Ethical concerns beyond the border: how European animal welfare policies reach Brazil

C. Maciel, B.B. Bock

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


To accommodate the growing ethical concern regarding the way farm animals are treated, a comprehensive body of legislation has been developed to ensure the welfare of animals from birth to slaughter. Alongside governmental measures, the last decades have witnessed a proliferation of voluntary animal welfare standards developed by supermarkets and non-governmental organisations. Thus, within the European context, significant advancement has been reached in the implementation of good animal practices. But how to address ethical consideration in countries that export meat to Europe? Ethical demands for foreigner food production are most likely to revolve into an international trade conflict as it is regarded as an extra jurisdictional measure. By looking at the relation between European and Brazilian actors in the field of animal welfare policies, this article seeks to capture the transnational governance of animal welfare. Drawn upon the literature of policy transfer and stakeholders’ interview in Brazil and Europe, this study identified three main channels through which European animal welfare policies and practices reach farms in Brazil. Accordingly with the set of actors, instruments and procedural differences underlying the functioning of each channel, we have named them as: governmental, commercial and civil. We observed that in the context of EU-Brazil relation, ethical claims for animal welfare prospered mostly through commercial and civil channels. The outperformance of governmental channels by nongovernmental channels indicates a shift from ‘hard transfer’ to ‘soft transfer’ in cross-border animal welfare dialogue. The finding that measures developed by governmental actors are surpassed by private measures poses questions from the perspective of the international trade regulation. Will the current welfare governance evolve into a shift from ‘hard trade barrier’ to ‘soft trade barriers’? And if so, how does it relate to the multilateral trade system since private standards and animal welfare are both controversial topics for Members of the World Trade Organisation?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe ethics of consumption: The citizen, the market and the law
EditorsH. Röcklinsberg, P. Sandin
Place of PublicationWageningen
PublisherWageningen Academic Publishers
ISBN (Print)9789086862313
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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