SPEECH W.N. AM 06.05.2017:
THE BERLIN CALL AGAINST CRUEL BREEDING
The Peter Singer Prize for strategies for the treatment of animal suffering is awarded today for the 3rd time. The name of the prize honors the man, who fundamentally shaped the modern animal rights movement through his book “Animal Liberation” which was published in 1975. The terms “strategies” and “the reduction of animal suffering” expresses our concern to synergize the heterogeneous animal rights and animal welfare activities. In this context, a united struggle against cruel breeding is the most important aspect. Every year, the unimaginable number of more than 60 billion farm animals are slaughtered worldwide (without counting the 85 billion marine animals). Most of them had a terrible life and many of them had a cruel death.
The extreme legal unequal treatment of humans and animals is a crying and grotesque injustice. Recidivists, ruthless blackmailer and mass murderers, who have proved that their behavior is unworthy, are illogically protected from an adequate penalty, due to an “unassailable human dignity”. They often remain a latent danger to their fellow citizens after released of prison.The law permits, however, that innocent animals may be tortured under the deliberate arbitrary declaration that their suffering is for a “reasonable reason” and therefore to deviate consciously from §1 of the German Animal Protection Act of 18.5.2006, which reads: “The purpose of this law is, from the responsibility of humans for the animals as fellow creatures, to protect their life and well-being “. According to § 11b of the Animal Protection Act, cruel breeding is prohibited. It is a perversion of our legal system that fattening hens in intensive breeding have to suffer about 50% bone fractures and that fattening chickens, turkeys, pigs, cattle and other farm animals are victims of cruel breeding, without any admitting or legal punishment, which would be impossible in other areas of the legal field.
But which German Chancellor or Minister of Agriculture, which political authority, which powerful economic or religious leader is fighting against this ethically untenable situation? The current pope, who, by his name, wanted to express his attachment to the spiritual heritage of Francis of Assisi, should take a stance against the excesses of the current breeding practices, especially towards Catholic politicians. In fact, however, it is unfortunately the case that politicians who are particularly Christian give absolute priority to the interests of the economy and against human and animal protection and human and animal rights. If the leaders were genuinely motivated to fight against the disgusting consequences of the world-wide prevailing predatory capitalism and against the interests of the globally active corporations, they could work together and create binding guidelines against the consequences of this system and put them into effect worldwide.
But there are no such coordination efforts in the sense of a world government; because politics is not designed by the politicians to be self-responsible, but the globalized economic giants determine politics. They benefit from the fact that they can play against each other by virtue of their market power. They prevent global laws that are directed against their interests to the detriment of poorer populations, to the suffering of countless of animals and to the detriment of a sustainable use of the environment.
But what kind of room for maneuver do we have, we, who are quantitatively and qualitatively living in the age of the greatest animal cruelty that has ever existed in human history?
After all, about 80% of the German-speaking population nowadays rejects the worst consequences of intensive livestock farming. Religiously-based speciesism loses ground. And in a scientific report commissioned by and for the Ministry of Agriculture (BMEL), the experts conclude that our current agricultural system is not viable.
Maybe already in the near future, cultured meat, in which Bill Gates and Sergey Brin invest, could contribute to the reduction of the suffering of farm animals. In the meantime, even the development of “plant-based meat” has already progressed (Der Spiegel No. 8, February 18, 2017). In this respect, there are also certain aspects of hope.
In the very modest framework of our award, we endeavor, as mentioned at the beginning, to bring together animal rights activists from different starting positions for the common goal of the reduction of animal suffering.
During the dinner after the second ceremony last year, a text named “the Berlin Appell” was prepared thanks to the proposal of of Prof. Karnowsky. It reads as follows: “Appell to the EU Parliament and to the European Commission to come up with a mandatory definition of cruel breeding within the framework of the conventions of the European Council, and to prohibit all breeding methods which are contrary to European standards:
1. The EP shall call on the Commission to finally submit the announced draft of the animal welfare strategy 2016-2020 and to deal with the issue within the framework of the animal welfare protection plan. It is urgent to clarify the definition of cruel breeding.
Therefore, binding parameters have to be developed on which breeders and enforcement authorities can orient themselves, both in the field of domestic livestock as well as livestock breeding. The extent of reasonable limitations must be distinguished from breeding methods which lead to unacceptable injuries, pain and suffering.
2. Breeding lines of turkeys, chickens and ducks which result in a high percentage of pain, suffering and / or damage, as have been repeatedly demonstrated on affected animals, must be prohibited already at this stage. These include breeding which causes illnesses of laying organisms and osteoporosis, breeding which leads to heart and circulatory diseases in chickens and turkeys, to leg and joint damage, to the inflammation of the feet and to diseases of the skeletal system or muscular diseases. Concerning ducks, it causes the incapacity to fly, joint damage and / or serious behavioral disorders.
The signatories to this manifesto are: Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Karnowsky (Chairman of the Executive Board of the Hanns Rönn Foundation), Mahi Klosterhalfen (Managing Director of the Albert Schweitzer Foundation for Our Environment), Prof. Dr. Holger Martens (Institute of Veterinary Physiology at FU Berlin), Dr. Madeleine Martin (animal welfare responsible of Hessen), Prof. Dr. Reinhard Merkel (Professor of Criminal Law and Legal Philosophy of the University of Hamburg and member of the German Ethics Council, myself, Ria Rehberg (2nd Chairwoman of Animal Equality) and Stefan Torges (Head of Sentience Politics Germany).
Such a demand for the concretization of §11b of the Animal Welfare Act (and EU legislation) is not new. It has already been adopted as a resolution of the Working Group for Animal Protection “cruel breeding in livestock” at the German Veterinary Day from 9th to 11th April 2003 in Magdeburg but has not been realized to this day.
In the reform treaty of the EU, which entered into force on 1 December 2009, which has no direct reference to God, Article 13 states: “… the Union and the Member States take full account of the needs of the welfare of the animals as sensitive beings.” However, there are no concrete provisions regarding cruel breeding.
The reply from the European Commission to the Berlin Manifesto of 17 June 2016 was written in a friendly tone, but as far as expected, the content was not very convincing. Mr. Andreas Erler from the Eurogroup for Animals informed be on the 20th of February 2017 about the fact that there are no new legislative proposals to be expected in this legislative period until 2019.
Great results are not to be expected. After all, the clarification and publication of the concept of cruel breeding is helpful for future campaigns in explaining to people the conditions of severe suffering of farm animals.
However, I am particularly pleased that scientists attend our event today as well, who want to bring their veterinary expertise into account despite the lobbing pressure of the farmers’ associations.
They will meet with representatives of animal rights organizations this evening during the dinner. Professional knowledge and media-oriented know-how accompany the Berlin appeal and therefore it becomes a further step towards a reduction in animal suffering.
The Association of the Peter-Singer-Award for strategies towards a reduction of animal suffering has so far only very few members. We would be delighted if our request would be supported on an intellectual basis and without the presentation of cruel animal images.
Please, dear guests, become members of the association of the PSP.