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Inevitable Welfare Reform & European Rabbits

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340 million rabbits are raised for food every year in Europe. The European Parliament seems to think that implementing certain welfare measures will “make life better” for rabbits who are considered nothing more than economic commodities. The ultimate decision rests on the European Commission, but the assumption here is that the rabbits would somehow benefit from these measures.

The position of the European Parliament is that the battery cages currently housing rabbits should be outlawed, although alternatives don’t seem to have been suggested at this stage. An article in the Voa News points out that “humane regulations” already exist for pigs, cattle and chickens raised for food, the implication being that the decision to disregard rabbits is an arbitrary one.

But welfare measures are never for the sake of the animals. As far as the law is concerned, animals are things – property – with no inherent value. Maintaining that a welfare measure is for the sake of the animals is like maintaining that a law against breaking and entering is for the benefit of the door that gets kicked in during a robbery as opposed to being for the benefit of the property owner.

Given that rabbits are economic commodities – and considering how words such as “humane” in legal terms refer to nothing more than whether or not the animal in question is dealt with profitably – the implementation of a law for rabbits will do nothing but increase efficiency and profit margins for producers. The rabbits – as property brought into existence for the sole purpose of slaughter – will still be subject to the routine necessary suffering inflicted upon them in the process of being used. The only thing that changes in terms of their suffering is the type of suffering they have inflicted upon them. They may not be in wire battery cages, they’ll just be in one massive cage together instead.

The idea that a welfare measure can improve the life of those who are here for the purpose of being exploited is like saying that the type of gun used to murder an innocent human is important when taking the decision to end their life. Regardless of the gun you choose, you’re still inflicting suffering, you’re still inflicting death. A gun that has a label on it saying it’s loaded with “humane” bullets may sound nicer but ultimately, it’s still a gun. Inflicting suffering and death on rabbits not kept in battery cages may sound nicer for the purpose of marketing, but ultimately you’re still inflicting the exact same suffering and death – merely in different ways. Given that animals are property with no legally recognisable interests in their lives, there is no escaping that reality no matter how hard people attempt to dress it up.

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