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How Clean Are Europe’s Food Supply Chains?

The Myths Fueling the Massive Growth of Spain’s Pork Industry
  • Date
  • December 2021
  • Author
  • Thin Lei Win

Spain’s pork industry is an example of a European food supply chain where worker and environmental exploitation are rife. Despite the industry narrative hailing it an economic miracle and the support it receives from policymakers at the national and European level, there are serious questions being raised about the sector’s financial and environmental sustainability.

This report, based on investigations carried out by Lighthouse Reports, focuses on the Spanish pork industry as a case study to illustrate how internal European agri-food supply chains need cleaning up, both literally and figuratively.

It highlights how, despite efforts to present itself as a bastion of artisanal, small-scale production, the Spanish pork sector is heavily industrialized, extremely polluting, and based on violations of basic human rights such as the right to safe, dignified working conditions or to clean drinking water.

The practices employed to produce pork in Spain and the consequences for nature and the people who live near, or work in pig farms and slaughterhouses, are not unique to this country. 

The EU and its member states already have a set of environmental and labor laws which should ensure that the violations do not take place and that victims can seek redress. However, companies exploit loopholes in legislation and lax monitoring and enforcement by national authorities continue.

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