Pigs systematically treated with hormones

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BUND calls for a ban on the use of hormones in pig breeding

In pig breeding, hormones are often used to increase performance, which then get "with the slurry in soils and water and thus also in drinking water resources", reports the Federal for Environment and Nature Conservation Germany (BUND) in a current press release. The environmental protection organization therefore asked the Federal Minister of Agriculture Hans-Peter Friedrich to "ban the use of hormones to increase performance in piglet breeding."

The BUND study "On the use of hormones in intensive sow husbandry" made it clear that hormone-effective substances are used in many pig farms to optimize rearing. BUND chairman Hubert Weiger explained that the systematic use of hormone preparations primarily serves to reduce the care effort for the mother animals and to increase the number of piglets. These unacceptable hormone applications in pig breeding must be banned, according to the BUND. Because it is "neither compatible with animal protection nor with the protection of the environment from the entry of risky substances."

Masses of hormone preparations administered According to the BUND, the administration of hormone preparations in pig breeding is used to synchronize the sex cycles of the sows, which significantly simplifies the operational processes. Reinhild Benning, an agricultural expert at BUND, explained that the use of hormonally effective drugs in mother sows in large pig breeding facilities means that an increasing number of piglets are being born. Overall, this practice of using hormones contradicts the objective of the Medicinal Products Act, because "this provides that medication is used to heal sick animals," reports the BUND. Hubert Weiger therefore asked the Federal Minister of Agriculture to put an end to this "animal and environmentally harmful practice". A turnaround in agricultural policy is necessary here, "away from factory farming and away from subsidizing an agricultural industry that turns animals into childbearing machines," emphasized the chairman of the BUND.

Disclosing data on the use of hormones in pig breeding The agricultural expert Reinhild Benning further explained that the unnaturally high number of piglets per sow means that piglets die more often because the number of teats is often not sufficient to suckle all young animals. It should also be assessed extremely critically that the hormonally active substances get into the environment with the manure. The hormones cannot or only partially be removed from contaminated drinking water, so that they are ultimately also absorbed by humans. In addition, according to the BUND, impairments of other animal species are to be expected. In order to enable a better risk assessment, the Federal Agriculture Minister had to disclose all data on the hormones used in livestock farming and their quantities, the BUND chairman demanded. The most recent figures for this were published in 2003. Back then, according to BUND, 670 kilograms of hormone preparations were used in veterinary medicine every year.

Abandonment of "industrial animal husbandry" has demanded that animal husbandry have intensified since then and meanwhile much larger amounts of hormone preparations would probably be used. In particular, the use of so-called steroids must be monitored much more strictly here. "These drugs, which are considered to be genetically damaging and carcinogenic, are used, among other things, to synchronize the cycle in sows," reports the BUND. BUND chairman Hubert Weiger emphasized that this "agricultural policy, which is primarily based on growth in industrial animal husbandry, leads to more environmental damage, great animal suffering and high consequential costs for society". In general, a rethink is necessary here. On January 18, the BUND therefore registered a demonstration on the occasion of the Green Week in Berlin, at which consumers and farmers protest together against these risks and side effects of the agricultural industry. Germany must say goodbye to striving for the title of "export world champion" in meat, Weiger continued. The Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) also reported on the results of the current BUND study in an exclusive article. (fp)

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