Comparison of the animal welfare legislation regarding farm animals between Norway and the EU with special regards to cattle
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Animal welfare legislation has been developed after the acceptance that animals are sentient beings and therefore should be treated according to this. All of the legislation today regarding animal welfare originates from the Brambell’s five freedoms: Animal welfare in the EU was first discussed in the legislation from 1974 (74/577/EEC) . After this it was also attached to the Treaty of Amsterdam (1997). In year 2000 EU raised animal welfare within the WTO (World Trade Organization) making it an international matter and as a result of this it was incorporated into the OIE’s (World Organization for Animal Health) Strategic Plan 2001-2005. The next step was the Animal welfare action plan (2006-2010) which in 2011 will be replaced by the EU strategy for protection and welfare of animals 2011-2015. The Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) works with the reinforcement of the legislation. In Norway animal welfare was first mentioned in 1935. Then a new legislation was developed in 1974. One of the biggest and most important changes to occur in regards to animal welfare in Norway happened in 1995 when the Government was put in charge over the Welfare Units. The regulations regarding animal welfare which are being followed in Norway today were created on the 1st of January 2010. The Norwegian Food Safety authority works with the reinforcement of the legislation. The legislation regarding cattle is one of the most developed legislations. Cattle are an important farm animal in most countries and supply both meat and dairy products. The cattle are protected by regulation during their whole lives from they are calves until they are being slaughtered in the slaughterhouse. Areas covered by the legislations are those on housing of cattle, requirements during transportation, and how to make the slaughtering process best for the animals from the time of the arrival to the time of slaughtering. During my investigation of the animal welfare regulations in Norway and the EU it became evident that the regulations are very similar. I think the similarities will only continue to increase in the future since the international mar ket of food producing animals and their products are continuously expanding, and the need for an equal quality of products are important to be able to take part on the market. Almost 80% of Norway’s export and 70% of its import are to or from countries which are members of the EU. To be able to uphold this percentage it is important that Norway keeps a good and close relation to the EU. Norway’s membership in the EEA means that they are obliged to follow the EU regulations to be able to participate on the internal market. This is why most of the Norwegian regulation has been adapted to meet the EU standard. As the situation is today I do not think that it is likely that Norway will become members of the EU in the near future. Despite that Norway isn’t a memb er it is clear that Norway is still very much under the influence of the EU. I think it is promising that the concern regarding animal welfare is brought up and discussed on an international level. By doing this it helps to force through a better legislation which I think is important. Since farm animals are kept for production purposes and not as companion animals it is a risk that they are often thought of as merchandise instead of individual animals which are under our care. It may be easy to forget that it is our responsibility to ensure that they have good living conditions that provides good health and welfare for the animals. The animal welfare regulations used today are very extensive and cover most aspects of animal welfare. There is still room for improvement and work is being done to further improve the legislation, especially in other fields than the ones concerning farm animals, like the keeping of wild animals in zoos for example. I think we will still see continuous change in the future since new aspects of animal welfare will be discovered continuously through scientific research and changes might need to be done to adapt to these results.