Animal rights activists slammed a new set of regulations regarding killing chicks that the Agriculture Ministry submitted to the Knesset’s Education, Culture and Sport Committee on Monday morning.
The draft regulations, according to the ministry, aim to determine conditions for the destruction of surplus chicks and incubating eggs produced in hatcheries – such as the 4 million male chicks deemed useless to egg-laying facilities or several million more chicks damaged during fattening processes. By redefining the rules, the ministry said it hopes to minimize chick suffering by ensuring immediate death and abiding by guidelines accepted in Europe.
“The determination of clear instructions regarding the treatment of animals in the regulations reflect the commitment of the Agriculture Ministry to the handling of the subject of animal welfare,” said Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir.
According to the draft regulations, a chick could be killed only in a facility approved by a ministry commissioner, unless the hatchery owners receive a temporary, 30-day permit stating otherwise.
Approved mechanisms would include a “crushing facility,” a “gassing facility” and an “electrical killing facility” – all of which must cause the immediate death of the animals, be adaptable to different sized chicks and receive specific approval from the commissioner, the regulations say.
The regulations also state that hatchery workers would not be able to discard an egg 12 or more days old without destroying it in a similarly approved facility. This stipulation serves to prevent a situation in which chicks would hatch from incubating eggs in the trash and die in agony, the ministry explained.
If, upon evaluating the killing facility, the commissioner decides to grant approval, the authorization would last for a period of three years, subject to revocation if the owners end up causing any suffering to the chicks, the regulations say. Violators of the regulations may be subject to up to six months of imprisonment.
“The Agriculture Ministry… is committed to doing everything possible to prevent unnecessary suffering of animals, and to setting clear instructions for businesses that raise animals,” said Efrat Eviani, deputy attorney-general for the ministry. “These regulations, which involve millions of chicks that have no economic value to the industry, are an expression of the ministry’s firm commitment to preventing the suffering of every animal.”
Education, Culture and Sport Committee chairman Amram Mitzna (Hatnua) determined that the approval of the regulations would be postponed until the ministry provides more detailed information and answers about the facilities that would be acceptable for the killing process.
“Even though I am not a vegetarian or a vegan, I recognize the need to inform the public about what price we pay as a society when we eat everything in sight,” Mitzna said.
Animal rights organizations Let Animals Live and Anonymous for Animal Rights slammed the new regulations, stressing that a reduction in meat consumption as a society can help prevent suffering.
“There is no humane way to kill an animal – as consumers, we should take this under consideration when we choose our food,” the organizations said in a joint statement, following the discussion.
“The severe shock at the thought of a live chick in a blender should be carried with us when we choose between shakshuka or schnitzel and humous or mejadra.”
Yossi Wolfson, an attorney for Let Animals Live, argued that carbon dioxide gassing recommended in the regulations still represents a cruel form of slaughter, as opposed to nitrogen use, which is prohibited.
Meanwhile, he added, the regulations fail to work out many details such as the duration of a stay in a gas machine or whether an alarm will alert workers to high oxygen levels.
MK Dov Lipman (Yesh Atid), meanwhile, asked ministry officials to “look into the eyes of newborn chicks” and understand that these chicks did nothing wrong other than be born male.
“I do not want to hear that ‘this is the way it’s conducted around the world,’” Lipman said. “I propose that we examine the option in which hatcheries that kill male chicks lose their kashrut certificate.
This is an immoral act, and we must strive to be a good example – the world’s leader in animal welfare regulations, and not a follower.”
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