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Agricultural News

Animal Welfare Activists Too Often Ignore Sound Science in Their Efforts to Change Animal Agriculture

Mon, 17 Jan 2011 5:45:16 CST

Animal Welfare Activists Too Often Ignore Sound Science in Their Efforts to Change Animal Agriculture Dr Paul Sundberg is the Vice President for Science and Technology for the National Pork Board. Sundberg is responsible for coordinating all work on science and technology issues within National Pork Board and the pork industry. Sundberg works to represent the industry's concerns to researchers, industry and government officials for pork safety, pork quality, swine health, animal care and human nutrition programs including PRV eradication, animal health and welfare policy development, food safety, HACCP, PRRS research, emergency preparedness and more.

We talked with Dr. Sundberg while he was in Oklahoma City this past week during the January board meeting of the National Pork Board about several of these areas that he has responsiblities in. One area that is of concern to Oklahoma pork industry interests is transporting piglets from Oklahoma to other states to be fed out. Oklahoma moves as many as 100,000 pigs each week out of state from our sow farms- and the talk in Europe of limiting how far a truck loaded with livestock can travel in one day before having to stop is of concern to Oklahoma producers.

Dr. Sundberg says that it's important that for this issue- and any issue having to do with animal agriculture- that we have sound science and a bit of common sense applied to the discussion. He cites a situation with pigs being transported in Europe. He told us about a animal welfare rule that was introduced that mandated a limited number of pigs that could be loaded into a truck and moved. The animal welfare advocates had no research backing their position of wanting to have fewer animals in the truck to limit crowding. Sundberg says that the problem was that the animal welfare position went too far the other direction. When they put a camera into the back of the truck it was found that the animals were bouncing around with every stop and start of the truck- and around every curve. There were not enough pigs in the truck to help brace them from the normal movement you would find in a transport vehicle. He says the bottom line is that sound science was not allowed to work out the right number- a number was picked out of the air and then applied to the situation- not knowing what the impact on the animals would be.

You can hear his account of that case in Europe- and a lot more- by clicking on the LISTEN BAR below.


Ron Hays talks with Dr. Paul Sundberg of the National Pork Board.
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