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Animals (Basel). 2019 Apr 25;9(4). pii: E195. doi: 10.3390/ani9040195.

Should Animal Welfare Regulations Be More Restrictive? A Case Study in Eight European Union Countries.

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Institute for Research in Sustainability Science and Technology (IS-UPC), Polytechnic University of Catalonia, 08034 Barcelona, Spain.
Centre for Agro-food Economy and Development, CREDA-UPC-IRTA, 08860 Castelldefels, Spain.
Institute of Agrifood Research and Technology-IRTA, Animal Welfare Subprogram, 17121 Monells, Spain.
Institute of Agrifood Research and Technology-IRTA, Animal Welfare Subprogram, 17121 Monells, Spain.


Increasingly, intensive livestock production systems have increased societal concern regarding the current animal welfare standards. We investigated whether individuals in their roles as consumers and citizens believe that the current European regulations regarding animal welfare should be more restrictive. Factors affecting this decision were assessed by analyzing respondents' understanding of animal welfare-related issues, their subjective and objective knowledge levels, the credibility they assign to different information sources, their perceptions toward the current restrictiveness of animal welfare standards, and their socioeconomic characteristics. Data were collected using a semi-structured questionnaire distributed in eight European Union (EU) countries (Spain, the United Kingdom, Poland, Greece, Lithuania, Romania, Italy, and Sweden) with 3860 total responses. The results showed that consumers are more reluctant to adopt more restrictive regulations than respondents in the role of citizens. Respondents from northern European countries (Poland and Sweden) are more likely to support regulations that are more restrictive than the current minimum requirements than respondents from southern countries (Spain and Italy). Women were found to be more concerned with the welfare of pigs and laying hens-lending credibility to the Internet as an information source-and were more likely to support more restrictive animal welfare legislation.


EU; animal welfare; citizens; consumers

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