July 18, 2001 (To Search This Page Press Ctrl F)
1. Senator Byrd Inspires $3 Million Allocation for Animals
2. World’s Cheapest Food Supply?
3. Farmed Animal Welfare Developments
4. Prisoned Animals, Poisoned Humans
5. More on BSE & FMD
6. Slaughterplant Worker Abuse Expose
7. EPA Moves Against Pig Producer for Water Pollution
8. Poultry Manure Issues Heating up on Eastern Shore
9. Meat Industry Commentator Urges Anti-Seafood Campaign
10. Brave New Farm
11. Quorn, and the Benefits of a Vegan Diet
1. SENATOR BYRD INSPIRES $3 MILLION ALLOCATION FOR ANIMALS
Senator Robert Byrd (D-W. Va.) delivered an impassioned speech July 9 against the abuses inflicted on animals. At his prompting, the Senate approved $3 million to help enforce the “Animal Welfare Act” and the “Humane Slaughter Act.” The money was added to a $74 billion bill for funding the government’s food and agriculture programs in fiscal 2002. Senator Byrd, President pro tempore of the Senate and Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, spoke at length about farmed animals stating: “Federal law is being ignored. Animal cruelty abounds. It is sickening. It is infuriating. Barbaric treatment of helpless, defenseless creatures must not be tolerated even if these animals are being raised for food – and even more so, more so. Such insensitivity is insidious and can spread and is dangerous. Life must be respected and dealt with humanely in a civilized society.”
“Cruelty to Animals,” Congressional Record, Senator Robert Byrd, July 9, 2001.
“Panel Gives Agriculture Dept. $2.5M,” Associated Press, July 17, 2001.
“Cruel Slaughter of Food Hits a Nerve,” The Los Angeles Times, John Balzar, July 13, 2001.
2. WORLD’S CHEAPEST FOOD SUPPLY?
A Washington Post editorial cites the U.S. farm program as the “most astonishing example” of “stupid programs that cost a ton of cash and don’t benefit constituents.” The writer notes that last year this program made direct payments to farmers of $32 billion, and will probably pay them $27 billion this year. Most of the editorial is spent puzzling over why legislators continue to support this program, noting that “Its purpose is unclear: It fails to address rural poverty, it does little for the environment and it promotes overproduction that drives prices down, making farmers even more subsidy-dependent than they were in the first place. And, quite remarkably, farm spending scarcely benefits most states whose senators and representatives vote for it repeatedly.”
“The Program That Will Not Die,” The Washington Post, Sebastian Mallaby, July 16, 2001.
3. FARMED ANIMAL WELFARE DEVELOPMENTS
Wendy’s International announced July 5 that it will introduce a full animal welfare program, and claims it already follows standards announced by McDonald’s and Burger King. PETA has threatened a public relations assault and a consumer fraud lawsuit against Wendy’s for its claim concerning chickens. McDonald’s and Burger King are requiring increased cage room and other improvements for the birds. PETA requested clarification of Wendy’s statement about chickens, and has asked the company to post its statement on its web site as its competitors have done. A Wendy’s spokesperson said “We aren’t going to get in a tit-for-tat with PETA.”
An article in the Lincoln (Nebraska) Journal Star details the effects such requirements will have on meatpackers. It states, “This level of non-government intrusion into the intensely private business of meatpacking is unprecedented.” Industry consultant Temple Grandin adds that 5 years ago “....they were shooting [animals] five times with broken stun guns. That kind of stuff is not going on now in plants in the restaurant audit system.” The Humane Farming Association and The Humane Society of the U.S. express concerns that auditing will not be enough to stop slaughterplant animal abuse. They blame the problem largely on slaughterline speeds.
An article in Farm Progress warns producers of the implications of new requirements. They note that “efficiencies demanded by today’s market prices for livestock sometimes force a producer to put an extra animal in a pen, or take some other shortcut.”
A Star Tribune article notes the efforts of PETA, Defending Farm Animals, and Compassionate Action for Animals to publicize inhumane treatment of animals at Minnesota slaughterplants and promote vegetarianism in the state. Video-recorded slaughterplant investigations are aired weekly on a local public access show. Asian-owned slaughterplants have been challenged for not stunning animals before killing them. The cultural practice is said to increase flavor. Though cultural (rather than religious) practices do not qualify for exemption from the “Humane Slaughter Act,” the state department of agriculture did not close or penalize the slaughterplants but instead claims to have attempted to educate the owners.
“Wendy’s Introduces Welfare Programme,” Meat News, July 9, 2001.
“Animal group threatens Wendy’s with suit,” Virtual New York, July 12, 2001.
“Pressure plays role as meatpackers seek more humane path to slaughter,” Lincoln Journal Star, Art Hovey, July 16, 2001.
“‘Meat’ing Your Future,” Farm Progress (Rooster.com), William Vogt, July 14, 2001.
“Minnesota’s animal activists are promoting vegetarianism,” Star Tribune, Leiana Jagolino, July 9, 2001.
