Author Topic: International Animal Law discuss live animal exports. The real issues.  (Read 1205 times)

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International Animal Law discuss live animal exports. The real issues.
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2012, 07:51:44 PM »
What's the real issue with live animal exports?

What if animals could be transported in conditions where they were treated well? At very least, to the standards set out in contemporary animal welfare legislation? Animals are transported every day from homes to veterinary clinics, from town to town, and across international borders - so what is the real issue with transportation of live animals?
Live exports are a common trade activity around the world. This includes, for example, the EU where it is reported that:

•   In 2011 over one million cattle and sheep were sent from the EU to Turkey for slaughter and fattening.

•   France exported over 90,000 cattle and sheep to the Middle East in 2010.

•   Cattle are also being sent from Ireland on massive journeys to Morocco.

•   Cattle are being exported from the EU to Russia and as far as Kazakhstan. 

Peter Stevenson, Compassion’s Chief Policy Advisor says: "It is a scandal that the EU, which claims to care about animal welfare, is engaged in this inhumane traffic in living creatures. We believe that the EU must now bring these exports to an end as the distances involved in the trade of live animals from the EU to third countries are simply too great to guarantee the welfare of the animals."
The statement raises questions about the real issues of live exports.

•   If standards were implemented to ensure that the transport of animals was "humanely" done, how would that affect the description of live exports as "inhumane traffic in living creatures"?;

•   Is there a need to "end" exports, or simply implement animal welfare standards as part of bilateral and multilateral agreements? (e.g. as Australia has recently implemented);

•   And are the trade protection policies of the EU and the WTO outdated, given that they fail to recognise standards of animal welfare as an appropriate trade criteria? What if standards of animal welfare were an allowable consideration - or even a mandatory consideration - as part of multinational agreements?

Radford (Animal Welfare Law in Britain, p137) has demonstrated that the imposition of import restrictions (e.g. by multinational organisations) can be viewed two ways:

•   The first alleges that countries attempting to apply import restrictions on products that have not been produced the same (animal) welfare standards as their own are imposing their own moral view on other nation states, who may have a very different attitude towards animals.

•   In contrast, Radford points out that it is "equally possible to argue the same point the other way", and given that "unconstrained trade liberalisation leads to those with low or non-existent standards imposing their view of the moral status of animals on the importing country".

Furthermore, "the intention is not to institute a form of moral imperialism" by forcing other countries to adopt the same view as the importing country, but rather to allow countries and societies "to make their own moral choices, by enabling them to prohibit within their own territory, the marketing of products derived from practices which they find unacceptable".

Finally, how realistic is the objective of banning live exports? Will the trade of live animals really ever be brought "to an end"? If it's accepted that a complete ban of live exports is "unlikely", then, with a view to looking after the interests of both animals and humans, would energies be better directed on objectives other than simply banning the practice?

As occurs in all industries and professions, it is a reality that there will be a minority of persons who fail to comply with prescribed standards of practice. For example, the existence of a minority of speeding drivers doesn't mean that all road users drive at excessive speeds; any more than one unethical professional means that all members of the same profession are unethical. That same rationale would indicate that because one transporter fails to comply with relevant standards, doesn't logically translate to a conclusion that all transporters are also "sub-standard" in their day-to-day activities. The reality, however, is that "the activities on one individual can bring the rest of the group in to disrepute" - especially if public perceptions are reliant on reporting that focuses on the activities of the non-law-abiding individual, rather than the activities of the quieter not-so-newsworthy law-abiding majority.

Perhaps identification of the real issues attached to live exports of animals indicates that energy and attention is better spent not so much on what is being done (i.e. seeking to ban all exportation of live animals) but on how it is being done (i.e. review and enforcement regarding the standards and rules applying to transportation of live animals).

So as a point of consideration, and to present the question another way: Would YOU be concerned about live exportation of animals if it was demonstrated that the animals were humanely transported, and animal welfare was an “allowable trade criteria”. In such circumstances, would the issue of “live export of animals” be an issue at all?

(Taken from the presentation of Ian A. Robertson "Animals and the law: Jugular issues, balanced solutions")

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