Europe’s Ethical Eggs by Peter Singer

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My colleague Datuk Norman earlier sent me this interesting article with his comments based on my blog post – HDB Interim Rental Housing (IRH). Click here to read the post.

Dato Alan,
You read this article & compare it with the HDB IRH policy of the PAP. Ask yourself whether the PAP govt is “humane” enough to house 2 or more families in a 2 or 3 rooms rental flat!

The PAP is the richest govt by world standard with high pay for Ministers but not humane enough to look after its own people who voted them into position of Authority! (Power)

You think well off S’poreans care?! You “mati” is your own business; that is what S’poreans’ attitude ( which is ) the by-product of an elitist PAP govt!

From iTODAY: Europe’s ethical eggs
Peter Singer | 14 Jan, 2012 6:00

Forty years ago, I stood with a few other students in a busy Oxford street handing out leaflets protesting the use of battery cages to hold hens. Most of those who took the leaflets did not know that their eggs came from hens kept in cages so small that even one bird – the cages normally housed four – would be unable to fully stretch and flap its wings. The hens could never walk around freely or lay eggs in a nest.

Many people applauded our youthful idealism but told us that we had no hope of ever changing a major industry. They were wrong.

On the first day of 2012, keeping hens in such cages became illegal, not only in the United Kingdom but in all 27 countries of the European Union (EU). Hens can still be kept in cages, but they must have more space and the cages must have nest boxes and a scratching post.

In the early 1970s, when the modern animal-liberation movement began, no major organisation was campaigning against the battery cage. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), the mother of all animal-protection organisations, had lost its early radicalism long before. It focused on isolated cases of abuse and failed to challenge well-established ways of mistreating animals on farms or in laboratories.

It took a concerted effort by the new animal radicals of the 1970s to stir the RSPCA from its complacency towards the battery cage and other forms of intensive animal rearing. Eventually, the new animal-rights movement managed to reach the broader public.

Consumers responded by buying eggs from free-ranging hens. Some supermarket chains even ceased to carry eggs from battery hens.

In Britain and some European countries, animal welfare became politically salient and pressure on parliamentary representatives mounted. The EU established a scientific committee to investigate animal-welfare issues on farms, and the committee recommended banning the battery cage, along with some other forms of close confinement of pigs and calves.

A ban on battery cages in the EU was eventually adopted in 1999 but, to ensure that producers would have plenty of time to phase out the equipment in which they had invested, its implementation was delayed until Jan 1, 2012.

The British egg industry accepted the situation and developed new and less cruel methods of keeping hens. Not all countries are equally ready, however, and it has been estimated that up to 80 million hens may still be in illegal battery cages.

But at least 300 million hens who would have lived miserable lives in standard battery cages are now in significantly better conditions, and there is great pressure on the EU bureaucracy to enforce the ban everywhere – not least from egg producers who are already complying with it.

With the ban on battery cages, Europe confirms its place as the world leader in animal welfare, a position also reflected in its restrictions on the use of animals to test cosmetics. But why is Europe so far ahead of other countries in its concern for animals?

In the United States, there are no federal laws about how egg producers house their hens. But, when the issue was put to California voters in 2008, they overwhelmingly supported a proposition requiring that all farm animals have room to stretch their limbs fully and turn around without touching other animals or the sides of their cage.

That suggests that the problem may not be with US citizens’ attitudes but rather that, at the federal level, the US political system allows industries with large campaign chests too much power to thwart the wishes of popular majorities.

In China, which, along with the US, confines the largest number of hens in cages, an animal welfare movement is only just beginning to emerge. For the sake of the welfare of billions of farmed animals, we should wish it rapid growth and success.

The start of this year is a moment to celebrate a major advance in animal welfare and, therefore, for Europe, a step towards becoming a more civilised and humane society – one that shows its concern for all beings capable of suffering. It is also an occasion for celebrating the effectiveness of democracy and the power of an ethical idea.

Peter Singer is professor of bioethics at Princeton University and laureate professor at the University of Melbourne.

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About Gintai_昇泰

I'm a Chinese Singaporean living in the Eastern part of Singapore. I tweet on current affairs & inspirational quotes. I blog on issues or events if they interest me. I write for pleasure. I also write mainly for my family and friends.
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