On January 10, a chorus of voices expressed their support for a transition to a sustainable, animal-friendly food system at the Animal Welfare and Food Transition Forum in Taiwan.
The influential support is a sign of growing momentum to transform the way animals are raised for food in Asia, home to the majority of the world’s farmed animals.
The forum was opened with recorded remarks from Vice President William Lai and Dr Jane Goodall and addresses from Minister of the Council of Agriculture Chen Chi-Chung, legislator Su Chiao-Hui, CSR & Communcations Director of Carrefour Taiwan Marilyn Su, among others. Influential speakers included Eleonora Evi, Member of the European Parliament, Olga Kikou, Head of Compassion in World Farming Europe, and Niven Huang, General Manager of KPMG Taiwan.
Opening the forum, Marilyn Su said she was proud to see Carrefour Taiwan's animal welfare commitments turn into action, and said it is time for Taiwanese companies to move from only delivering "low prices" to delivering "value" to consumers. "I have been told countless times that change is impossible" she said, declaring "the values we believe in will determine the path we take."
Vice President Lai emphasized that the agriculture sector has a critical role to play in creating an animal and environmentally friendly nation and meeting Taiwan’s 2025 energy transition targets. He urged Taiwan to emulate the green growth strategies adopted by the European Union, and emphasized the need for environmental justice, social inclusion and an economically just transition (full opening remarks).
Dr Jane Goodall noted that there is scientific proof that animals are sentient and feel emotions like contentment, fear and of course, pain. “When you think of these animals imprisoned in horribly cruel conditions of factory farms, unable to express any of their natural behaviour, the scale of suffering is almost unimaginable,” she said in a recorded message.
Minister Chen acknowledged that the government “has not done enough on animal welfare”, noting that pigs from southern Taiwan are still transported live across the country for slaughter – a situation that has not changed in decades. The Minister also expressed his support for the drafting of the Animal-Friendly Livestock Production Act and called on legislators to introduce legislation that explicitly addresses animal welfare in agriculture. Legislative reform would ensure that progress on animal welfare issues is not dependent on the minister in power and provide budget and legal basis for additional action, he claimed. The Minister also extended thanks to EAST and retail channels like Carrefour for helping to shift consumer demand in favour of animal-friendly products, stimulating faster transition in the industry.
Su Chiao-Hui, Chief Vice Chair of the Legislative Yuan’s UN Sustainable Development Goals Advisory Council of the Legislative Yuan, implored Taiwan to act as a mutual partner on global sustainability issues. The legislator noted that the Sustainable Development Goals are a measure of a country’s ability to transform in the face of future challenges, and emphasized the Advisory Council’s role in bridging government and civil society to ensure a green, sustainable and competitive future for Taiwan. In regards to animal welfare, Legislator Su highlighted the importance of skilled technicians to ensure the welfare of farmed animals, and said that businesses that led the transition “had the world ahead of them.”
MEP Eleonora Evi, who is Co-Chair of the IWCA Cage-Free Farming Working Group, shared the overarching aims of the Farm to Fork Strategy – including transforming the European food system into a sustainable food system, reversing biodiversity loss and environmental degradation, preserving food safety and ensuring affordable food for citizens. The Farm to Fork Strategy sets specific goals to reduce the use of chemical and more hazardous pesticides by 50%, use of fertilisers by 20%, sales of antimicrobials for farmed animals and in aquaculture by 50%, all by 2030. The European Commission has also committed to revising existing animal welfare legislation in its current term, including an aim to abolish cage farming by 2027.
“The European Commission itself is very much aware that animal welfare plays a crucial role if we wanted to transform our food system into a sustainable one,” said MEP Evi, stating in regard to animal welfare “I would repeat it every time that I can, we have to align all our policies to the latest scientific evidences that are very clear.”
The MEP also noted that the European Commission is exploring “imposing European standards on imported products following an appropriate transition period” among other measures “to ensure consistency between products made in Europe and products imported from third countries.”
Olga Kikou shared her experience initiating the successful End the Cage Age petition, which mobilized 1.4 million citizens across 28 EU countries. The initiative led the European Commission to formally endorse a ban on cage farming for all farmed animal species—a move that will free 300 million animals from cages every year. “Caging animals is a cruel tool of the past,” she said, adding “we need to implement a transition period that is as short as possible, and we need to be strict about it.”
Niven Huang contrasted the ambitious sustainability targets set by Taiwan’s semiconductor, technology and manufacturing industries with the absence of targets in the food and agriculture sector, urging the industries to play a more proactive role in implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Mr Huang also shared international examples of Sustainability Linked Loans (SLL) tied to animal welfare conditions, showcasing the role of the finance sector in improving animal welfare standards.
A number of industry leaders also shared their journeys to improve animal welfare including Eric Lin, head of Mao-lin Animal Welfare Poultry Farm, a cage-free egg farm in Miaoli; Fan Junyan, the successor of JJ Farm, the first dairy farm in Taiwan to earn EAST Certified certification; Hong Zongpin, chairman of pig farm San Jeou, which dismantled sow stalls and installed group housing; and Chen Guoxun, chairman of Cha I Shan Foods, which introduced fully-automated electric stunners in line with animal welfare standards and was the first slaughterhouse in Taiwan to receive HACCP certification.
Internationally, the welfare of farmed animals is already an established concept. The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) have already published international standards to guide animal welfare management in food industry supply chains.
The forum was organized by the Environment & Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST), the Carrefour Foundation and the Jane Goodall Institute Taiwan with support from the European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan (ECCT) Low Carbon Initiative and KPMG Taiwan.
The organizers urge the government to form a taskforce to devise polices that promote animal welfare in agriculture and support the country’s net zero ambitions.
Yu-Min Chen, Deputy Chief Executive
Environment & Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST)
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