Letter: Animals are not sacks of flour - and British lamb cannot be French

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The Independent Online
Sir: Joanna Lumley's open letter to Gillian Shephard (20 June) underlines the enormous trade in living animals carried on within the EU without adequate protection within the law and even less resource for implementing the law.

That long-distance transport of farm livestock may be associated with cruelty, injury, disease and death is well documented. What is less well understood is why the trade is economically viable, since it is possible to transport carcasses for a fraction of the cost with less damage to the end product and far less animal suffering.

While there are various factors such as exchange rate and production efficiency which make it profitable to produce an animal in one country and sell it in another, these factors apply equally to the live animal and the carcass trade.

One important factor which underpins the live rather than the carcass trade is that French retailers can claim that British lamb, imported live into France and killed in a French abattoir, is 'home produced'. For this the French housewife is willing to pay a substantial premium.

If this misleading and spurious claim were stopped, the economic viability of live lamb shipment would be reduced and a great deal of unnecessary suffering prevented.

Yours faithfully,


Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Liverpool

Leahurst Neston,

South Wirral

20 June