Scientists across EU member states and other countries are supporting a citizens’ call to end the use of cages for farmed animals in the EU. Among them is the world-renowned ethologist and conservationist Dr Jane Goodall.
Dr Goodall, 86, famous for her study of wild chimpanzees in Tanzania and a UN Messenger of Peace, is a vocal supporter of an end to the use of cages in animal farming. “Most people today understand that birds are sentient beings,” she said. “We have kept hens rescued from factory farms – each had a distinct personality, all showed emotions such as pleasure and fear.”
“A growing body of scientific research supports this, and there can be no doubt that life crammed into a small cage is causing great suffering. The EU needs to take action on behalf of the millions of hens and other animals treated in this cruel manner.”
In a previous articleon the Commission’s Farm to Fork Strategy, she said that, “Destroying nature and exploiting animals in intensive ‘factory’ farms shows complete disregard towards life. This has consequences for us all, as we have clearly seen in the Covid-19 pandemic.”
In the letter to the European Commission, the scientists state that they fully support the call by 1.4 million people who recently signed the ‘End the Cage Age’ European Citizens’ Initiative urging the EU to phase out the use of all cages in farming.
The letter is addressed to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen; Vice-President Frans Timmermans, responsible for the European Green Deal; Commissioner Stella Kyriakides, responsible for health and food safety; and Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski, responsible for agriculture and rural development.
In the letter, the scientists state that the “scientific argument against cages is clear – European farmed animals live miserable lives confined to small spaces. Many are denied important and basic natural behaviours and what makes a life worth living.”
“We call on the European Commission to update legislation to reflect what we all know to be true – no farmed animal should suffer in a cage. Collectively we support an end to the cage age.”
Over 300 million farmed animals are kept in cages each year in the EU. “Scientific research shows that cages have inherent severe disadvantages for animal welfare,” the letter states, adding that using cages is inconsistent with the EU Treaty’s recognition of animals as sentient beings.
The phaseout call targets so-called enriched cages for laying hens, stalls and farrowing crates for sows, cages for farmed rabbits, quail, ducks and geese, and individual pens for calves. “In each case commercially viable alternatives exist that provide better welfare.”
“We are proud to have Dr Jane Goodall and all the other scientists on board to support an end to the use of cages in animal farming,” commented Olga Kikou, Head of Compassion in World Farming EU and Substitute Representative of the ‘End the Cage Age’ European Citizens’ Initiative.
The initiative has the backing of over 170 European organisations, dozens of Members of the European Parliament, the European Committee of the Regions and 1.4 million EU citizens. It calls on the European Commission to update EU Directive 98/58/EC on the protection of animals kept for farming purposes, in order to bring it in line with the latest science and the expectations of the EU public.