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Clear Message To Govt On Banning Battery Cages

Royal New Zealand Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals

9 July 2002

Clear Message To Government On Banning Battery Cages

More than one hundred thousand New Zealanders have delivered a direct message to government that they want battery hen cages banned.

On the steps of Parliament today, the Royal New Zealand SPCA today handed over 60,000 signed submissions calling for a ban to Agriculture Minister, the Hon.Jim Sutton. Approximately 50,000 additional submissions had previously been despatched by post to the minister's office.

The submissions are intended to influence the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC), which is scheduled to make recommendations later this year concerning changes to the government's Welfare Code for Layer Hens.

"Under the 1998 Animal Welfare Act, government is required to take public opinion into account when setting or revising animal welfare standards. In the light of clear public support for a ban, we expect NAWAC to unequivocally recommend the phasing out of battery cages as soon as possible and certainly by no later than 2010.

"And we also expect the Agriculture Minister, whomsoever that might be after the General Election, to implement the committee's recommendations. Not to do so, would be to treat the public with contempt," said the Royal New Zealand SPCA's National Campaign Coordinator, Hans Kriek.

"These one hundred thousand submissions are not the only evidence of how New Zealanders feel over the cruel practice of slamming hens in battery cages for most of their lives. A Colmar Brunton survey earlier this year found that 79% of those polled wanted battery cages banned and that the same percentage was willing to pay extra for free range or barn eggs," he added.

Today's consignment of sixty thousand submissions arrived at Parliament in 14 standard-sized battery cages. The SPCA also brought four battery hens to parliament to show the minister the effects of battery cage confinement.

"These four birds, like all too many of New Zealand's two million egg-laying hens, are in a shocking condition. That's hardly surprising as each of them has spent most of her life on a tiny, sloping patch of wire floor, covering less space than an A4 sheet of paper. Right through this time, there's been insufficient space for them to walk, stretch their wings or do most of the things that constitute normal behaviour for hens," said Hans Kriek.

"It's not merely cruel to allow egg producers to keep on imposing these harsh conditions on their hens. It's also short-sighted, as a number of countries, including some which purchase substantial quantities of New Zealand's food exports, have banned or are in the process of phasing out battery cages.

"A wide range of our exports could suffer, if we're seen to be falling behind the global trend towards more humane farming methods. Being clean and green wouldn't help us much if overseas markets started seeing us as a bastion of cruel and outdated practices," he added.


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