On 18th October 2022, the Eurogroup for Animals called for an end to Equine Chorionic Gonadotropin (eCG) production, use and imports in the EU. Also called Pregnant Mare Serum Gonadotropin (PMSG), this is a hormone extracted from the blood of pregnant mares (female horses), used to increase and manage fertility in farmed animals such as sheeps, pigs, goats and cows. Mares are kept on “blood farms”, where their blood is collected. These hormones are produced in the EU, but the vast majority are imported from non-EU countries and used in animal agriculture throughout the continent.
For instance, Iceland has 119 blood farms exploiting more than 5,300 semi-wild Icelandic horses whose blood is taken to extract a hormone and then sold to EU and British farmers. In 2021 investigators from the Animal Welfare Foundation (Tierschutzbund Zürich) discovered that horses in these farms were being abused, as they obtained footage of the animals being hit before their blood was taken, and they documented bite marks inside the horses’ enclosures, likely to be a sign of distress and anxiety. The investigators exposed possible animal welfare violations, contrary to statements made by the pharmaceutical companies, blood farmers and veterinary authorities involved.
Eurogroup for Animals claims that eCG production and use is in breach of EU law and entails serious welfare concerns. They want the EU institutions to take the opportunity of the implementation of the new regulation on veterinary medicinal products, and the revision of the EU animal welfare legislation, to end eCG production, use and imports in the EU. In 2021, the European Parliament passed a motion for a resolution calling on the Commission and the Member States to halt the import and production of Pregnant Mare Serum Gonadotropin. Additionally, Eurogroup for Animals partnered with 16 animal protection organizations to file a complaint against blood farming to the European Free Trade Association’s Surveillance Authority.