Scientists, industry leaders and other specialists discussed why an Action Plan for the active phase-out of the use of animals in experiments is needed and provided examples of existing tools and procedures, which could be soon implemented by the European Commission

Humane Society International / Europe


Luchschen/istock

BRUSSELS— The Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals organised an extraordinary meeting on Accelerating the transition to animal-free innovation, in partnership with Eurogroup for Animals and Humane Society International/Europe.

This special session featured a roundtable panel debate on the opportunities opened up by the European Parliament’s recently adopted resolution on an action plan to transition to animal-free innovation “with the aim of driving the active phase-out by reducing, refining and replacing procedures on live animals for scientific and regulatory purposes.”

The idea of phasing out animals used in laboratories is not new and was mentioned in Directive 2010/63 on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes. With that resolution in September, though, the EP recognised that an active, coordinated approach for reduction and, ultimately, the full replacement of animals has not been achieved. By requiring an EU-wide action plan with an ambitious timetable and list of milestones, the EP is aiming to actively drive the phase-out of animals used for all scientific purposes.

Kirsty Reid, Director of Science Policy at the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, stressed the need for stronger collaboration and mentioned the existing good collaboration between industry and civil society, like the partnership with Humane Society International on the deletion of an obsolete animal-based safety test for some pharmaceutical products. She underscored her belief that government agencies and regulators must place more trust into innovative methods.    

One of the core ideas of the resolution is to promote new technologies capable of replacing animal models by providing data that are more relevant to human biology than animals. One of these technologies is organs-on-chips.

Thibault Honegger, CEO of The Neuro Engineering Technologies Research Institute, explained why organs-on-chips are so often described as a game-changing technology capable of better mimicking aspects of human biology than animals or simpler in vitro models. Honegger provided examples of organs-on-chips being used right now, like the Parkinson’s chip device and the one used to develop an anti-pain treatment, which are already having a direct impact on human health, in a way that could not have been achieved using animals. From his point of view, what the EC needs to include in the Action Plan is a global approach covering the entire production chain, and the enhancement of biobanks and cells databases, along with a dedicated stakeholders’ task force as in the US.

Another point underlined by the EP resolution centers on education in non-animal methods. There is little point in having the most advanced technologies in the world if very few people know how to use them. Prof. Beatriz Silva Lima, Dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Lisbon, suggested that the EU, in order to foster the knowledge and use of new advanced non-animal methods in academic research, should make these methods more available to researchers because at the moment animal testing is still cheaper. So, even if there are different new advanced technologies (e.g. organoids and organs on chips), they are sometimes not affordable. Prof. Silva Lima also highlighted the need to facilitate access to human tissues and cells to foster the speedier development of human-focused models.  

Prof. Ingrid Visseren-Hamakers from the Radboud University shared her view that the European Commission, in order to ensure that this plan delivers significant reductions of animal use, improves health research and produces economic benefits, must link the Action Plan to other policy areas. Animal-free science is part of a larger set of trends including a shift in attitudes towards nonhuman animals. The EU Green Deal asks that we protect human health and the environment and to be able to do that we need new science, human-relevant science and transformative change. If we transform our society, for example using less chemicals and pesticides, changing our diets and moving towards a preventive curative system, we would need less animal testing and could proceed with the implementation of laws and policy that support a shift to non-animal methodologies.

Anja Hazekamp, President of the Intergroup, concluded by informing the audience that the Intergroup will now request a meeting with the European Commission to share the conclusions of the event and discuss views on the Parliament’s call for an Action Plan. 

ENDS 

Notes 

Agenda Accelerating the transition to animal-free innovation: Measures for an action plan to phase-out experiments on animals 

Israeli scientists recently developed a cancer drug without any animal tests by using chips with human kidney, liver and heart cells.  

‘Organs-on-chips’ represent a new market sector growing quickly at a rate of 28% per year, which means that the market size will be multiplied by 7 by 2030 according to projections.  

Contacts:

Agnese Marcon, Communications Manager, Eurogroup for Animals 

a.marcon@eurogroupforanimals.org 

+32 (0) 456 078 038 

Yavor Gechev, Communications Director, Humane Society International/Europe 

ygechev@hsi.org 

+359 (0) 88 946 8098 

Humane Society International / Africa


South Africa is the largest cosmetics market on the continent, where animal testing for cosmetics is still legal.

