From Iceland — More Than Twice As Much Blood As Recommended Is Taken From Mares In Iceland

More Than Twice As Much Blood As Recommended Is Taken From Mares In Iceland

Published November 22, 2022

Photo by
Sarah Pepin

More than twice as much blood may be taken from mares in Iceland as is recommended by international standards, states Stjórn Samtaka um dýravelferð/Animal Welfare in Iceland (SDÍ), following our article that follows the biotech company’s Ísteka 2022 report.

SDÍ is confident that the industry’s expectations of profit and yield are rated higher than the protection of blood mares. The demands of the professional associations (Landsamband Hestamannafélaga LH, Félag Tamningamanna FT, Veterinarians’ Association DÍ), the Animal Welfare Council (Fagráð um velferð dýra) and the animal welfare associations are largely ignored.

SDÍ representatives state that the claim by Ísteka and MAST that the blood sampling is based on scientifically recognised data relating to the health of the mares is questionable. To date, there have been no scientific studies of repeated blood sampling in pregnant mares, let alone pregnant and lactating mares.

People’s Party MP Inga Sæland’s draft law to ban the blood mare industry has now been put forward for the third time, but still has virtually no chance of government support.

SDÍ emphasises that the blood collection continues to take place “behind closed doors”. The group asked if they could perform unannounced visits for an independent assessment but this appeal was rejected by Ísteka. “If you have nothing to hide, you should not be afraid to open your doors,” says SDÍ.

According to SDÍ, the claim by Ísteka’s spokesperson that PMSG production would positively contribute to climate protection seems implausible in view of its main use in industrial pig breeding. The negative effects of factory farming on health, animal welfare, the environment and the climate are well known.

FEIF, the International Federation of Icelandic Horse Associations supports the SDÍ appeal.

“There are positive aspects, such as the number of blood mares has decreased and there are fewer farmers and veterinarians who want to participate in this. And it is of course a sign that people are generally more informed about this,” says Rósa Líf Darradóttir, a doctor and horse breeder, about Ísteka’s annual review of blood donation for blood mares.

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