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Jail sentences for importing pig semen in shampoo bottles

2 Danish nationals working on a pig farm in Western Australia are facing a jail sentence after being convicted of illegally importing pig semen from Denmark to Australia.

A court heard that the 2 farmers worked on the Danish owned GD Pork farm at Pinjarra and were importing pig semen to impregnate sows to improve the herd’s genetics.

This, however, is an illegal practice in Australia as it has strict quarantine laws in place to safeguard the national pig herd against diseases including African Swine Fever which is currently spreading across Europe.

It remains to be seen if this is an ideal way to transport pig semen... Photo: Shutterstock
It remains to be seen if this is an ideal way to transport pig semen... Photo: Shutterstock

Creating a Danish super pig

The aim was to create a ‘Danish super pig’ which produced larger litters gaining advantage over other herds in Western Australia. A number of sows on the farm were found to be direct descendants of Danish boars.

According to the court, the 2 men, 39-year old Torben Sørensen, who was director at GD Pork, and 74-year old Henning Laue, who was the breeding manager, were convicted for their involvement with importing the semen in shampoo bottles and face at least 18 months and 8 months in jail, respectively.

200 sows impregnated by illegal pig semen

At least 200 sows had been impregnated by the illegal semen which had been smuggled into Australia on flights to Perth by a number of people between May 2009 and March 2017.

Australia’s federal agriculture minister Bridget McKenzie said they would not tolerate any breaches of biosecurity laws.

She said: “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.

“GD Pork imported the semen illegally in an attempt to get an unfair advantage over its competitors, through new genetics,” she said.

Fine of half a million dollars

As a consequence of the actions, a fine of AU$ 500,000 (about € 300,000) was issued to GD Pork, but it is in liquidation. Administrators were appointed in October last year and sold off farms at Pinjarra and Kojonup to new owners as well as livestock in April this year.

Agricultural authorities commenced investigations into the company in February 2017, later searching the Pinjarra farm in March 2017 seizing breeding records

It appears GD Pork also borrowed AUS$ 10.26 million (over € 6.2 million) after the raids but didn’t mention the potential prosecution to the lenders.