Written by: Heather Clemenceau
Many horse advocates were as horrified as I was to discover that live pregnant mares were being used as hosts for Pregnant Mare’s Serum Gonadotropin (PMSG), extracted on blood farms in Argentina and Uruguay. PMSG, which is used in Canada to stimulate oestrus in livestock, creates many strange bedfellows in the agricultural industry, spanning species, supply chains, and nations. Horses are once again are being commoditized, this time by biopharmaceutical supply chains, and these raw resources are obscured in the final product – primarily pigs, but also sheep, and cattle, farmed deer and elk, and even captive fur-bearing animals. PMSG is a compound designed to produce hyper-fertility in livestock for profit.
Trade in Animal Blood Products Heightens Risk of Disease
According to the World Health Organization, products derived from the international trade in animal products amplify the risk of pathogenic, harmful, or even zoonotic (transferrable to humans from animals and vice versa) disease. PED (porcine epidemic diarrhea) is considered to be epidemic in the U.S. Porcine blood plasma which originated from 10 different countries is generally considered to be the culprit that brought PED to Canada in 2014, via animal feed. And we have apparently learned nothing from the 2003 BSE crisis that arose when cattle were back-fed ground meat and bone from cows infected with the prion disease (or sheep infected with scrapie). When the infected meat is eaten, it can lead to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans – psychiatric symptoms, immobility and death follow months or years afterwards.
2019 Study Found Horse Blood Supplies May Be Contaminated with Equine-Parvovirus-Hepatitis
A new study published in May 2019 found that Equine-Parvovirus-Hepatitis (EqPV-H) viral genomes were found in commercial equine serum pools in the US, Canada, New Zealand, Italy, and
Germany,”suggesting a worldwide distribution,” and urged that requirements for diagnostic tests be implemented immediately to prevent transmission of the disease. Quite apart from the suffering inflicted on blood donor mares, it seems obvious that the international trade of animals and animal products is responsible for the spread of zoonoses and other infectious diseases, creating permanent threats, particularly in developing countries with their organizational weaknesses. The USDA Center for Veterinary Biologics has also proposed that all licensed equine blood products be tested for Equine-Parvovirus-Hepatitis. Equine blood from Argentina and Uruguay is being used to produce PMSG in Canada – it’s unknown whether manufacturers of PMSG test for this virus or to what extent. Testing is important also because blood serum is also used for other applications within the equine veterinary field.
This Animal Welfare Foundation / Tierschutzbund Zürich video reveals that mares farmed for their blood are beaten, many are starved, suffer from untreated injuries, lack of shelter, may suffer from anaemia or hypovolemic shock, endure systematic abortions, and often death.
The breeding of pigs, sheep, and cattle in Canada have their own welfare issues, which are being negatively affected by the increase in productivity caused by PMSG-derived hormone treatments. Since this virus exists in established equine blood serum pools, it is suggestive that the practice of blood collection itself may be advancing the spread of the disease. Many pathogens stay on the farm/ranch, remain in manure, contaminate transport routes and vehicles, as well as in soil and water. This creates risk factors not only for horses and other livestock, but for wildlife as well. Further evidence, if any were needed, that the animal agricultural industry casts a larger footprint than previously imagined – it increases the frequency and duration of suffering in other species in addition to traditional “food” animals – in this case, horses.
These practices give us deceptively cheap food that comes at a high price.
The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition is running an active petition with approximately 117,000 signatories – the respondents – Partnar Animal Health in Canada, the Canadian Animal Health Institute, and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association remain utterly mute on this cruel practice.
This issue should be paramount to all of us, so please sign the petition and send a polite, fact-based email to the Canadian Animal Health Institute and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association to register your disapproval. Ask that synthetic analogs to PMSG be used to eliminate equine suffering in the PMSG industry (unfortunately, this will not end all suffering inflicted on other species via the industry standard of invoking hyper-fertility in other livestock).
Jean Szkotnicki, President, Canadian Animal Health Institute (CAHI), firstname.lastname@example.org,
The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association https://www.canadianveterinarians.net/contact/default.aspx
Mr. Greg Shewfelt, President, Partnar Animal Health, email@example.com