These images show cows that have had their stomachs punctured and fitted with windows so researchers can rummage around in their insides at Europe’s largest research centre.
The images, filmed between February and May this year at the largest ‘zootechnical centre’ in Europe have shocked France and are making headlines all over the country after being released by animal rights group L214 who filed a complaint this morning (Thursday).
Video Credit: CEN/L214
The footage was filmed in the commune of Saint-Symphorien in the north-western French department of Sarthe, at the Sourches facility owned by the Sanders company, a subsidy of French agro-industrial corporation, Avril Group.
L214 posted a short version of the footage on YouTube yesterday (19th June).
French TV host Nagui Fam has taken part in the footage and presents it, calling for the practice to stop and saying it is bad for the animals’ health, and for that of humans.
L214 spokesperson Barbara Boyer told Central European News (CEN): “We obtained the images after a whistleblower who works there contacted us to alert us to the conditions there. We cannot reveal their identity because we have to protect them.”
She added: “We have filed a complaint with the authorities this morning.”
After they have been surgically fitted with the window, known as a cannula, that allows access to the rumen for research, they are referred to as fistulated cows .
In the video, Nagui says : “There are also chickens at the centre that are so fat that they cannot even walk anymore, as well as very sick pigs, calves and rabbits that are trapped in tiny cages.”
The footage shared by the organisation shows a man putting his whole arm inside a live cow’s stomach.
Nagui says: “For Sanders, these cows are just milk-producing machines that need to have their settings optimised. Today, dairy cows produce on average 27 litres of milk a day, which is five times the daily requirements of a calf.”
He adds: “Other experiments are carried out on isolated calves in small enclosures.
“The pigs only have cold metal as their environment. The rabbits are prisoners in their small cages and they will know only these cages their whole lives. They will never get out.
“And the chickens, which are from fast-growing strains, are fed with a too rich diet and their weight is pushed to the extreme. They can barely walk.”
The research centre has defended itself, saying they only have six cows that are fitted with the widows and that they need them to study them so they can reduce the use of antibiotics in the farming business.
Avril spokesperson Tom Doron insists the experiments come with “rigorous veterinary monitoring and are considered painless for the animal.”
They also claim to be studying how to reduce methane production, a major contributor to climate change, according to the European Commission.
But Le Monde, for one, disputes the claim that the research can reduce methane production, arguing that by working out ways to feed them more, they can produce more and this practice therefore actually increases methane production.
Helene Thouy, L214’s lawyer, said: “The Rural Code provides that animal testing is permitted only when strictly necessary. Making dairy cows more productive does not seem to fall into this category.”
The crime of unlawful experimentation is punishable by two years’ imprisonment and a 30,000-EUR (26,704-GBP) fine.
There are reportedly other research centres like this in France and in other countries.
Netizens are overwhelmingly reacting with outrage, with ‘davdu92’ saying: “Absolutely horrible.”
And ‘annunnakionea53vvdfwzjswog0co048g88ok04oc40’ said: “This Tom Doron should give himself a porthole to lead by example, since it is painless as he says! This guy is frightening!”
While ‘Erickan’ said: “It’s monstrous, shameful, scandalous and, while we’re on the topic, I have just signed the L214 petition on Facebook.”
L214 have a petition to put a stop to the practice that can be signed here: https://www.l214.com/enquetes/2019/elevage-made-in-france/vaches-hublot
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