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EU Takes Step Against Fast-Growing Chickens

The EU Petitions Committee gave its support to a petition filed by Animal Equality which calls for an end to the use of fast-growing chickens.
26/05/2023 Updated: 07/06/2023

On Wednesday, the Petitions Committee of the European Parliament held a debate around a petition submitted by Animal Equality. The petition was filed in June 2022 and asks the EU to protect chickens from selective breeding.

After our intervention and thanks to the support of several Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), the Chairwoman of the Petitions Committee, Dolores Montserrat decided that the petition would remain open.

She also asked the European Commission to speak out regarding the suffering chickens face every day on farms across Europe. 

The representative of the European Commission, who was in the audience, announced that fast-growing chicken breeds will be the subject of a proposed revision of the legislation on the welfare of farmed animals expected during 2023.

MEPs Support Animal Equality’s Petition

All Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) who spoke during the session voiced their support for Animal Equality’s petition to remain open. 

MEPs Mariangela Danzì and Tatjana Ždanoka (Non-attached), Margrete Auken (Greens), Peter Jahr (EPP) and Michal Wiezik (Renew Europe) asked the European Commission to clarify the correct application of European animal welfare legislation for chickens bred for their meat, but also to comment on the need to change these rules based on the violations reported through the petition. 

The animal welfare provisions are there, but they need to be respected and it is up to the EU Commission to make sure that happens. I am really glad that there is this petition and I think it is necessary to ask the Commission whether the law or the reported practice should be changed.

Margrete Auken, Member of the European Parliament for the European Green Party

The Opinion Of The EU Commission

During the session, the EU Commission tried to downplay the reported problem by explaining that member states have several possibilities to comply with the existing Directive – meaning each state would have the possibility to decide for itself the measures and timing to stop the breeding of fast-growing chickens.

However, as we have clearly demonstrated and as understood by MEPs, there are no “reasonable measures” that would allow member states to raise these fast-growing chicken species without causing them extreme suffering.

The Petitions Committee insisted on seeking clarification from the European Commission. This position is a very important step and comes after the European Commission, in response to Animal Equality’s petition in February 2023, had already acknowledged that the rearing of fast-growing chickens is problematic.

On that occasion, the EU Commission also announced that it was assessing “the need and options to address the potential negative animal welfare consequences of certain breeding strategies in this process of reviewing the legislation foreseen by 2023” based on scientific advice provided by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Why Do Fast-Growing Chickens Suffer?

Our investigations show that fast-growing chickens suffer problems with the development of their respiratory, cardiovascular and skeletal systems – causing them serious illnesses and often leading to their early death on farms.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has recognised that the selective breeding carried out on fast-growing chickens bred for their meat has disastrous repercussions on their quality of life.

Since 2010, EFSA has produced studies explicitly linking selective breeding with health and wellbeing issues for the chickens, from skeletal disorders to the excessive growth rates of these breeds of chickens.

Fast-growing chicken breeds are in conflict with EU regulation which recognises animals as “sentient beings” and deserving of protection. 

Now that the Petitions Committee has recognised that these problems exist, the European Commission must take action to end this extreme cruelty by ensuring that animal protection laws are enforced.

How You Can Help Chickens

protect chickens

Chickens are among the most abused land animals on the planet. But you hold the power to change this! Choose plant-based to protect chickens from a life of suffering. 

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