The Government deal to fly live pigs to China is “absurd and cruel,” according to animal welfare activists.
Protesters will gather outside Leinster House this afternoon to protest the new trade deal, which allows for the export of high-quality breeding pigs to China.
The deal also includes a new protocol on the sheep meat, which the Government has described as an “important milestone” in gaining access to the lucrative Chinese market
Musicians Cathy Davey and Neil Hannon will join actress Pauline McLynn and animal rights activists at this afternoon’s protest.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Caroline Rowley, Director of Ethical Farming Ireland said the trip to China would be terrifying for live pigs.
“First of all, pigs are very sensitive and intelligent animals,” she said.
“They stress easily, they don’t travel well and they are going to be packed into crates and loaded into cargo planes.
“It is going to be extremely noisy which is going to cause them great anxiety. They are going to be dealing with the turbulence and changes in air pressure – it is going to be terrifying for them frankly.”
She also warned that it is wrong to send live animals to a country that has no nationwide animal welfare laws.
“It is not actually illegal to be cruel to animals and there is no requirement to stun before slaughter - they are going for breeding but of course they will end up being slaughtered – and it is just completely unnecessary to send them in this day and age,” she said.
“We can send semen; we can send embryos; there are other ways of doing this without transporting animals halfway around the world.”
Ms Rowley also noted that China’s pig industry is almost entirely intensive – meaning the animals are likely to be kept indoor in cramped conditions for the rest of their lives.
In recent years, China has been dealing with outbreaks of African Swine Fever among its pig population and was forced to cull 200 million animals in 2019.
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