4. PRISONED ANIMALS, POISONED HUMANS
The July issue of The Ecologist contains a thoroughly referenced article explaining how intensive animal confinement systems cause human food hazards. This U.K. publication, in response to the government’s reaction to food poisoning counters, “... given the underlying nature of the problem - animals being reared in appallingly cramped conditions, frequently without access to fresh air, clean litter, and sunlight - the measures are unlikely to prove effective. Paradoxically, they may even make our food less safe, by ensuring that livestock production and slaughter become even more centralised in the hands of a small number of large industrial-scale operators, better able to bear the costs of regulation than small-scale producers.” The article goes on to explain how production practices promote specific diseases and makes the inextricable link between animal welfare and food safety. It advises that it is time to declare that “it is also morally unacceptable to keep hundreds of millions [billions] of sentient animals imprisoned for life in our sordid concentration camps.”
“Factory farming and human heath,” The Ecologist (Rooster.com), June 1, 2001.
5. MORE ON BSE & FMD
As of August 1, in an attempt to prevent further incidences of “mad cow disease” (BSE), feeding any processed animal protein to animals used for food production beginning will be illegal in Europe. The U.K. already prohibits mammalian meat and bone meal from being fed to farmed animals. In the U.S., the FDA released inspection results of the compliance rate of feed facilities with the rule prohibiting ruminant material from being used in ruminant feed, also for the control of BSE. Almost a quarter of U.S. feed facilities were out of compliance, some being out of compliance with more than one aspect of the rule.
Two million healthy British lambs may be killed because Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) restrictions prohibit them from being exported. The country is said to have adequate supplies of lamb without these animals. The European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy is blamed for offering subsidies that encourage overproduction. In the U.S., a California study says that dairy calf and heifer operations with at least 250 animals are potentially at greatest risk for contracting FMD were it to occur in the country.
The author of “Mad Cow U.S.A: Could the Nightmare Happen Here?” has an article in E Magazine entitled “It Can Happen Here.” In it, he gives a brief overview of FMD and BSE and explains how the global movement of people and other animals is largely responsible for the spread of FMD. The author also explains that the U.S. regulations against BSE are inadequate since some animal products are still allowed in ruminant feed and that the regulations are “limply enforced.” He points out that other substances fed to ruminants, including “sawdust, wood chips, twigs, ground-up newspapers, cement dust from kilns and even treated manure and sewage sludge” may also prove hazardous to humans.
“EU Bans All Animal Protein from Feed,” Meat News, July 10, 2001.
“Feed firms not fully complying with BSE rule,” Food Chemical News, Rebecca Osvath, July 16, 2001.
“Two million ‘unwanted’ lambs to be slaughtered,” Ananova, July 16, 2001.
“Calf, heifer ranches at greatest risk,” E-Report, Dairy Today, July 13, 2001.
“It Can Happen Here,” E Magazine (AlterNet.org), Sheldon Rampton, July 11, 2001.
6. SLAUGHTERPLANT WORKER ABUSE EXPOSE
The current issue of Mother Jones Magazine features an expose of the exploitation of slaughterplant workers entitled “The Chain Never Stops.” Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, reveals the dangerous conditions which workers, often illegal immigrants, are subjected to and the intimidation they encounter if they are injured. Schlosser tells how increasing slaughterline speeds have aggravated problems, and lays out the incredible lengths to which industry will go to avoid paying for work-related injuries and illnesses. He also notes connections between industry and unscrupulous politicians, and laws passed enabling industry to avoid responsibility. The industry counters that the article is a “fictitious offense” published to promote the sale of vegetarian foods.
“The Chain Never Stops,” Mother Jones, Eric Schlosser, July/August 2001.
“Mother Jones Article Fictitious Offense,” Lean Trimmings, Jeremy Russell, July 2, 2001.
7. EPA MOVES AGAINST PIG PRODUCER FOR WATER POLLUTION
The EPA found nitrate levels at water wells near hog waste lagoons in Oklahoma to be 10 times the acceptable level. Last month EPA ordered Seaboard Farms Inc., a major pig producer, to investigate and clean up any contamination. Using the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the EPA deemed the leaking substance to be solid waste. This law usually applies to solid and hazardous wastes from industry or municipal water treatment plants. In December, the EPA declared concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) to be one of the nation’s main causes of water pollution. This is only the second time enforcement action has been taken against a pig operation over groundwater pollution. Industry spokespersons complain they are not being treated as agricultural producers but as an industry, and warn this could have legal implications for all farmed animal producers. The EPA claims this case is unique due to the demonstrated effect on groundwater and public health.
NOTE: The EPA is accepting CAFO comments until July 30. Please see item 8 of issue #4 at http://www.FarmedAnimal.net for details.
“EPA Action Alarms Hog Industry,” Associated Press (CNN.com/Sci-Tech), Kelly Kurt, July 16, 2001.
8. POULTRY MANURE ISSUES HEATING UP ON EASTERN SHORE
Maryland and Delaware pay subsidies of up to $20 a ton for transporting chicken litter out of the state. These programs have raised concerns in Virginia, where the problematic product is being brought, about the environmental effect the litter has on coastal waters. Beginning October 1st, Virginia will require poultry operators to have state-approved plans for spreading poultry litter as fertilizer. It will be based on phosphorus content rather than nitrogen content, as is currently done, meaning less litter can be used per acre.
