Home > Uncategorized > Government puts fox in charge of chicken coop

Government puts fox in charge of chicken coop

Yesterday (26 April 2011) Conservative DEFRA Minister Jim Paice announced the creation of a new ‘Animal Health and Welfare Board for England‘ (AHWBE) to advice ministers on… what? Well, as usual the devil is in the detail here. 

Given the use of the word ‘welfare’ in the title, you could be forgiven for assuming that reducing the suffering experienced by the billion animals farmed and killed for food every year in Britain might be part of its strategy. However, the terms of reference reveal that the welfare of animals is actually of no inherent concern to this key body. The primary focus of the AHWBE is dealing with diseases in farmed animals – or ‘livestock’ as they refer to them. This seems to be all about protecting the financial interests of producers, and animals are just seen as units of production from which (rather than ‘whom’) every last penny of profit must be exploited.

DEFRA emphasises the need for the AHWBE to have the confidence and respect of industry – but says nothing about protecting the public interest and the wellbeing of animals. This is what’s called ‘regulatory capture’ – where vested interests take over the Government that is supposed to prevent their activities damaging the public, the environment and animals. It is very worrying that the core values that underpin current Government policy appear to lack any sincere regard for animals. 

The announcement is a classic example of how the language of ‘animal welfare’ is deployed by those with a vested interest in the intensive exploitation of animals. The aim is to fool the public into thinking they genuinely care about animals. Perhaps some methods of reducing animal disease will – coincidentally – mitigate their pain and distress. But ultimately the policies that emerge will probably be those that are cheapest in the short term for producers rather than the most ethical or economically sustainable ones.  The result could be another BSE-style catastrophe.

Meanwhile, the Farm Animal Welfare Council has been reformed to become the ‘Farm Animal Welfare Committee‘ (how much did that pointless rebanding cost?) and has the powers to make recommendations to improve animal welfare. But its ability to achieve this is undermined by:

  1. Improving animal welfare is an optional rather than mandatory part of its role
  2. Most members come from industry rather than representing the public interest or animal welfare
  3. It appears to be below the AHWBE in the Government ‘food chain’, so the AHWBE strategy is likely to impede any attempt by FAWC to improve animal welfare

If how we treat animals is a measure of how civilised we are, then I fear the Government might be taking us back to the dark ages.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. james kelsey
    April 28, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    This is all the main truth thats being obfuscated in every aspect, at all levls of our lives, not only in animal welfare. The question is, what can be done to change things? People don’t seem interested, or if they do acknowledge that it’s happening, just shrug their shoulders with “can’t change it”. Problem is that this way of doing things i8s so fundamental to our way of life, that noone is preparewd to even seek out a better way

  2. Sue Baumgardt
    April 30, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    Now, if only proposed changes of govt bodies and regulations were as clearly set out as the above article……… But sadly James Kelsey is right. Make the language incomprehensible and too complicated for the majority to wade through, bung in a few “welfares” to keep people happy and pepper with false promises. That’s the recipe we get served all the time. Clearly we’ll never get REAL welfare cos it would cost too much and everyone’s been brainwashed to believe they have a right to cheap meat and other animal products. They can then afford to buy a bag of mixed salad leaves and some grated cheese. Am I getting too cynical in my old age? Grrrrr! Thank goodness I’m vegan.

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