UK government plan for animal welfare
The UK government have announced a new plan for animal welfare. I believe many of the individual measures have been previously announced, such as formally recognising animal sentience, but there are some new details:
The plan will also formally recognise the sentience of many animals.
But Mr Eustice said this measure was aimed at pets and livestock, rather than wild animals.
The government’s Action Plan for Animal Welfare also includes measures to ban exporting live animals for slaughter, the keeping of primates as pets and importing hunting trophies. There may also be changes to the ways that animals can be confined—such as the practice of keeping them in cages.
However, there is no plan to require imports to meet the same welfare standards as in the UK, which the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) described as “hypocrisy”...
...It will enshrine in law that animals have the capacity to feel hunger and pain, and are aware of what is happening to them. It will apply to vertebrates, but not to animals such as octopus and squid.
Mr Eustice said there would be an expert animal sentience committee which would advise on policy.
But asked if it would affect hunting, fishing or road-building projects which might disturb habitats, he said the recognition of animal sentience was “much more applicable” to pets and livestock than wildlife. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-57068182
This seems like a substantial step forward, but there are clearly inconsistencies around imported animals, wild animals, and invertebrates.
I’d be interested to hear any thoughts on how this could present opportunities for EA-aligned projects and campaigns.
For example, focusing on animal welfare in the UK may be perceived to be relatively unimportant compared to making improvements in other countries (due to broadly higher standards), but perhaps extending these new welfare standards to imports (which could in turn influence policy in many countries that export to the UK) is now much more tractable.
Or perhaps this is a good opportunity to highlight issues around wild-animal suffering.
And the creation of an ‘an expert animal sentience committee’ could present opportunities for EAs with the right background—whether applying to be on the committee, or influencing those appointed to it.
Finally, I wonder if there are any downsides/risks to the proposed laws (beyond the inconsistencies)? Or should we expect this to broadly help drive up standards globally?