“We must tax or even ban animal products from farms that do not comply with European minimum standards”

Ihe European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has just published two opinions scientists to limit the suffering of laying hens and broiler chickens. In particular, it recommends the end of cage farming and mutilation (beak and crest trimming), a considerable drop in density, access to the outside, the supply of litter and slower growth of chickens.

Poultry industry organizations reacted immediately against this unprecedented position in favor of birds for fear of a loss of international competitiveness and an increase in imports from countries outside the European Union.

Today, with international competition, the French sectors come up against central purchasing bodies that keep prices low. Any development improving the lot of animals is often costly for breeders, especially in the event of the necessary adaptation of infrastructure, and aggravates competition from foreign products. A reform then risks having a perverse effect on the national territory: that of further increasing the number of animals exploited in farms where the conditions of detention have the sole objective of increasing yields.

How, then, to fight against this competition? Inspired by another measure of the European Union which, on December 13, 2022, adopted the carbon border adjustment mechanism. It will make it possible to tax within four years, in the sectors emitting the most greenhouse gases (steel, cement, fertilizers, etc.), imports of goods from non-European countries with less strict standards.

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A similar limitation could just as easily relate to breeding standards in order to facilitate the implementation of the recommendations of the EFSA, which intends to improve the lot of European animals. After a previous opinion on pigs and animal transport, others will soon be released on breeding calves, dairy cows, ducks, geese and quail. They will serve as a basis for the European Commission, which will draw up a legislative revision by the second half of 2023.

For a Europe without cages

While the European Commission plans the progressive ban on the breeding of animals in cages by 2027 and that it will probably adopt certain measures recommended by the EFSA, it is urgent to prepare for this transition by applying customs restrictions to products which do not comply with European standards in the fight against animal suffering, such as this is already the case for slaughter conditions.

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