Joanna Lumley stands up for EU pigs

24 September 2013

On Tuesday, 24th September, Joanna Lumley and Dan Jørgensen MEP revealed the shocking results of an investigation by Compassion in World Farming, exposing widespread breaches of EU law in place to protect pigs. The press conference was held at the European Parliament in Brussels and brought the plight of Europe's pigs to the attention of attending MEPs and key stakeholders such as those in the industry and other NGOs.

The scale of the issue was highlighted by a short film and the strong words of Joanna Lumley, Dan Jørgensen MEP and Peter Stevenson Chief Policy Advisor at Compassion who all spoke passionately about the need to enforce existing rules to protect pigs.

Strong words

Joanna Lumley, patron of Compassion, says: "I don't know what I'm most shocked by: this ghastly film showing pigs kept in this deplorable way, or the absolute indifference of most European Member States and many pig veterinarians.

"Everything shown in this film is indefensible. Pigs are sentient beings and they can feel joy, affection, fear and indeed despair.

"The scandal is that the EU Pigs Directive is a law that is completely flouted. Pigs need straw to root around in and mustn't have their tails docked. What has happened to that law? Laws must be enforced - otherwise there's no point in parliament, there's no point in democracy.

"All we're asking for is for laws to be enforced. Is that so hard?"

Shocking findings

Compassion conducted undercover investigations in Europe over six months in order to expose the reality of life for pigs farmed in Europe. Investigations have taken place in Cyprus, Czech Republic, Ireland, Italy, Poland and Spain. The footage gathered shows blatant disregard for the EU Pigs Directive which is in place to protect pigs.

"Systematic neglect"

Philip Lymbery, CEO of Compassion says: "It is great to have Joanna's support in bringing the shocking findings of our pigs investigation to the European community.

"The systematic neglect for pig welfare our investigation has exposed is unforgivable and I fear our findings are representative of European pig farms. Much of the EU pig sector is a squalid disgrace. It is out of control, behaving as if it is above the law.

"We urge pig farmers to belatedly respect the welfare laws and the Member States and the Commission to now enforce these laws with real commitment.

"We also urge retailers to not stock pork, ham and bacon that have been produced illegally."

Better enforcement is needed

MEPs from a number of countries attended and many spoke in favour of better enforcement to protect pig welfare. An open letter was distributed at the event, and will be circulated to all MEPs. The letter asks the Commission and Agriculture Ministers in all 28 Member States, to ensure the Pigs Directive is fully enforced.

You can watch the investigation footage presented to MEPs here. Please be advised that this footage is disturbing. Appalling conditions for pigs are revealed; from filthy barren pens to sick pigs being abandoned to die in dingy corridors. You can help: email the non-compliant countries.

Messages from our sponsors

We would to thank all of our supporters who sponsored this event. The essential work we do would not be possible without the incredible support we receive. The messages our supporters wrote are now in the hands of MEP's. We were uplifted and encouraged by the many messages we received.

Widespread coverage

We received widespread media coverage both internationally and regionally in the UK. Regional coverage included The Northern Echo North East, Western Morning News South West, Western Daily Press Farming and Evening Express Scotland.

We received international media attention from The Huffington Post, Cyprus Mail, Gibraltar Chronicle and Euronews amongst others.

Take action

Take action for pigs by calling for the agriculture ministers in countries who are not compliant to comply with the ban on sow stalls.

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