Two men have been jailed in Australia after being busted regularly smuggling pig semen into the country inside shampoo and lotion bottles.
Western Australia pork farmers Torben Soerensen and Henning Laue of GD Pork were sentenced to three years and two years in jail, respectively, after pleading guilty to charges of aiding the illegal import of pig semen, in breach of Australia's strict biosecurity, competition, and quarantine laws. The two had inseminated at least 200 sows with the semen, in what federal agriculture minister Bridget McKenzie called a "disturbing disregard for the laws."
"Their deliberate and long-term biosecurity breach for illegally importing semen for competitive advantage is a shocking violation of trust," Australian Pork said in a statement. "The importation of fresh pork or genetic material from foreign countries poses unacceptable risks for the transfer of foreign diseases and the health of Australia’s pig herd."
“At a time when Australia’s pork industry and the Australian Government is focussed on keeping out African Swine Fever as it spreads across the globe, it’s a timely reminder that it only takes one reckless producer to put the entire industry at risk.”
Whilst we're talking about pig genetics, check out why these disturbing photos of muscly Cambodian "superpigs" went viral.
Australia's strict biosecurity laws are designed to ensure that "the biosecurity risk to Australia’s agricultural industries and unique environment is minimized". Australia has a unique ecosystem with many species of plants and animals endemic to the country. Plants, seeds, and items that may be contaminated with soil need to be declared on entry at the border, and may be destroyed. So pig semen in a Pantene bottle is a big no-no.
Yet in a pig-semen racket that went on for eight years, the two men smuggled boar semen into the country from Denmark inside shampoo and lotion bottles, Beef Central reports. The semen was used in the Danish-owned GD Pork's artificial breeding program, and several breeding sows were direct offspring of the Danish boars. Investigators confirmed the illegal use after seizing hair samples from 100 pigs in 2017, according to ABC Australia. The firm has been fined $500,000, though it is now in liquidation.
“This case shows a disturbing disregard for the laws that protect the livelihoods of Australia’s 2,700 pork producers, and the quality of the pork that millions of Australians enjoy each year,” agriculture minister Bridget McKenzie said. “GD Pork imported the semen illegally in an attempt to get an unfair advantage over its competitors, through new genetics."
Western Australian Farmers Federation spokeswoman Jessica Wallace told The Guardian the pair's deceit was "a selfish act" that could have crippled the entire farming industry.
Though African Swine Fever is relatively uncommon and easily contained in farms in Europe, China is currently suffering the world's largest animal disease outbreak, so ensuring it doesn't spread is vital.
The story's knock-on effect on shampoo sales is unknown.