Gé Backus, researcher at Wageningen University:

Amsterdam, November 30th, 2011

At the international conference ‘Boars heading for 2018’ on November 30th, 2011, researcher Gé Backus from Wageningen University concludes that in 2011 the Dutch food retail market made a successful leap forward in selling meat form entire male pigs. Dutch retail and food service only sell meat from non castrated pigs, and companies are satisfied and benefiting from better reputation. Market acceptance is realized and pork meat consumption showed the same development as poultry meat consumption. Reaching the goal of the Declaration of Bussels will be the next important goal.

In his presentation at the international conference ‘Boars heading for 2018’ in Amsterdam, November 30th, 2011, Gé Backus gave an overview on the emerging media coverage of the castration issue in several European countries. Gé Backus said “there is an increasing sense of urgency in several countries and NGO’s play a major role as driving factor.”

According to Gé Backus, recent research has gradually unraveled myths about boar taint. Two examples are that gilts can’t produce boar taint and that more than 20% of boars have boar taint. The main, and most challenging research lies now in the areas of market acceptance and animal welfare. ,,Solutions to prevent boar taint are a combination of preventive measures – breeding, feeding and farm management – and a safety net at the slaughter-line. Adequate housing and feeding can prevent aggressive behaviour.”

,,We are making progress on an age old issue. But each country has its own clock speed”.. But,” Gé Backus emphasized, ,,Learning from each other is crucial to reach the goal to end castration in 2018,.”

Gé Backus emphasized that learning from each other is crucial to the success of the Declaration of Brussels which aims to end castration of male piglets in the EU in 2018. Myths about boar taint are obstacles to the thinking about and debating relevant directions for solutions. Backus presented five myths about boar taint that cause narrow-mindedness.

About Gé Backus

Gé Backus is head of the research area Consumer & Behaviour at LEI Wageningen UR. He is internationally recognized as a leading expert in the field of intensive animal husbandry and supply chain management. He advised several major international food companies and public authorities like FAO and World Bank regarding sustainability issues. He is coordinator of the national 5-year Dutch research program “Stopping the castration of piglets”.