We can’t tackle climate crisis without cutting intensive animal farming as world’s second largest human-caused GHG emitter

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


dhughes9/iStock.com

LONDON—As COP26 prepares to reveal the final pledges focused on cutting emissions from energy, transport and other sectors, campaigners from Humane Society International, one of the largest global animal protection NGOs in the world, say the total omission of targets to reduce livestock farming and cut meat and dairy production and consumption, represents a ludicrous failure considering the sector is the world’s second largest emitter of human-induced greenhouse gases.

Stefanie McNerney, plant based solutions manager at Humane Society International, says: “Whilst there were many conversations at COP26 side events and press conferences about the urgent need for global food system reform to cut meat and dairy production and consumption, this vital climate mitigation strategy was depressingly absent from the COP26 leader negotiations. Current pledges on methane, coal, forests and transport still look set to put us way off target to limit global temperature rise, so it is a ludicrous failure to ignore the opportunity to limit one of the biggest greenhouse gas emitters in the world, animal agriculture. We need policies and targets that shift farming toward plant-based food production, and the clear lack of ambition to do so is deeply troubling. We have reached a stage in the climate crisis where so called technical solutions such as cattle feed additives are nowhere near enough to tackle emissions from this sector. The climate clock is ticking and it is well past time to move beyond these low-impact greenwashing distractions offered by Big Ag that merely perpetuate the growth of an unsustainable industry. The science is clear that that’s not an option. Will governments follow the science and plan a just transition to a more climate-resilient, plant-centric food system, or will we be waiting until the cows come home for them to stop ignoring the cow in the room?” 

Key points:

  • Despite world leaders at COP26 acknowledging that food production not only contributes to climate change, but also holds one of the keys to mitigating it, dialogues around this sector lacked ambition, with most official conversations focusing on low-impact strategies such as modifying livestock feed, tackling nitrous oxide in fertilizer and rewilding, whilst completely omitting discussion of high impact actions such as livestock reduction and diet change.
  • HSI welcomes the pledges on methane reductions and bringing an end to deforestation. However, animal agriculture is one of the largest contributors to both methane emissions and deforestation, and these issues cannot be addressed without reducing global livestock numbers and shifting to more plant-centric food production and consumption.
  • Diverting the discussion toward short-sighted mitigation tactics whilst willfully ignoring and even shooting down the topic of livestock reduction and diet change is nothing short of greenwashing by the livestock industry. Governments that are serious about climate change must address emissions from animal agriculture, and that means reducing the number of animals raised for consumption and transforming our food system to a more sustainable, resilient, plant-centric system that is just for all.
  • On the subject of missing the point, in the draft CMA decision by the COP26 president, the words ‘animal agriculture’ and ‘farming’, let alone ‘livestock reduction’ do not even feature once.
  • The other cow in the room was the cow served on the COP plates. The provision of meat on the menu at a climate conference was disappointing. The CO2equivalent labelling on all food served at the conference clearly demonstrated the very large carbon footprint of beef dishes compared to plant-based options. The juxtaposition of emissions between a beef burger weighing in at a hefty 3.3 kg COe compared to a plant-based burger at just 0.2 kg COe literally served up an obvious mitigation strategy on a plate—one that was a glaring omission from the COP26 negotiations.

HSI’s #TheCowInTheRoom campaign called on COP26 to acknowledge and act on the climate damaging impacts of intensive animal agriculture. The campaign has the backing of leading plant-based food companies and investors including Beyond Investing, Mosa Meat, Eat Just, Wicked Kitchen and Linda McCartney Foods, as well as celebrities such as Moby, Billie Eilish, Joaquin Phoenix, Alan Cumming, Alicia Silverstone, Mary McCartney, Leona Lewis, Martin Freeman, Lily Cole and Stephen Fry. Earlier this week the campaigners handed in a petition of more than 70,000 signatures with campaign partners ProVeg International and Four Paws.

