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Parliamentary questions
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9 March 2020
Question for written answer
to the Commission
Rule 138
Sirpa Pietikäinen
 Answer in writing 
 Subject: Surgical castration of pigs

Surgical castration of pigs is still practised in the EU, but over time the European institutions, animal welfare organisations and farmers have worked to end it in favour of immunocastration or leaving pigs entire.

Immunocastration is known to be a safe practice, is authorised by competent authorities around the world, and radically reduces stress, pain and discomfort in pigs.

The meat of immunocastrated animals is safe for consumers to eat. There is no evidence of health problems ever being generated by the vaccines, which are authorised and available around the world.

Nevertheless, in some countries such as China cultural factors seem to hinder the spread of this welfare-friendly alternative to surgical castration, apparently based on confusion with hormone treatments and on unsubstantiated safety fears. This is having an impact on the practices adopted by some European farmers, who feel that they must go back to surgical castration in order to trade with China.

The EU institutions need to become actively involved in order to prevent unfounded fears undermining long-due progress on this front.

Does the Commission intend to have formal contacts with the Chinese authorities to promote immunocastration or the farming of entire pigs as valid alternatives to surgical castration?

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