Racehorses on a PMU line? Don’t bet on it

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 1996:

North American Equine Ranching
Information Council, representing
more than 450 PMU farms, has
opened a breed registry to promote
the use of Thoroughbred stallions in
impregnating PMU-producing
PMU stands for “pregnant
mare’s urine,” and is the basic
ingredient of Premarin, the most
often prescribed estrogen supplement
for relief of menopausal symptoms––and
the only estrogen supplement
made from an animal product.

“Since the resulting foals
will be half Thoroughbred, they
will be eligible for registration in
the Jockey Club’s Performance
Horse Registry,” a NAERIC press
release states.
The purpose of this effort,
suspects Project Equus founder
Robin Duxbury, is to enable PMU
producers to better pretend that their
foals are in demand as something
other than horsemeat. Gambling
that keeping mares in urine collection
lines can be made as acceptable
to the public as keeping cows in
milking stalls, Wyeth-Ayerst
Laboratories recently launched a
new PMU product, Prempro,
which combines Premarin, the
major PMU-based drug, with progestin,
a non-animal-based hormone.
But the international boycott
of Premarin meanwhile gained
momentum with the publication of a
World Society for the Protection of
Animals report affirming the previous
findings of the Canadian Farm
Animal Concerns Trust, whose
1992 and 1993 annual reports spotlighted
the growth of the PMU
industry, and after amplification in
the April 1993 edition of ANIMAL
P E O P L E, drew the attention of
major New York media. Friends of
Animals, the International Generic
Horse Association, and PETA
almost simultaneously targeted
PMU for protest a few months later.
Wrote Massachusetts
SPCA inspector Joseph Silva after
visiting 32 PMU barns, two feed
lots, and one slaughterhouse on
behalf of WSPA, “The conditions in
those barns do not meet our standards
for basic humane care. The
horses,” 13,043 total at the facilities
Silva visited, “are kept in tiny stalls
for months at a time without what
we consider a sufficient amount of
exercise, water and veterinary oversight.
We feel strongly that WyethAyerst
has a moral responsiblity to
those horses and to the consumer to
either provide a more comfortable
environment for the mares or stop
producing Premarin altogether.”

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