ENDS

Media Contact: Wendy Higgins: whiggins@hsi.org

Landmark decision will protect public health and save hundreds of thousands of animals annually from a lifetime of misery

Humane Society International / Canada


Jillian Cooper/iStock.com Wild mink

MONTREAL—In the wake of multiple outbreaks of COVID-19 on BC fur farms—and a recent incident in which infectious mink escaped from a quarantined facility—the provincial government has announced a phase-out of mink farming by April 2023. In the past 18 months, hundreds of COVID-19 outbreaks have occurred on mink farms globally, with dangerous mutations of the virus occurring in some facilities and being transmitted back into the human population.

Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of HSI/Canada stated: “It is the abysmal conditions and horrendous suffering on factory fur farms that make these facilities incubators for COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses. Mink farming is exceptionally cruel, intensively confining highly intelligent, semi-aquatic wild animals and denying them their most basic of needs. The COVID-19 pandemic has redefined our relationship with animals and our environment, calling into question many formerly accepted practices. In protecting both people and mink, the BC government has shown tremendous leadership and set an important example for the rest of the nation to follow.”

Mink on almost 450 mink fur farms across 12 countries (including 10 EU member states) have been found infected with COVID-19, leading to mass culls of millions of minks. British Columbia is the latest member of a growing list of nations and territories— including the UK, Luxembourg, Slovakia and the Netherlands—that have taken decisive action to stop fur farming within their jurisdiction due to serious public health and animal welfare concerns.

Facts:

  • The BC provincial health officer identified mink farming as a “health hazard” that “endangers public health,” noting that “the susceptibility of mink to infection with SARS-CoV-2 creates a risk of development of variants of concern which pose a threat to public health and could undermine the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccination program in British Columbia.”[1]
  • Mink escape into the wild from fur factory farms at notoriously high rates. In 2020 (the last year for which data is available), over 23,000 mink died prematurely or escaped from BC fur farms.
  • Escaped, infected mink are capable of transmitting COVID-19 to wild mink, and likely to other susceptible species of wildlife, which can establish disease reservoirs in the wild, risking further virus mutation and potentially catastrophic spillover events.
  • Fur farming has been banned and/or is in the process of being phased-out in numerous European nations such as Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Estonia, Hungary, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and the United Kingdom. The Republic of Ireland’s cabinet has approved legislation that would see fur farming banned effective from 2022; and legislation to ban mink farming is currently being debated by politicians in France, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Spain and Ukraine.

Timeline: 

ENDS

Media Contact: Michael Bernard: 613-371-5170; mbernard@hsi.org

YouGov poll shows over half of Brits support government-led campaign promoting plant-based foods. If Europe is to achieve its climate goals by 2030, it must reduce meat consumption and incentivise the consumption of plant-rich diets.

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


HSI

GLASGOW—Some of the world’s biggest plant-based food manufacturers and investors including Beyond Investing, Eat Just, Linda McCartney Foods and Wicked Kitchen have added their voice to #TheCowInTheRoom campaign at the COP26 climate change conference, calling on world leaders to stop ignoring animal agriculture in climate change mitigation policies and targets. The letter comes as a new YouGov opinion poll shows that over half of Brits (51%) would support the UK government initiating a joint campaign with supermarkets and food service / retail companies to actively promote the benefits of plant-based foods.

In an open letter to COP26 presented at the conference by Humane Society International, together with ProVeg International and Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, 16 companies urge world leaders to include animal agriculture, and meat and dairy reduction targets, in formal COP26 discussions. A citizen petition of over 70,000 signatures was also submitted to COP26 by the campaigners, with the backing of some of the world’s biggest celebrities including Joaquin Phoenix, Moby, Billie Eilish, Alan Cumming, Alicia Silverstone, Leona Lewis, Lily Cole and Stephen Fry.

Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK, said from COP26: “We simply cannot afford to ignore the cow in the room any longer—the science is clear that targets to reduce meat and dairy production and consumption are crucial if we are to meet internationally agreed upon climate targets. But while there is clear consumer and corporate appetite for a plant-based shift, politicians appear to be asleep at the wheel, failing to grasp both the urgent need and multiple opportunities to catalyse the normalisation of plant-centric diets. The Methane Pledge is a prime example of this; to reduce this potent GHG we simply need fewer cows, not just technological fixes that produce slightly less burpy cows.”

