Some major fast-food companies address chicken welfare, with many to continue efforts, according to report

Humane Society International / Europe


We Animals

BRUSSELS—The first-ever evaluation of chicken welfare among 16 fast-food brands in Poland and Romania reveals that the fast-food industry in Eastern Europe is taking its first steps towards increasing the welfare of chickens used for meat. The 2023 Pecking Order reports for Poland and Romania, which were conducted by Humane Society International/Europe, evaluate prominent fast-food companies such as McDonald’s, Burger King and Subway as well as local chains including Romanian 5 to go and Polish Zahir Kebab concerning their time-bound commitments and performance-reporting on broiler chicken welfare in their supply chains. The assessment centers on indicators such as the living space allocated for each chicken, the chicken breeds employed, the use of cages, the provision of enrichments for natural behavior display, and the methods used for their slaughter. 

Poland and Romania are among the most important players in Europe’s broiler chicken industry, supplying both domestic and international markets with chicken meat products. In 2021, Poland was the largest EU producer with about 1.12 billion chickens raised and killed, whereas Romania ranked 8th with 271.7 million chickens.   

The assessments included 12 fast-food brands for each country. In both Poland and Romania, it covered Burger King, Domino’s, IKEA, KFC, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Starbucks and Subway. In Poland, Pasibus, Salad Story, Vapiano and Zehir Kebab were also reviewed, while in Romania the evaluation included 5 to go, PAUL, Salad Box and Spartan. The Pecking Order report’s overall results highlight that while some companies have taken steps and published their commitments to improve broiler chicken welfare, most have yet to start. Many international fast-food chains rely on their parent companies’ chicken welfare policies without declaring them on their local websites, while national fast-food chains have not introduced these welfare policies at all. 

In both countries, Subway emerges as the leader among the assessed companies with an overall score of 57% on managing and reporting on broiler chicken welfare. In Poland, Subway is followed by IKEA with 50% and Pizza Hut and Vapiano with 47%. McDonald’s and KFC received low scores of 11% and 2%, respectively, while Burger King, Domino’s, Pasibus, Salad Story, Starbucks and Zahir Kebab scored 0%. In Romania, Subway is followed by IKEA, PAUL and Pizza Hut with a score of 47%. On the flip side, KFC, 5 to go, Burger King, Domino’s, McDonald’s, Salad Box, Spartan and Starbucks received very low scores, between 2% and 0%. In Poland, as well as in Romania, Subway is the only chain that received a non-zero score in performance reporting. 

Elise Allart, corporate engagement director for HSI/Europe, says: “The vast number of animal lives impacted by the chicken industry demands that it actively champion higher standards of animal welfare. The Pecking Order doesn’t just assess the status quo; it provides actionable solutions. It’s a powerful tool for fast-food companies seeking to enhance chicken welfare and adhere to the European Chicken Commitment. We invite collaboration and prompt action to improve animal welfare in supply chains, making businesses future-proof in line with increasing consumer demands and forthcoming legislation.” 

Find photos and infographics in English, Polish and Romanian.

Facts on The Pecking Order

  • The 2023 edition of The Pecking Order is a project by World Animal Protection, together with Humane Society International, the Albert Schweitzer Stiftung, L214 and Essere Animali. A total of 69 companies were assessed covering the markets of France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, and Spain. 
  • The Pecking Order is an initiative dedicated to assessing broiler chicken welfare in the fast-food industry, by evaluating the companies’ commitment to address chicken welfare throughout their supply chains, the measures they take and how they implement the requirements recommended in the European Chicken Commitment (ECC). The Pecking Order has been assessing fast-food brands since 2019. In 2023, six European markets were assessed, and Poland and Romania were included for the first time. The report offers a general presentation of the broiler chicken welfare situation in the Polish and Romanian fast-food industry and describes opportunities for improvement. 
  • Chicken welfare management across countries varies. The German and French fast-food companies have the highest average overall scores of the assessed countries, demonstrating more commitments and implementation. Polish and Romanian chains have the lowest scores, indicating that there is substantial progress needed within the countries’ fast-food industries concerning chicken welfare. 

  • Some fast-food chains are doing better than others in publishing their commitments and targets for chicken welfare. For Poland, IKEA stands out with a score of 100%, demonstrating a firm commitment to chicken welfare. The data also reveals that Subway, Pizza Hut and Vapiano have acknowledged the need to improve chicken welfare, each scoring a high 94%, positioning them as leaders in this aspect. On the opposite end of the spectrum, McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King, Domino’s, Starbucks, Pasibus, Salad Story and Zahir Kebab exhibit a lack of commitment with scores of 21% (McDonald’s), 3% (KFC) and 0% (the rest). Regarding commitments and targets in Romania, Subway, IKEA, PAUL and Pizza Hut have conceded the need for higher welfare standards for broiler chicken. Each of the companies gathers a percentage of 94%.  On the other hand KFC, Burger King, Domino’s, McDonald’s, Starbucks, 5 to go, Salad Box and Spartan show a lack of commitment, with scores between 3% (KFC) and 0% (other companies). 
  • In respect to performance and progress reporting, in both Poland and Romania, Subway is the only chain that received a non-zero score. All other assessed companies received a score of 0%. These companies did not publish any information on their websites. This indicates a significant lack of action and transparency. Without progress reporting, the public is left to assume that these companies are doing nothing to eliminate the cruelty happening to chickens in the supply chain.  

