Animal Transportation: Honouring our ethical code

With Parliament’s establishment of an inquiry committee to look into the protection of animals during transport, the EU now has the tools to investigate their suffering, writes Mohammed Chahim.
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By Mohammed Chahim

Mohammed Chahim (NL, S&D) is a member of the Special Committee on the Protection of Animals during Transport

05 Oct 2020

My region in the Netherlands (Noord-Brabant) is known for its large amount of livestock. Every day, you will see enormous trucks coming and going, stacked with as many animals as they can fit, regardless of whether it is freezing cold or boiling hot.

I am extremely worried about the conditions in which these animals are transported and their welfare. We cannot allow animals to unnecessarily suffer during transportation.

Animal rights need to be respected at all times, including during transport both inside and outside the European Union. The unnecessary suffering of animals is inhumane and does not comply with our ethical code.

During transportation, animals can become stressed by a number of factors; the way they are handled by people, their exposure to a new environment, a lack of space, slippery floors, high temperatures, high humidity, lack of water and feed, long driving hours, the spread of diseases, and so on.

“Animal rights need to be respected at all times, including during transport both inside and outside the EU. The unnecessary suffering of animals is inhumane and does not comply with our ethical code”

It is clear that animals suffer a lot of discomfort and stress during transportation, often leading to serious injuries or even death. There is also a growing consciousness on animal welfare and health. Consumers no longer see animal consumption of as merely a matter of food, but also an ethical concern.

Around 62 percent of all Europeans say they would change their shopping habits in order to purchase more animal-friendly products. Moreover, 75 percent of consumers across the European Union believe they can positively influence animal welfare through their consumption behaviour.

High animal welfare standards are not only humane, they satisfy consumer needs and concerns - something that is also beneficial for the industry. Animals living in unhygienic conditions can have very serious consequences for humans.

By now, we have all seen how zoonoses (diseases that spread from animals to humans) can have a devastating impact on our society. Avoiding cross contamination in the future starts with impeccable hygiene conditions throughout the entire supply chain, particularly during animal transportation. European rules on animal transportation came into effect in 2007.

While these have certainly improved some aspects, there is still a lack of clear and improved regulations on some essential elements. The current regulations are therefore insufficient, as they do not provide the necessary protections to prevent animals from suffering during transport.

Unfortunately, implementing, checking and monitoring transportation rules has proven challenging. I am therefore relieved that the European Parliament has set up this new inquiry committee.

This way, we get the opportunity to investigate the alleged violations of European law on the protection of animal welfare during transport and related operations. We can bring malpractices to light, hold those responsible accountable and develop and enforce the changes we need.

Read the most recent articles written by Mohammed Chahim - Time for a European Health Union

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Agriculture & Food
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