The food system is responsible for 30% of the European Union’s greenhouse gas emissions, of which 17% is attributable to livestock production. Moving to more plant-rich diets could decrease the EU’s carbon footprint by 50%.

ProVeg says European meat and dairy reduction targets should be bold to achieve Europe’s climate goals. Based on leading research, ProVeg calculates that by 2040:

  • The consumption of meat needs to be reduced by 79%.
  • The consumption of milk and dairy needs to be reduced by between 74 and 83%.
  • The consumption of eggs needs to be reduced by 68%.
  • The consumption of fish and seafood needs to be reduced by 65%.

Jasmijn de Boo, vice-president at ProVeg International, comments: “The urgency of reducing our global intake of meat, fish, eggs and dairy to tackle the climate crisis must be addressed, especially now that world leaders have reached an agreement during COP26 to tackle deforestation, and set a 30% methane reduction target. We need to move towards more plant-rich diets now to save our forests and to save the planet. If Europe is to achieve its climate goals by 2030, it will have to reduce the current intake of meat by 79% and incentivise the consumption of plant-rich diets. We need to go further and show leadership in order to have a just and fair global transition to more plant-based food production and consumption.”

Dr. Ming-nan Lin from the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation and vice superintendent of Dalin Tzu Chi General Hospital, comments: “Global leaders and the private sector must engage with faith leaders and community partners to inspire respect for all life, with compassion and love. There are clear connections between human health and planetary health. Zoonosis, vector-borne diseases, and certain non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and heart disease have inextricable links to our dietary habits. The public health benefits of a transition towards a plant-centric food system has undeniable co-benefits to the health and wellbeing of the planet as well.”

The animal agriculture industry breeds, raises and slaughters more than 88 billion land animals globally every year. The industry’s emissions—a staggering 20% of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions–are on par with those emitted by the entire global transportation sector, and yet targets and strategies to reduce meat and dairy production and consumption are absent from climate change discussions.

Scientists, too, are calling for the need to transform our global food system into one that supports and protects planetary and human health. The 107 experts who prepared the report for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change determined with high confidence that policies operating across the food system, including policies that influence dietary choices, would enable more sustainable land-use management, result in enhanced food security and low emissions trajectories, contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation, and improve public health.

Notes to editor:

  • Data on mentioned reduction targets can be found here.
  • Survey figures are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,749 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 29th – 30th October 2021. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
  • Reference in this article to any specific commercial product or service, or the use of any brand, trade, firm or corporation name is for the information of the public only, and does not constitute or imply endorsement, recommendation or approval by Humane Society International or any of its affiliates of the product or service, or its producer or provider, and should not be construed or relied upon, under any circumstances, by implication or otherwise, as investment advice. The views and opinions of interviewees expressed in the article do not necessarily state or accurately reflect those of Humane Society International or any of its affiliates.

ENDS

Media Contacts:

Animal feet, skulls, legs, ears, claws, bones, hides and full body taxidermy, including threatened and endangered species, show the pitiful results of the trophy hunting industry

Humane Society International / United States


The HSUS

WASHINGTON—A shocking undercover investigation recently conducted in Iowa by the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International found what can only be described as a massive garbage bin of the trophy hunting industry. A four-day event where thousands of animals—including at least 557 hunting trophies of mammals no longer wanted by the people who killed them—were sold to the highest bidders. Shelves and bins were packed with discarded trophies including threatened and endangered species like elephants and polar bears, other imperiled foreign species like giraffes and hippos, and countless trophies of American wildlife like grizzly bears, black bears and mountain lions.

Auction items included grotesque home décor such as tables and lamps made from giraffe legs and feet, tables made from African elephant feet and a juvenile giraffe taxidermy. The auction also included at least 50 rugs made from animals including black bears, grizzly bears, zebras, wolves and mountain lions. The investigator saw piles of giraffe leg bones, sets of hippo teeth and a dusty box labeled “elephant ears and skin.”

Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, said: “It is unconscionable that not only are these threatened and endangered species of wild animals killed by trophy hunters, but the souvenirs from these hunts are ultimately mothballed and sold off at a fairground full of unwanted animal body parts. This massive display of animal death is a devastating snapshot of what it looks like when species are being pushed to the brink of extinction.”

