August 29, 2001 (To Search This Page Press Ctrl F)
1. RSPCA Accused of Endorsing Cruelly Obtained Eggs
2. Labelling Meat as a Biohazard
3. Agricultural Runoff Polluting Bays
4. Pig Industry Defenders Change Attitude
5. College Cancels Agriculture Critic's Appearance
6. The Problems with Premarin
1. RSPCA ACCUSED OF ENDORSING CRUELLY OBTAINED EGGS
The Australian RSPCA has been accused of endorsing eggs from hens kept in
egregiously inhumane conditions by the country's largest egg company, Pace
Farms. The RSPCA receives royalties from the sale of the eggs and has also
received $35,000 in sponsorship money from the company. Animal Liberation
Victoria (ALV) conducted 3 clandestine raids on the facilities, which keep
birds indoors but uncaged. Overcrowding, severe debeaking, cannibalism and
dead birds led ALV's Patty Mark to state "The birds are in a worse
condition than they are in the battery cage." She further explained "The
RSPCA is the key legal authority to prosecute cruelty to animals, but they
are not in a position to do so as long as they are in business with the
largest battery egg producer in Australia." PETA has also denounced the
relationship. The RSPCA denies the charges claiming it "must produce an
alternative guaranteed humane system, and we've done that through the
"RSPCA chief falls foul of animal liberationists," ninemsn, August 27, 2001.
"RSPCA Linked to Animal Suffering in Australia," Earth & Space, August 24,
"RSPCA denies supporting egg producer," ABC News Online, Australian
Broadcasting Corporation, August 27, 2001.
2. LABELLING MEAT AS A BIOHAZARD
Since the USDA cannot guarantee meat and poultry to be safe, it should
carry a biohazard warning label, contends the Physicians Committee for
Responsible Medicine (PCRM). The 5,000 physician-strong organization notes
that instead of forcing industry to keep fecal contamination out of meat,
the burden to kill foodborne pathogens has been put on consumers. PCRM is
petitioning the USDA to force industry to take steps to eliminate
contamination on meat. It is also asking the agency to replace current
labels, which state "inspected for wholesomeness by the [USDA]," with ones
stating "Biohazard: This product may be contaminated with feces and,
therefore, hazardous to your health." PCRM is releasing survey results
showing that 84% of Americans don't know feces matter is the source of
origin of foodborne pathogens. Industry counters that the USDA already has
a zero tolerance policy for fecal contamination on meat and steam
pasteurization is being employed to remove residual feces.
"Doctors Petition Feds to Protect Public from Feces on Poultry and Meat,
PCRM News Release, August 27, 2001.
"Vegetarian group pushes for 'biohazard' labeling on meat," Scripps Howard
News Service, Lance Gay, August 27, 2001.
3. AGRICULTURAL RUNOFF POLLUTING BAYS
Agricultural runoff is the leading threat to 13 of the nation's 17 most
polluted bays. Agriculture contributes at least a third of the pollutants
that cause low-oxygen "dead zones" in many of the nation's most polluted
bays. It also contributes to toxic algae blooms and the loss of bay grasses
that provide critical habitat for fish and other aquatic creatures.
"Bringing Dead Zones Back to Life: How Congress, Farmers and Feedlot
Operators Can Save America's Most Polluted Bays" is a new report by 3
environmental groups which lists the bays, examines the problem, and
recommends actions. According to the groups, American Rivers, Environmental
Defense, and Restore America's Estuaries, 70% of farmers who seek federal
water quality grants are rejected due to inadequate funds. They are calling
on Congress to support H.R. 2375, which would provide more than $6 billion
annually for farmers who help reduce polluted runoff and restore wetlands.
The report can be downloaded from the site below.
"Farm Bill holds key to polluted bays," American Rivers, August 23, 2001.
"Report: Farm Bill Holds Key To Polluted Waterways," Agweb News, August 24,
4. PIG INDUSTRY DEFENDERS CHANGE ATTITUDE
Frontline Farmers has attracted a membership of 140 pig farmers in less
than a year. The group's newsletter depicts gun-toting cartoon pigs and
bears the slogan "Farmers United for the Defense of the Hog Industry."
Despite this, the group's leaders acknowledge the industry needs "a lot of
clean-up." They say they want to work with others to best manage pig waste
in North Carolina, the country's 2nd largest pig producing state.
Environmentalists and government regulators view it as a welcome change
given that the industry has been denying problems and blaming coastal river
pollution on municipal sewage. With politicians looking to change the way
the state's 10 million pigs are raised, operators are worried that those
unfamiliar with the industry will make the rules. The group expects to be
part of a state panel studying alternative waste technologies.
"Group seeks to clean up image, preserve industry," The News & Observer,
August 22, 2001.
5. COLLEGE CANCELS AGRICULTURE CRITIC'S APPEARANCE
The College of Southern Idaho cancelled a Success Breakfast keynote
presentation by best-selling author Jeremy Rifkin. The college feared he
might alienate the agricultural community by criticizing beef and milk
instead of addressing biotechnology, the scheduled topic. Rifkin's books
include "The Biotech Century" and "Beyond Beef," a critical review of
problems caused by the production and consumption of beef. Upon learning
that farm groups had threatened to boycott his speech, Rifkin told the
press he would have to "rethink" the topic. The college claimed this would
be a breech of contract and cancelled his appearance. Rifkin calls the
action a "chilling message" of censorship and is seeking payment of the
$12,000 lecture fee.
"College Nixes Beef Foe's Speech," Associated Press, August 28, 2001.
6. THE PROBLEMS WITH PREMARIN
Every day, 10 million women ingest Premarin to treat menopause symptoms and
other conditions. It is the second most widely prescribed brand-name drug
in the country. Premarin is short for pregnant mares' urine, from which it
is made. Animal advocates oppose the drug due to the inhumane conditions in
which the horses are kept and the slaughter of their foals. The maker of
Premarin, Wyeth-Ayerst, denies these charges. Though it has been sold for
nearly 60 years, Premarin has no generic competitor due to the complex
processing technique involved. How the drug works, its benefits and risks,
and some of its active ingredients are unknown. According to Wyeth-Ayerst,
Premarin may increase the risk of uterine cancer and blood clots. Other
studies indicate it may increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancer. In
the past year there have been 3 recalls of the drug, the latest involving
more than 10 million pills.
"Premarin: Straight from the Horse's What?" The Washington Post, Beth
Baker, August 28, 2001, HE03.