United Nations Adopts Animal Welfare Recommendations

This fall, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s Committee on World Food Security (CWFS) met in Rome to discuss pertinent issues related to sustainable agriculture development for food security and nutrition. The committee developed 12 broad recommendations that aim to promote a sustainable global food system.

Animal welfare recommendations were included within these 12 recommendations. Specifically, the committee addressed access to veterinary services, sustainable grazing systems, unnecessary use of antibiotics, and adherence to the “five freedoms” (freedom from hunger, thirst, fear, and distress and the freedom to express natural behaviors). The document emphasizes using the animal welfare guidelines of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). The OIE is an intergovernmental organization that aims to improve animal health worldwide. While its animal welfare guidelines do not represent the highest standards, they are a baseline for countries to use as they develop animal welfare policies.

The UN General Assembly has also shown support for sustainable farming practices. The General Assembly’s Interim report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, published in August, calls the impacts of industrial agriculture (including its encouragement of factory farming and overconsumption of meat) on nutrition and public health “alarming.” While this report and the CWFS recommendations do not provide binding restrictions on factory farming, they provide guidance for governments to include animal welfare and meat reduction in any future plans to address sustainable agriculture systems.