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EU Commissioner urged to stop the 'Forbidden Journeys'

News Section Icon Published 11/03/2009

Compassion in World Farming presented over 5,000 signatures to EU Commissioner for Health Androulla Vassiliou to stop live transport of unfit animals

On 10 March 2009, Compassion in World Farming, together with MEP Neil Parish, Chairman of the European Parliament's influential Agriculture Committee, met with EU Commissioner Vassiliou to present her the Forbidden Journeys petition and to urge better enforcement of the EU law that prohibits the transport of unfit animals.

The Forbidden Journey petition was signed by 5,231 supporters and arose from the film Forbidden Journeys - a film by Compassion in World Farming, Animals' Angels and Eurogroup for Animals based on investigations by Animals' Angels that revealed that EU law is being ignored.

The film showed how Downer cows are illegally transported to slaughter across Europe. Too sick or infertile to produce milk, these dairy cows enter the food chain as low-grade beef. Ill or injured animals slaughtered for food is a widespread problem across Europe, despite EU legislation. EU law states that if an animal is 'unable to move independently without pain or to walk unassisted' it is unfit for transport.

Commissioner Vassiliou recognised the extreme suffering experienced by cows that cannot walk but nonetheless are dragged to slaughter. She stressed that this law must be enforced and said she would press the countries where this is happening to comply with the law.

The EU Commissioner for Health was also given a copy of a recent report on long distance transport in the EU by Compassion in World Farming. The report highlights the fact that each year around 6 million farm animals are transported huge distances across Europe. Many of these journeys, which involve extensive suffering, take 40 or 50 hours; some take over 70 hours.

Peter Stevenson, Compassion in World Farming's Chief Policy Advisor, said: "Some of these animals are being transported for slaughter, others for further fattening. Much of the suffering involved in live transport could be prevented by reducing journey times. Bearing this in mind, animals should be slaughtered as near as possible to the farm of rearing; the meat could then be transported to wherever it is wanted.

Mr Stevenson also added: "Animals should also be fattened on or near the farm of birth. To convert these principles into practical reality, a maximum limit of 8 hours should be placed on journeys to slaughter or for further fattening.

Lobbying the European Union for higher animal welfare standards is just one of the things that our supporters have helped us to do so far.

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