ENDS

Media contact: Cassie Bodin-Duval, international media relations coordinator, cbodinduval@hsi.org

Humane Society International / Europe


HSI

BRUSSELS—A year after the publication of the Revised Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking, representatives from Member States, the European Commission, the European Parliament and civil society gathered in Brussels to discuss the implementation of the Action Plan and solutions to end illegal wildlife trade. The event was co-organised by Eurogroup for Animals, Animal Advocacy and Protection, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Humane Society International and Pro Wildlife.

Wildlife trafficking is one of the largest international criminal activities. It contributes significantly to biodiversity loss, increases the risk of zoonotic diseases and has negative socio-economic impacts, particularly in countries where animals and wildlife products are sourced. 

The EU is a hub for wildlife trafficking and therefore has a crucial role to play. The revised EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking, published in 2022, provides improvements compared to the previous Action Plan and foresees ambitious actions to tackle the issue. Our conference, marking the first year of the release of the revised Action Plan, was opened by a video message from Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, who highlighted the role of illegal trafficking in loss of biodiversity and undermining peace and security,  followed by a message from César Luena MEP (Socialists and Democrats), who stressed that the success of the Action Plan depends on dedicated implementation by all actors.

The first panel discussed care for confiscated live animals. Representatives from rescue facilities across Europe emphasised the difficulties they are facing to accommodate seized animals and called for increased capacities and resources to offer proper care. Maria Pita Fernandez from the Spanish Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenges detailed the actions taken by the country in this regard, especially to facilitate information-sharing and coordination. IFAW presented a new Online Learning Program for enforcement authorities on handling confiscated live animals. The panel stressed the challenges in setting adequate conditions for a wide range of species and called for dedicated funding for rescue centres in national Action Plans without impeding activities to address the root causes of wildlife trafficking. 

Participants then heard the experiences of Member States regarding the implementation of the EU Action Plan and innovative solutions at the national level. Representatives from Spain and Czechia presented their plans to fight illegal wildlife trafficking, while Lithuania, the Netherlands, Cyprus and Belgium detailed their experience in implementing innovative measures such as the positive list of allowed pets, emphasising the importance for such lists to protect animal welfare, public health and biodiversity. This is relevant in the context of the upcoming study from the European Commission on the added value and feasibility of an EU Positive List for Pets. Panellists highlighted the added value of an EU positive list to better regulate intra-EU trade and the need to retain national lists that would be stricter than the EU list.

The third panel focused on enforcement challenges and consisted of French and Spanish law enforcement authorities, the representative of the German online platform DeineTierwelt, IFAW and the European Commission. The panellists discussed the state of play and opportunities to properly enforce the legislation in place to combat wildlife trafficking. They emphasised the need for ambitious and harmonised rules to regulate wildlife trade online. Training and awareness raising of enforcement officers on environmental crime, including cybercrime, is crucial to enforce these rules. Financial crimes closely linked to wildlife criminal activities can also facilitate prosecution and must be carefully considered by enforcement authorities.

The final panel exchanged on the loopholes in the current EU legislation which enable species that are illegally caught and smuggled in their origin countries to legally enter the EU market. The example of the Macedonian Grayling, an endangered nationally protected butterfly sold online across the EU was presented. Experts and enforcement authorities described the problem while lawyers and civil society proposed solutions, including a model legislation for the EU, in view of the upcoming Commission’s feasibility study on this issue. Panellists underlined that such legislation could complement an EU Positive List and is an important opportunity for the EU to protect biodiversity worldwide.

The event was closed by MEP Martin Hojsík (Renew) on a hopeful note, calling for the timely and proper implementation of this ambitious Action Plan, increased capacity to seriously tackle illegal wildlife trade and the need for new legislative tools at EU level including the positive list and the criminalisation of illegally sourced wildlife trade in the EU.

Dr Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs for Humane Society International/Europe, says: “Yesterday’s event has illustrated just how vital it is that the EU closes the loopholes in the current EU wildlife trade regulations. By failing to criminalise the import of nationally protected wildlife species that have been taken in violation of the laws of other countries and allowing this stolen wildlife to be traded legally in Member States, the EU continues to be complicit in the loss of biodiversity elsewhere in the world. This cannot and must not continue.

ENDS

Media contact: Cassie Bodin-Duval, international coordinator for media relations: cbodinduval@hsi.org ; +32 (0) 469 149 469

Poll findings underscore call for Commission to deliver on its promise to ban on caged confinement for farm animals

Humane Society International / Europe


Pig farm in Italy
Jo-Anne McArthur/Essere Animali

BRUSSELS—The European Commission released today the long-awaited results of its Eurobarometer survey on EU citizens’ attitudes towards animal welfare. As anticipated, the polling data confirms that the vast majority of Europeans (84%) believe that the welfare of farm animals should be better protected. Across all EU Member States, at least eight in ten respondents believe that ensuring that animals are not kept in individual cages is an important factor in meeting our ethical responsibilities to animals.

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

“The Eurobarometer results released today unequivocally confirm the incredible strength of citizen support in all Member States for the advancement of animal welfare. It was no secret that this poll had been conducted many months ago, but it was rumoured that the Commission leadership had been suppressing the results given their reluctance to adhere to the clear animal welfare commitments made in both the EU Farm to Fork Strategy and the formal response to the European Citizens’ Initiative to End the Cage Age.

