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Should Animal Welfare Regulations Be More Restrictive? A Case Study in Eight European Union Countries

1
Institute for Research in Sustainability Science and Technology (IS-UPC), Polytechnic University of Catalonia, 08034 Barcelona, Spain
2
Centre for Agro-food Economy and Development, CREDA-UPC-IRTA, 08860 Castelldefels, Spain
3
Institute of Agrifood Research and Technology—IRTA, Animal Welfare Subprogram, 17121 Monells, Spain
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2019, 9(4), 195; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9040195
Received: 22 February 2019 / Revised: 26 March 2019 / Accepted: 18 April 2019 / Published: 25 April 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Welfare)
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Simple Summary

Intensive animal production systems are compromising current animal welfare standards. European societies’ growing concerns regarding how animals are raised have resulted in continuous European Union (EU) policy reforms that have banned certain intensive farming methods. We investigated whether EU respondents, differentiated by their roles as citizens and consumers, believe that the current regulations on animal welfare should be more restrictive. Data were collected using a survey approach implemented in eight European countries (Spain, the United Kingdom, Poland, Greece, Lithuania, Romania, Italy, and Sweden) with a sample of 3860 respondents. The results show that women citizens are more concerned with animal welfare and are prone to accept more restrictive regulations. Respondents from northern European countries (Poland and Sweden) are willing to accept regulations that are more restrictive than the current minimum standards than respondents from southern countries (Spain and Italy). Our results suggest that increasing knowledge of animal welfare is related to effective information campaigns that use the Internet to endorse the current animal welfare legislation.

Abstract

Increasingly, intensive livestock production systems have increased societal concern regarding the current animal welfare standards. We investigated whether individuals in their roles as consumers and citizens believe that the current European regulations regarding animal welfare should be more restrictive. Factors affecting this decision were assessed by analyzing respondents’ understanding of animal welfare-related issues, their subjective and objective knowledge levels, the credibility they assign to different information sources, their perceptions toward the current restrictiveness of animal welfare standards, and their socioeconomic characteristics. Data were collected using a semi-structured questionnaire distributed in eight European Union (EU) countries (Spain, the United Kingdom, Poland, Greece, Lithuania, Romania, Italy, and Sweden) with 3860 total responses. The results showed that consumers are more reluctant to adopt more restrictive regulations than respondents in the role of citizens. Respondents from northern European countries (Poland and Sweden) are more likely to support regulations that are more restrictive than the current minimum requirements than respondents from southern countries (Spain and Italy). Women were found to be more concerned with the welfare of pigs and laying hens—lending credibility to the Internet as an information source—and were more likely to support more restrictive animal welfare legislation. View Full-Text
Keywords: animal welfare; citizens; consumers; EU animal welfare; citizens; consumers; EU
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Pejman, N.; Kallas, Z.; Dalmau, A.; Velarde, A. Should Animal Welfare Regulations Be More Restrictive? A Case Study in Eight European Union Countries. Animals 2019, 9, 195.

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