By Lin Chia-nan / Staff reporter
The Council of Agriculture （COA） yesterday announced plans to release its first animal welfare white paper next year and reduce the use of animals in scientific research, as an animal protection fair was held on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office Building in Taipei.
It was the first large animal protection event staged on the boulevard, and the 150 stalls were organized by the six special municipalities’ animal protection agencies, veterinarians’ associations and civic groups from across the nation, the council said.
Many pets and their owners visited the Taipei Veterinary Medical Association’s stall, where volunteers were offering free health checks, blood tests, rabies vaccinations and microchip implants, association chairman Chang Chen-tung （張振東） said.
Such services could cost NT$3,000 or NT$4,000 if performed at veterinarian clinics, he said.
The council’s white paper is aimed at raising awareness about animal protection, COA Secretary-General Chang Chih-sheng （張致盛） said, adding that it would also continue to work on improving the conditions at public animal shelters.
One more meeting with experts would be held this month to finalize the paper before it is published online, COA Animal Protection section chief Jiang Wen-chuan （江文全） said.
The paper would address issues related to companion animals and animals used for economic and laboratory purposes, and propose plans to set up a replacement, reduction and refinement promotion center, he said.
To encourage a reduction in the use of animals as test subjects in the biomedical industry, the council is to propose a cross-agency research project to develop alternative techniques, he said.
The project is expected to begin in 2020 and would include officials from the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the Environmental Protection Administration and the National Laboratory Animal Center, but must first pass a review by the Executive Yuan’s Board of Science and Technology, Jiang said.
The Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan （EAST） was promoting cage-free eggs at the fair, and EAST chief executive Shih Wu-hung （釋悟泓） said nearly 40 egg suppliers have joined the Cage Free Alliance it helped initiate last year.
Membership is expected to exceed 100 next year, Shih said.
More egg suppliers, especially younger farmers, recognize the problems created by battery-cage egg production and the commercial potential for cage-free eggs, especially after Carrefour Taiwan （家樂福） began promoting such eggs this year, Shih said.
Animal lovers and their pets pose on the stage during an animal welfare event and parade on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office Building in Taipei yesterday. Photo: CNA
Council of Agriculture Secretary-General Chang Chih-sheng, center, and others attend an animal welfare event on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office Building in Taipei yesterday. Photo: CNA