Blood Farms : The fight continues

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Blood Farms : The fight continues

It’s been a year and a half since the existence of blood farms in Iceland came to light. Since then, animal welfare groups and the European Union have been calling for the closure of these farms. A measure also supported by the Icelandic population.

Already in May 2022, the European Union asked the Icelandic government to put an end to the exploitation of pregnant mares in blood farms. A few days ago, the association Welfarm unveiled a new video (see below) which denounces the living conditions of mares exploited in these farms. Beatings with sticks on the legs, head or back, confinement in dangerous restraint boxes, samples despite a history of phlebitis are part of the mistreatment denounced by the association.

In Iceland, pregnant mares are bled regularly, up to 5 liters of blood per sampling according to Welfarm, to collect the eCG hormone that they produce during their pregnancy.

This hormone, which is used in European industrial breeding, is used to program and synchronize the ovulation period of females (sows, ewes, cows or goats) and thus optimize the reproductive cycles of these farm animals.

The Welfarm association specifies that “Professor Axel Wehrend, a doctor specializing in animal reproduction, believes that the use of this hormone is no longer appropriate to our times. He believes that “the programs used today in the production of piglets date back mainly to research conducted in the former East Germany.”

TO THE DISPLEASURE OF PUBLIC OPINION

According to the Icelandic media Frettabladid, 66% of the Icelandic population does not support the blood farm industry. Indeed, these farms are damaging the image of the country, which has a positive reputation in terms of animal welfare.

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To counteract the deterioration of this image, “the Icelandic government passed a new regulation on August 3, 2022 to somewhat regulate the production of eCG hormone, pending a decision on the future of the industry in 2025.”

Originally, the law was to reduce the number of blood samples per gestation from eight to six. In the end, the text was adopted with a frequency of eight samplings, as demanded by the company Ísteka.

WHAT IS ÍSTEKA?

If it offends public opinion, the trade of the eCG hormone is a good business for some. This is particularly the case of the pharmaceutical company Ísteka, which is widely pointed out in the video of the association Welfarm.

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This biotech company is also the largest horse owner in Iceland. It “produces medicinal substances from blood under the strict supervision of the Norwegian Medicines and Veterinary Agency*”, as it defines itself on its website. The same website that praises the animal welfare values that Ísteka holds dear.

It states: “The biotech company Ísteka works for the prosperity and welfare of the animals by concluding special welfare agreements with all the farmers it works with. In total, the company’s animal welfare agreements with farmers number around 100.

For example, access to “good pasture, water and salt rocks” or “the guarantee to let the foal walk freely under its mother to meet its nutritional needs*”. On the other hand, it would be interesting to know more about the qualifications of “good facilities where blood transfusions take place“, among others.

A FIGHT WITH A WIDER SPECTRUM

Through this video, the Welfarm association denounces the omnipresent need for the agri-food industry’s yield at the expense of decent living conditions for animals. “The eCG is only necessary when we raise pigs in poor conditions,” says Rósa Líf Darradéttir, an Icelandic doctor of medicine. “If an animal is raised in bad conditions, it is not as fertile as if it was raised correctly,” adds Marco Wienberg, a German pig farmer.

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Warning: this video contains images that may offend some audiences.

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