Opinion: Play nice

POSTED: 11/8/13 3:04 PM

Never a dull moment when the protection of animal rights is at stake in the Netherlands (or elsewhere). Helma Lodders, a Member of Parliament for the rightwing VVD says that militant animal and environment rights activists have to stop their actions because they are causing damage to the agricultural sector.

Lodders accuses animal rights activists of mudslinging and of creating an unrealistic picture of the sector. The ‘plofkip’ is a rapidly bred chick that is ready to be slaughtered after just 42 days. Images of these chicks have altered the way consumers think about eating chicken – or so the animal rights activists thought. According to Lodders, consumers even eat more chicken than ever before.

But still, the plofkip and catching reports about mega stables have damaged the reputation of the agricultural sector. Lodders claims that the Dutch have the best agricultural sector in the world and that the country is the world champion in highly productive, efficient and sustainable agriculture.

Go figure: two people look at the same issue and they arrive at completely different conclusions. Lodders arguments seem to contradict each other too. If the actions of animal rights activists damage the sector’s reputation while at the same time consumers eat more chicken than ever before, where exactly is the problem?

Lodders even claims that the Netherlands is second only after the United States as exporter of agricultural products. Agribusiness represents 60 percent of the trade surplus, 10 percent of the gross domestic product and it provides 10 percent of all employment in the country, the politician claims.

If the sector is indeed so successful it may as well play nice with animal rights activists – and with the animals that are the source of their prosperity.

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