Farm animals

Imagine being a pig on a typical farm in Europe. Most likely you'll have nothing to do but stare at your fellow pen mates and four concrete walls whilst you stand on a slatted floor. Shockingly, the European Commission thinks that keeping pigs in barren environments on slatted floors is the 'Best Available Technique' for the environment.
The Commission has just held a workshop in Lebanon on welfare at slaughter. This is extremely welcome. However, it must be seen as only the first of the many steps that are needed to bring welfare at slaughter in this region up to international standards.
I am not suggesting that we do not treat sick animals. However, dosing an entire flock of factory farmed chickens or a herd of dairy cattle with antibiotics as a preventative measure is a major contributor to some resistant infections in humans.
Where our food comes from is a hot topic, and people have lost trust in pre-prepared food - especially after the horsemeat scandal which hit the media in May this year.
What of the cows that we do not see? Those with little or no access to those fields, those who are tethered and those who are pushed to their limits by excessive milk production? This may not be a familiar image to many of us, but it is the stark reality for a shockingly high proportion of dairy cows across Europe.
Here were pigs on slatted floors, covered in excrement, lame pigs, injured, bleeding pigs, dying pigs, dead pigs left to rot. It was a horror film - but so much worse than seeing a horror movie, because this was reality. So I'm shocked, shocked that any farmer worth that honourable title would treat their pigs like that. I'm shocked that governments, vets and farmers' organisations haven't seen that the law is followed. I'm shocked that the European Commission is only starting to take action.
You'd think the government would be looking for every opportunity to reassure consumers, by helping us to get as much information as possible about what we're buying. You'd think wrong, I'm afraid.
Better information about the health and welfare of different chicken breeds can help farmers make informed decisions about the breeds they choose to rear and, just like independent reviews of other products we buy, it could also allow retailers and shoppers to make informed choices about the chicken meat they select.
By making this move, McDonald's has shown that it is possible to bring higher-welfare choices to the consumer on the high street, at an affordable price.
Every year billions of farm animals are raised in inhumane conditions all over the world. Welfare standards vary widely from country to country. Farm animals are often reared in conditions which do not allow them to express natural behaviour; they are pushed to their physiological limits, suffer mutilations and confinement and are kept in overcrowded conditions.
We should perhaps be grateful that the scandal has, indirectly at least, shone a light on a murky, cross border trade in live horses that is as complex as it is secretive. Unknown to most, as many as 65,000 live horses are trucked around Europe each year to feed demand for a meat.
Farmers may have caused the obesity epidemic by using antibiotics to fatten up livestock, according to a study. Researchers
The final Rio+20 outcomes and goals need to acknowledge the role of animals and their welfare within food production and wider society, and make on-going political and financial commitments to guarantee that we can feed the world's growing population sustainably and humanely.