Pig industry must act now to minimise suffering
Posted on 05/12/2011
Eurogroup for Animals is extremely disappointed that during the Boars Heading for 2018 Conference in Amsterdam there was no discussion on the implementation of the first step of the European Declaration on the Alternatives to Surgical Castration of Pigs on 1 January 2012. This requires that all surgical castration of pigs is carried out with either anaesthesia or at least prolonged analgesia.
In their presentations, neither the Commission, meat marketers, meat processors, nor the farmers mentioned the changes to castration practices that the Declaration calls for and how they will be implemented. Coupled with this no new signatories have come forward and existing signatories are not spreading the message. The European Commission has previously committed to work with stakeholders to develop a European partnership to ensure alternatives to castration are developed but it is obvious that it is not willing to promote the Declaration and encourage farmers to comply with its clear measures. It is vital that farmers, retailers and food producers are informed and engaged with this initiative and the Commission to date has failed to communicate effectively on this issue with the food chain partners
“Eurogroup welcomed the adoption of the declaration and saw it as a step forward but only one step in a long process. We stated that it was vital that all stakeholders remained committed to the principles of the Declaration and deliver results. This is obviously not the case and the Commission and the farmersmust take action today and prove it is sincere in its desire to phase out routine pig castration. We are deeplydisappointed that despite the fact that good alternatives exist, including vaccination and painkillers, the food chain is still failing to implement them,” said Dr Michel Courat, Eurogroup for Animals’ Policy Officer for Farm Animals.
“The number of stakeholders that have signed up to the Declaration is derisory. Unless the message is spread further especially by the farmers themselves the Declaration not be worth the paper it is written on and animal suffering and distress will continue unabated. This is totally unacceptableif there is no commitment to voluntarily change Eurogroup will have no choice but to call for legislation to be introduced as quickly as possible,” he concluded.
The Declaration is the first voluntary commitment of its kind to replace the need for legislation and was designed to bring together major players and stakeholders in the pig meat chain committing them to deliver on clear measureable actions over the next seven years. The declaration ensures that after 1 January 2012 no surgical castration will take place without recognised prolonged analgesia and/or anaesthesia and after 1 January 2018 no surgical castration will take place at all. The lack of implementation even for the first deadline shows that stakeholders, in particular COPA-COGECA which represents the farmers, are not taking this seriously.
Castration of piglets is currently widely practised in the EU to stop the development of boar taint which causes pork to smell during cooking. This procedure is routinely carried out without analgesia or anaesthesia and causes pain and suffering to the animals both during the procedure and for some time afterwards.