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on December 4, 2010

HSUS clarifies position on enriched cages

Society wants to have it both ways

In a position statement posted on its website, HSUS states “despite the modifications, these cages are unable to provide an acceptable level of welfare for hens. The egg industry, food companies and other stakeholders within the food industry should do the right thing and end the use of all cages to confine laying hens”. The statement was endorsed by a number of organizations, including the UK Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals, the World Society for the Protection of Animals, Eurogroup for Animals in addition to U.S.-based organizations including Compassion in World Farming and Farm Sanctuary.

If in fact the position of the HSUS is that all cages are unacceptable, why do they continue to promote wording identical to California Proposition 2 in their campaigns? Do they believe that simply stating that all confinement for poultry is unacceptable and would polarize the electorate and lessen their chances of passing voter initiatives?

The HSUS apparently wants to have it both ways. Some confinement is acceptable if it were to conform to Proposition 2 but when confronted with the prospect of enriched colony cages they state that no cages are acceptable, irrespective of design or scientific support. Is this not an example of moving the goalposts?

When faced with wording similar to Proposition 2, which is subject to interpretation and hence confusion, state poultry associations and production groups should clearly restate the documented HSUS object of banning all caged houses. This cuts through the ambiguity of the “standing, stretching and touching sides of the enclosure” terminology.

It is interesting the note that the American Humane Society has in fact endorsed the use of enriched cages. This may have little impact on the major confrontation between the intensive livestock industry and the HSUS which intends to destroy intensive animal agriculture in order to inflict a vegan lifestyle on U.S. consumers.

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