Summer 2007 Newsletter : Science or Politics?
As they say…….do you want the good news or the bad news?
Perhaps first the good news!
We learn from Defra that the long awaited and much delayed Directive Laying Down Minimum Rules For The Protection Of Chickens Kept For Meat Production (The Broiler Directive) was finally agreed at Agricultural Council on 9th May. The Directive is a package of measures for improving meat chicken welfare. It sets conditions for the keeping of chickens for meat production throughout their lives. The Directive applies to flocks of 500 plus birds. Two sets of standards are applied using stocking density as a criterion for the level of intensity of production. Firstly, producers who stock up to a maximum of 33 kg/m² have to comply with standards relating to drinkers, feeding, litter, ventilation and heating, light, inspection, cleaning, training, record keeping and mutilations. Second, producers who seek to stock beyond a limit of 33 kg/m² up to a maximum of 39 kg/m² (plus an additional 3 kg bonus based on certain criteria) will have to comply with an additional set of standards and monitoring in the slaughterhouse. In addition there is expected to be cross-EU training for the industry, a possible new welfare labeling regime, cross-EU data collection and monitoring of impacts on welfare (eg genetics) and action is threatened against anyone breaking the new rules. The Directive will come into force in 2010. For further information see: http://www.defra.gov.uk/news/2007/070508b.htm
This is good news at last for those member states that are already implementing welfare controls and achieving high standards and it should give the UK market some protection.
And the bad news? Cuts in the UK science and research budget continue and poultry research is, once again, going to be badly hit. Among a whole raft of closures and sales and following the closure of Silsoe Research Institute last year, we now hear of the sale of Roslin Institute (some will remember when this was the Poultry Research Institute) to Edinburgh University and the closure of the ADAS Gleadthorpe Poultry Experimental Farm, this being no longer economically viable following the earlier privatization of ADAS. When will it ever stop?