Fréttablaðið reports that domestic swine raised in some Icelandic farms are often castrated without anaesthetic, despite the law specifying that animals may only be neutered with anaesthetic and by a veterinarian.
The reason why the pigs are castrated in the first place, according to Vísir, is because uncastrated hogs who grow to adulthood have a meat that tastes stronger than those of neutered swine.
Sigurborg Daðadóttir, a veterinarian and the chairman of the Ministry for the Environment’s animal protection committee, told Vísir that there are a number of reasons for the situation. Namely, though, she believes that there hasn’t yet been a solution found that satisfies consumers, farmers, and animal protection advocates equally.
Geir Gunnar Geirsson, the director of pork producers Stjörnugrís, said that they are just following a tradition that has been used for decades, telling Vísir that they have no access to anaesthetics. He added that he would like to see a solution that operates in the best manner possible, with full consideration to the welfare of the animal.
Árni Stefán Árnason, who is completing his masters in Icelandic animal protection law at the University of Reykjavík, has argued that consumer demand has contributed to the situation. The demand for pork has increased, he says in part, while at the same time the market calls for cheaper meat. This makes it difficult to be able to meet customer demand at the prices asked for, when procedures such as calling in a vet and purchasing anaesthetic are both time-consuming and costly. The problem, from his point of view, is that the law on animal protections is fine as it is, but enforcement is lacking.
The problem might be in the market, but it does not appear to be with the farmers themselves. As Geir Gunnar told Vísir, “I can absolutely confirm that Icelandic pig farmers want their animals to have the best and want to explore every possible avenue to this end. There’s no question about that.”
If this is the case, consumers will have to choose between cheap and available meat that is raised cruelly and illegally, or humane meat that is more expensive and not as readily available.