Major ferry company P&O has announced it will ban the transport of live calves after BBC Scotland aired an eye-opening exposé of the industry.
The BBC investigation, named “The Dark Side of Dairy,” showed viewers the reality of dairy farms, as well as the live calf transport industry. It aired footage of the animals being transported from the Port of Cairnryan in Dumfries and Galloway to Ireland, where they are then taken to mainland Europe for slaughter.
According to the broadcaster, Scotland is key to the calf trade, as nowhere else in the UK will ship animals for the purposes of slaughter or fattening.
“We place the highest priority on animal welfare across all of our routes and were shocked by the scenes in last night’s documentary,” P&O said in a recent statement. “We will not hesitate to act decisively and close the account of any customer which breaches our policies in this area.”
The announcement has received criticism from the Scottish government, with some implying that the ferry company acted too soon before further investigation could be carried out. Rural Affairs Minister, Mairi Gougeon, claimed the scenes from the documentary were shocking, but there was no evidence of any wrongdoing in Scotland or Ireland.
Andrew McCornick, president of the National Farmers Union Scotland, agrees with Gougeon. The dairy exposé was both “sensationalized and inaccurate,” he told the BBC, noting a lack of evidence that the cows shown in Egyptian slaughterhouses, who received “unacceptable” treatment, were Scottish.
In response to these accusations, a spokesperson for BBC Scotland confirmed, “We stand by our journalism. The investigation was neither sensationalist nor inaccurate and has raised issues of public interest.”
When it comes to animal welfare, the power of documentaries is clear. In Australia earlier this year, the television programme “60 Minutes” aired a similar exposé on the live animal exportation industry, which focused on one export company in particular, Emanuel Exports. Since the documentary, the company has had its license permanently revoked.
Animals Australia, the organization responsible for the programme’s footage, said after the announcement, “For the first time in the history of this trade, rich export companies are no longer calling the shots. They are finally being held accountable to the law. This marks a historic win in the almighty battle to save animals from export cruelty.”
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