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Cruel "factory farming" must end, Greens Say

The pig and poultry industries' "factory farming" methods would be subject to intense political and consumer pressure over the next three years, Green Party Safe Food Spokesperson Sue Kedgley said today.

In a speech to the annual conference of the Australia and New Zealand Council for the Care of Animals in Research and Teaching today (18/11/99, 11.30am, Te Papa) in Wellington, Ms Kedgley said the Greens would push to phase out battery hen farming and the practice of keeping sows in crates.

"Battery hen farming and sow crate systems for pigs flout the new Animal Welfare Act which has as one of its underlying principles that animals should be able to express normal patterns of behaviour," she said.

"Clearly, treating animals like machines and locking them up in cages for years on end suppresses almost all of their natural instincts.

"It is also cruel and inhumane. If we kept domesticated animals such as cats or dogs in cages, there would a public outrage. It is equally unacceptable that we treat farm animals like this, for no other reason than to increase short-term profitability."

Ms Kedgley said the Animal Welfare Act had numerous flaws in it, and had failed to address many of New Zealand's animal welfare problems such as factory farming, debeaking, tail docking of dairy cows, mulesing of sheep.

Ms Kedgley said the protests surrounding the conference by animal welfare groups and anti-vivisectionists were a sign of what was to come as interest in animal welfare issues grows.

As long as these cruel factory farming practices continue, there would be continuing consumer boycotts and a growing consumer backlash against pork, battery hens and chicken reared in factory farms, she predicted.

Ms Kedgley said it was unsustainable to raise animals in factory style conditions. Farmers know that when animals are crowded together, disease is a constant risk.

"That's why animals in factory farming are fed antibiotics on an almost constant basis. This is completely unsustainable at a time when antibiotic resistance looms as one of the major health threats in the 21st century."

Ms Kedgley said genetic engineering posed a huge problem for animal welfare, as companies tried to create species of animals which could be used as robot-like, biological machines to produce whatever products humans wanted.

"I believe genetic engineering will escalate the mechanisation and exploitation of animals by humans," she said.

Sue Kedgley's speech is available from Green Party parliamentary media officer Adam Shelton 04 470 6723

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