June 27, 2001 (To Search This Page Press Ctrl F)
1. AMA Opposes Routine Agricultural Antibiotic Use
2. Agreement Reached after Fatal Listeria Outbreak
3. New Studies on Diet and Disease
4. Vegetarian Americans
5. Protests and Approval
6. Developing McDonald's Standards
7. Regulating Production
8. Conditions for European Pigs Improve
9. Organic Deceptions
10. Designing Birds and Controlling Immune Responses
11. Animal Rights 2001
1. AMA OPPOSES ROUTINE AGRICULTURAL ANTIBIOTIC USE
The American Medical Association (AMA) has passed a resolution opposing the
"unnecessary use of antibiotics to speed the growth of healthy farm
animals." It is urging regulators to ban or phase them out and to increase
surveillance of antibiotic use and resistance. The resolution specifically
addresses antibiotics that are also used in human medicine. Other groups
have long been calling for such a ban, and the practice is already banned
in the European Union. Consumer and environmental groups praised the
action, but it was criticized by the Animal Health Institute (AHI), a trade
group representing veterinary pharmaceutical manufacturers, for being too
broad and ineffective. A report by The Union of Concerned Scientists states
that farmed animals may consume 8 times more antibiotics than do humans.
AHI claims that, of about 20 million pounds of antibiotics used in animals,
only 13% is used for growth promotion. The AMA resolution states that 80%
of agricultural antibiotic use is subtherapeutic, and that "all low-level
constant uses are likely to promote the development of resistance." The FDA
claims to have no authority to ban the use of an antibiotic, but that it
can only regulate use based on scientific evaluation.
"AMA Urges Phasing Out Antibiotic," Associated Press, June 20, 2001.
"Doctor's group opposes antibiotics for livestock," Reuters Limited, June
"Doctors weigh in against antibiotics in animal feed," The Christian
Science Monitor, Laurent Belsie, June 22, 2001.
"AHI opposes resolution on animal antibiotics," Industry News Briefs, Watt
Poultry, June 25, 2001.
"AMA takes aim at use of antibiotics in livestock feed," Feedstuffs, Sally
Schuff, June 25, 2001.
2. AGREEMENT REACHED AFTER FATAL LISTERIA OUTBREAK
The criminal investigation of a Listeria outbreak that killed 20 people and
sickened at least 100 others has ended with an agreement between the U.S.
government and the Sara Lee Corp. Hot dogs and lunch meat, produced by the
company' Bill Mar plant in Michigan, were blamed for the 1998-1999 outbreak
that was ended with extensive press coverage and a recall of more than 15
million pounds of product. Investigators found no evidence that the company
intentionally distributed the meat or tried to cover up evidence or
obstruct plant inspection activities. Sara Lee pled guilty to producing and
distributing adulterated meat and, as part of the settlement, will pay a
$200,000 fine and give a $3 million grant for new food safety research at
Michigan State University. To settle a civil lawsuit concerning products
sold to the Defense Department, Sara Lee will pay the Pentagon $915,839 and
reimburse the government for the cost of the investigation, for a total
cost of $1,216,592.
"Sara Lee, government reach agreement after deadly Listeria outbreak," Food
Chemical News, Allison Beers, June 25, 2001.
3. NEW STUDIES ON DIET AND DISEASE
Research results presented at the European Conference on Nutrition and
Cancer indicate that eating much red meat may create a comparable amount of
a particular carcinogenic chemical in the colon as does smoking. The study
involved more than 400,000 people from 9 European countries, and is said to
be the most reliable to date on the link between diet and disease. It also
found that people who consume a high-fiber diet have 40% less chance of
developing colon cancer than those who eat less roughage. The risks of
other cancers were also seen to be reduced with the consumption of fruits
and vegetables. The research team plans to publish a paper in 2002, but the
study will continue until at least 2003.
Three studies presented at the 83rd Annual Meeting of the Endocrine Society
found that phytoestrogens - found in legumes such as soybeans, peas and
lentils, and in soy products such as tofu and soy milk, may be beneficial
to the health, and specifically the bones, of postmenopausal women. One
study also found a link between diets high in phytoestrogens and decreases
in body fat, body weight, prostate weight and blood pressure, along with
[favorable] increases in insulin and leptin levels. In the U.K., a life
insurance company is offering vegetarians a 25% discount.
"Study Focuses on Red Meat, Cancer," Associated Press, Emma Ross, June 23,
"Diet Linked to One in Three Cancers," Reuters, Ray Dunne, June 22, 2001.
"Studies Demonstrate the Benefits of Soy on Postmenopausal Health," The
Endocrine Society press release (Yahoo! Finance), June 22, 2001.
"Vegetarians Offered Discount on Life Insurance," PA News (FSNet), Nicky
Burridge, June 21, 2001.
4. VEGETARIAN AMERICANS
USA (Today) Weekend contains a Special Report entitled "Kid Vegetarians,"
which reports that the number of adult vegetarians more than doubled from
1994 to 2000 (from 1% to 2.5%, or almost 5 million people), but the number
of vegetarian children age 6-17 has remained steady at 2%. The article
tells that cholesterol levels and cancer rates are lower for vegetarians.
They are also half as likely as their meat-eating counterparts to suffer
from high blood pressure, and are on average 10% leaner.
An article in Newsweek by a senior U.N. official relates the difficulty he
encountered as a vegetarian upon immigrating to the U.S. from India in
1975, and how much easier such a diet has since become. He cites
information from Vegetarian Times that 7% of Americans report to be
vegetarian, and 6% of those aged 18-29 never eat fish, fowl or other meat.
The American Dietetic Association is cited in reporting that vegetarians
"have lower morbidity and mortality rates from several chronic degenerative
diseases than do nonvegetarians." The author also mentions the lawsuit
against McDonald's for adding beef extract to its french fries.
"Kid vegetarians," USA Weekend, Kathleen McCleary, June 17, 2001.
"Eat Your Broccoli!" Newsweek International, Shashi Tharoor, June 25, 2001.
5. PROTESTS AND APPROVAL
Activists in China protested at a McDonald's restaurant in objection to the
company's labor practices and its use of popular cartoon characters for a
promotional campaign targeting children. McMug and McDull are cartoon pigs
"created in the late 1980's [to] symbolise the spirit of a simple life,
friendship and environmental protection." A play, performed by members of
the Christian Industrial Committee and the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade
Unions, depicted McMug and McDull dying as the result of eating too many
hamburgers in the false hope of getting toys from McDonald's.
Despite an ongoing campaign by PETA against Burger King for animal cruelty,
the company has become the first fast-food chain to be endorsed by the U.K.
Vegetarian Society. The company received the seal of approval after
launching 2 new vegetarian burgers (an adult and a child version) for
National Vegetarian Week. The Society endorsed the burgers for being
GM-free, cruelty-free and using free-range eggs.
An extensive article on Just-food.com details the health debate generated
by PETA's "Milk Sucks" Campaign, the organization's "Milk Suckers" trading
cards designed for U.K. schoolchildren, and counter promotions by the dairy
industry. The article reports that PETA is planning to visit Scandinavian
"China: Protesters slam McDonald's for appropriating popular cartoon
characters," Just-food News, June 25, 2001.
"UK: Burger Kings (sic) gets green seal of approval from Vegetarian
Society," Just-food News, June 25, 2001.
"'Tell me the truth about milk'": PETA's MilkSucks campaign and the battle
for consumer attention," Just-food News, June 22, 2001.
6. DEVELOPING MCDONALD'S STANDARDS
At article in "Western Producer," a Canadian magazine, relates the
involvement of animal welfare scientist Temple Grandin in the development
of McDonald's animal production standards. Dr. Grandin conducted "welfare
and stunning audits" of slaughterplants. At one Canadian plant "some
animals had to be stunned several times due to malfunctioning equipment and
human error." Plants that process "cull" "broilers" were also criticized.
Aggressive roosters injured hens whom they transported in the same cages.
McDonald's has implemented a welfare audit system for hens that bans the
withdrawal of food to force molt, and provides 50% more cage space than the
industry average. McDonald's guidelines are said to be applicable to all of
North America, and the company will make public its program information.
"Fast food chains take animals under wing," The Western Producer, Barbara
Duckworth, June 21, 2001.
7. REGULATING PRODUCTION
At a recent farmed animal care conference in Alberta, Canada, Dr. David
Fraser, head of the University of British Columbia's Animal Welfare Centre,
said the decision to keep animals in enclosed areas is based strictly on
economics. He pointed out the need for harmonized national regulations, and
explained that laws that require "reasonable and generally accepted
practices of animal husbandry and slaughter" are problematic if they don't
adequately define those practices. Dr. Janice Swanson, animal welfare
specialist at Kansas State University, said the U.S. Congress has thwarted
efforts to develop national standards and regulations.
"Animal welfare linked to farmers' profits," The Western Producer, Barbara
Duckworth, June 21, 2001.
8. CONDITIONS FOR EUROPEAN PIGS IMPROVE
The European Council has adopted a directive amending current legislative
rules on the protection of pigs. The new rules will prohibit the
confinement of pregnant pigs to individual stalls, and the tethering of
female pigs. The Directive also includes rules to improve conditions for
pigs, such as setting minimum pen sizes and requiring access to rooting
materials. The European Parliament has urged the European Commission to
continue efforts to address intensive pig production issues. David Byrne,
Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, said, "The adoption of
today's measures on the welfare of pigs demonstrates that politicians in
the European Union now share the political will to act on scientific
evidence to better protect animals in intensive farming systems."
"Major Improvement of Welfare of Pigs Agreed," AnimalNet, June 20, 2001.
9. ORGANIC DECEPTIONS
Dennis T. Avery [author of "Saving the Planet with Pesticides and Plastic"]
complains about the cows used by Horizon Organic, an international
conglomerate with about 20,000 cows. In particular, he discusses the 3,400
cows at Horizon's "huge drylot dairy" in Idaho, who, on average, produce
nearly 22,000 pounds of milk a year, twice the national average. He points
out the likelihood that the slaughter rate is high since the cows are not
to be treated with antibiotics for mastitis, hoof infections, or fertility,
and notes that the company "has twice as many workers per cow as the
average giant dairy." He notes that calves can be given "modern medications
and feed supplements" until 1 year of age, and mentions that the company
may add another 3,000 cows to the Idaho dairy.
Threats to U.K. consumer confidence in organic food were a topic of the
BBC's "Money Programme," including differences in standards between organic
certification bodies. An example was given of an organic poultry facility
with 6,000 debeaked chickens kept in a single shed - at almost 9 chickens
per square yard.
"Not All's Milk and Honey for Cows on Organic Farms," Knight-Ridder
Tribune, (FSNet) June 22, 2001.
Just-food.com editorial, Catherine Sleep, June 25, 2001.
10. DESIGNING BIRDS AND CONTROLLING IMMUNE RESPONSES
An Ohio State University agricultural engineering researcher, Alfred
Soboyejo, is trying to figure out how to breed heavier chickens and turkeys
while increasing their bone strength. Selective breeding for weightier
birds has resulted in "leg bone deformities, such as 'bowing' and
'buckling,' that cause lameness, broken bones and inflammations, and cost
the poultry industry $32 million a year in production losses." He believes
his research could help in other ways, such as benefitting people who
suffer from osteoporosis.
Agricultural Research Service scientists are looking to reduce farmed
animal stress and increase producers' profits by manipulating animals'
immune system responses. By understanding cytokines, a protein component
involved in immunity, the researchers hope to "design therapies that
stimulate the desired response, or suppress an excessive response that can
stress the animals and steal farmers' profits." They also hope their
findings will help in selecting animals for breeding who have a genetic
makeup that will respond "appropriately."
"Bone Research Gives Poultry Stronger Legs to Stand On," Ag Answers, June
"Infectious Emergencies," Agricultural Research, Judy McBride, June 2001.
11. ANIMAL RIGHTS 2001
A 5-day program that will feature more than 120 speakers, 5 plenary
sessions, 86 workshops, 50 campaign reports, `rap' sessions, exhibits,
videos, a newcomer orientation, affinity meetings, receptions, and an
awards banquet, and will conclude with a day of Congressional lobbying.
June 30-July 5th, 2001, Washington, D.C. For more information contact FARM
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