The undercover investigator learned that most of the trophies are the result of trophy hunters tiring of their collections, downsizing or dying and leaving these items to family members who don’t want them. One auction staffer said, “Realtors tell homeowners to get rid of those dead critters,” when staging their houses for sale.

Trophies at the auction include:

  • Four African elephant feet made into tables with elephant skin tops. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the African savanna elephant is endangered, and the African forest elephant is critically endangered. The African elephant is listed as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
  • Two hollowed elephant feet which auction organizers suggest “would make a nice trash can.”
  • A polar bear (considered vulnerable by IUCN and listed as threatened under the ESA) with a ringed seal sold for $26,000, the highest price of the trophies sold at the auction.
  • Four giraffe legs made into a matching set coffee table and floor lamp.
  • A large cardboard box labeled “elephant ears and skin.”
  • Two giraffe skulls and three full giraffe bodies (IUCN vulnerable) including a baby promoted as “the perfect size that can go in about any room in the house,” sold for $6,200.
  • Giraffe leg bones promoted as “great for crafts.”
  • A hippo skull and two hippo (IUCN vulnerable) shoulder mounts (head, neck, shoulders). Two sets of hippo teeth.
  • Baby zebra taxidermy, six zebra skins and rugs including one from a calf, and several zebra heads for “tabletop display.”
  • Six monkeys, including a stuffed vervet holding a beer bottle.
  • Two baby and one adult baboon.
  • 49 bears including five cubs and a mother-cub pair.
  • 18 rugs made from grizzly bears or black bears.
  • Bear claws promoted as “great for jewelry or crafts.”
  • Seven bobcats, including two rugs.
  • Four wolves, including two rugs.
  • Eight mountain lions, including two rugs.

Jeffrey Flocken, president of Humane Society International, said, “It is deeply saddening to see this final stage of the trophy hunting industry where these majestic species are relegated to an auction house floor instead of fulfilling their role in their respective populations and ecosystems.”

“The United States is the world’s number one importer of hunting trophies and should move swiftly to cast off that gruesome distinction,” says Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. “Passage of the ProTECT Act in Congress is the most decisive pathway, as it would prohibit trophies of any species listed as threatened or endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act from importation into the U.S. But the Fish and Wildlife Service should immediately revise its trophy import regulations to support the same conservation goal of ending such imports. No one’s desire for a rec room wall mount, or an elephant foot side table warrants such carnage and waste of animal life.”

Facts:

  • There are about 68,000 mature giraffes remaining in the wild, and the population is still declining, but more than 40,000 giraffe parts and products were imported into the U.S. between 2006 and 2015.
  • In October 2021, Humane Society International and the Humane Society of the United States, in coalition with another conservation organization, sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to act on a 2017 petition to provide protections for giraffes under the Endangered Species Act.
  • The population of African savanna elephants decreased by at least 60% over the last 50 years, yet according to international trade data, American trophy hunters have imported over 700 trophies and 399 tusks from African elephants between 2014 and 2018.
  • Hippo populations are vulnerable; additional pressure from trophy hunters and for international commercial trade in ivory may lead to population decline, yet according to international trade data, hunting trophies and other parts from 2,500 hippos were imported into the U.S. between 2009 and 2018.
  • Nearly half a million black bears were trophy hunted in the U.S. between 2010 and 2020 in 33 states.

Photos/video of undercover investigation
YouTube video
Blog
Investigation report

Media contact: Rodi Rosensweig, 202-809-8711, rrosensweig@humanesociety.org

Humane Society International / India


CBCK-Christine/iStock.com

INDIA—With Diwali just around the corner, and spirits running high, it’s worth remembering that a festival that centers on spreading happiness should encompass the needs of our furry friends, too. In addition to expressing its support for COVID-19 precautions as suggested by the government of India, Humane Society International/India is urging everyone to celebrate a noise-free and animal-friendly Diwali.

Every year, thousands of animals and birds are left frightened, injured, and lost because of an increase in air and noise pollution associated with the holiday. Since they have a far more acute sense of hearing than us; the noise of firecrackers has a terrifying effect on animals. In addition to this, the accompanying light and smoke emitted by firecrackers adversely affects their health and well-being. As a result, animal shelters witness a tremendous increase in runaway and lost pets, who are scared, anxious, nervous, and often burned or injured.

