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‘Jokers to the Left, Clowns to the Right’: Germany’s new ridiculous animal welfare label

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Annemarie Botzki (Foodwatch): 'It's basically a marketing measure in order to give consumers a good conscience and keep their consumption going. And it's actually deceptive for the consumers'.

ANNE-SOPHIE BRANDLIN: New plans for regulations such as a mandatory label documenting how animals were reared are supposed to improve animal welfare. Is that a right step toward more transparency for consumers – or greenwashing? Germany’s federal government has come up with a draft bill for new regulations regarding animal welfare.

“I want good meat from Germany to be served in the future as well. In order to do so, our farms urgently need a perspective they can rely on,” Food and Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir said when introducing his plans.

This perspective, he says, includes four core elements: a mandatory label that specifies under which conditions animals were held, the renovation of stables and funding for such, which includes adjustments in the building- and licensing laws, as well as better regulations in the animal welfare law.

First up: New labels for pork products. The label will first be put on pork products, other fresh meat products are to follow at a later stage. Whether they are being sold online, at a farmer’s market or in a supermarket – all products will then be required by law to have a label that differentiates between five different methods of rearing: stable, stable and extra space, open air stable, run and open land, and organic…

Consumer organizations… don’t believe the labels will make a difference at all. “For us it’s just another label in the label jungle,” Annemarie Botzki, agricultural expert at the German consumer organization Foodwatch, told DW. “It’s basically a marketing measure in order to give consumers a good conscience and keep their consumption going. And it’s actually deceptive for the consumers,” she said.

“They believe that a higher method of rearing means the animal is healthier. And that is often not the case. Just because an animal has a bit of a larger stable doesn’t mean it’s healthier. They are still forced to perform on an extremely high level that often makes them sick,” she added.

A large fraction of animals that are brought to the slaughterhouse are, in fact, massively sick, Botzki added, especially pigs. Diseases range from pneumonia to inflammation of organs – and those occur in any rearing method…

Every year, roughly 13.6 million pigs die in Germany before they are slaughtered. That’s equivalent to 1 in 5 animals. A study by the veterinary school of Hanover shows that 13.2 percent of hogs and 11.6 percent of breeding pigs are expected to have had severe pain for a considerable time before they died.

And even animals who were held on organic farms are often sick. A study by the University of Kassel shows that more than half of dairy cows in organic farms have mastitis, a painful inflammation of the udder. And despite the disease, they are being milked every day. SOURCE…

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