During a Parliamentary hearing earlier this month, Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, the new European Green Deal chief, broke the Commission’s silence on its failure to deliver the promised package of legislative proposals to revise and expand the scope of the existing body EU animal welfare legislation. Šefčovič signalled that all but the proposal on animal transport were being shelved for the foreseeable . The Eurobarometer provides a strong reminder before the EU elections that citizens care about animal welfare. The results of this survey emphasise the importance of Europe staying true to its commitment to eliminating caged farming.

“Ignoring the immense citizen support for improved animal welfare and the failure to honour the Commission’s commitments to deliver these legislative reforms is an affront to the millions of EU citizens who want better treatment of farm animals,” says Swabe. “With the European elections only months away, the Commission’s backsliding on animal welfare risks eroding ordinary citizens’ faith in the European institutions and how much they are truly working for them and their interests.”

Support for improved animal protection regulations does not come only from the general public. The Commission’s own regulatory fitness and performance programme which aims to ensure that EU laws deliver on their objectives, determined that the current animal welfare legislation is no longer fit for purpose. The European Food Safety Agency delivered scientific opinions regarding the on-farm welfare of animals, which make it clear that farm animals have complex welfare needs that cannot be met within the confines of cages and crates.

With respect to the welfare of animals on farms, the Eurobarometer survey results reveal, for example, that:

  • 90% of Europeans consider that farming and breeding practices should meet basic ethical requirements.
  • 91% consider that it is important to protect the welfare of farmed animals (e.g., pigs, cattle, poultry, etc.) to ensure that they have decent living conditions.
  • 84% consider that in general the welfare of farmed animals in their country should be better protected than it is now
  • 67% say they would like to have more information about the conditions in which farmed animals are raised in their country.
  • Over eight in 10 respondents believe that ensuring that farmed animals have enough food and an adapted environment satisfying their basic needs (e.g., mud, straw, etc., depending on the species) is important in all 27 EU Member States.
  • In all 27 EU Member States, more than eight in 10 respondents consider that providing farmed animals enough space to be able to move around, lie down and stand up is important.
  • At least eight in 10 respondents in all 27 EU Member States consider that ensuring that people who handle the animals have sufficient skills and training is an important aspect of meeting our ethical responsibilities to animals.
  • In all 27 EU Member States, over three-quarters of respondents think that banning the cutting of certain body parts of the animals unless it is necessary to protect the safety of workers/farmers (in which case anaesthesia will be used) is an important condition to meet our ethical responsibilities to animals.
  • 75% think that the practice of killing one-day-old male baby chicks is unacceptable.
  • Over six in 10 Europeans believe that EU animal welfare rules should apply to food imported from non-EU countries.
  • Six in 10 Europeans are willing to pay more for products sourced from animal welfare-friendly farming systems. Six in 10 Europeans indicated that they look for labels identifying products sourced from animal welfare-friendly farming systems when buying food products.

Facts

  • In 2020, the European Commission released its Farm to Fork strategy for a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system as part of its European Green Deal flagship policy package. This included a commitment to revise the existing animal welfare legislation to align it with the latest scientific evidence, broaden its scope, make it easier to enforce and ultimately ensure a higher level of animal welfare. The legislative package was due to be published in the third quarter of 2023.
  • In 2021, in response to the European Citizens’ Initiative to End the Cage Age, which garnered nearly 1.4 million validated signatures, the Commission also promised to deliver proposals to end the caged confinement of animals kept for food by the end of 2023.
  • The Eurobarometer is the official polling instrument that is used by the European Commission, the European Parliament and other EU institutions and agencies to monitor public opinion on EU issues and attitudes towards specific subjects.
  • Prior to today’s publication, Special Eurobarometer report 442 on Attitudes of Europeans towards Animal Welfare was the most recent EU-wide survey on this issue and was published in 2016. At that time, more than nine in 10 EU respondents said they believed that it is important to protect the welfare of farmed animals (94%).

ENDS

Media contact:  Yavor Gechev, communications director for HSI/Europe: ygechev@hsi.org ; +359889468098 ; +393515266629

Humane Society International / Europe


Aumsama, iStock.com

BRUSSELS—After months of waiting for the European Commission to honour its European Green Deal commitment to deliver a package of legislative proposals to upgrade the EU’s animal welfare legislation, Executive Vice President Maroš Šefčovič finally broke the EU executive body’s silence on this issue during the Parliamentary hearing for his appointment as the new Green Deal czar.

In response to probing questions on animal welfare from several Members of the European Parliament from across the political spectrum, Šefčovič dashed EU citizens’ hopes of the Von der Leyen Commission adopting legislative proposals to end the caged confinement of farm animals in the EU this year. While claiming to be committed to the animal welfare file, he hid behind its ‘complexity’ as an excuse for failure for its delivery. Šefčovič’s only olive branch to animal advocates was a promise to come up with a proposal on live animal transport by December 2023.

