In the past, there’s been a lot of controversy surrounding the filming of animal agriculture practices. Clips of undercover footage have made it into the mainstream through animal activists and documentaries such as Earthlings, and it hasn’t boded well for factory farming corporations.
These undercover films led to the creation of “ag-gag” bills, a term coined in 2011 that refers to state legislation forbidding the act of undercover filming or photographing activities on farms. For example, one of these bills was the ALEC-backed “Animal and Ecological Terrorism in America“ bill, which claimed that taking pictures on livestock farms can “defame the facility or its owner.” This is more than a little ironic given the fact that they torture and kill animals every day; how great can their reputations really be?
Additionally, ALEC proposed that violators be placed on a “terrorist registry.” This seems like a ridiculous way to spend taxpayer dollars, enforcing a rule that would prevent people from actually doing the “right thing.” Then again, it’s not exactly surprising that the people who profit from factory farms would try to prevent people from exposing the cruelty that takes place there.
Well, it seems that England is taking a stand against animal cruelty, or at least increasing transparency within factory farms, as it’s set to implement mandatory cameras in all slaughterhouses. Not only will there be documented proof of any animal cruelty that occurs, but veterinarians will be given unrestricted access to all footage as well.
Why England Is Forcing All Slaughterhouses to Install Cameras
As part of an entire series of actions to reduce animal cruelty, slaughterhouses based in England will be forced to install CCTV on the premises. CCTV stands for closed circuit TV, which is essentially a security system that’s closely monitored but not by the public.
Installation of cameras will be mandatory and they must be active anywhere that live animals are presented, whether that be where they’re unloaded, killed, or anywhere else. All footage will be available in its entirety to vets.
The government is also modifying animal welfare standards for farm animals and domestic pets in order to mitigate animal cruelty.
The Guardian reported that these changes to welfare codes will “reflect enhancements in medicines, technological advances and the latest research and advice from vets. The codes will remain enshrined in law and the first to be updated will cover chickens bred for meat.”
“We have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world and the actions I am setting out today will reinforce our status as a global leader,” explained Environment Secretary Michael Gove. “As we prepare to leave the EU, these measures provide a further demonstration to consumers around the world that our food is produced to the very highest standards.”
So far, the public has responded well, as cameras in slaughterhouses have been proposed by animal welfare as well as environmental groups countless times in the past. There’s a clear need for these cameras, particularly in the UK, since animal welfare group Animal Aid pursued undercover filming between 2009 and 2016 at 11 UK slaughterhouses and found evidence of cruelty and law-breaking in 10 of them.
Director of Animal Aid Isobel Hutchinson stated:
After many years of campaigning for mandatory, independently monitored CCTV in slaughterhouses, we are greatly encouraged by this news. But although this development is a huge step forward, we urge the public to remember that even when the law is followed to the letter, slaughter is a brutal and pitiless business that can never be cruelty-free.
“Last year, we concluded that it was time to make CCTV compulsory in slaughterhouses, progress on voluntary adoption having plateaued,” noted Heather Hancock, Chairman of the Food Standards Agency (FSA). “I and the Board of the FSA warmly welcome Defra’s consultation about making CCTV mandatory. We look forward to the introduction of a comprehensive requirement for using, accessing and retaining footage from CCTV in abattoirs.”
In my opinion, this is a wonderful step forward toward ending animal cruelty, and I hope that other countries adopt this practice, too. However, it’s important to note that even if the entire world makes these changes, we still have a long way to go until we officially put an end to animal cruelty.
The very word “slaughterhouse” implies animal cruelty, given that it’s an organization that profits off slaughtering animals. Until we stop killing and eating animals, animal cruelty will continue to exist, regardless of how we’re killing them. Though it’s important to stop torturing animals, we still need to ask ourselves, to what end are we killing these animals? You can be healthy and reduce your environmental footprint by eating less or no animal products, and we no longer need to eat these products to thrive.
If you’re interested in learning more about animal cruelty in factory farming, check out these CE articles:
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