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January 09, 2008

Allies for Change

The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International do not restrict their work to the boundaries of the United States. We live in the era of globalization, with information, commodities, people and animals moving routinely across national borders.

With our economic and cultural ties, the United States and Europe have always had a special and enduring connection. With its recent expansion, the European Union now encompasses 27 nations and includes 500 million people. Though an extremely diverse set of nations, the EU has been a thought leader on animal protection issues and a laboratory for the application of animal protection policies on a range of issues, including animal testing and animal agriculture.

Egg-laying hens in a battery cage
© Compassion Over Killing

That's why the recent news from Europe is so important. First, defying predictions that the ban would be delayed, the European Union has held firm to its original judgment to eliminate barren battery cages for egg-laying hens by 2012. This is a devastating blow to the worldwide battery cage industry. If the large majority of nations of Europe can make this change, and halt this abuse of laying hens, then surely the United States can—a nation that has prided itself on innovation and adaptability throughout its history.

We are already moving in that direction. Now, more than 330 colleges and universities have adopted cage-free practices, and just last month, the world's largest food service provider with thousands of accounts in the United States, Compass Group, announced it would go cage-free. The fight against factory farming is starting to tip in our direction, but we must continue to press the fight harder than ever—including now in California, where a ballot initiative has been launched to ban veal and gestation crates and battery cages.

Harp seal on Canada's ice floes
© The HSUS/Skerry

There's another important development in a major HSUS campaign: the quest to ban the barbaric slaughter of baby seals in Atlantic Canada. The nations of Europe are closing their markets to the pelts of Canadian seals. Loyola Sullivan, Canada's fisheries ambassador and a leading proponent of the seal hunt, told the Canadian Press this week that the boycott of seal products has "a tremendous foothold in Europe." He added, "most people close to the situation feel that a ban by other countries is imminent, that it's gone too far. It would be unpopular now for a member of parliament in a European country to support the hunt."

The deed is not done yet in Europe, but there is promise and hope in the steep climb to end this hunt. Let's make sure it's at least a two-front war, and renew our efforts in the United States to boycott Canadian seafood products. More than 3,000 U.S. companies and more than 490,000 concerned individuals are now part of this growing boycott. Let's provide further encouragement to our friends in Europe in our joint effort to halt the world's largest marine mammal slaughter.

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