Court review challenging Defra over use of ‘Frankenchickens’ granted

A challenge against the government over the legality of genetically bred fast growing broilers has won a full hearing in the High Court.

Court of Appeal judge Lord Justice Singh said a full hearing of the facts about the fast-growing chickens is in the public interest.

The Humane League UK, which launched the legal challenge, argues that the use of conventional meat chicken breeds which “grow abnormally large and abnormally fast” breaches the Animal Welfare Regulations 2007. breeding (England).

Charities such as the Humane League UK have campaigned for food companies to pledge to end the use of fast-growing ‘Frankenchickens’ by asking them to sign up to the Better Chicken Commitment (BCC).

The BCC is urging companies to switch to slower growing poultry breeds. KFC, Nando’s, Greggs, Marks and Spencer and Waitrose are among 330 businesses across the UK and EU to have pledged.

Claire Williams, head of campaigns at the Humane League UK, said the latest development was an important milestone for the legal case.

“We have beaten all odds to present the horrific life of fast-growing chickens to the High Court in full, and we will make a strong case that the farming of these birds is completely illegal.

“These animals have suffering coded into their DNA, and we hope the justice system will rightly condemn this.”

The law states that animals may only be kept for breeding purposes if there is a reasonable expectation, based on their genotype or phenotype, that they can be kept without any detrimental effects. on their health or well-being.

Defra, the defendant in the case, argues that it had no policy that condoned or permitted the use of these broilers.

The case also calls into question the ‘trigger system’, Defra’s monitoring system aimed at detecting welfare issues associated with conventional breeds of which campaigners say the overwhelming majority will be growing chicken breeds fast.

The trigger system requires slaughterhouse vets to report problems, but only if they occur above a given threshold – which the Humane League UK says is “far too high”.

Edie Bowles, the solicitor representing the Humane League in the case, said: “After being refused leave twice by the High Court, we were successful in the Court of Appeal, which gave the opportunity to present the case at a full hearing.

“The decision to grant judicial review was the right one. Not only is it clear that the law prohibits the breeding of animals subject to suffering, but combine that with a surveillance system that is insufficient to protect animals from suffering. extremes and we see a system that is as broken as it is illegal.

“This broken system also helps illegal producers compete with law-abiding producers by getting cheaper chickens on the market.”