International Farm Animal Welfare Standards: Will ISO Go High or Low?

Animal Welfare Approved Clover Creek Farm in Jonesborough, TN. Will ISO farm animal standards help or hurt progress toward higher welfare systems like this one? Photo by Mike Suarez.The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has elected to take on the task of establishing an international technical specification for the raising of animals for food. The concept originated with the food industry and has been supported by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), apparently with the expectation that the OIE’s minimal animal welfare guidelines will become the basis of the specification. Whether this initiative ultimately helps or hurts farm animals around the world remains to be seen. AWI, which has two representatives on the U.S. ISO technical advisory group, will attempt to influence the outcome in a way that protects international progress toward higher welfare standards for farm animals. Along the same lines, AWI has offered input on the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s draft “do no harm” document on animal welfare that may be used to assess activities related to global sustainable livestock projects.