UK - The British Veterinary Association (BVA), supported by the RSPCA, has called on the British Government to end non-stun slaughter on the day of a Parliamentary debate on an e-petition relating to ending non-stun slaughter to promote animal welfare.
The debate took place yesterday, (23 February) in Westminster Hall at the Palace of Westminster at 4.30pm.
On 29 January BVA’s e-petition to end non-stun slaughter to promote animal welfare reached 100,000 signatures showing an enormous strength of feeling amongst the public.
The total number of signatures has now reached more than 115,000.
The e-petition calls for an end to slaughter without pre-stunning for all animals, without exception.
BVA launched the Parliamentary e-petition because it said that scientific evidence shows that slaughter without pre-stunning allows animals to feel pain and compromises animal welfare.
This scientific evidence includes the EU-funded Dialrel project that ran for four years between 2006 and 2010 and that concluded: “It can be stated with high probability that animals feel pain during and after the throat cut without prior stunning.”
It is a position supported by the Humane Slaughter Association, the Farm Animal Welfare Council, and the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe.
BVA said that more than 80 per cent of Halal meat is stunned before slaughter. BVA’s concern does not relate to religious belief but to the animal welfare compromise of non-stun slaughter.
BVA President John Blackwell said: “BVA’s e-petition to end non-stun slaughter now has over 115,000 signatures and clearly shows the strength of feeling about animal welfare at slaughter. BVA has long argued that all animals should be stunned before slaughter to render them insensible to pain and we are pleased that the British public has got so firmly behind our campaign, which is based on scientific evidence.
“For BVA and our members, this is a matter of animal welfare at slaughter, plain and simple. We have never – nor would we – argue against religious slaughter. We categorically refute any suggestion that this is an anti-Muslim or anti-Jewish campaign.
“We acknowledge that over 80 per cent of animals slaughtered for halal meat are pre-stunned before slaughter.
“We have met with, and are keen to continue our positive discussions with, representatives of the halal and kosher meat industry to explore where we can work together to improve animal welfare at slaughter.
“BVA finds abuse of animals in any slaughterhouses unacceptable. We would expect for these abuses to be thoroughly investigated and appropriate action taken by the competent authority. We also point out that recent undercover films of animal abuse in slaughterhouses would warrant sanctions under current welfare legislation irrespective of whether they occurred in an abattoir implementing stunning or non-stun prior to slaughter.
“From pre-birth to slaughter, vets play an active role in not only preventing suffering but actively providing for the welfare needs of all animals. The veterinary profession is not complacent.
“We consistently lobby Government to ensure existing legislation is enforced effectively. We have and will always work to improve the welfare of animals at all stages of their lifecycle.
“BVA is calling on the Government to have a consistent approach to animal welfare legislation.
“How can the Government on the one hand pride itself and champion the UK on having some of the world’s highest animal welfare standards, but on the other undermine this by allowing slaughter without stunning to continue?
“It is clear from the scientific evidence that the welfare of animals is improved by effective stunning at slaughter but we can’t enforce a piece of legislation that does not exist. This is why we call on the Government to make legislative change now and end non stun-slaughter immediately.”
David Bowles, head of RSPCA public affairs, said: “It is no surprise that around eight in 10 people want an end to non-stun slaughter. There is growing public concern about the welfare of farm animals and people believe animals should be treated as humanely as possible throughout their lives, including at the time of slaughter.”
“It is important to differentiate between ‘religious’ and ‘non-stun’ slaughter. Our concern does not relate to the expression of religious belief but to the practice of killing by throat cutting without pre-stunning. In fact, around 84 per cent of halal in the UK is pre-stunned demonstrating that animal welfare and religious purpose can work together,” he added.
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