One of the first pieces of legislation being introduced to the newly-formed Icelandic Parliament is a proposed ban on so-called “blood farms”, Vísir reports.
The bill has been introduced by People’s Party chair Inga Sæland, and would make changes to the existing law on animal welfare. She is hopeful that the matter will be taken up for discussion before Christmas break.
As reported last week, the Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) and Tierschutzbund Zurich released a graphic and disturbing 20-minute documentary on “blood farms” in Iceland—farms where pregnant mares have their blood harvested for the purpose of extracting the hormone PMSG, “which is used primarily in industrial piglet production to boost fertility and to synchronise births”.
Iceland is one of only three countries in the world that continues this practice, the others being Argentina and Uruguay. The video documents that there are 119 such blood farms in Iceland with about 5,000 Icelandic horses overall. Apart from the documented beating, harassment, and poor conditions in which the horses are kept, the procedure itself is also costly for the horses. PMSG can reportedly only be extracted in early pregnancy, and so foals are typically aborted in order to allow for mares to be impregnated twice yearly. Furthermore, the AWF says that about 30% of these mares drop out of the system, either from dying under these conditions or from being sent to slaughterhouses when they can no longer get pregnant.
Icelandic veterinary authorities are reportedly aware of the practice, saying that they conduct routine inspections and, if violations are found on site, the practice is stopped at once. However, they also said that they only visit about 40% of these farms each year.
The revelations have sparked outrage in a country known for its unique horse breed, with strong objections raised by both horse farmers and other Icelanders alike. Nonetheless, whether or not a bill from an opposition party will pass remains to be seen.
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