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POULTRY

Notices issued to ISE, Suzuki, MoFPI for housing hens in battery cages
Tuesday, 19 June, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, New Delhi
The New Delhi-based People for Animals, India’s largest animal welfare group, has issued notices to ISE Foods Inc, Suzuki Motor Corporation, the Governments of Gujarat and Telangana, and the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) for their decision to adopt the battery cage system to confine the egg-laying hens.

The notices were sent prior to the  establishment of ISE and Suzuki’s joint venture company for egg production and processing units in Gujarat and Telangana respectively, which would house about 1.2 million hens. The practice of housing them in battery cages is in line with ISE Foods’ general business practices.

“Battery cages are a violation the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. The Ministry of Environment and Forests, through various DOs; the Animal Welfare Board of India, through an advisory, and the Law Commission, vide Report Number 269, dated July 2017, consensually and unequivocally affirm this fact,” said Gauri Mulekhi, trustee, People for Animals.

“The immeasurable cruelty egg-laying hens suffer throughout their lifetime, from being housed in battery cages cannot be denied. Several higher welfare cage-free systems, which are commercially viable exist,” he added.

“In the light of the established law, ISE and Suzuki must adopt these higher welfare systems. We will take legal action if the companies choose to establish battery cage facility, while purposely violating the law,” Mulekhi said.

There are approximately 220 million egg-laying hens presently suffering in battery cages across farms in India, the third largest producer of eggs. In case of battery cages, each egg laying hen is afforded only 67 square inches of cage space—less space than a single sheet of A4-sized paper - to live her entire life.

Unable even to spread their wings, caged laying hens are among the most intensively confined animals in agri-business and suffer from the denial of many natural behaviours, such as nesting, perching, and dust-bathing, all important for hen welfare.

The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) in 2012 also stated that it violated the provisions of Section 11(1)(e) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.

Twenty-four states, including Gujarat and Telangana, have also issued directions to poultry farmers to phase out battery cages by 2017, but there has been little implementation so far.

In addition, the Law Commission of India, vide Report Number 269 (dated July 2017) expressly stated that battery cages are inherently cruel and must be phased out at the earliest. Allowing new poultry facilities to establish these illegal systems will tantamount to an offence under the Act, and attract penal action.
 
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