The Norwegian Oil Fund, officially called the Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG), has announced it will start screening its investments for animal welfare violations. This decision comes after the Norwegian Parliament revised the fund’s ethical norms and recognized that violations of animal welfare can be seen as "particularly serious violations of fundamental ethical norms", which means that it can justify exclusion of companies from the fund.
This is an important step as the state-owned pension fund is one of the largest shareholders in international meat and dairy corporations, with investments in companies like Marfrig (one of the world’s largest meatpackers), BRF, Indofood, and Cencosud.
“Despite intense outreach attempts made by Sinergia Animal and other animal protection NGOs, these four companies are not taking further steps to improve animal welfare and should be at risk of losing access to GPFG’s funds,” explains Merel van der Mark, Sinergia Animal’s finance and animal welfare manager.
BRF and Marfrig still allow gestation crates to be used for up to 28 days. Along with the use of farrowing crates, pregnant pigs spend a big part of their life locked up in small cages. The Chilean retail company Cencosud still doesn't have a policy commiting to stop sourcing eggs from battery cage farms for Latin America. They announced a full commitment for Brazil and a partial commitment for Chile, but they haven't made any statements for Argentina, Colombia or Peru. The same applies to the Indonesian company Indofood which, while a leading player in Indonesia, still hasn’t announced a cage-free policy.
Cages are considered by experts as one of the cruelest practices of industrial animal agriculture. In the pig industry, sows are confined in a narrow metal crate early in pregnancy. Gestation crates have already been banned completely in Sweden, UK, Norway, and several states in the United States. In the egg industry, hens used in commercial egg production are often kept in cramped battery cages their entire lives. These practices severely restrict the movements of the animals and prevent them from performing their natural behaviours, which cause them stress and even painful diseases.
The Norwegian Oil fund is known for its comprehensive exclusion list, and it has excluded JBS, the world’s largest meatpacker, from investments, over corruption scandals. “We hope they will also be rigorous in the application of their new animal welfare screening criteria” said Merel.