European Animal Welfare
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The Carnivore’s Ethics by Fernando Savater

Animals and whether or not they have rights continues to be a point of debate in society. Fernando Fernández-Savater Martín is a Spanish philosopher, philosophy professor and writer. He stands out in the field of essays and journalistic articles and is a winner of the planet prize and the national essay prize. 

During the first European Animal Welfare Symposium organized by the interprofessionals Interovic, Provacuno and JTT, the philosopher spoke of the importance of not «humanizing» animals and stressed the fact that they have neither rights nor duties «since they are not in the world of moral obligations».

«Animals have no rights because they have no duties, that is, they are not in the world of moral obligations, but that does not mean that they can be treated in any way. Animals need care, and somehow humans take care of them in their own way because an animal is not a stone or a tree. Animals demand a form of care and a form of generosity on our part. » – concluded the writer.

In this way and before more than two hundred attendees, the philosopher emphasized treating different beings according to their own reality: «We cannot treat an animal as if it were a stone just as we cannot treat a Velázquez painting as if it were a rag hanging on the wall. Distinguishing and discerning is what ethics is all about» and he went on to affirm that animals are living beings, «but they are not human, so to apply our same guidelines to them would be to alter their essence».

According to Fernando Savater, humans know pain, just like the rest of the animals, but also suffering, something that becomes one of our exclusives:

«There are people who, out of sentimentality or religion, do not want to eat certain foods and this is totally free. What is not free is to impose this as the only social life and on traditional ways of life and, furthermore, to do so in the name of ethics, as if morality demanded this type of behavior. I have been a professor of ethics and morals for 40 years and I can tell you that it is not true. Morality does not demand such things.» Savater reaffirmed during the event.

Today, European society continues to evolve towards new models of consumption based on concern for the welfare of animals in production chains. During this first Europe-wide symposium, scientists, technicians and different stakeholders from throughout the production chain were able to debate, offer different opinions and learn about the latest scientific and technical advances in animal welfare in production animals.

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The importance of promoting animal welfare

The beef and sheep interprofessionals in both Spain and Hungary (Interovic, Provacuno and JTT) were warmly congratulated by the entire livestock-meat sector thanks to the organization, last November, of the first Animal Welfare Symposium at European level. The recognition came about thanks to the work of the three interprofessionals in uniting different representatives of the production chain and putting animal welfare, a problem of growing concern to citizens all over Europe, in the spotlight.

Thanks to the work of these organizations, technicians and scientists from the sector converged in the same space with the aim of putting animal welfare in the focus of public opinion. In the words of Javier López, director of Provacuno: «Without animal welfare there is no efficient production. Without animal welfare the industries cannot have an adequate product for the consumer, so we have to make a communication exercise in this type of events to transfer to society what is the role of this type of Symposium within what is livestock production».

Great referents of the sector such as the UECBV veterinarian Carolina Cucurella or the philosopher Fernando Savater had the opportunity to debate and contribute new ideas and concepts to the current state of animal welfare. In Cucurella’s opinion: «the moment animals have a good level of welfare, they are animals that will reach the consumer’s table providing a security based on the fact that this product has been obtained with good practices along the whole chain».


In this line, the importance of communicating at all times to society the improvement work and the effort made by the sector itself in this sense was stressed, and it was exemplified with initiatives such as this first annual Animal Welfare Symposium, as Luis Gosálvez, founding member of SEPROBA and director of the Scientific Committee of the Symposium, said: «The stockbreeding sectors have very good professionals and they also love their animals very much. One does not become a breeder because he wants to harm the animals. With that, he mortgages his house, he gets personally involved… but he has to say it and do it. The policy of silence is useless in such a particular debate, where there is so much tendency to feelings».

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), there are several strategies aimed at ensuring the implementation of good animal welfare practices: voluntary codes, generally developed by the industry; business plans; product differentiation that allow consumers to make purchasing choices; development of internationalization programs; and application of international standards and agreements signed by intergovernmental organizations or conventions.

Regardless of the strategy implemented, a prior analysis must always be made based on local conditions to determine which programs are most effective in promoting good animal welfare practices and how the implementation of these programs benefits animals, people and the environment.

Raúl Muñiz, president of the Interprofessional Interovic recognized a constant evolution in the commitments of the sector with the welfare of ruminants and insisted that, as an interprofessional, they have the challenge of knowing how to transmit to a society, increasingly distant from the rural enclave, which are the advances and difficulties faced by livestock productions: «we are calm because we know how to produce. We know that we produce within the highest standards of quality and welfare, but this must be transmitted to the consumer, giving him the guarantee that we are really doing it». – Muñiz emphasized.

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