Alokparna Sengupta, managing director of HSI/ India said, “Diwali is an exciting time for people but can also lead to extreme stress and discomfort for pets and street animals.  We urge everyone to celebrate the festival of lights as it is meant to be celebrated – with lamps, lights, sweets and delicious savouries, and not with loud firecrackers. This year, more than ever, we must consider the safety and wellness of others including the old, the young and the animals. We also strongly urge citizens to follow COVID-19 precautions and guidelines issued by the government.”

For those wondering how to ensure that animals have a safe and happy Diwali, HSI/India has some ‘sound’ advice in the form of these simple tips:

  • Keep pets indoors and in a familiar room. Pets have a heightened sense of hearing, so jolts and loud noises cause many animals to flee in search of a safe haven. Leave calming music or the television on to comfort them, if possible.
  • Keep all doors and windows closed and draw the curtains to reduce noise. Supply pets with enough food and water and ensure someone can stay at home to care for them.
  • Urge friends and neighbors to avoid igniting loud firecrackers and instead use firecrackers that emit less smoke and do not create so much noise.
  • Store fireworks safely in a closed box, somewhere cool and dry, and out of reach of pets. Do not keep fireworks containers under stairs or exposed in passages or hallways.
  • Decorate with lights, lamps and divas that are friendlier to the environment and animals (i.e., ones that give off less smoke, smell and noise.)
  • Refrain from setting firecrackers off near an animal shelter or zoo. Loud explosions can cause panic and fear, and pollution from burning firecrackers is harmful to animals’ health.
  • Take dogs for a walk during the daytime before the celebrations begin. Never walk them near where others are lighting firecrackers.
  • Consult a veterinarian if your pets are prone to acute anxiety or distress from loud noises and medicate with anti-anxiety or calmative agents if necessary, and only through a veterinary prescription. Check their availability during Diwali, ahead of time in case of an emergency.
  • Ensure pets are wearing collars and identification tags with current contact information. All pets, even those kept indoors, should always wear collars with identification tags.
  • If you feed street animals around your neighbourhood, make sure they are wearing tags labelled with their names and your phone numbers. Provide them shelter in an area where they may be safe from the firecrackers and the noise.
  • Make a first-aid kit in preparation for helping injured animals. Have a bucket full of water handy for an emergency and to place used sparklers inside.
  • Keep contact information for local municipal corporations and surrounding shelters handy and approach them immediately in case of lost pets. If you find lost pets, either take them to the address on the tag or a local animal shelter.

ENDS

Media Contact: Shambhavi Tiwari: +91-8879834125; stiwari@hsi.org

A leap forward for both animals and humane science

Humane Society International / South Korea


iStock.com

SEOUL—South Korea’s Ministry of Environment introduced its “2030 Chemical Safety and Animal Welfare vision” last month with the aim of vastly increasing the use of non-animal test methods in what animal protection NGO Humane Society International/Korea welcomes as a leap forward for both animals and humane science. The Ministry’s new vision calls for increased acceptance of non-animal methods with a goal of more than 60% of data use for chemical assessment by 2030 to be using non-animal methods. The new vision emerged from a task force created earlier this year by the Ministry. This task force comprised government officials as well as representatives from HSI/Korea, chemical consulting companies, toxicology institutes and testing companies.

Borami Seo, HSI/Korea’s interim executive director and senior policy manager, says: “Chemical testing is one of the main drivers of animal use in Korea even though more modern methods are available that don’t use animals and are more accurate and real-world predictive for people. We applaud the Ministry of Environment for its leadership in laying out an ambitious vision for both chemical safety and animal welfare, a doubly valuable proposition. We hope that Korean chemical manufacturers and testing facilities will embrace this vision to make it a reality.”

South Korea’s chemical laws—the Act on the Registration and Evaluation of Chemicals (known as Korea REACH) and Korea Chemical Products and Biocides Safety Act—were amended in 2018 and 2020, respectively, to include clauses for the adoption of alternatives to animal tests. However, momentum from government and local industry has been lacking. HSI/Korea, which works with both policy makers and industry to advance the replacement of animals in science, hopes the introduction of MOE’s Animal Welfare Vision will provide renewed impetus for change.

