The Eurogroup for Animals called on the European Union to demand from Mercosur farmers associations and governments the same ‘animal well-being’ requisites and regulations which their European counterparts must comply with.
The group said that the EU must eradicate all possible animal sufferings in its trade dealings with the rest of the world and promised to raise the issue at the highest level with European institutions, according to a release distributed Wednesday in Brussels and which is directly related to the ongoing trade and cooperation talks between the EU and Mercosur.
“The European Union must ensure that all bilateral trade agreements that allow the import of meat are based on the principle that the meat must be produced under equivalent standards as in the EU. The authorities must also act immediately to stop this trade and improve the standards employed in South America to prevent further unnecessary animal suffering” said Sonja van Tichelen, Director of Eurogroup for Animals.
Apparently the Eurogroup for Animals is extremely shocked by “the images collected by its member, GAIA, during an investigation into the trade in horse meat from South America. These images illustrate the severe neglect and mistreatment of thousands of animals each year and point to the fact that no attention is paid to the animals’ welfare at all and practices are used which are outlawed in the European Union”, points out the release which made EU headlines.
Eurogroup alleges animals are transported extremely long distances in very poor conditions and are slaughtered in an environment totally unacceptable and inhumane “and yet this meat ends up on our supermarket shelves and we, the customers, are totally unaware of the animal suffering involved. In addition in most of these countries it is extremely difficult to track individual animals along the supply chain which allows the animals to be mistreated and abused”.
This situation takes place “despite the fact that the European Union, which has strict animal welfare legislation and standards, is currently discussing new trade agreements with Mercosur countries (Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil) which will allow even more meat to be imported in the future”.
“This situation is extremely alarming as European citizens expect that all the food sold in the European Union, whether produced in the EU or imported, complies with the same standards on animal welfare and food safety. This investigation proves that this is not the case and that consumers are being deceived and animals made to suffer,” said Sonja van Tichelen.
It is also vital that retailers in the EU also take their responsibilities seriously and respect animal welfare. We do not believe that any retailer can justify selling products from anywhere, not just South America, that are the result of such horrific animal suffering, she concluded.
Eurogroup promises to work with its members to raise the issue at the highest level with the European institutions to ensure that in future any international trade in animals or animal products with the EU ensures that all of the animals involved are treated with full regard to their welfare requirements in accord with the Treaty of Lisbon.
The EU and Mercosur are currently holding a round of trade negotiations and one of the most controversial issues is agriculture. And this is particularly evident among EU meat farmers (mainly Ireland, France and Spain) who are lobbying strongly at all levels to prevent more shipments of Mercosur beef into the EU.