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Dutch Animal Rights Law Could Make Leashing Dogs Illegal

Pushed by a small but influential animal rights party in the Netherlands, the law could also ban keeping birds in cages and force farmers to widen pig pens and grazing areas.

Like a dog on a leash
Like a dog on a leash
Meike Eijsberg

THE HAGUE— Rabbits and birds may no longer be kept in a pen or cage, while dog owners may have to forego a leash in the Netherlands from 2023 onwards. This is the result of a proposed new animal protection law that aims to reorient the debate about animal rights, which was approved by the Dutch Senate late last month with virtually no media attention at the time.

The Amsterdam-based Het Parool daily reports that the new law, introduced by the small but influential Party for the Animals, updates previous legislation to require that animals are able to exhibit "natural behavior," and must no longer suffer pain or discomfort when kept in stables, pens or cages. It is primarily aimed at owners of livestock who must ensure that pigs, for example, have enough room to roll around in the mud.

Dutch farmers, who have previously protested against a government plan to combat nitrogen emissions, are strongly opposed to the new bill that they fear will undermine their businesses and put an end to intensive livestock farming. The Netherlands Minister of Agriculture, Carola Schouten, is currently analyzing the law to determine what it would mean in practice. "It's very openly formulated," she said according to Het Parool. The new law would go into effect on January 1, 2023.

Whether the law will also apply to pet owners is not yet clear. After it was first introduced in April, it was met with raised eyebrows by many questioning its feasibility. It will be difficult to enforce, according to Bas Rodenburg, Professor of Animal Welfare at the University of Utrecht and cited by the Dutch broadcaster, NOS. "There are millions of pet owners. How are you going to check them all?"

The law was proposed by the Party for the Animals, a left-leaning party founded in 2002, that is believed to be the only animal rights party with national legislative power. It currently occupies 3 out of 75 seats in the Senate and 6 out of 150 seats in the House of Representatives. It advocates for animal rights and welfare, as well as for action to reverse global warming.

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Tax Windfalls, Big Tobacco: The Untold Story Of What Really Feeds China's Smoking Habit

No country in the world has as big a cigarette industry as China. This is the story of how a giant state-backed monopoly created the industry, which provides more tax revenue than any other, and ultimately sabotaged the country's anti-smoking efforts in the process.

Chinese man smoking a cigarette with a solemn facial expression

Beijing - A Chinese man smokes a cigarette outside a shopping center

Stephen Shaver / ZUMA
Jude Chan, Jason McLure & Christoph Giesen

Over the past two decades, global tobacco use has declined by 11%. In China, that number is only 1%. China, which accounts for one-fifth of the world's population, consumes nearly half of the world's cigarettes — more than 2.4 trillion a year. That's more than the next 67 countries combined.

Why is China's smoking epidemic so difficult to contain? How does the Chinese tobacco industry function? How do the people who grow tobacco survive under the monopolistic system that permeates the supply chain?

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