Dr Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs for Humane Society International/Europe, issued the following statement in response to Šefčovič’s comments:

“We were promised action to end cruel caged confinement, but turns out to have all been hot air. Despite being grilled by several MEPs, during his hearing Commissioner Šefčovič largely skirted around the issue of animal welfare and failed to provide any clear timeline with respect to when, or even if, the European Commission would deliver its promised ban on caged farming. The announced legislative proposal on animal transport is good news, but alone, it falls short of the commitments made in the Farm to Fork Strategy and the Commission’s promise to the 1.4 million European citizens backing the ‘End the Cage Age’ European Citizen’s Initiative.

The science is clear, it is time to stop confining millions of sentient animals in cages and crates so small they cannot turn around or take more than a single step forward. A slew of scientific opinions delivered by EFSA, the European Union’s science advisory agency focused on food chain risks, confirm that the current animal welfare legislation needs to be brought in line with new scientific understanding on animal welfare. This legislation has already been deemed no longer fit for purpose under the Commission’s own regulatory fitness and performance programme that aims to ensure that EU laws deliver on their objectives. Moreover, the Regulatory Scrutiny Board has issued a positive opinion about the draft impact assessment accompanying the legislative proposals, which have already been drafted by Commission staff. The announced additional discussion on animal welfare in the context of the strategic dialogue with farmers is a poor attempt to dissolve concerns after recent reports that the EU could drop its plan to get farmed animals out of cages. The Commission already has a Platform on Animal Welfare that involves all relevant stakeholders. Let us not forget that ahead of the 2024 EU elections, it would be an affront to EU citizens and participatory democracy if the Commission failed to deliver on both its ECI and Green Deal promises to raise animal welfare standards. Humane Society International, allied groups and EU citizens will not give up. We will be pushing Šefčovič and his colleagues to deliver all the legislative proposals before the end of their mandate”.

ENDS

Media contact: Cassie Bodin-Duval, international coordinator for media relations: cbodinduval@hsi.org ; +32 (0) 469 149 469

Humane Society International / Europe


HSI

In June 2024, citizens from across 27 EU Member States will elect a new European Parliament. The 720 Members of the EU Parliament chosen by the electorate will be charged with the responsibility of representing EU citizens’ interests for the next five years and shaping the future of EU policy and legislation.

The protection of animals is an issue close to the hearts of millions of EU citizens. This is also reflected in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which explicitly recognises that animals are sentient beings and that the EU and Member States must pay full regard to their welfare requirements in their policymaking.

Humane Society International/Europe is calling on candidates for the European elections to become advocates for farmed, wild and laboratory animals to advance their welfare and improve their protection in the EU and beyond during the upcoming Tenth Parliamentary Term (2024-2029). Below are a few of our key priorities.

You can also download and read our Manifesto in full.

Improving farm animal welfare

The existing body of EU animal welfare legislation must be revised to fully reflect current scientific understandings of animal welfare and its scope expanded to cover all animals kept for economic purposes. It is imperative that this legislative revision includes the phasing-out of all caged confinement for farm animals, such as laying hens and pigs.

Making fur farming history

A full ban on the keeping, breeding and killing of animals for the sole purpose of fur production must be introduced. The cruel and unnecessary practice of fur farming must be relegated to the annals of history everywhere in Europe.

Restricting hunting trophy imports

EU Member States are currently only required to issue import permits for hunting trophies from species listed on Annex A and just six species on Annex B of the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations. For as long as the import of hunting trophies remains legal, this import requirement must be extended to ALL species listed in Annex B to ensure that these hunting trophies are of legal and ‘sustainable’ origin.

Closing the loopholes in the EU wildlife trade Regulations

A loophole in EU legislation allows nationally protected wild animal species, trafficked into international trade flows, to be sold legally in Europe as exotic pets. The EU must commit to adopting supplementary legislation that prohibits the importation, transhipment, purchase, and sale of wildlife taken illegally in the country of harvest/origin.

Ensuring animal-free science

The EU chemicals legislation (REACH) must be revised to close loopholes that allow testing of cosmetic ingredients. Both REACH and the regulation for chemicals classification, labelling, and packaging (CLP) must be updated to maximise adoption non-animal methods for safety assessment and it is crucial that no new or expanded animal testing requirements are introduced via revisions or delegated acts. In research, where the largest number of animals are used in experiments, the EU should commit to a scientific and technological shift towards non-animal approaches.

Promoting sustainable food systems

EU policymaking, including any future Sustainable Food Systems Framework Law, should actively promote the transition to a more plant-based diet and a decrease in the production and consumption of animal products, as well as introducing measures to reduce the number of farmed animals in production and their stocking densities, to mitigate the environmental and climate impacts of intensive animal agriculture.

You can find detailed information about our priorities for the next term of the European Parliament in
our Manifesto.

Are you a candidate for the EU elections and willing to support our key priorities? Please, get in touch
with us: info@hsi-europe.org

Humane Society International says Minister’s dismissal of animal cruelty is ‘inexplicable’

Humane Society International / Europe


Fin whale
Vicki Beaver/Alamy

BRUSSELS—As news breaks that Iceland will allow the resumption of commercial whaling with the introduction of so-called “improvements”,  despite clear evidence of immense animal suffering, global animal protection charity Humane Society International calls it a devastating and inexplicable decision.

Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir issued the decision today to resume whaling on the advice from a working group that improvements could be made to the hunting methods used. Her announcement comes despite the suspension of whaling in June this year after publication of an independent report by the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority which revealed some whales killed in Icelandic hunts had taken up to two hours to die, with 41% of whales suffering immensely before dying for an average of 11.5 minutes. At the time, the Minister declared concerns that whale killing methods contravened the country’s Animal Welfare Act.

