French agriculture minister condemns ‘cruel practices’ after shocking video from intensive pig farm

The French agricultural ministry has condemned "unacceptable practices" after an animal rights group released a video showing pigs being mistreated on a factory farm in Burgundy.

French agriculture minister condemns 'cruel practices' after shocking video from intensive pig farm
Illustration photo: Damien MEYER / AFP.

A police investigation has been launched after the French animal rights group L214 published a video on Thursday, August 19th, from an intensive pig farm in the Yonne département in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté.

The images are accompanied by the account of whistleblower Grégory Boutron, a former employee who has told how he quit his job and fell into depression after being shocked by the mistreatment of the animals. 

“What shocked me was seeing the person in charge relentlessly stab the sows with a screwdriver when they didn’t want to move, or hit them in the head with a metal bar,” Boutron said.

“They cut their tails with an iron,” and castrate piglets without anesthetic, he said.

Images filmed by Boutron with his mobile phone show piglets moving after being struck against the floor, and squealing while they are having their teeth and tails cut, as well as pigs being given electric shocks and red marks supposedly resulting from being prodded with a screwdriver.

“Before I left, they bought an electric battery, and when there was a sow that didn’t want to keep walking, they set upon her.”

Warning: disturbing images

Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie condemned the practices in a tweet on Thursday, and confirmed that authorities had already begun investigating the farm before the video was released.

“An investigation was launched in June following a complaint made against this farm. It remains ongoing,” the Ministry of Agriculture and Food said in a press release, adding that they “strongly condemn the unacceptable practices shown in these images”.

“If the inspection undertaken in June did not flag any unacceptable situations or behaviours like those seen in the video constituting acts of cruelty […] further investigations will be carried out.

“In addition, the castration of piglets without anesthetic, as shown in these videos, will be banned in France from January 1st, 2022.”

Local prosecutor Hugues de Phily confirmed to AFP that a complaint had been made in February and that the gendarmerie had been charged with undertaking a preliminary investigation.

The intensive farm houses 1,800 sows. It belongs to the Provent-SDPR group, which manages, directly or indirectly, a hundred pig farms across France, according to L214.

The organisation has called on the government to ban the practice of “thumping” piglets against the ground, as well as cutting their tails without anesthetic.

They have launched a petition which you can sign HERE.

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Sweden to set world’s first consumption-based emissions target

Sweden political parties have unanimously backed the world's first consumption-based emissions target, with the country aiming to hit net zero by 2045.

Sweden to set world's first consumption-based emissions target

The committee responsible for setting Sweden’s environmental goals on Thursday presented its proposals for what goals Sweden should set for greenhouse has emissions linked to the country’s consumption. 

“No other country in the world has done what we have done,” Emma Nohrén, chair of the climate goals committee, said at a press conference announcing the goals. “There has been a pioneering sprit.” 

About 60 percent of the emissions caused by people living in Sweden are released in other countries producing goods to be consumed in Sweden, meaning Sweden’s production-based emissions goals, like those of other countries, arguably misrepresent Sweden’s impact.  

In a press statement, the government said that as well as the 2045 consumption emissions target, the committee has suggested setting targets for the climate impact of its exports, include emissions from flights and cargo ships in its long-term national climate goals, and aim to include emissions from internal flights in its target for domestic transport by 2030.  

The committee also proposes that emissions from goods and services ordered by the public sector should decline at a faster rate than those of the rest of the country. 

Amanda Palmstierna, an MP for the Green Party who sits on the committee, said it was positive that the new goals had the backing of all seven of Sweden’s parliamentary parties. 

“It’s important that all the parties are backing this proposal so that it can become implemented,” she said. “Significant action is required now. We have so little time, as we saw in the IPCC report which came out on Monday.”