The Independent publishes today, The Great Animal Rights Betrayal, a front page lead story continued onto pages 4 and 5, which includes several side bars under the banner, “The Betrayals,” on Game birds, Slaughterhouse cruelty, Circus animals, Beak trimming and Badger cull. There’s also a Comment by Peter Stevenson, Chief Policy Advisor, Compassion In World Farming.
Millions of hens will have their beaks mutilated; game birds will remain in cages; pigs, sheep and cows in abattoirs will lose crucial protection from abuse; badgers will be culled and lions, tigers and other wild animals will continue to perform in the big top. In a series of little-noticed moves, the Coalition has scrapped or stalled Labour initiatives to improve animal welfare some weeks before they were due to come into force. The Agriculture minister James Paice, who part-owns a farm in Cambridgeshire, has been behind most of the moves – which have infuriated welfare groups. In the latest of a series of controversial decisions, Mr Paice this week delayed by five years a ban on beak mutilations of laying hens due to come into force in January.
Hats off to The Independent for giving such prominent attention to the British government’s indifference to animal welfare and support for the commercial exploitation of animals. Difficult to imagine The Guardian publishing such an article, given its track record of indifference and, at times, hostility to animal rights and vegetarian living. Today’s Guardian, however, has below the front page fold the story this story, McDonald’s and PepsiCo to help write UK health policy.
The Department of Health is putting the fast food companies McDonald’s and KFC and processed food and drink manufacturers such as PepsiCo, Kellogg’s, Unilever, Mars and Diageo at the heart of writing government policy on obesity, alcohol and diet-related disease, the Guardian has learned. In an overhaul of public health, said by campaign groups to be the equivalent of handing smoking policy over to the tobacco industry, health secretary Andrew Lansley has set up five “responsibility deal” networks with business, co-chaired by ministers, to come up with policies. Some of these are expected to be used in the public health white paper due in the next month. The groups are dominated by food and alcohol industry members, who have been invited to suggest measures to tackle public health crises. Working alongside them are public interest health and consumer groups including Which?, Cancer Research UK and the Faculty of Public Health. The alcohol responsibility deal network is chaired by the head of the lobby group the Wine and Spirit Trade Association. The food network to tackle diet and health problems includes processed food manufacturers, fast food companies, and Compass, the catering company famously pilloried by Jamie Oliver for its school menus of turkey twizzlers. The food deal’s sub-group on calories is chaired by PepsiCo, owner of Walkers crisps.
The common link between the two articles is the ConDem’s cosy relationship with industry. Their governance is based on the premise that business must have a dominant say in determining public policy. In order for the economy to flourish, industry must be free from such irritating restrictions as concerns about human health and animal welfare.