Public opinion in favour of banning cages for laying hens
In Spain, 67% of the people surveyed are in favour of banning cages for laying hens throughout the European Union. This majority opinion is in line with the European Citizens' Initiative "End the Cage Age".
Cages used in egg production in which the hens are to spend their entire lives. Photo: Shutterstock
Blanca Ponce, Lawyer - Specialist in Institutional and Business Relations in Equalia
January 18 2022
The specialist company Elemental Research has carried out a national survey, in which more than 6000 people answered to the question "Do you think farming of caged hens should be banned in the European Union?”
The majority of Spanish citizens said yes. Overall, two out of three people in Spain (67%) are in favour of an EU-wide ban on the farming of caged hens.
The majority of Spanish public opinion is in line with the European one. Thus, the European Citizens' Initiative "End the Cage Age" gained the support of 1.4 million signatures, calling for an end to cages for animals intended for human consumption, including laying hens. In this context, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of legislation to ban cages, urging the European Commission to legislate on the issue.
Cage system in egg production: public opinion in Spain. Download the full report here
Spanish public opinion coincides with European public opinion in advocating the progressive elimination of cages for laying hens.
Thanks to supranational impulses, both from citizens and their representatives, in June 2021 the Commission announced the intention to develop a legislative proposal by the end of 2023 to phase out, and eventually ban, the use of cages for hens, lactating sows, calves, rabbits, ducks, geese and others, with entry into force planned for 2027.
There is a great legislative heterogeneity between European countries regarding cages for laying hens. In five European countries the use of cages is not allowed in the farming of laying hens, having been replaced by alternative systems that are more in line with current knowledge on public health, food safety and animal welfare. However, they continue to be used in other countries, although public opinion does not support this.
The diversity of regulations concerning laying hens does not meet the expectations of the EU public.
The survey of the Spanish population provides interesting data on the age range, gender, size of municipality, ideology and level of education of the people surveyed.
By age range, there are no major differences between young people aged 18-34 (69% in favour of the ban), middle-aged people aged 35-54 (65%) and older people aged 55 and over (68%).
Where there is a slight difference is between women and men: 73% of women in Spain are in favour of the ban compared to 60% of men.
In all Spanish regions the surveyed population is in favour of eradicating cages, although Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, the Basque Country and the Canary Islands stand out with percentages of support above 70% of the population. Similarly, and regardless of the size of the municipality, the people surveyed support the prohibition of cages, with Madrid and Barcelona standing out as the municipalities most inclined to eradicate them, with 73%.
With respect to the ideological scale, we observed a majority of citizens in agreement with the ban across the entire ideological spectrum: from 50% among voters of right-wing parties to 85% among voters of left-wing parties.
Finally, with regard to educational level, 66% of respondents with primary education are in favour of the ban, while 68% of those with higher education are in favour.
There is a social majority in favour of a ban on the use of cages in the farming of laying hens. From these sociological data we can conclude that a revision of the current legislation on laying hens is necessary, more in line with social expectations, with the most advanced European regulations and with current knowledge in matters of public health, food safety and animal welfare.
Cage system in egg production: public opinion in Spain. Download the full report here.
Lawyer - Specialist in Institutional and Business Relations in Equalia
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