Ruud Tombrock, HSI/Europe’s executive director, said: “It is inexplicable that Minister Svavarsdóttir has dismissed the unequivocal scientific evidence that she herself commissioned, demonstrating the brutality and cruelty of commercial whale killing. There is simply no way to make harpooning whales at sea anything other than cruel and bloody, and no amount of modifications will change that. Whales already face myriad threats in the oceans from pollution, climate change, entanglement in fish nets and ship strikes, and fin whale victims of Iceland’s whaling fleet are considered globally vulnerable to extinction. With the need for whale protection so critical. this is a devastating rejection of a once-in-a-generation opportunity to end the slaughter at sea. There is a new shameful entry in the conservation history books―Iceland had a chance to do the right thing and it chose not to.”

Fast facts:

  • The International Whaling Commission agreed to enact a global moratorium on all commercial whaling in 1986.
  • Iceland left the IWC in 1992 but returned in 2002 with an exception to the moratorium, despite objections from multiple nations. Since re-joining the IWC, Iceland had killed more than 1,500 whales, including fin whales.
  • Iceland suspended hunting fin whales in 2016 due to a declining market for whale meat in Japan. Hunting resumed for the 2018 season when 146 fin whales were killed, including a pregnant female and a rare fin-blue hybrid whale, plus six minke whales. Icelandic whalers killed a single minke whale between 2019 and 2021, and 148 fin whales in 2022.
  • Fin whales are classified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as globally vulnerable to extinction despite decades of recovery since the commercial whaling moratorium.

ENDS

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

Humane Society International / Europe


HSI

BRUSSELS —The European Commission today kick-started a plan to phase out animal testing for chemicals across Europe but will not protect the EU ban on animal testing for cosmetics in response to the “

Save Cruelty Free Cosmetics – Commit to a Europe Without Animal Testing” European citizens’ initiative (ECI) signed by 1.2 million European citizens.

While campaigners welcome the plan to ultimately eliminate animal testing for chemicals and the longer-term proposals to reduce and phase out the use of animals in research and education, the Commission  ignored citizens’ calls to uphold the ban on animal testing for cosmetics; a ban established by legislators over a decade ago.

Despite the introduction of an EU ban on animal testing for cosmetics ingredients in 2009, animal tests for chemicals handled by industrial workers or which may be released into the environment are still being required under the EU’s REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) regulation. Disturbingly, proposed updates to REACH indicate that animal testing for chemicals is set to surge over the coming years. Rather than waiting for the EU courts to resolve this issue, citizens’ demands must be addressed to prevent further animal suffering.

In the EU and Norway, a shocking 7.9 million animals suffered in laboratories in 2020 – among them rabbits, mice, cats, and dogs. Substances are forcibly administered down their throats, and they are infected with debilitating diseases, genetically manipulated, given brain damage through surgery, exposed to severe pain, and used in breeding programs that perpetuate this cycle of suffering. Although the Commission is exploring actions to accelerate the development and use of non-animal methods, these do not constitute the root-and-branch reform demanded by EU citizens via the ECI.

The ECI was launched in August 2021 by animal protection groups Cruelty Free Europe, Eurogroup for Animals, the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments, Humane Society International/Europe, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, with the backing of beauty brands The Body Shop and Dove. The ECI called for the strengthening and protection of the ban on animal testing for cosmetics, the transformation of chemicals regulations to bring an end to testing on animals, and a commitment to phasing out all testing on animals in Europe.

Positive commitments made by the Commission in response to the ECI include the following:

  • To develop a roadmap to end all mandated tests on animals for industrial chemicals, pesticides, biocides and human and veterinary medicines
  • To explore the creation of an expert scientific committee to provide advice on the development and uptake of non-animal approaches
  • To propose an action of the European Research Area to coordinate national policies to replace the use of animals in laboratories and speed up development and implementation of non-animal methods
  • To organise one or more workshops with experts to determine future priority areas of research to accelerate the transition to animal-free science.

Citizens will now expect that everyone involved works to ensure that the measures suggested by the EC have maximum and meaningful impact, and we will continue to advocate for more action where it is needed.

“The people of Europe have made it clear that experimentation on animals has no place in our modern society,” says Sabrina Engel, chair of the ECI organising committee. “While we welcome positive actions to replace the use of animals in experiments and chemicals tests, we wholly condemn the Commission for failing to end the suffering of thousands of animals used in cosmetics tests. The Commission must now propose meaningful changes to existing legislation and policies to set member states, regulators, and assessment bodies on the path to phasing out all uses of animals in laboratories. Therefore, we are calling on all actors to pursue the goals of the ECI.”

Notes

  • Here is a briefing on the “Save Cruelty Free Cosmetics – Commit to a Europe without Animal Testing” ECI.
  • “Save Cruelty Free Cosmetics” is the second ECI on the issue that has surpassed 1 million signatures, after “Stop Vivisection” in 2015, and only the ninth ECI that has been successful out of more than 100 that have been submitted.
  • Across the EU, approximately 8 million animals are used in experiments or for the breeding and maintenance of genetically altered animals each year. A further 10 million animals languish in cages without being used in procedures or are used as part of the laboratory supply chain, either for breeding or so that their body parts may be used in experiments.

