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Vaarst Appointed to Animal Ethics Council

by 5m Editor
17 December 2010, at 9:22a.m.

DENMARK - Senior scientist, Mette Vaarst, from the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences at Aarhus University, has been appointed as a new member of the Animal Ethics Council.

Senior scientist Mette Vaarst from the Department of Animal Health and Bioscience at the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences has been appointed by the Minister of Justice, Lars Barfoed (K), as a new member of the Animal Ethics Council with effect from the summer of 2010.

Ever since she was a veterinary student at the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Dr Vaarst has been very concerned with animal welfare. Through her research at the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences and her function as a board member of the Danish Animal Protection Society and the Animal Ethics Council, Dr Vaarst aims to put in an extra effort for the well-being of, in particular, farm animals.

She said: "Animals need to have the possibilities to meet their basic needs before you can talk about proper welfare. In many farm systems of today, there is often neither time nor room for that. Both animals and humans are under pressure in many ways. It is not fair that animals, humans and the environment must pay for our desire to buy cheap food. We have a common responsibility for improving conditions no matter if we are scientists, advisers, politicians or whatever – we are all citizens, voters and consumers.

"I believe it is important to concentrate on the ethical aspects in agriculture and to enter into a dialogue on all levels. Through my work in Dyrenes Beskyttelse (a Danish animal protection society) and the Animal Ethics Council, I hope that I can help point out and investigate concrete problems and that I can contribute to the dialogue regarding animal welfare."

In her research at the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, Dr Vaarst is mostly engaged in organic farming, including describing animal welfare and developing methods to evaluate and discuss animal health, diseases, and welfare with a special emphasis on organic principles and values, such as naturalness, human care for the animals, harmony and proper animal husbandry.

The task of the Animal Ethics Council, which is under the Ministry of Justice, is to follow developments in animal care from an ethical standpoint. The council can either on its own initiative or upon request from the Minister of Justice express opinions on animal care. The council typically has principle pronouncements and does not engage in individual cases.

At present, the Animal Ethics Council is working on a pronouncement regarding marketing-driven animal welfare. The council consists of 11 members and they come from animal protection organisations, agricultural organisations and the Danish Consumer Council.