European ban on castration without prior stunning

12 September 2006

European ban on castration without prior stunning

The European Parliament Agriculture Committee today voted to back an SP proposal to ban castration of piglets without prior stunning throughout the European Union. “This is a victory for piglets, consumers and farmers,” said SP Euro-MP Kartika Liotard. “Exactly two years ago Agriculture Commissioner Fisher-Boel told me that there was no possibility of such a measure, but if this goes through he’ll have no choice.”

Castration of piglets without prior stunning is performed in all European countries with the excuse that it prevents the meat from developing a “bear-like” flavour. But, says Liotard, "there are in fact perfectly animal-friendly methods which achieve this and which are much better for both the piglet and the meat.”

Two years ago the European Veterinary Committee undertook a study which demonstrated once and for all that castration without prior stunning is not only exceptionally painful but also totally unnecessary, completely satisfactory alternatives being available. "An approach based on bigger sties, slaughter before transport and a selective breeding programme is better for the animal, better for the farmer and better for the consumer.”

Kartika LiotardDutch Agriculture Minister Cees Veerman is also in favour of a ban, but has argued that he must wait for an initiative from Europe. “We’ve provided him with this,” Ms Liotard said, “so there’s nothing to hold him back from banning this type of castration. Because alternatives are more costly, the acceptance of my resolution was necessary to bring about better animal welfare. Farmers certainly don’t want to perform castration without prior stunning, but as things stand if they go it alone in using alternatives they price themselves out of the market. This should soon no longer be the case.” Mr Veerman will participate in a debate on the issue with the national parliament this coming Thursday.

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