Hogs in Britain (Part One)

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    Is Britain doing the right thing by exporting its pigs to China? A new hog-based trade agreement with China may not be an ideal business venture for England, but it will prove to be a lucrative source of income.

    Britain is a country teetering on the brink of financial decay, so the country is looking for new and innovative ways of bringing in revenue. And it appears pigs will become a new avenue of income. In a $73.6 million trade agreement, Britain will export pig semen to China to improve the hog genetic makeup in the Middle Kingdom. China is the largest consumer of pork in the world, but Chinese farmers need higher quality pigs. However, the conditions in which pigs are treated in China are controversial.

    Despite China holding the world's largest pig population, they became a net importer of pork in 2008. British pigs grow faster, reproduce quicker than Chinese pigs, and they eat less food.

    Who primarily benefits from this deal?

    Prime Minister David Cameron signed the deal, which will take place in 2014. Farmers will supply the semen, giving them a yearly income of $73 million. Pork farmers in Britain have long suffered from increased rising demand for cheap pork, but exporting semen is an easy way to make money. The hogs will be taken to artificial insemination centers in Britain, where the semen will be flown to China in a fresh or frozen state.

    And there is another looming deal where Britain will also export pig's feet to China, normally thrown away by butchers, but it is considered a delicacy to the Chinese. This could bring in an additional $12 million extra source of revenue for pig farmers.

    China is hoping to become the "Saudi Arabia of sperm," according to an article by Business Insider, hoping to not only export sperm samples from goats and sheep to China, but also around the world.

    Many are hailing the trade agreement, but there are some issues beneath the surface that need to be addressed.

    Drawbacks of the Deal

    From the point of view of farmers and government officials, this will be a fantastic money-making scheme, but it does raise certain ethical questions. Britain is exporting sperm to a nation with little to no animal welfare laws. By British standards, the Chinese method of raising pigs would be illegal on the British Isles, so it is a legitimate raise concern about how these healthy pigs will be treated and raised.

    In my previous article about pigs in China, I discussed the issue of the thousands upon thousands of pigs that are found floating dead in village rivers. Farmers and factories routinely dump unwanted and sick pigs in rivers, and it is a horrid sight to see. Below is a video of dead pigs being fished from a river.

    It is fair to say that China could very well treat their incoming pigs from Britain in the same way as those Chinese hogs decaying in rivers.

    To be fair to China, however, they are in the midst of industrialization, and may eventually pass forms of legislation safeguarding the wellbeing of farm animals. Currently, the Chinese are in the same industrial phase as the West roughly a century ago.

    However, the trade deal also deals with the issue of world overconsumption. Because of rising demand from the Middle Class in China, demand for pork has skyrocketed, but this demand is merely an indulgence.

    This insemination deal will merely contribute to rising food waste in the world, and there is already enough food to feed everyone on the planet. And more hogs do not need to be caught in the middle of gluttonous demand for pork products.

    In 2012, China already comprised half of the world's pork consumption.

    The Takeaway

    Demand is one thing, but there has to be a measure of compassion when it comes to dealing with livestock animals of all types. As we have seen in Egypt and other parts of the world, pigs are often slaughtered in inhumane ways, and this is not a precedent we should be content with in a world community. Britain needs to focus on fostering a healthy investment atmosphere and creating manufacturing jobs to bring in revenue instead of relying on pigs as an income source. And instead of feeding China more pigs, there needs to be efforts in reducing food overconsumption. However, the issue of hogs and overconsumption in Britain is a topic for another article, so stay tuned for part two of this story...

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