OPINION: Time to think big and stop pedalling the cruel live exports agenda

Live export, even when done "the right way", is a cruel business.

OPINION: By CAMILLA JANSEN -- BUSINESS NEWS AUSTRALIA on JUL 31, 2018 | The views expressed in this opinion piece do not necessarily reflect the views of Animals Australia.

Late Monday afternoon David Littleproud, the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, announced his travel itinerary for his time in Israel.

Demonstrating his clear inability to heed broad public opinion, Littleproud is currently in Israel lobbying for the country to continue taking live animals from Australia.

Littleproud's trip to Israel comes in the lead-up to the Israeli Parliament deciding on whether to cease the trade.

Despite consistent backlash, a number of high-profile blunders on his behalf, and the damning evidence that live export is a blight on the Australian agricultural industry, Littleproud continues to push for the cruel practice to continue.

In a media release, Littleproud stood by his assertion that live export can be done "the right way" despite the major live exporters continually demonstrating their inability to cater for the welfare of animals in this controversial industry.

This is notwithstanding that live export, even when done "the right way", is a cruel business. The ships Australian cattle are being carted off to the Middle East on are ill-equipped to transport animals with the care all Australians would expect they deserve.

Instead of lobbying for outdated, archaic, and backward industries, Littleproud should start thinking big and visit the innovative headquarters of SuperMeat.

Based in Tel-Aviv, the biotech and food-tech startup creates clean meat by growing cells that have been painlessly extracted from a chicken. The cells are then grown in conditions that allow them to thrive, forming high-quality chicken cuts. This process puts an end to the industrial need to mass produce animals for slaughter, while eliminating exposure to animal waste and food-borne illnesses; the potential benefits for public health and animal welfare are therefore considerable.

And it's not just in Israel that these future industries are being born; the future of agriculture is already happening globally and it does not require the sacrifice of thousands of animals. Tesla and SpaceX board member, Steve Jervetson, recently took a punt on Memphis Meat a 'meatless meat' start-up that aims to transform global food production. It is also attempting to grow 'cultured' or 'clean' meat from animal cells. Jurvetson has tried the product and describes it as no different in taste and texture to any steak. However, it uses 10 times less water and land than current production methods.

He believes this technology will shift the entire manufacturing base of animal products over the next 50 years.

It's time for David Littleproud to start thinking big, and stop fawning over live export interests.

Littleproud says he is "serious about animal welfare". If he was truly serious he would seek to end the practice altogether and not lobby Israel to continue putting thousands of animals at risk for little to no material gain.

This is not without mentioning that Littleproud and his team have demonstrated time and again poor oversight of the industry. Just weeks ago, it was revealed that the Federal Department of Agriculture confessed to a shocking blunder when admitting they acted with legal error in allowing 58,000 Australian sheep to be exported to the Middle East on an Emanuel Exports ship.

The department official who signed off on the export permit did not even hold the appropriate power of delegation to do so, meaning thousands of animals were shipped to the Middle East in dreadful conditions unlawfully.

Littleproud and his department are patently failing the public in managing this cruel trade.

There are plenty of clear alternatives to live export, which Business News Australia has explored in the past. Despite the evidence in support of banning the practice, Littleproud continues to ignore the facts.

Thankfully, there have been some recent wins for anti-live export activists. Live exporter Garry Robinson was given a suspended jail term over his role in a disastrous shipment to the Middle East that led to the brutal cull of thousands of sheep in Pakistan.

Robinson, who was working for live exporter Wellard, when he broke the law to clear the way for a shipment of 22,000 sheep to be redirected from Bahrain to Pakistan, was given a suspended 18-month jail term.

He was convicted of falsifying documents from Pakistani authorities and using them to convince the Department of Agriculture to vary shipment approvals.

We shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium.

There is still a way to go, but Business News Australia will continue to fight for the end of this cruel practice by encouraging ministers on all sides of politics to stand up against it.

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