MKs call for transfer of animal rights authority

“Leaving enforcement in the hands of the Agriculture Ministry is like allowing a cat to guard ice cream,” Meretz MK Zandberg says.

December 15, 2013 03:40
1 minute read.
Tamar Zandberg

Tamar Zandberg. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

A group of Knesset members led by MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) has called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to transfer enforcement authority over animal welfare issues to the Environmental Protection Ministry. The lawmakers’ letter, sent to the prime minister on Thursday, follows his decision on November 25 to establish a team that will examine whether the Agriculture Ministry or the Environmental Protection Ministry should oversee the Animal Welfare Law. Since the law was approved in 1994, the Agriculture Ministry has done so, but animal rights activists and environmentalists argue that such authority should not reside in an office that regulates farming interests. Agriculture Ministry representatives, on the other hand, maintain that their office is the right locale for animal welfare supervision, and that they have successfully implemented many animal rights regulations in recent years.

“Leaving enforcement in the hands of the Agriculture Ministry is like allowing a cat to guard ice cream,” Zandberg said, upon sending the letter, calling the issue systemic.

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“Those who should be in charge of supervising the law’s enforcement are those who are committed to preserving animal rights and not the interests of the animal food industry.”

In the letter, Zandberg and her colleagues wrote that the Agriculture Ministry had failed to meet its legal and moral obligations as a protector of animal rights, regulations had not properly been implemented and inspections rarely occurred.

An inherent conflict of interest affects the ministry’s ability to at the same time encourage agricultural production and oversee animal welfare, they argued.

The letter highlights recent animal rights violations that have occurred within the food production industry, citing episodes at the Adom Adom slaughterhouse in Beit She’an and the Soglowek slaughterhouse in Shlomi – in which undercover investigators exposed abuse of cattle and poultry, respectively.

“We consider it necessary that the full powers of enforcement over the Animal Welfare Law be transferred to the responsibility of the Environmental Protection Ministry – to increase the efficiency of enforcement and for the welfare of animals,” the letter concluded.

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