New permit laws in Maryland will require poultry corporations to ensure contract growers who raise birds for them have plans for dealing with manure. The companies, however, will not face fines if independent growers fail to dispose of the manure properly, despite previous suggestions by regulators that fines of up to $25,000 could be imposed. Instead, the companies must stop supplying the growers with new birds until the problems are corrected. Industry officials protested that the state is overstepping its authority, and that the new permit requirements would make the companies regulators of their contractors. Environmentalists consider the new permit laws to be diluted versions of that which was promised, and noted there are inadequate enforcement resources. This article includes a link to an extensive special report that focuses on the environmental and labor problems of the poultry industry. It contains an overview of the industry replete with photographs, maps and diagrams.
“Maryland, Delaware Vie with Virginia for Poultry Manure Market,” Knight-Ridder Tribune (AgNet), Greg Edwards, July 17, 2001.
“Md. Tightens Poultry Permits,” The Washington Post, Anita Huslin, July 17, 2001, B01.
9. MEAT INDUSTRY COMMENTATOR URGES ANTI-SEAFOOD CAMPAIGN
A column by Meating Place commentator Dan Murphy points out the nutritional and environmental shortcomings of seafood, and urges the red meat industry to “challenge the fallacy that seafood is better for you.” Mr. Murphy claims that red meat is getting a bad nutritional rap and notes that most commercial species of seafood taste pretty bland and are flavor enhanced in an unhealthful way. He primarily points out environmental problems with modern factory trawler fleets, summarizing that “The global fishing industry is responsible for one of the greatest environmental disasters in the history of the world.” Readers are referred to the book “Cod,” by Mark Kurlansky. Mr. Murphy concludes by stating “the seafood industry sure as hell isn’t all that healthy for the fish.”
“Industry Should Capitalize on Seafood’s Sorry Environmental Status,” Meating Place, Dan Murphy, July 13, 2001.
10. BRAVE NEW FARM
“Dozens and dozens” of cattle have been cloned for breeding and other purposes. Cloning companies are awaiting the go-ahead from the FDA to begin selling the milk from cloned cows. The FDA has asked the companies to wait but there is no law stopping them. A spokesperson at Cyagra, a cattle-cloning company, said “The FDA shares [our] opinion, ... they expect it to be approved.” The companies, however, are worried about public perception, particularly in light of widespread fears over genetically modified food and human cloning. The National Academy of Sciences is expected to release a report on the safety of food from cloned animals by January.
Cloning involves removing the nucleus from an adult cell (usually an ear cell) and putting it into an unfertilized egg with the hope that the egg will develop into an embryo. A recent study found only 2-5% of attempts to clone animals actually succeed, and animals who are born often develop serious health problems. Some show peculiar symptoms, like the abnormal obesity that afflicts Dolly the sheep. Others may appear normal but have genes that don’t function properly. One company, Infigen, boasts of a patented technique with a 17% success rate. The success rate would have to reach 30-40% though for the average operator to employ it. Already there is a market for cloned animals, with 3 unborn clones selling at auction for about $100,000 each. Meanwhile, Infigen, is experimenting with genetically modified cattle and pigs for pharmaceutical proteins and organ replacements.
“Got Cloned Milk?” MSN Health, Sean Martin, June 14, 2001.
“Got Cloned Milk?” ABC News, Jennifer Mitol, July 16, 2001.
“Cloning: Farming’s Future?” ABC News, Jennifer Mitol, July 16, 2001.
11. QUORN, AND THE BENEFITS OF A VEGAN DIET
Quorn (pronounced “corn”), a meat alternative made from the fermentation of a mushroom-like plant, is the top-selling meat-free brand in Europe. It is said to assume the taste and appearance of whatever meat it is prepared as. Quorn entrees are comparably lower in fat, contain no cholesterol, and are high in protein and fiber. It was approved in Britain in 1985, after about 5 years of review. It has been awaiting FDA approval for 15 years. The process to make Quorn does not involve genetically modified ingredients and is said to be similar to making other fermented products. 400 million Quorn-containing meals have been consumed in the U.K. with no evidence of intolerance.
An article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal discusses a new book by Dr. Neal Barnard, entitled “Turn Off the Fat Genes,” which advocates a vegan diet and exercise for weight control. Dr. Barnard, founder of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, explains that the absence of animal fat and the high fiber associated with such a diet help control genes which influence appetite control, fat storage, insulin resistance and fat burning. He asserts that a vegan diet can also help prevent cancer and Type II diabetes. An article in the Sacramento Bee discusses the growing convenience of a vegan diet. It attempts to dispel some myths about it, and includes many recipes.
“New brand of soy products uses Iowa company’s technology,” Associated Press, July 12, 2001.
“Quorn: Meat from Mushrooms,” The Washington Post, Carole Sugarman, July 11, 2001.
“Author sees veganism diet as key to weight control,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinal, Valerie Hernandez, July 15, 2001.
“Garden variety: Vegans, who don’t eat animal products, find the living is easier these days,” The Sacramento Bee, Rachel Leibrock, July 11, 2001.
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