The New Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines: Everybody Should Be Invited
Clive Phillips’ recent article, “Animal welfare standards must work for all, not just industry“, is refreshing. He looks at the governments proposal for a rewrite of the the Australian animal welfare standards and guidelines and concludes that all stakeholders must come to the table for the sake a rigorous, ethical outcome. He aptly contends “Relying on animal industries for part-funding of the process – alongside their pivotal involvement in standards writing together with primary industry governments – will bring pressure to have minimal standards that do not constrain current practices”. My unscientific observations support this. It seems as though industry has something to hide. That it is on the ground, in the know, draws industry to believe it is in the best position to have an majority say on the formation of a new standards and guidelines. This notion has never made sense to me. The chicken farmer has an interest to protect his and his industry’s interests. Thus, he is going to be wary of external interferences. For the new standards and guidelines to be produced without input from all external stakeholders will only lead to more suffering.
The comments on these sorts of articles are usually hijacked by apologists. Not on this occasion–well, not yet. In fact, something else rather fascinating was brought to the discussion. A couple of commenters suggested we need to consider pests and collateral damage more seriously. “[P]est species we exterminate without care is germane: there are people who enjoy seeing a Cane Toad writhe, yet love their dog, or spray a cockroach with relish, or use cruel poisons on ‘vermin'” says David Paxton. “[W]e have an industry and government agency systematically killing by starvation and thirst thousands of emus each year, sometimes tens of thousands” adds Keith Bradby. To be sure, it’s one of those issues that barely sits in most people’s minds. I think back to my childhood, fishing on the banks of the Murray, catching only European Carp, ditching them up the bank to steam in the sun until their eyes popped out. I didn’t think anything of it. I thought I was doing the right thing. They’re a pest, they need to be removed, I was told. I agree that any new standards and guidelines need to go as far as “pest” management. Problem is, it’ll be lumped in as a guideline–something that is only catered for by best practices. Something that if apparently breached isn’t enforceable.