ENDS

Media contact: Cassie Bodin-Duval, international coordinator for media relations: cbodinduval@hsi.org ; +32 (0) 469 149 469

Scientists call on governments to consider evidence for the elimination of fur farming

Humane Society International / Europe


Stock Photography

BRUSSELS―In an article published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, virologists Dr Thomas Peacock and Professor Wendy Barclay of Imperial College London have issued a stern warning regarding the risks fur farming poses for future disease outbreaks. The concerns have intensified due to recent avian flu outbreaks on mink and fox fur farms in Spain and Finland, sparking increasing fears that fur farms can act as breeding grounds for zoonotic diseases. Responding to this alarming development, leading animal protection organisation Humane Society International/Europe urges the European Commission to act fast to introduce a ban on fur farming and imports throughout the EU.

Fur farming has faced significant restrictions and outright bans across Europe, with a total of 19 countries, including 14 EU Member States, taking a stand against this controversial industry. Despite these advancements, millions of animals, including mink, fox, raccoon dog and chinchilla continue to be bred for their fur in EU countries, such as Finland, Poland, Greece, Spain, Romania and Sweden.

In the PNAS article, Dr Peacock and Professor Barclay write that “fur farming takes place in a high-density animal environment that allows for rapid spread of viruses with pandemic potential—and for virus adaptation to animals that would be unlikely to occur in nature.” Reports in Science and Nature have raised fears that the avian flu virus could be demonstrating the potential to mutate and spread mammal-to-mammal, which in turn increases concerns of a future pandemic. Peacock was quoted saying that the outbreak is “incredibly concerning” and “a clear mechanism for an H5 pandemic to start.”

Peacock and Barclay go on to say in the PNAS article: We strongly urge governments to also consider the mounting evidence suggesting that fur farming, particularly mink, be eliminated in the interest of pandemic preparedness. Fur farming should be in the same category of high-risk practices as the bushmeat trade and live animal markets. These activities all increase the likelihood of future pandemics.”

Dr Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs at Humane Society International/Europe, said: “It is completely unacceptable that millions of animals continue to suffer terribly for fur fashion across Europe, and this is compounded by the equally outrageous fact that their exploitation poses a very serious threat to the health of EU and global citizens. As the outbreaks of COVID-19 and avian influenza on fur farms have amply shown, factory farming mammals in small wire cage conditions is simply unsustainable from an animal welfare and pandemic prevention viewpoint. We’re essentially putting public health at risk for cruel products that no one needs. With the EU Commission due to deliver its proposals to revise EU animal welfare legislation, now is the perfect time to relegate the cruel and dangerous fur trade to the annals of history.”

Earlier this year, an EU-wide “Fur-Free Europe” European Citizens’ Initiative petition calling on the European Commission to ban the farming and sale of fur in the EU, gathered 1.5 million validated signatures in under ten months. The Commission now has until December 14 this year to formally respond to this ECI and outline the actions it intends to take with regard to fur farming in the EU. As the European Commission prepares to deliver later this year legislative proposals to revise and expand the scope of the existing animal welfare legislation,  a coalition of more than 70 European animal groups, including Humane Society International/Europe, is calling for that revision to include an EU-wide ban on fur farming and trade.

Notes:

  • Mink and foxes tested positive this month for highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 on 10 fur farms in Finland, with more farms under suspicion for the virus and awaiting test results. In October last year, the first recorded outbreak of avian flu on a fur farm took place on a Spanish mink fur farm intensively breeding 52,000 mink, reigniting calls for an end to global fur farming.Since April 2020, mink on 487 fur farms across North America and Europe have been reported as having tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.  The virus has been shown to pass from mammal to mammal on intensive mink fur farms and reports of farmed mink to human transfer has been reported in at least six countries. The most recent outbreaks were recorded in Poland in March 2023 and in Italy in April 2023.
  • Fur farming is already banned in many European countries, including Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Croatia, Estonia, France, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, North Macedonia, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and the United Kingdom. Lithuania, Poland and Romania are currently considering fur farming bans.
  • In June 2023, Austria, Germany and the Netherlands tabled an information note on fur farming, which was co-signed by the Belgian, Czech, Estonian, Lithuanian, Luxembourg and Slovak delgations, for discussion at the AGRIFISH Council. During the debate, 18 Member States voiced their support for a full ban on fur farming in the EU.

Media contact: Cassie Bodin-Duval, international coordinator for media relations: cbodinduval@hsi.org ; +32 (0) 469 149 469

Feeric Fashion Week Sibiu will have its first fur-free edition

Humane Society International / Europe


Kateryna Kukota

SIBIU, Romania―The Feeric Fashion Week, the oldest still running fashion event in Romania, has accepted the invitation of Humane Society International/Europe to join the Fur Free Retailer programme. It will have its first fur-free edition between July 19-23, 2023 in Sibiu. Among the fashion brands and designers participating in the Sibiu fashion festival, there are students from fashion universities from Eastern and Central Europe, Central Asia and Northern Africa.

HSI/Europe, who represents the Fur Free Retailer programme for Romania, welcomes the newest member, which is also the first fashion show to join it.

