The Norwegian Parliament (the Storting)has adopted the new Animal Welfare Act. The way we treat our animals reflects the ethical standard of the society. The Act gives the legal framework for animal welfare in Norway.
The Act was adopted nearly unanimously by the members of the Parliament, which demonstrates the massive support for continual improvement of animal welfare. The Act will enter into force on 1 January 2010.
The translations are extracts from the proposition to the Odelsting from the Minister of Agriculture and Food and recommendation to the Odelsting from the Standing Committe in the Storting.
Some issues contained within the Act:
The name of the Act
The name of the new Act is “the Animal Welfare Act” instead of “the Animal Protection Act” as the old act is called. The term “animal welfare” is a much wider term which also encourages the positive goal to ensure that animals are content. “Animal protection” is considered to be part of the term “animal welfare”.
Respect for animals
The intention of the Act includes respect for animals, which means that the intention of the Act is to promote both good animal welfare and respect for animals. An explicit ban on sexual relations with animals is included in the Act in addition to a ban concerning the killing of animals as an independent form of entertainment or competition, even if the animal is not necessarily at risk from suffering during these activities.
The scope includes animal products
A specific regulation, introducing a legal basis to regulate in more detail the trading in and use of animal products, will make it possible to regulate products from animals covered by the Act. This will contribute to preventing animal products from animals which have been subjected to neglect or other unjustifiable activity, in Norway or abroad, being traded on the Norwegian market.
The government is not considering banning import of products to which, according to human rights, certain groups should have access, for example meat from kosher slaughtered animals.
The animals’ intrinsic value
It is stated in the Act that animals have an intrinsic value. This term contributes to clarifying that animal welfare must be prioritised irrespective of the value the animal may have for people, which also contributes to clarifying the animal’s status.
Obligation to alert/confidentiality
The Act states a requirement to alert where there is reason to believe that animals are being subjected to maltreatment or serious neglect with respect to environment, supervision and care. Certain professions are exempted from the obligation to alert in cases where they are subject to a professional confidentiality clause. Health personnel will have the right to alert. It is, however, necessary that all involved parties cooperate, for example health personnel, animal welfare authorities and the networks of the agricultural industry.
The animal keeper must be competent. In addition, the Act provides the legal basis for issuing regulations regarding formal competence. Most animal owners will not be affected directly economically by the requirements of the new Act.
Stunning before slaughter
The current requirement for stunning prior to slaughter is maintained.
The control authority
The Norwegian Food Safety Authority (NFSA) carries out controls. The Authority is assisted by local animal welfare committees which are a part of NFSA.
Animals used for testing/experimentation
- An important change in the Act is the clarification of the principle of reduction, replacement and refinement in the use of animals for testing (the three Rs as defined by the European Consensus-platform for Alternatives to animal experiments).
Marking and registration
The Act gives a legal basis for the introduction of a requirement to mark animals for identification purposes, in addition to requiring the registration of marked animals. Such requirements will be contained in regulations. This will be particularly relevant for pet animals.
Stricter control measures
A possible way of preventing continual breaches of the regulation and hinder more pain, NFSA is given the right to issue orders against keeping of and contact with animals. Such decisions should be issued to people who seriously or on several occasions have breached the Act.