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What do animals prefer?

Apes prefer organic

Monkeys at Copenhagen Zoo are going ape over organic bananas and other fruits, rejecting non-organic foods left in their cages. Copenhagen Zoo, which hopes to be awarded a "green label" as an environmental zoo, began last year feeding its animals at least 10 percent organic products. "The tapirs and chimpanzees are choosing organically grown bananas over the others", zookeeper Niels Melchiorsen told the magazine Oekologisk Jordbrug (Ecological Agriculture). "The chimpanzees are able to tell the difference between the organic and the regular fruit. If we give them organic and traditional bananas, they systematically choose the organic bananas, which they eat with the skin on. But they peel the traditional bananas before eating them".
Unfortunately, we humans have to rely upon labeling to distinguish the good products.
(source: US Farm Crisis)
Export of animal products produces little profit but causes a lot of misery (f.e. Mouth and Footdisease) which is unnecessary. Whether or not factory farming produces more job opportunities and tax income for the government than organic farming is also a matter for debate.
It is clear that organic farming methods have different personnel requirements which may mean that some farmers would have to retrain when a switch to an organic system is made. These consequences can not be regarded as a fair argument against a change to an organic system when the suffering of animals is involved.


Export of animal products leads to factory farming

The consumption of industrially produced meat products is on the increase because prices are low. If we were to demand that the same meat products were produced in an ecologically friendly way, price rises would be inevitable. These higher prices would have the advantage of reducing the demand and thus the production of meat and would also increase the profit margin for the producers.
The consumers would have to be prepared to pay more for their meat or to eat less meat in exchange for healthier production methods in livestock farming. Is this not a reasonable sacrifice in view of the general disapproval of the abuse of animals in factory farming?
English sheep are slaughtered unstunned in Greek abattoirs.

The disadvantages of export of animal products

If we were to choose to adopt organic livestock farming as the norm in Holland, the export of the organic meat products would not only be, by definition, undesirable but would also be contrary to the basic principles of ecologically sound working methods. These principles involve the re-establishment of a natural cycle of raw materials which is disrupted by export of animal products just as it is by the import of fodder for the animals.
Export is only made possible by producing more than the local market requires. This overproduction results in much suffering for the animals involved because lack of space and the search for more profits leads to animals being kept in confined conditions.
The import of animal fodder from abroad depletes the natural balance of minerals in the exporting country and results in excessive fertilization of the agricultural land in the importing country. The land is then so highly fertilized that the only crop that can be grown is maize: one of the few fodder crops that will tolerate extremely high levels of fertilization.
This excessive fertilization also results in pollution of the ground water which makes drinking water production more expensive and swimming water unattractive. It also produces a lot of unpleasant smells which together with the ugly buildings that are associated with factory farming makes the countryside unattractive to tourists. The transport of live animals in Europa and Asia causes much stress especially where export is involved even when the regulations designed to avoid suffering are observed which is often not the case. A ban on live exports should be combined with a ban on the transport of exotic animals.

Do restrictions in live exports conflict with international agreements?

It can be argued that free-trade agreements have been signed and must, therefore, be observed but why should it not be possible to make exceptions for animals? The only alternative is that countries request or try to force the factory farmers to improve the lot of their ammonals. The continuing abuses in factory farming demonstrate that this approach does not work because the incentives to continue the intensive methods are so great. Consumers, producers and the government all gain by the highest possible production of animal products while at the same time turning a blind eye to the objections. At the same time, this same group of people object to the practices used to achieve these ends. This combination of shortsightedness and inconsequent behaviour will not lead automatically to a solution to the problem: this can only be achieved by setting a limit on the overproduction. The borders of the producing country can be used to set these limits by imposing export bans.
If no limits are set, there will be no end to this immoral production which stems from an unscrupulous application of free-market principles.
piglet being castrated

Which participants in the market are capable of banning exports?

It is obvious that neither the producers nor the government would voluntarily give up their own competitive advantage.
A solution is only possible if all the participants make concessions. A large-scale changeover to ecological farming methods is only possible if the government decides to support ecological farming and stops subsidizing factory farming. This demands honesty and courage from the government. The various government departments involved should make an honest appraisal of the economic consequenties of the present farming methods and should have the courage to raise the question of whether the introduction of decent agricultural working methods really would threaten national prosperity.
The consumer can exert influence by purchasing home-produced ecological products and boycotting imported products. This is a double-edged sword: both the situation at home and in the exporting country would be improved. So the moral is: buy home-produced ecological products!
In Australia the shame of the enormous export of live animals is documented. The economics of the live animal export trade are questionable. Its impact on the Australian work force has been negative and over 17,000 jobs have been lost to overseas interests along with the profits. Despite those economic considerations - this industry brings in around $900 million per annum, it comes at a far greater cost and Australians are saying this barbaric trade is not worth it.

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