MEPs condemn overuse of antibiotics in pigs

MEPs will condemn the use of EU taxpayers’ money to subsidise industrial pig farming over small family farms at an especially convened meeting in Brussels, and will question:

1. the use of antibiotics in industrial pig farming linked to the spread of antibiotic resistant diseases to humans,

2. cancer-causing dioxins found in pig feed raising concerns over European food standards.

On 9 February, MEPs will hear evidence that European taxpayers’ money is being used by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, together with Common Agriculture Policy payments, to subsidise industrial pig farming even though there is increasing concern over the impact on human health. With a vote this summer over reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy, MEPs will come together to take a stance against the crisis in agriculture with critically low prices for pork, poor labelling, and widespread disregard for animal welfare laws.

MEPs and NGOs will condemn the overuse of antibiotics in factory farms which has led to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as MRSA and ESBL E. coli. A recent report by the Dutch Food Standards Agency estimated that one third to one half of all antibiotic resistance in human diseases in the Netherlands derives from farm antibiotic use. American scientists recently found that flies and cockroaches from intensive pig farms carry bacteria resistant to the same antibiotics routinely used in pig farming, and warned that the insects were likely to be able to spread the disease from the farms to local people.

In the aftermath of the German food safety crisis in January where carcinogenic dioxins were fed to chickens and in higher quantities, pigs, and EU sampling that suggests up to 90% of pigs are illegally routinely tail docked and 67% are housed in sub-standard fully slatted systems, campaigners are calling this a ’crisis in European food standards.’

José Bové MEP, Dan Jørgensen MEP and Janusz Wojciechowski MEP will unite at this specially convened conference to condemn the importation of US style industrial pig farming into the EU, in partnership with director of the film and campaign ’Pig Business’, Tracy Worcester.

José Bové MEP said: "We are at a crisis point in European farming. Small farms, which for centuries have been the backbone of our food production, are being replaced by industrial farms where the welfare of animals, and human health, is put second to the cult of profit."

Janusz Wojciechowski MEP said: "In my opinion, large-scale farming should be banned in the European Union, with a simultaneous ban on the imports of meat products from such farms outside of the EU. It should be forbidden to create new large farms, and the existing ones should be gradually eliminated."

The event has the support of leading NGOs, including UK farm animal welfare group Compassion in World Farming, European Coordination Via Campesina, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, IFOAM and English actors Sienna Miller, Dominic West and Leslie Ash. Together with Pig Business, the NGOs are calling for the strengthening of EU policy on production methods and welfare standards, and reform of the Common Agricultural Policy to safeguard family farms, the welfare of animals, our environment and health. To emphasise the opportunities for reform of the industrial farming model, MEPs will be asked to undertake Pig Business’ Six Big Asks.