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The campaign continues ...

Although a lot (and I mean a lot!) has happened since March, you might remember that earlier in the year I asked for your help to sign, share and support a petition going before the Scottish Parliament: calling on the Scottish Government to ban the maceration of newborn male chicks in the egg industry and set a deadline for the end of all live chick culling. The support you showed was incredible and I was so proud to send all of our signatures to the Petitions Committee.

However, with great sadness and shame on behalf of Scotland, I now have to share the disappointing news that the government decided to close the petition without taking action. Although they thanked me and the petition's supporters for raising an issue many were unaware of, they maintain that 1995 legislation stipulating slaughter methods should not cause 'unnecessary suffering' remains sufficient to cover today's newborn chicks. They are also unprepared to make any changes to the status quo until in-ovo chick sexing (determining the sex before an egg hatches and therefore eliminating the need for live chick culls) becomes 'commercially viable' on an 'industrial scale'. Their response went on to employ the loophole - or should that be, chickened out? - with the statement that there are no hatcheries currently active in Scotland and therefore technically no chicks being killed here. To me, that's far from enough: Scottish egg producers continue to acquire their birds from English hatcheries where newborn males are killed - the uncles rather than brothers of every egg in a Scottish supermarket - and there is nothing at all to stop that practice taking place in Scotland in the future (including, for example, if we ever become an independent country).

This result is deeply disappointing, of course, but hope is at hand when we look to other countries in Europe. In Germany and the Netherlands, for instance, consumers can already purchase 'no-kill' eggs made by Respeggt: a company that has pioneered in-ovo sexing technology and tells me they'd be very willing to sell in Britain if one of our supermarkets is prepared to be the 'first mover' in stocking no-kill eggs. And with that, we have phase two of the campaign! I'm in the process of writing to every British supermarket and will keep you informed as to their responses - who do you think will be first to embrace the next step for ethical food production? Stay tuned for future updates and please continue to spread the word about the reality of this issue wherever you can. Most importantly, next time you go shopping, use the pound in your pocket to make clear to governments and businesses alike that compassion matters more than commerce to all right-thinking customers.

'I cease to rage against God. I have no need to

as long as I am free to set free

one trembling creature from its cage.'

The Little Bird, Alexander Pushkin

Updates (as the responses from supermarkets come in ...):

Waitrose: 'Animal welfare is very important to us ... we are pursuing research to allow the sexing of eggs after laying as a more sustainable solution.'

Aldi: 'Always a pleasure to receive suggestions ... comments forwarded for consideration and review.'

Farmfoods: Appreciate comments and have forwarded them to relevant commercial team.

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