Professor Seung Min Oh at Hoseo University, who led the Ministry’s roadmap project to promote alternatives and the task force discussion, said, “The importance of cost and time-effective predictive toxicity assessment is increasing in producing chemical information. As well as alternative methods, we need more trained experts to handle non-test approaches such as adverse outcome pathways and read-across toxicity predictions. The Ministry of Environment’s vision will help provide support for these areas and is an important step to advance alternative approaches to animal testing in South Korea.”

The Ministry’s vision aims to increase acceptance of chemical assessment data produced using non-animal methods by more than 60% by:

  • Recruiting more people qualified to interpret data produced using non-animal methods, establishing a new team with staff members to handle tasks focusing on non-animal methods.
  • Adopting a new definition of alternatives to animal testing meaning specifically non-animal test methods or non-animal approaches. Traditionally, the term ‘alternatives’ has included those methods that reduce the number of animals used or refine their suffering, but still involve the use of live animals. This new definition will help move the focus away from the refinement of animal procedures and towards the replacement of animals.
  • Ensuring the prioritization of using non-animal methods for data produced by government funds. Many chemical companies lack the capacity to conduct their own tests, so government laboratories do so. Increasing the uptake of non-animal tests by government-funded labs will hopefully influence larger and better-resourced chemical companies to follow suit.
  • Providing support to establish infrastructure for testing companies certified with Good Laboratory Practice.

Link to the Ministry of Environment’s online introduction to the 2030 Chemical Safety and Animal Welfare Vision (Korean): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5r2VrPX_iIM

Humane Society International / Europe


Pigs
dpa picture/Alamy

BRUSSELS—Today the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development adopted its report on the welfare of animals on-farm. While disappointingly weak—and lamentably making some misleading statements regarding animal welfare—the report is still a considerable improvement on the poor draft delivered by French liberal MEP and meat cattle breeder Jérémy Decerle.

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

“It is astonishing that while most EU citizens, animal welfare scientists and even the European Commission have recognised the urgent need to improve farm animal welfare, a majority of the Parliament’s AGRI Committee members are so out of touch with welfare conditions on many EU farms. It beggars belief that AGRI MEPs endorsed the fallacious claim that “no reliable solutions whatsoever have been found thus far for the problem of tail-biting in pigs”, while the truth is that both Finland and Sweden have long implemented a full ban on routine tail-docking and sought to address the challenge of tail-biting through proper environmental enrichments, something that the Pigs Directive already demands. When it comes to animal welfare, the European Parliament really needs to resist the determined efforts of economic interests to undermine and impede the measures sorely needed to advance animal welfare. What we are asking for, and what the public supports is substantiated by hard science”.

HSI/Europe observed that Decerle’s draft focused disproportionately on the efforts and welfare of farmers, rather than critically addressing the failures of Member States to ensure that the existing legislation is properly implemented and enforced. The report also gives short shrift to the urgent need to update and bring existing animal welfare standards into line with current scientific understandings of the welfare needs of animals kept for production purposes.

The AGRI Committee’s report stands in stark contrast to the progressive and balanced opinion on on-farm welfare adopted by the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety on 13 October 2021. This dramatic difference in approach raises the question of whether the responsibility for decision-making on animal welfare matters should be shifted to the ENVI committee where there are fewer conflicts of interest, for example with respect to MEPs having income derived from farming.

This report on on-farm animal welfare is due to be voted on in the Parliament’s November Plenary session. HSI/Europe will be urging MEPs to considerably strengthen the text to properly reflect both societal and scientific opinion with respect to improving animal welfare.

ENDS

Media Contacts:

  • Dr Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs at Humane Society International/Europe: jswabe@hsi.org
  • Yavor Gechev, communications director at Humane Society International/Europe: ygechev@hsi.org

Countries producing and consuming the most meat and dairy must include reduction targets, says Humane Society International

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


Cow
hiphotos35/istock

LONDON—Musician and animal activist Moby has called on the COP26 climate change conference to make the climate-damaging impacts of animal agriculture central to the agenda if world leaders hope to make meaningful pledges to avert catastrophic climate breakdown. Moby sent his message to COP26 President Rt. Hon. Alok Sharma MP via a video he produced with animal protection NGO Humane Society International, as part of its #TheCowInTheRoom campaign which is also supported by other celebrities including Billie Eilish, Joaquin Phoenix, Mary McCartney, Martin Freeman and Ricky Gervais, and more than 50 global animal welfare and environmental organisations.

