GAIA NEWS WINTER 2019

GAIA NEWS WINTER 2019

GAIA informs
05 December 2019

The time is now for an EU Commissioner for Animal Welfare

94% of European citizens care about farm animals according to a Eurobarometer survey taken in 2016. In fact, 82% of Europeans think that farm animals ought to enjoy better protection. Unfortunately, that ambition is light years away from reality. Industrial farming, long-distance transport of live farm animals and force-feeding to produce foie gras all spring to mind. Europe has still got a long way to go when it comes to animal welfare.

An EU Animal Welfare Commissioner ought to be able to ensure the amendment and improvement of EU law, enabling us to do a better job of defending animals against all kinds of abuse.

To this end, GAIA has launched a brand-new petition on www.wewantyou.eu and via our app. ‘We Want You’ is a trilingual campaign (Dutch, French and English) that all European citizens are welcome to join. Following an opinion piece in the online magazine EUObserver, and after advertising the campaign in the EU magazine, Politico, to maximise impact, our campaign also gained international attention at EuroNews. Ann De Greef, Managing Director of GAIA, spoke during the show ‘Good morning Europe’.

GAIA tastes slaughter-free steak

GAIA and a few journalists paid a visit to Aleph Farms. This Israeli start-up has managed to produce a steak from animal stem cells, and we had the honour of being allowed to taste the very first cell based steak (prototype). Response by the Le Vif weekly magazine journalist: ‘The result is astonishing. It really does have the typical taste of beef; it melts in your mouth. The resemblance to ‘real’ meat is impressive. The only thing that needs a little work is the consistency.’ Find out more about our visit and Aleph Farms on www.viandecultivee.be.

Continental Foods signs the Better Chicken Commitment

Continental Foods, the food group responsible for brands such as Aïki, Devos Lemmens, Liebig, OXO and Royco, followed Le Pain Quotidien’s example (19 July 2019) by signing the ‘Better Chicken Commitment’ (BCC). That means no more fast-growth chickens, fewer chickens per square metre, natural light, enrichment of living space, and anaesthesia before slaughter.

Puppy mill brought to justice

GAIA took Manolito Van den Bergh, owner of the Poezelhoeve, to court. Among others, the judge imposed a 1-year ban on Van den Bergh on 14 October, forbidding him from keeping dogs and demanding a penalty of EUR 250 per infringement. He also has to pay a suspended (3 years) fine of EUR 1,600 euro and EUR 2,400 euro up front for violating the law on animal welfare and animal health. He is also obliged to pay a total of EUR 5,000 in damages to the parties filing a civil claim and to whom he sold sick dogs. GAIA, as a party filing a civil claim, will be awarded 2 x 1 euro moral compensation.

Boycot-cot Campaign Update

The latest target of our campaign was Wyndham Hotels Resorts, the biggest hotel franchise on the international scene. To achieve that goal, we launched a worldwide campaign in collaboration with the international Open Wing Alliance coalition – where GAIA acts as the Belgian representative. We met with resounding success – after just four days of campaigning, Wyndham announced to the world on 21 September that it would be going cage-free.

Faux Gras® de GAIA introduces an all new flavour

Ten years after the debut of Faux Gras®, GAIA is launching an all new cranberry flavour. GAIA's Faux Gras® was launched in 2008 as a 100% cruelty-free, animal-friendly alternative to foie gras. After a steady increase in sales every year, it was also high time that a new flavour join the brand. ‘In 2018, an impressive 500,000 tins of the classic GAIA Faux Gras® de GAIA were sold’, explains Ann De Greef, CEO of GAIA. ‘We hope this new exclusive cranberry flavour leads to even more people making the switch.’ More info can be found in Dutch or French on www.fauxgras.be.

GAIA DAY

GAIA DAY was celebrated on 13 October in Mons and 20 October in Ghent. Hundreds of animal friends got together for a day packed with information. Among others, all 3 ministers of Animal Welfare (Flanders: Ben Weyts (N-VA), Wallonia: Céline Tellier (Ecolo) and for Brussels: Bernard Clerfayt (Défi)) were present for an interview. Mark Post, director of research at Mosa Meat, gave a workshop on cultured meat. The GAIA award was awarded posthumously to the pioneer of cultured meat, Willem van Eelen. His daughter Ira attended to receive the award in person. Christophe Marie made an appearance to receive the GAIA Lifetime Achievement Award on Brigitte Bardot’s behalf. The prize was awarded to Bardot in person by Michel Vandenbosch, President of GAIA, and Ann De Greef, CEO of GAIA, earlier in Paris. The award itself, with its two hands extended and lifting seven animals, including a horse, lamb, and seal, indicates why she was the winner of this award.

1.6 million signatures to ban all cages in Europe

The European Citizens’ Initiative, ‘End the Cage Age’ collected over 1.6 million signatures in the EU over 12 months’ time. Thanks to GAIA’s efforts, the petition was signed more than 90,000 times in Belgium. To round off the campaign in style, GAIA and its 170 partner organisations unveiled a giant pig on Schuman Square in Brussels on 8 October. The giant pig was intended to remind European politicians of how successful the European citizens' initiative was and to draw their attention to the animal suffering caused by cage systems. In the meantime, all signatures have been verified and will be submitted to the European Commission. The European Commission should then adopt a formal reply setting out the measures proposed by the Commission in response to the citizens' initiative. The initiative should also be the subject of a plenary hearing in the European Parliament, possibly to be followed by a vote.

The GAIA app

GAIA recently launched a brand new app so that supporters have the chance to be even more involved in animal rights and welfare issues. The app offers them all the tools they need to join us in the fight against animal suffering and cruelty. The app consists of four key areas: campaigns, tips, videos and successes. You can find the app in the Apple Store or on Google play searching for GAIA, help animals in one click.

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