On September 23, Slow Food presented its position paper on animal welfare, “Beyond Welfare: We Owe Animals Respect” during Terra Madre – Salone Del Gusto, at the “All we need is Slow Farming” conference, in the presence of Andrea Gavinelli, head of the Animal Welfare Unit in the Health and Food Safety Directorate General of the European Commission.
“We need a paradigm shift in the relationship between humans and farmed animals. Animals are not means of production. They should be able to live on this planet without spending their existence in unnatural conditions of constraint and often suffering. We cannot keep feeding them with crops from the other side of the world, cultivated in monocultures that destroy ecosystems. Meat and animals themselves must not travel thousands of miles to reach our plates. We must reconnect animal farming to the land. Such shift obviously means that we must reduce the number of farmed animals and change our diets. Eating so much meat is unhealthy, we’d better eat less and pay the right price for it”, commented Raffaella Ponzio, Slow Food’s lead on animal welfare.
The industrialized animal agriculture of the last seventy years, driven by the ever-increasing demand for meat and dairy products, has led to the proliferation of large and polluting farms. Between 2000 and 2013, the global meat and milk production in cattle, buffalo, goats, and sheep has increased by respectively 13% and 32%. This trend is likely to keep on rising if nothing changes.
During the conference, several aspects of cattle breeding were addressed. Larissa Mies Bombardi – Brazilian professor in exile in Belgium due to threats received after the publication of her 2017 book, Atlas Geografìa del uso de plaguicidas en Brasil y conexiones con la Uniòn Europea – outlined the negative impacts of intensive pesticide-hungry soya production in Latin America to feed poultry, pigs and cattle (also for Western markets). Sergio Capaldo, president of the Ecosi Consortium Society, shared good practices with respect to soil care in view of the climate crisis; while Jacopo Goracci, Slow Food breeder for the Maremma Breed Presidium, stressed the fundamental role of extensive farming, especially in marginal areas. Their interventions were followed by that of Paolo Carnemolla, secretary general of Federbio, who spoke about one of his important projects on animal welfare labelling.
Lastly, Andrea Gavinelli, from the European Commission (DG SANTE), closed the conference by stressing the importance of addressing animal farming as a system: “This is the best way to develop a truly sustainable system. As stressed by Slow Food’s new position paper, tackling only the issue of animal farming is not enough, we also need to look at food security, biodiversity, landscapes etc”. He announced the European Commission’s will to integrate all these aspects into our proposal for a new EU regulation on animal welfare due in 2023, which will be agreed upon in collaboration with the European Parliament.
Animal welfare is strictly connected to that of human and the environment: these three aspects must thus be addressed jointly. Slow Food supports the “One Welfare” approach, which recognizes the complex interconnectedness between the health of people, plants, animals and the planet. The health of a population can never be guaranteed if the health of plants, animals and the planet is not also taken into account. This is why the Slow Farming campaign supports those who raise animals with respect, take care of the soil, ensure animal and landscape’s biodiversity. Respect is a key word of the Slow Food’s vision on animal farming: we must give it back its right value, pay the right price for products of animal origin, reduce our consumption and avoid waste.
Read our position paper: