PHOTO BY SCOTT EISEN
The Humane League protests outside of the Walmart on the Lynnway as part of a nation-wide campaign to convince the food retailer to source 100 percent cage-free eggs in Mexico on Sunday.
By GAYLA CAWLEY
LYNN — Animal rights activists are urging Walmart to extend its commitment to sell only cage-free eggs in the United States by 2025, to Mexico and Latin America.
About a dozen protesters associated with The Humane League stood outside Walmart’s parking lot on the Lynnway Sunday afternoon, holding signs reading “Stop Walmart Double Standards” and “End This Abuse.” The hashtag #walmartdoublestandards has been circulating around social media.
Since its founding in 2005, The Humane League has been committed to ending the caging of hens in the egg industry worldwide. Activists say the cage-free campaign highlights Walmart’s unjust food practices and its support of animal cruelty in Mexico by continuing practices that it has already committed to eliminate in the U.S.
“It’s important because right now, millions, actually billions of animals each year, chickens in particular, are confined to cages so small that they can’t extend their limbs and live comfortable lives,” said Chris Hendrickson, Boston grassroots director for The Humane League. “Battery cages have been an industry standard for chicken confinement, but as we saw with Question 3 passing here in Massachusetts, 78 percent of Massachusetts voters think that battery cages are not just animal confinement, but in fact, it’s cruelty and should be banned in the state.”
In November, Massachusetts voters passed Question 3, which prohibits the sale of eggs, veal or pork of a farm animal confined in spaces that prevent the animal from lying down, standing up, extending its limbs or turning around.
“We are simply asking them to extend this policy that they’ve already publicly committed to here in the U.S. to the Mexican stores and the Latin American stores,” Hendrickson said. “So, it’s extension of something they’re already actively working on and I commend Walmart tremendously for being so robust in modifying their animal welfare policies.”
A Walmart spokesman said the company has committed to implementing a cage-free policy in its stores by 2025 in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom. The spokesman said Mexico presents different challenges, but that cage-free eggs are offered for sale to customers there by choice.
“We care about animal welfare and understand Humane League’s concerns, which is why we have implemented cage-free policies in U.S., Canada and UK,” said Kevin Gardner, senior director of global responsibility communications for Walmart, in a statement. “In Mexico, eggs are the most cost-effective protein people can buy. Moving to a cage-free policy there would increase the cost of eggs by 150 percent, thus possibly eliminating a key protein source for many of our customers.”
Hendrickson, a 28-year-old Medford resident, said he was proud of the “true animal heroes” who showed up for the protest, to show support for those who don’t have a voice in cages. He said simultaneous demonstrations were being held in Chicago and Denver.
“We’re not going to stop until they extend this policy to Latin America to end the cruel practice of using battery cages,” he said.
Gayla Cawley can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.