Letter: Inhumane treatment of animals

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The Independent Online
Sir: I share the concern of M. Forbes-Buckingham over the lifting of our national ban on the export of live animals for slaughter in Spain (letter, 28 December).

I was assured by the Ministry of Agriculture that the Spanish authorities had agreed to conform with the relevant EC regulations and had further agreed that the abattoirs which would receive our animals after 1 January would be inspected before the appropriate licences were issued. But, as with all animal welfare concerns in the EC, who is to do the initial inspections? Who is to maintain the inspections year in and year out? Who is to regulate the new and mandatory layerage regulations that come into force after 18 hours of travel (a time limit which I believe should have been a maximum of eight hours)?

In this country the RSPCA can and does carry out regular farm animal inspections throughout the food chain and with the full support of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, local authorities and the police. There is no similar body on the Continent, the number of EC veterinary inspectors is risible and the enforcement of animal welfare legislation, particularly in the southern countries, is often apathetic.

The RSPCA has warned the Minister for Agriculture of our concern at the lifting of this ban. We will be monitoring and recording breaches to the new system and will broadcast our findings in this country and in Brussels.

But, in the name of humanity, should not the trade in live animals cease, to be replaced by auctions on farm sites, followed by transport over short distances to the nearest abattoir and then by transportation of refrigerated carcasses to international destinations? Such a system has to be the most efficient and economic, the easiest to regulate and control and the kindest to the animals which provide our food.

Yours faithfully,

PETER DAVIES

Director-General, RSPCA

Horsham, West Sussex

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