Andreea Roseti, Romania country director for HSI/Europe, said: “It is an excellent message that a well-known fashion festival in Romania has decided for the first time to promote brands not using fur in their clothing products. With the help of events like Feeric Fashion Week, we are changing perceptions in Romania about fur and making people aware that the suffering of animals bred for their fur must be stopped. Our hope is that the Chamber of Deputies will soon vote for the legislation to close fur farms in our country.”

Elise Allart, corporate engagement director at HSI/Europe, added: “The Romanian fashion industry clearly shows that the future of fashion is fur-free. Feeric Fashion Week is the first fashion event in the world to join the Fur Free Retailer programme and commit to banning fur fashion from the runway. The event is a great addition to the growing list of Romanian fashion brands that are already part of the programme, including Ioana Ciolacu, Muse um Concept, REDU and OCTAVIA CHIRU. Last weeks we welcomed KATERINI and HOOLDRA. We call on all designers, retailers and events to join the fur-free fashion movement in Romania, contributing to the overall European effort to give up fur fashion.”

Mitichi, president of Feeric Fashion Week, said that sustainability and care for the environment have been major concerns for the organisers of the event for many years, stating: “We are now in our seventh year of promoting sustainable fashion, but 2023 is the first year that we are focusing on promoting fur-free clothing creations. We decided that we needed to take on the role of informing the public and helping to build a cleaner environment and a better future for the fashion industry, one that does not involve animal cruelty.”

This Feeric Fashion Week marks its 15th edition, being the longest running fashion event in Romania and one of the most important in Central and Eastern Europe. Feeric Fashion Week has also proved over time to be a platform for the promotion of young talent, with students who study fashion design having the chance to present their creations and be noticed by representatives of established brands in the fashion industry.

Fur facts:

  • The Fur Free Retailer programme is the world’s leading initiative to connect fur-free businesses with customers looking for ethically sourced products. The programme is free to join and aims to advise and encourage companies to go fur-free and further the spirit of ethical consumerism. Almost 1,600 fashion brands, retailers and designers in 25 countries around the world are part of the program, including Gucci, Moncler, Prada, Adidas, H&M and Zara. The program is initiated by the Fur Free Alliance, an association of more than 50 animal welfare organizations, and is represented in Romania by Humane Society International/Europe.
  • Romania remains one of the last EU member states with no restrictions on the keeping of animals for fur.
  • Last year, an undercover investigation by HSI/Europe exposed the living conditions on Romanian chinchilla farms. Animals were found living in small, dirty mesh cages. Female animals were forced into permanent reproduction and animals were killed by breaking their necks or in improvised do-it-yourself gas chambers. Following the HSI/Europe investigation, a bill to ban the farming of mink and chinchilla was tabled in parliament, voted on by the Senate and is currently debated by the Chamber of Deputies.
  • Public demand for an EU-wide ban on fur farming and fur imports has also been clearly demonstrated during the past year as the Fur Free Europe petition collected more than 1.5 million verified signatures from EU citizens. The European Commission is expected to respond to the demands of the petition by the end of the year and take action accordingly.
  • More than 100 million animals are killed for their fur every year worldwide—that is equivalent to three animals dying every second, just for their fur.

Fur farming has been banned in 19 European countries including the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia, Slovenia, Luxembourg, Malta, Ireland, Estonia, France, Italy and, most recently, on 22 September 2022, Latvia. Political discussions on a ban are also underway in Romania, Lithuania and Poland. Two countries (Switzerland and Germany) have implemented strict regulations effectively ending fur farming, and three other countries (Denmark, Sweden and Hungary) have imposed measures that have ended the fur farming of certain species.

ENDS

Media contacts: Andreea Roseti, Romania country director at Humane Society International/Europe, 0741 188 934

Humane Society International / Europe


Acceptphoto/Alamy

BRUSSELS—Today, the Belgian Federal government’s Council of Ministers approved a legislative proposal for a ban on the import of hunting trophies of endangered animal species, put forth by Zakia Khattabi, Minister of Climate, the Environment, Sustainable Development and Green Deal.

The Minister’s preliminary draft bill follows the Federal Parliament of the Kingdom of Belgium’s unanimous vote in March 2022 in support of a resolution demanding that the government put the brakes on the issuance of trophy import permits for a broad array of threatened and endangered species. This resolution protects species such as the hippopotamus, Southern white rhinoceros, African savannah elephant, lion, polar bear and argali sheep killed for sport. The scope of the resolution also extends to all species listed in Annex A, along with certain species in Annex B, of the European Regulation 338/97 on the protection of species of wild fauna and flora.

Member of Parliament Kris Verduyckt (Vooruit, Flemish Socialists), initiator of the legislative proposal to ban hunting trophy imports in 2020 and proposer of the aforementioned resolution, said: “I am glad that this hard work is paying off. Minister Khattabi is now fully translating my proposal into a bill and the entire Council of Ministers approves it. It’s time we really started protecting endangered species, trophy hunters prefer to kill the largest and strongest animals, the loss of which contributes to the disruption and decline of animal populations.”

The European office of animal protection charity Humane Society International, a long-time vocal advocate against the import of endangered species’ trophies, lauded the government’s decision. Ruud Tombrock, executive director for HSI/Europe said: “We welcome the fact that the unanimous resolution of Parliament has been translated into a legislative measure and look forward to studying the details of the legislation once published. Belgium is leading the way for other countries in Europe already listening to calls from their citizens to consign the import of hunting trophies to history. The next step should be an EU-wide ban on the import of hunting trophies from endangered and protected species, again reflecting the views of citizens across member states in the European Union.”

