EU Council Directive 99/74/EC (The Laying Hen Directive) is due for review in 2005. In common with many other countries which have a viable egg production base and which are vulnerable to imports from low cost producers elsewhere in the world, the UK faces its future with great concern.
The use of laying cages and other methods of large scale egg production continue to provoke disagreement amongst those who hold strong views on both sides of the argument, while the consumer, by and large, is not in a position to judge between them. A famous quote, which many will remember, is used by Professor Sir Colin Spedding who suggests that democracy relies on people having very strong views on issues about which they know largely nothing. Sadly this may be the case for commercial egg production. As scientists it is our duty, not necessarily to educate, but to provide and to publish the balanced data from which informed decisions can be taken by the politicians and the legislators, free from prejudice and free from emotion.
To this end the UK Branch of the Worlds Poultry Science Association intends to concentrate its 27th Poultry Science Symposium on The Welfare of Laying Hens. To be held in Bristol from 17 to 20 July 2003, its aim is to draw together much of the up-to-date science surrounding this emotive topic and it is hoped to encourage a whole European cross section of interested parties, from the industry to legislators, to attend and to listen to good science. The subsequent publication of the proceedings prior to the 2005 review date will, it is hoped, then provide a major source of information for those whose job it is to review the Directive and to decide on the future of egg production within the EU.
Further details to be published shortly will include information on the impressive Conference venue, the draft programme and the intended timetable.
In the meantime, please note these important dates in your
17 - 20 July 2003.