May 13, 2009
Egypt is still culling pigs despite there being no known link between the recent outbreak of swine flu and pigs. News on the spread of swine flu continues to develop, but there have been no significant discoveries that directly concern pigs, pig farming or pork products.
It was initially reported that the pig cull in Egypt was intended as a precaution against spread of infection from pigs to humans.
It is now known that culling of pigs in densely populated areas of Cairo had been decided a year ago for other reasons, and that news about swine flu was used as an incentive to put that decision into practice.
The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) has confirmed that culling is an inappropriate reaction to the outbreak.
In a statement on their website they advise member countries ‘that the culling of pigs will not help to guard against public or animal health risks.’
Egypt agreed the OIE animal welfare guidelines on transport and slaughter, including humane slaughter and killing for disease control, in 2005.
Last October, Egypt hosted the 2nd OIE global conference on animal welfare – Putting the standards to work – in Cairo.
In the conference recommendations, members were requested to ‘create or update, where necessary, legislation that prevents cruelty to animals as well as legislation that establishes a legal basis for complying with OIE standards for animal health, safety of animal products for human consumption and animal welfare, as well as supporting guidelines for the use of good practice to encourage compliance with OIE standards.'
WSPA objects strongly to the inhumane handling and slaughter methods of pigs shown in recent news coverage, and insists that handling and slaughter should follow the relevant OIE guidelines agreed by Egypt and all other member countries of the OIE.
While the origin of the current outbreak of swine flu is not yet known, there have been reports that the rapid increase of intensive farming practices – also known as factory farming – across the world could have influenced the development of unusual viral hybrids.
WSPA has for a long time been concerned about the implications of intensive animal agriculture on animal welfare as well as its health, environmental and developmental consequences.
The overcrowding and lack of adequate sanitation typical in intensive animal agriculture puts animal and human populations at high risk of diseases spread through animals such as pigs and poultry during their rearing and transportation.
These risks can be greatly reduced by introducing positive change in the farming industry, keeping fewer animals in better conditions.