17 June 2004; immediate use
Orwellian 'Newspeak' Sets the Pig Industry
Pig producers look to Guantanamo Bay for lessons in image
The National Pig Association (NPA) has been canvassing its
members to come up with alternative names for the farrowing
crate - a metal-barred birthing cage so small that breeding
sows can barely move and cannot turn around for periods of
a month at a time. Vegetarian campaign group Viva! has obtained
a posting from Digby Scott, webmaster of the NPA, to its members,
seeking ideas for new names.
One option being considered is 'farrowing nest', designed
to evoke a touching country scene of contended piglets, golden
straw and satisfied motherhood. Nowhere does it suggest metal
bars, a concrete shed, slatted floors, an absence of bedding
and factory farms. Other suggestions up for consideration
include 'farrowing cradle', 'protection frame' and - incredibly
- numerous variations on the theme of 'freedom' and 'liberty'.
The email also seeks alternative names for slatted flooring.
In standard use, hard metal or plastic flooring has slats
to allow some urine and excrement to drain away. The effect
of this unnatural surface for pigs can be great discomfort
and painful lameness. The problem is so widespread and so
severe that one-in-five breeding sows goes so badly lame that
they have to be 'culled'. Because slats can become blocked
by straw, pigs kept in these systems are rarely provided with
any form of bedding. The industry's new proposed euphemism
for this welfare insult - 'self-cleaning flooring'!
It is confirmation that spin is not confined to governments,
says Viva!, and claims that this exercise is the pig industry's
equivalent of Guantanamo Bay's Camp Delta. The straight-faced
slogan above the entrance declares, 'Honour bound to defend
freedom'. Viva! campaigner Alistair Currie says: "The
spirit of George Orwell's 1984 and Newspeak, lives on in the
pig industry. Producers are trying to obscure the true nature
of their business by finding new names for old vices".
Nearly 80 per cent of UK breeding sows are confined to farrowing
crates a week before giving birth and remain there until their
piglets are removed a month or more later. Crates are so small
that sows can take only a couple of steps forwards or backwards
and can never turn round. They suffer from skin lesions and
profound stress, which can lead to stereotypic behaviour -
a sign of mental collapse.
"Sadly, hundreds of thousands of breeding pigs and millions
of piglets endure the torture of factory farming every year.
The new name game will do nothing to alleviate their suffering,
it will just make it sound nicer. It would be nice to see
the NPA asking his members for suggestions to reduce abuse,
not camouflage it," concludes Alistair Currie.
Contact: Alistair Currie or Tony Wardle on 0117 944 1000