Bristol's Green MEP, Molly Scott Cato, has today welcomed the adoption of a report on minimum standards for the Protection of Farm Rabbits voted for by MEPs in the European Parliament.
Rabbits are the second most farmed species in the EU, after broiler chickens, with over 320 million being slaughtered annually. The vast majority of them are kept in barren wire cages where their natural behaviour is severely restricted. Despite this factory farming system, no specific EU legislation on minimum standards for the protection of rabbits currently exists which has led scientists, vets and animal welfare campaigners to call for legislation to outlaw the cage system and replace it with one that allows for the natural needs of rabbits.
Speaking to the European Parliament today, Molly told MEPs that researchers from Bristol University in her South West constituency concluded that current legislation does not adequately address the welfare needs of rabbits; she said she has received thousands of emails calling for species-specific legislation to protect farmed rabbits across the EU.
Molly, who is a member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, said:
“Greens have long opposed factory farming and today’s success reflects the tireless work by the Green group and animal welfare campaigners in pushing for higher animal welfare standards.
“We must move toward lower intensity and more compassionate farming methods to safeguard the wellbeing of rabbits and improve health, especially as the current inhumane conditions spread disease and lead to farmers using alarming amounts of antibiotics. And as we know, antibiotic resistance is one of the most serious public health risks facing our world today.
“Today’s vote has again demonstrated that the closer the relationship the UK maintains with the EU, the better will be the outcome for British animals. Animal advocates across the UK must continue lobbying the UK government to ensure the current legal protections, for all species, offered by our EU membership are maintained and strengthened.”