Compassion in World Farming's ground-breaking work with major food companies on raising animal welfare standards has taken a new leap with the launch of its 'Good Pig' Award programme in China. As the country that is home to half the world's pigs, Compassion's latest initiative couldn't be better placed.
Compassion's CEO, Philip Lymbery, unveiled the Good Pig Awards at a well attended conference in Beijing, organised by the International Cooperation Committee of Animal Welfare (ICCAW), newly inaugurated with the backing of China's Ministry of Agriculture. Compassion was proud to be co-host.
In his opening address, Philip said: "I am delighted that Compassion is well placed to help China advance animal welfare through our work internationally to celebrate and encourage a growing movement of major corporations committing to seriously better standards.
"By working with ICCAW, we will help companies and producers to benefit the lives of pigs and other farm animals in ways that also makes for improved food quality and better business".
The conference in Beijing marked a watershed moment; it was a clear signal that animal welfare is now recognised by the Chinese government as an issue to be addressed.
It is perhaps no accident that this follows a number of serious food scandals that has left the nation's consumers wary of their food. Compassion was heartened to hear speaker after speaker echo the message that animal welfare is a food safety issue: the way that animals are reared can have a significant bearing on disease risk, including the potential for final products to carry harmful food poisoning agents and antibiotic-resistant super-bugs.
The other major factor in the appearance of animal welfare on China's agenda is that it is an emerging trade issue: the European Union has implemented strict new laws on animal welfare; leading corporations like McDonalds, Tesco and Unilever have adopted new policies on animal welfare in their supply chain in key markets.
Compassion's work with major food companies is already well established in Britain and Europe. We have recently extended our programme to the USA. We now stand poised to work with far-sighted companies and people in China to bring the benefits of better animal welfare standards to China, the most populous nation on Earth.