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Pork barrel politics: U.K. pig semen heading to China

Posting in Food
 
Cameron China Business Number10.jpg
It's been all business for Prime Minister Cameron this week in China, where he's helping to seed the booming meat market.
 
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China has a fertility problem: It can't seem to inseminate its pigs fast enough, or at least not in an environmentally sound manner. That's a huge issue in a country which has the world's largest population of the creatures and a voracious appetite for pork.

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron to the rescue!

He has struck a deal in which Chinese authorities have opened the doors to British swine semen. Until now, Beijing's biological safety rules have banned the import, according to the Financial Times (subscription may be necessary). The FT notes:

British farmers have been pushing for such a deal for some time, aware that China’s growing appetite for pork has not been matched by a similar increase in the efficiency of their farming methods.

Using better semen to breed pig stocks is one of the key ways Chinese farmers want to use to improve their yields without wreaking huge environmental damage.


Huge environmental damage? Geez, I can't be sure, but I think what the FT means is that with efficient artificial insemination, China can cut down on the amount of land and feedstock and pig waste it's otherwise looking at to rear the boars that service sows the natural way. 

Pardon the crass pun, forced by my inner teenager (or maybe my outer teenager - I might be suffering from age confusion), but it seems that the technology of animal husbandry will trump good old pig porking. What a bore for the world's porcine community, half of which resides in China, according to the Guardian

But that's progress. It's also £45 million ($74 million) to Britain's needy farmers. And that seems to be on top of a separate deal that's expected to allow them to export pig's trotters - aka feet - to help satiate the appetite for the Chinese delicacy.

It's all part of this week's whirlwind trade mission by Cameron and six of his government ministers to China. Stay tuned for more updates on the bilateral agreements, on SmartPlanet.

Photo is from 10 Downing Street via Flickr

— By on December 4, 2013, 8:59 AM PST

Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure