigger substantial new animal testing for thousands of substances—is being misleadingly characterised as “clarifications only.” HSI has called for this proposal to be scrapped, and for the Commission to suspend new animal testing requested by the European Chemicals Agency for cosmetic ingredients with established safe use histories, pending review of whether such testing satisfies the “last resort” legal requirement.  

Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs for HSI/Europe, said: “Nearly 10 million animals are used in experiments in EU laboratories annually and this number has remained relatively unchanged in the last decade. This obvious lack of progress requires a comprehensive plan of action that covers animal use for research as well as chemical safety. As a start, we insist that the European Commission upholds the ban on animal testing for cosmetics by suspending all requests for new animal testing of existing cosmetic ingredients with established safe use histories.”

HSI has also asked the Commission to ensure that upcoming changes to chemical legislation replace “tick-box” animal testing for classification with a modern approach to chemical safety that takes advantage of the latest non-animal scientific tools and approaches. 

In the longer-term, an Action Plan is needed to put the EU on a sustained path to fully end its reliance on animals in biomedical research, toxicology and education. This can be achieved through strategic shifts in science funding and investments in non-animal approaches, modernised regulatory frameworks across product sectors, and other targeted initiatives involving stakeholders.  

Recently conducted opinion polls confirm that EU citizens prioritise ending animal experiments, with nearly three quarters agreeing that the EU should set binding targets and deadlines to phase out testing on animals. The European Citizens’ Initiative Save Cruelty Free Cosmetics – Commit to a Europe without Animal Testing, which has already collected more than 360,000 signatures since its launch in September 2021, also sends a clear message about the public support for an EU without animal experiments. 

Media contact: Wendy Higgins, director of international media in the UK: whiggins@hsi.org 

Humane Society International in Italy hails ‘an historic victory’

Humane Society International / Europe


Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals Media

ROME—The Budget Committee of the Italian Senate today voted to approve a modified version of an amendment to the budget law which will see the country’s 10 remaining mink fur farms closed within six months and a permanent ban on fur farming throughout Italy.  

The vote follows discussions with animal protection organisation Humane Society International/Europe which presented practical, strategic solutions to close and convert fur farms into alternative, humane and sustainable businesses in its recent report “Mink breeding in Italy: Mapping and future perspectives. Although the decision requires final approval by the Parliament, this is expected to go through, making Italy the 16th country in Europe to ban fur farming. Many Italian designers have already gone fur-free including Valentino, Armani, GUCCI, Prada and Versace. 

HSI/Europe’s fur farm conversion proposal, which sought an end to fur farming due to animal cruelty and public health risks from zoonotic diseases, was endorsed by Italian Member of Parliament the Hon. Michela Vittoria Brambilla, who launched the political action to implement the conversion strategy with existing public funds, and Sen. Loredana De Petris who formally submitted the amendment. 

Martina Pluda, director of Humane Society International in Italy, states: ”This is an historic victory for animal protection in Italy, and HSI/Europe is immensely proud that our fur farm conversion strategy has played a central role in dismantling this cruel and dangerous industry in our country. There are very clear economic, environmental, public health and of course animal welfare reasons to close and ban fur farms. Today’s vote recognizes that allowing the mass breeding of wild animals for frivolous fur fashion represents a risk to both animals and people that can’t be justified by the limited economic benefits it offers to a small minority of people involved in this cruel industry. With so many designers, retailers and consumers going fur-free, conversion of fur farms offers people a sustainable future that the fur trade simply cannot provide.” 

The approved amendment includes: 

  • An immediate ban on breeding of fur-bearing animals including mink, foxes, raccoon dogs and chinchillas, and the closure of all active fur farms in Italy by 30th June 2022; 
  • Compensation for farmers, covered by a fund from the Ministry of Agriculture for a total of 3 million euros in 2022.

Hon. Michela Vittoria Brambilla, president of the Parliamentary Intergroup for Animal Rights and of the Italian League for the Defense of Animals and the Environment commented on the vote: ”In thirty years of animal rights battle this is the best victory. Finally, a parliamentary vote sanctions the end of unspeakable suffering inflicted on animals only in the name of profit and vanity. Italy is the twentieth European country to introduce a ban or severe restriction on fur farming: better late than never. Now we await the final approval of the budget law, but the political will has been clearly expressed. A dream comes true that animal protection associations have cultivated for decades in our country. I want to thank all the colleagues of the Intergroup, in particular Vice-President De Petris, who presented the amendment and reported it to the committee, the parliamentarians who shared this choice and the Italian office of Humane Society International which has promoted the economic study whose results formed the ‘basis’ for formulating the proposal. It is a great achievement, which finally all those who love and respect animals rejoice!” 

Download Photos/Video of Mink Fur Farms (in Finland)  

ENDS 

Media contacts: 

Humane Society International / Europe


Simon Eeman/Alamy Stock photo

BRUSSELS—Today, the European Commission has published its long-awaited revision of the EU rules on ivory trade with a goal to end most forms of this trade in the EU. Humane Society International/Europe has campaigned for many years for the EU to tighten its ivory trade regime and close the loopholes which still allowed some trade in ivory. The new rules represent a significant improvement, but still do not go quite far enough.

Dr Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs for HSI/Europe, noted:

“While the amendments to Commission Regulation 856/2006 and to the guidance document published today are an important step toward closing the EU’s loopholes on ivory trade, they are not without a fundamental flaw. The trade restrictions on worked ivory are only partially addressed in the Commission Regulation with the remainder being dealt with in the guidance document. Likewise, the restrictions on raw ivory trade are currently only included in the guidance document and therefore are not legally binding on Member States. This could potentially undermine the EU’s efforts to meet its commitments to help protect elephants and global biodiversity. It is also problematic that the trade restrictions do not apply to the trade in ivory derived from other species. It would be advisable to extend the rules to those species to ease enforcement and reduce the risk of elephant ivory being disguised and laundered as other types of ivory.”

Despite the remaining loopholes, these revised rules will put the EU in a better position to advocate for similar measures in key international fora, such as in meetings of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Closing these loopholes would make the EU one of the world leaders on this issue and help prevent elephant population declines and the ongoing global biodiversity crisis.

Notes:

  • The European Commission has published its amendments to Commission Regulation 856/2006 and to the guidance document on the EU regime governing trade in ivory. This includes:
    • suspending imports of raw ivory to the EU;
    • suspending imports and re-export of worked ivory to the EU (with the exception of pre-1975 musical instruments, and antiques sold to museums);
    • suspending the intra-EU trade of raw ivory (except for the repair of pre-1975 musical instruments or pre-1947 antiques of high cultural, artistic or historical importance);
    • suspending the intra-EU trade of post-1947 worked ivory (with the exception of pre-1975 musical instruments);
    • requiring certificates for intra-EU trade in worked ivory antiques (pre-1947 worked ivory).
  • The following loopholes remain in the EU ivory trade regime:
    • The trade restrictions on worked ivory are only partially addressed in Commission Regulation 865/2006 (with the rest being in the guidance document), and those on raw ivory are currently only included in the guidance document and therefore are not legally binding on Member States. The Commission should introduce a time-bound monitoring system of the implementation of the ivory guidance by Member States and promptly amend it and the Regulation 865/2006 if required.
    • The allowance that antique ivory can be traded within the EU with a certificate is still too broad. A de minimis provision further restricting the issuance of certificates for antique ivory is needed to avoid a flood of applications for certificates that will likely overwhelm authorities, thus increasing the risk of ivory from poached elephants or otherwise obtained illegally being laundered through the system and sold as antique. We urge the Commission to consider applying the de minimis criteria applied by other jurisdictions, which restrict exemptions for antique worked items to those containing less than 5% of ivory by volume and less than 200g of ivory by weight.
    • Exceptions regarding pre-1975 musical instruments should only apply when the volume of ivory in the instrument is less than 20% of the total volume of the material of which the instrument is made.
    • The rules only apply to elephant ivory, which means that elephant ivory could be disguised and laundered as ivory from other species.

ENDS

Media Contact: Dr Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs at Humane Society International/Europe: jswabe@hsi.org

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