In December 2010, representatives of European farmers, meat industry, retailers, scientists, veterinarians and animal welfare NGO’s endorsed the European Declaration on alternatives to surgical castration of pigs. It has been agreed that there is no need to propose further legislation in the EU to ban the practice. The declaration is an open invitation for every actor in the European pig sector and European retailers to join this voluntary initiative aiming in the long term to stop surgical castration of male pigs by 1 January 2018. The declaration mentions different tools to be available and applicable to ensure the implementation of the end of surgical castration.
The declaration has a point on financing and on research and development in this field. Therefore, the Commission adopted in August 2011 a work program to support technical, scientific and educational measures to identify and introduce alternatives to surgical castration of pigs (2011/C243/06).
An expert group with main representatives of the pig sector (pig producers, pig meat industry, animal welfare organizations, consumers and scientists) will be established to develop a set of future actions in order to meet the 1 January 2018 deadline.
Actions – update April 2013
Within the framework five studies have been launched:
- Development of reference methods for the detection and the measurement of the main compounds responsible for boar taint.
- Study on consumer acceptance in the European Union and in third countries of pig meat obtained from male pigs not surgically castrated.
- Study on rapid detection methods for boar taint used or being developed at slaughter plants in the European Union.
- Study on how to achieve reduction of boar taint compounds by breeding, feeding and management techniques.
- Study and economic analysis of the costs and benefits of ending surgical castration of pigs.
Related to the actions of the European Union on alternatives to surgical castration of pigs a website is available since 2012 www.alternativepig.eu.