Archive for the ‘International’ Category

Bishop Ziphozihle Siwa

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

When I was in South Africa in September on the second leg of my South African Farmageddon tour I met with the Most Reverend Ziphozihle Siwa, who is the presiding Bishop of the Methodist church and president of South Africa’s Council of Churches. He very kindly accepted my invitation to publish here as one of my guests his profoundly important statement opposing industrialised agriculture from a Christian perspective.  

Meeting with Most Reverend Ziphozihle Siwa, presiding Bishop of the Methodist church and president of South Africa's Council of Churches.

Meeting with Most Reverend Ziphozihle Siwa, presiding Bishop of the Methodist church and president of South Africa’s Council of Churches.

I am writing this appeal as one of the followers of Jesus Christ who said in John 10:10 “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” I write as the faith leader on the eve of the World Food Day (16 October) and out of deep concern for the ecological crisis that threatens to bring us and the whole of creation to the brink of mass suffering and destruction. My appeal is that we pay special attention to this and request all people of faith to pause, reflect and act as stewards of all that God has created.

This crisis is human-induced, caused among other things by industrialised agriculture which depends on monocultures, pesticides and factory farming of animals, as well as our prevailing culture of consumerism. The challenge to overcome this crisis lies in the human heart. Combating Climate Change requires nothing less than a radical change of direction, a change of heart and mind, a transformation of our society at the level of culture itself.

We need to realise that we have been captured by the lure of consumerism to believe our happiness and success depends on what we eat, wear, own and use.

We are trapped in the logic of consumerism which emphasises what we lack downplaying what we already have. We are reminded daily of our unfulfilled needs, thus placing consumerism at the heart of culture. The over consumption of animal-derived products – meat, eggs, milk and so on – is part of this culture of consumerism and places an enormous burden on human health, as well as on the lives of animals which are crammed into factory farms in order to supply our demands, especially for cheap meat.

Farmed animals eat grass and bushes by nature – food that we, as humans, cannot eat – and 67% of land in South Africa is available and suitable for grazing and browsing.

Yet we take the animals off the land and cram them in large numbers into huge sheds, feeding them vast amounts of fish and grains in order to make more meat, more eggs, and more milk, cheaply.  The meat, eggs and milk from these animals is directed towards the Consumer Culture which then, in turn, struggles with obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure, while  the oceans become depleted of fish and rural farmers lose their livelihoods because they are unable to compete with cheap supermarket products. As for the animals, they live and die without ever seeing a blade of grass or a ray of sunshine.

The church has a moral and theological responsibility to set aside this stupidity and embrace its role of stewardship of our beautiful earth and all its creation. We need our congregations to become eco-congregations transforming culture to promote a healthy diet for all, sustainable livelihoods for rural farmers, as well as the well-being of the land and all its creatures. Only in this way can we ensure sustainability and establish justice for all.

Bishop Ziphozihle Siwa
Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa
President of the South African Council of Churches

Methodist Church of Southern Africa

Review of my international guest posts in 2014

Monday, January 19th, 2015
David Bilchitz

David Bilchitz

The publication of Farmageddon at the beginning of 2014 opened the door to a new international audience for our message to end the cage age for farmed animals. I travelled throughout the world to places like China and Argentina researching the global impact of industrial agriculture for Farmageddon. Now my travel is very much aimed at building an international movement against factory farming. Here I look back at some of my guest postings from around the world in 2014.

I was honoured to meet Professor David Bilchitz, director of the South African Institute for Advanced Constitutional Human Rights and International Law, who sees no place for factory farming in South Africa.

Factory farming is devastating for animal welfare. It treats animals ‘like units in an industrial process’, said the famous South African author J M Coetzee. It has no regard for their intrinsic value and does not respect their basic rights to bodily integrity and to live in an environment in which they can flourish. Arguably this runs counter to the essence of the new [South African] constitutional framework which requires a concern for those who are weakest and most vulnerable. And, finally, it is devastating for the environment through a range of effects it causes.

Angus McIntosh

Angus McIntosh


Did you see who we had as guest blogger for 2014?

Monday, January 12th, 2015
Jonathon Porritt

2014 guest blogger, Jonathon Porritt

This last year has been an incredibly busy and productive one for Compassion, with the publication of my book, Farmageddon: The true cost of cheap meat, the release of ground-breaking videos like ‘Secrets of Food Marketing’ and ‘Chicken factory farmer speaks out’, and the launch of our ambitious campaign to End the Cage Age.

As well as news, comments and updates, I have been really excited to host a wonderful array of special guest articles in 2014, each one giving their own personal take on factory farming and the issues it raises. Here we look again at some highlights:

Emma Silverthorn, granddaughter of dairy farmer and Compassion founder, Peter Roberts, was one of our first guest blogs of the year. Reflecting on the publication of Farmageddon and its meaning for their family, she wrote:

Emma Silverthorn

Emma Silverthorn

In the early 1960s, as Philip describes in Farmageddon’s Preface, a man from the farming ministry knocked on my grandparent’s door and told them to ‘boost business’ by moving into ‘intensive chicken rearing’. Thus, the seed was planted that led to their outrage that became their lifelong campaign. Peter momentarily weighed up the pros and cons of such a system. Nan instinctively said no.

