Press release

Tönnies drives discussion on transformation of meat industry

Start Allgemein Tönnies drives discussion on transformation of meat industry

Tönnies Research Symposium

Tönnies drives discussion on transformation of meat industry

Berlin, 8./9. November 2021 – At the 5th Tönnies Research Symposium, 130 top-class guests from science, business, non-governmental organizations, politics, agriculture as well as the food retail sector met in Berlin. In addition to reports on current research projects in the field of animal welfare, the discussions focused on questions concerning the transformation of animal husbandry in Germany. Clemens Tönnies called on politicians and all players in the food chain to drive forward the transformation of livestock farming toward greater animal welfare and climate protection, not without holding himself and his company accountable.

Jochen Borchert, former Federal Minister of Agriculture and Chairman of the Competence Network for Animal Husbandry, kicked off the event. He clarified his recommendations for the future of livestock farming in Germany and made a clear demand of the new federal government: “The political course needs to be set now in favor of restructuring livestock farming.” Otherwise, he said, the historically unique agricultural consensus of the environment, animal welfare and agriculture would be destroyed. The symposium was officially opened by Prof. Dr. Hans-Joachim Bätza, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Tönnies Forschung. The scientific impulses from Dr. Sarah Blim, Prof. Dr. Hartwig Bostedt, Mirjam Lechner and Prof. Dr. Gerald Reiner represented professional breakthroughs in animal welfare research with their reports on the projects supported by Tönnies Research. For example, in his project at the University of Giessen, Prof. Reiner has shown over the past two years that necrotic diseases in pigs and also the so-called tail biting are to a considerable extent genetically determined. This knowledge can be used in a targeted manner in animal breeding by using animals that are less susceptible to this disease.

In the ensuing social discourse at the symposium, the Chairman of the Conference of Agriculture Ministers, Minister Wolfram Günter of Bündnis 90/Die Grünen and Minister of State for Energy, Climate Protection, Environment and Agriculture of the Free State of Saxony, made it clear that social requirements with regard to animal welfare, climate protection and the preservation of biodiversity make it essential to restructure livestock farming. Even if farmers, producers, trade, politics and NGOs have partly different interests in livestock farming, Günter summed up, the acceptance for livestock farming must be maintained together.

In a lively debate, Werner-Schwarz, President of the Schleswig-Holstein Farmers’ Association, Prof. Dr. Dr. Kai Frölich, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Tönnies Research, communication designer and food activist Hendrik Haase, former Federal Minister of Agriculture Jochen Borchert and Wolfram Günter, Chairman of the Conference of Agriculture Ministers, discussed how the newly elected federal government should define the restructuring in the coalition agreement and subsequently implement it. “Everyone must pull together and interdisciplinary cooperation is essential,” Frölich explained. With great approval from the auditorium, ALDI CEO Tobias Heinbockel also acknowledged the transformation of the industry and Aldi’s recently published position paper “Change of Attitude” with his speech at the end of the debate. Representatives of all food retailers expressed their willingness to participate in the awakening of an entire industry, in the interest of German agriculture.

This year’s winning entry for the €10,000 Bernd Tönnies Prize is also aimed directly at consumers. Prize winner and SR editor Sigrid Born-Berg’s television contribution “Ethics or label fraud – organic meat – between animal welfare and free riders” shows, among other things, what contribution meat consumers can make to support animal welfare and climate protection. Born-Berg received the award from laudator and jury member Martina Lenk during the festive evening event of the symposium.
The event was held under strict 2-G rule due to Corona.