We demand a ban for the production, import, and use of PMSG.
Blood farms in Argentina and Uruguay
During our investigations regarding the importation of horsemeat we were confronted with further cruel practices involving horses in Uruguay and Argentina: blood farms. Places, where the blood of thousands of pregnant mares is extracted without regard for their health and welfare. Their blood contains the hormone PMSG (Pregnant Mare Serum Gonadotropin), which is used in Europe to stimulate and synchronise oestrus in farmed animals, such as sows or dairy cows. PMSG can also be used to induce superovulation, which results in larger litter sizes, or to induce puberty in sows.
Since early 2015, we have been investigating the blood business in Uruguay and Argentina and have regularly reported our findings. It is a business worth millions, which has delivered high profits for about 40 years. We have spoken to (former) employees of blood farms, neighbours, veterinarians, blood farmers and heads of government departments. Our findings clearly show that in Argentina and Uruguay, more than 10,000 mares are cruelly mistreated and exploited for the meat and dairy industries in Europe. Due to the massive and repeated blood extractions, they become anaemic or suffer from deficiency diseases, and injuries remain untreated. Because the hormone can only be obtained during early pregnancy, the foals are aborted so that the mares can be impregnated twice a year, further adding to their suffering. About 30% of mares drop out of the production system every year: they either die in the pastures or are sent to EU-approved slaughterhouses when they no longer get pregnant.
Investigations from January and April 2018 prove that nothing has changed since 2015, despite the allegations of import companies and authorities to have taken control of the situation with new manuals and audits. Video footage from 2018 shows: Pregnant mares are still most brutally abused during the blood extraction process. Injured, sick or emaciated mares still do not receive veterinary treatment but are left to fend for themselves in vast forested pastures. Investigations from March 2021 to March 2022 show that nothing has changed since 2018. Investments were not made in animal welfare, but in visual protection and armed guards to hide the "red gold" business from prying eyes. Adequate nutrient-rich food and sufficient fresh drinking water as well as protection from the weather are still missing.
In Uruguay and Argentina, the blood business is tolerated and even partly subsidised by the state, and the hormone is profitably used by large pharmaceutical companies (Hipra, Zoetis). After MSD/Merck in 2017, the German pharma company IDT Biologika and the French company Ceva Santé Animale declared, in July 2018, that they would no longer import PMSG from South America.
We believe that European consumers should be informed about this business and the suffering of blood mares. Our main goals are raising public awareness and achieving an EU-wide import ban on PMSG from South America as well as a ban on the use of the hormone in European animal farming. The tightly synchronised births put tremendous strain on the mother animals. Due to the hormone use, often more piglets are born than a sow can feed, which leads to increased piglet mortality. PMSG boosts productivity in industrial breeding with the aim to produce cheap meat in large quantities.
Dossier: Production of PMSG in South America
Film: The blood business (2015)
Film: The blood business (2017)
Film: The blood business (2018)