Writer and commentator, George Monbiot, looked back to when he was 18 and a holiday job on an intensive pig farm:

George Monbiot

George Monbiot

[A]nd the things I witnessed there will never be erased from my mind. I’m aware that Compassion and your book bridge the issues: connecting the farming of livestock with the great web of damage to the natural world this does, and that it’s time I created the mental space to start engaging with it.


Campaigning for Animals in Europe

Monday, December 1st, 2014

Eurogroup for Animals has been the leading voice for animal welfare in the European Union for many years. Based in Brussels, Eurogroup has 48 member organisations, including Compassion, which has a long history of membership and active participation. It’s an honour to serve on Eurogroup’s Board. Reineke Hameleers’s appointment as Director in 2013 signalled a new era for the organisation. 

Philip: What led you to Eurogroup and how do you see the future for Europe’s animals?

Reineke Hameleers, Director, Eurogroup for Animals

Reineke Hameleers, Director, Eurogroup for Animals

Reineke: I have always been intrigued by the way humans coexist and interact with other animals. This was the focus of my master’s thesis at Maastricht University. It’s the reason why I want to work in animal welfare. The human/animal relationship has far reaching consequences economically, ethically and socially. It became clear to me during my work, first as a volunteer and then as a regional director of the Dutch Society for the Protection of Animals, that one cannot protect animals without protecting people as well. The massive problems we face and the instrumental way animals are treated are disheartening. But it’s my passion and faith in the European project that keeps me going. The EU is not only of significance to Europeans but also to our relationship with billions of animals. We need Europe to improve animal welfare and Eurogroup for Animals has a pivotal role to play in this important development.

Philip: Which specific challenges does Europe face to achieving positive and meaningful change for animals?

Reineke: The EU has to show that it’s relevant to the lives of ordinary Europeans. It’s not only about markets and money Eurogroup for Animals logobut also about values and ideals. The Amsterdam and Lisbon treaties demonstrated the EU cared about animal welfare. They recognised animals as sentient beings. Eurogroup for Animals helps the EU to see that it can really contribute to the proliferation and protection of these values. Seven out of ten Europeans polled believed animal welfare should be improved, no matter how much it cost. Animal welfare is intrinsically connected to other values like our own wellbeing, our health, protection of the environment and a sustainable economy. An appalling example is how Europe treats its pigs, the majority are still being castrated, tails are being docked routinely and outdoor access or enrichment of housing are rare. This situation stands far from the sentience principle in the Treaty and is representative for a lot of other farmed animals.

In the new political term Eurogroup for Animals will campaign actively for better pig welfare among other species. Another key challenge is the transportation of livestock. We count on the new Commission to respond to the call of many citizens to revise the current regulation on transportation and introduce a maximum transport duration of 8 hours for mammals and 4 hours for poultry. It’s vital to invest in local sustainable food chains. Moreover, there are a lot of ‘forgotten’ species for which no specific regulation exists at all, like rabbits, dairy cows and equines. And then we haven’t spoken about the challenges for cats and dogs, wild animals and animals used in testing and research. I’m afraid my contribution to this blog is too short to cover all the challenges to implement that very important recognition of animal sentience in EU law and reality.

Why Weren’t We Told?

Friday, October 24th, 2014

My guest today is Clive Phillips, who is Professor of Animal Welfare in the School of Veterinary Science at the University of Queensland in Australia. Clive is Chair of Animal Welfare at the Centre for Animal Welfare and Ethics

Clive Phillips

Clive Phillips

Can the public be excused for not knowing about the circumstances of food animal production? We were first warned about the inhumanity of using animals as machines 50 years ago, but dietary habits change slowly. Then intensive animal production was in its infancy. Now most of us live in cities and animals are crowded into sheds far away, and the public rely mostly on the media rather than first-hand knowledge for information about farming.

Just as you and I probably do not know the details of how the car that we drive works, so the public are largely ignorant of the way in which animals are kept for meat and milk production. In a recent survey researchers at the Centre for Animal Welfare and Ethics at the University of Queensland found, for example, that most of the public believe that meat chickens are reared in cages, whereas the normal intensive industry practice is to rear them in huge barns on the floor.

Recently most of the massive growth of the intensive livestock production has taken place in developing countries, which is another reason that consumers are largely ignorant of the cruelty that the animals suffer. Poultry exports from Brazil are increasing exponentially, as the rain forest is decimated to produce soya and maize for the birds. Between 2001 and 2011, Brazilian chicken meat exports increased from 1 to 3.5 million tonnes per year.

Farmageddon on film

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About Philip Lymbery

Philip Lymbery is Chief Executive Officer of Compassion in World Farming and co-author of Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat. He is an internationally respected authority on the impact of industrial agriculture on people, animals and the planet.