Fair trade for animals

The basic welfare of billions of farm animals across the world should not be neglected in talks to liberalise world trade. Both people and animals can come first, global animal welfare groups are urging.

In a new report, Animals and People First, the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and Eurogroup for Animal Welfare show that good farm animal welfare benefits people, trade and developing countries.

They warn that World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks will put at risk farm animal care, unless trade rules allow countries to continue to set basic welfare standards.

"Agriculture is vital to every country in the world," said Peter Davies, director general of WSPA. "Many developing countries are building factory farms with harmful consequences for animal health and long-term sustainability.

"The European Union has proposed that 'non-trade concerns' such as the environment and animal welfare, should be taken into account in the talks, but so far there has been no agreement on allowing countries to set their own farm animal standards."

The report argues that increasing intensification of farm animal rearing - a consequence of stopping subsidies under World Trade Organisation agreements - will be a backward step for employment in developing countries.