Moby said: “When talking about animal agriculture—meat and dairy production—to people, a lot of them are not aware of the environmental consequences… Animal agriculture is one of the, if not the leading, cause of deforestation globally. To create a stable climate, we need to reform our global food system. We need to stop using animals for food, because animal agriculture is the third leading cause of climate change. You cannot practically and effectively address climate change without ending our alliance with meat and dairy production… Meat and dairy is destroying the only home we have. Ultimately, we have to address these issues, or these issues will destroy us.”

Watch the Video

The video, which is running across social media and will also be viewed at the COP26 event, highlights that animal agriculture is responsible for at least 14.5%—16.5% of human induced greenhouse gas emissions globally, on par with the global emissions from all transportation systems, yet is largely neglected by countries around the world in climate change mitigation strategies and commitments. The livestock industry is growing at a dramatic rate, with more than 88 billion land animals raised and slaughtered every year. As this man-made industry continues to grow, estimates indicate that by 2030, the livestock sector is projected to account for nearly 50 percent of the global emissions budget if we are to achieve the 1.5°C warming target set out in the Paris Agreement. In addition to significant greenhouse gasses, Moby also addresses that the farm animal production sector is the single largest man-made user of land, and a major driver of deforestation, species extinction, land degradation, exhaustion of water resources and pollution.

Moby and Humane Society International hope that formal recognition at COP26 of animal agriculture as a driver of climate change will encourage world leaders to commit to vital meat and dairy production and consumption reduction strategies to help meet the Paris Agreement’s below 2°C target.

Julie Janovsky, Humane Society International’s vice president for farm animal welfare, says: “Reducing the environmental impacts of our diets and transforming our global food systems to be more plant-based are some of the most effective climate-mitigation measures we can take, and the need to do so has never been more urgent. Despite this, the countries producing and consuming the most meat and dairy have yet to include reduction targets alongside other mitigation efforts for the primary climate change drivers in their Nationally Determined Contributions. If we want to prevent a climate change catastrophe, it is imperative that world leaders acknowledge and act to cut every major driver of climate change, including industrial animal agriculture. This industry is quite simply unsustainable. COP26 offers a vital opportunity for world leaders to make meaningful commitments to tackle climate change, restore biodiversity and help reduce the number of animals suffering on factory farms. We are pleased to see this message from  Moby and hope that Rt. Hon. Alok Sharma MP acknowledges his urgent and incredibly important message.”

Moby shares his top tips for people who want to consume more plant-based food: eat the plant-based version of the foods you already love, like spaghetti and (vegan) meatballs, and go online to educate yourself – ask yourself whether your actions are aligned with your values and intentions.

The public can join in calling on world leaders to recognise the impact of factory farming on climate change at COP26 by signing #TheCowInTheRoom petition at hsi.org/thecowintheroom. To find out more about the impact of intensive animal agriculture on our planet and the lives of animals around the world, visit hsi.org/issues/climate-change.

Farm Facts:

  • Animal agriculture is “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.” (The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)
  • Consuming fewer animal products and eating more plant-based foods helps protect the world’s water supply. Producing large quantities of meat, milk and eggs requires huge amounts of water to grow feed, clean enclosures, hydrate the animals, as well as to process animal products. Producing 1 kg of chicken requires 4,325 litres of water on average, compared to the 1,644 litres needed to produce 1 kg of cereals. (Hoekstra 2015)
  • Eating more plant-based meals will reduce the amount of land used by agriculture. Worldwide, we need more land to raise and feed farm animals than for any other single purpose. More than 97% of soymeal and more than 60% of the barley and corn produced globally are fed to farm animals. (FAO)
  • The UN’s latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) report warned that the climate crisis is poised to get worse if greenhouse gas emissions continue to surge, and that the future of the planet depends on the choices that humanity makes today.

ENDS

Media Contact: Wendy Higgins: +44 (0)7989 972 423; whiggins@hsi.org

Learn More Button Inserter