Over the past 16 months, HSI/Europe has worked with MPs to ensure that the unanimous resolution of Parliament was translated into legislation and today’s approval is the culmination of this campaign. MPs from different political parties have maintained pressure on Environment Minister Khattabi. A recent response to a parliamentary question from MP Jan Briers (CD&V, Flemish Christian democrats) revealed that the Ministry had only stopped issuing permits for importing animal trophies since mid-March 2023, a delay which outraged many MPs.

This landmark decision by the Belgian government echoes the strongly held views of its people. A 2020 survey by Ipsos commissioned by HSI/Europe showed that 91% of Belgians oppose trophy hunting and 88% support a prohibition on importing any kind of hunting trophy at all.

This sentiment is not limited to Belgium but is resonating across the European continent. A 2023 pan-European poll conducted by Savanta in all 27 EU Member States on behalf of HSI/Europe, laid bare the widespread public rejection of trophy hunting. A striking 83% of respondents stood firm against this practice, with just 6% in favor. The vast majority is expecting strong measures to be taken against trophy hunting, with a compelling majority (74%) rallying behind a national import ban and similar support for an EU-wide ban (73%). These survey results underscore a profound and growing public concern across Europe, spotlighting the urgency and importance of wildlife conservation and the protection of threatened species.

Today, Belgium has echoed the urgent European call to action against trophy hunting, joining the ranks of countries like the Netherlands, France, and Finland, which have each implemented various degrees of bans and restrictions on the practice of import of hunting trophies. Momentum against trophy hunting is accelerating across the continent, with nations including the UK, Germany, Italy, and Poland now also involved in active discussions to impose bans at varying stages of progress.

Facts on trophy hunting:

  • The Netherlands introduced a trophy hunting ban for more than 200 species in May 2016, on the Annex A of European Regulation 338/97 on the protection of species of wild fauna and flora by regulating trade therein and of species in danger of extinction. The import ban also applies to the following Annex B species: white rhinoceros, hippopotamus, African elephant, mouflon (wild sheep from the Caucasus), lion and polar bear. A total of 200 animal species are affected by the import licenses ban.
  • France implemented a ban on the import of lion-hunting trophies in 2015. In 2023 a Bill proposal for registration, aimed at “stopping the issuance of import permits for hunting trophies of certain endangered species was tabled.
  • The import of hunting trophies into Finland is restricted since June 2023. The new Nature Conservation Act includes a provision that prohibits the import of individual animals or their parts from the most endangered species worldwide which are threatened by international trade as trophies from countries outside the EU.
  • In the United Kingdom in March 2023, British lawmakers approved a ban on the import of animal hunting trophies covering 6,000 endangered species which makes it one of the toughest in the world. The legislation is now being debated in the House of Lords.
  • In Germany, the Minister of the Environment, Steffi Lemke (The Greens), announced that she intends to restrict the import of hunting trophies from protected animal species. Germany terminated the Country’s membership in the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC) in 2022.
  • In Italy in 2022, a bill aimed at banning the import, export and re-export, to and from Italy, of hunting trophies obtained from animals that are protected by CITES, was presented. After the fall of the government and the elections, in 2023 the same bill was tabled again in parliament.
  • In Poland, a bill sponsored by the deputy chairperson of the Sejm, the lower chamber of the parliament, reached committee stage discussion this month and is scheduled for further progress in August 2023.
  • Trophy hunting of endangered species poses a severe threat to conservation efforts and the world’s natural heritage. Trophy hunters prefer to kill the largest, strongest animals, whose loss causes declines in population. The affected species, such as African elephants, lions, rhinoceros, and leopards, among others, are already facing the risk of extinction and play crucial roles in maintaining healthy ecosystems and biodiversity. The loss of these iconic animals not only disrupts delicate ecological balances but also erodes cultural and historical significance. Many species play important roles in their ecosystems, and their removal can have cascading effects on other wildlife, vegetation, and the overall health of the ecosystem.
  • The EU is the second biggest importer of hunting trophies after the United States, as indicated in a report by Humane Society International/Europe from 2021, with an average of 3000 trophies imported in the period between 2014 and 2018.
  • The top 10 species imported into the EU as trophies are: Hartmann’s mountain zebra (Equus zebra hartmannae) (3.119), Chacma baboon (1.751), American black bear (Ursus americanus) (1.415), brown bear (1.056), the African elephant (952), African lion (Panthera leo) (889), African leopard (Panthera pardus) (839), hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) (794), caracal (Caracal caracal) (480) and red lechwe (Kobus leche) (415).
  • The EU was the largest importer of cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) trophies with 297 cheetah trophies imported into the EU during the study period.
  • Belgium is the 13thlargest hunting trophy importer of internationally protected species in  Europe
  • Shortly before the vote of the resolution last year, Animal Rights Belgium, another organisation campaigning against the import of hunting trophies in Belgium, delivered a petition with 37,000 signatures supporting the ban to the Federal Environment Minister, Zakia Khattabi.

ENDS

Media contact: Cassie Bodin-Duval, international coordinator in media relations at Humane Society International/Europe: cbodinduval@hsi.org ; +32 (0) 469 149 469

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