A Project of Animal Place
October 11, 2001
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1. House Passes Four Pro-Animal Amendments
2. Foreign Animal Welfare Legislation
3. Commercial Breakthrough in Gender Selection
4. Farmed Animal Welfare Essays
5. Farmed Animal Welfare Research
6. Life and Death for Canadian Turkeys
7. Dangerous Diets
8. Surprising Ingredients
1. HOUSE PASSES FOUR PRO-ANIMAL AMENDMENTS
The U.S. House of Representatives passed four animal protection amendments to the Farm Bill on October 4, 2001. They address slaughter, nonambulatory (“downed”) animals, and animal fighting. The slaughter amendment seeks to improve enforcement of the “Humane Slaughter Act.” It calls on the USDA to: monitor compliance with the Act, enforce the law to prevent unnecessary animal suffering and protect slaughterplant workers, and maintain a policy on slaughter methods. The “Downed Animal Protection Act” mandates euthanasia for animals who are too ill or injured to stand or walk at intermediate livestock markets. This will prevent them from being sent to slaughter, thereby reducing animal suffering and human health risks. Though the Act has languished for years, it is believed that recent documentation of animal abuse during production, transportation and slaughter, along with increasing public health concerns, contributed to its passage. The American Meat Institute “opposes blanket prohibitions on the sale or inspection of the broad category ‘nonambulatory’ livestock.”
One anti-animal fighting amendment prohibits the interstate shipment of chickens to the 3 states where cockfighting remains legal. Though they opposed the amendment, the chair and ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee have now agreed to support it while negotiating differences between the House and Senate farm bills. The other amendment prevents exports of dogs or birds for fighting, and increases penalties for related violations of the Animal Welfare Act. The Senate has yet to produce its version of the Farm Bill. For a summary of the House Bill results, see the final source listed below.
“U.S. House of Representatives Passes Four Animal Protection Amendments to Farm Bill,” The Humane Society of the United States press release, Rachel Querry, October 5, 2001.
“House Passes Farm Bill Amendment Barring Sale of Nonambulatory Livestock,” The American Meat Institute, October 5, 2001.
“U.S. House Passes Cockfighting Bill,” The Associated Press, October 5, 2001.
“Oct. 5 - Inside Washington Today: House passes its farm bill,” Washington Watch, Jim Wiesemeyer, October 5, 2001.
2. FOREIGN ANIMAL WELFARE LEGISLATION
New Canadian animal cruelty laws are being separated from other provisions of C-15, a bill containing broad changes to the national Criminal Code. Agricultural interests called for the separation so politicians can oppose the animal laws without voting down the wide-ranging bill in its entirety. The animal provisions will be moved out of the “special property” section, in response to animal rights arguments that animals should not be considered property. The definition of “animal” will include any vertebrate, other than humans, capable of feeling pain. Industry lobbyists contend that the new language could enable farmers to be charged for such practices as caging and branding.
Proposals to strengthen and harmonize animal welfare standards affecting all farmed animals are pending in the European Union (E.U.). They are designed to bring along E.U. states which have been lagging in animal protection measures. The proposals address stalls and crates, bedding and rooting, surgical alterations, workers, weaning, and feed additives (see article for details). If adopted, they could prevent the importation of U.S. pig products.
“Ottawa splits off animal cruelty from main bill,” The Western Producer, Barry Wilson, October 4, 2001.
“Europe Tightening Welfare Laws,” National Hog Farmer, John Gadd, September 15, 2001.
3. COMMERCIAL BREAKTHROUGH IN GENDER SELECTION
Australian researchers from the University of Sydney, working with the U.S. biotechnology firm XY, Inc., announced a breakthrough in producing animals of a selected gender on a commercial scale. The researchers achieved a 96% accuracy rate in producing lambs of a desired gender. The lambs are reportedly healthy. Gender determination has previously been accomplished in sheep and other species. The new technique involves the use of frozen sperm, making gender selection commercially feasible. It could increase breeding efficiency by 50%, leading to gains worth $6 billion annually for the global cattle, horse and pig breeding industries. It could also end the slaughter of animals at birth who are not of the desired gender. In Britain alone, 600,000 male cattle are killed at birth each year.
“Scientists Make Animal Sex Selection Breakthrough,” Reuters, October 4, 2001.
4. FARMED ANIMAL WELFARE ESSAYS
The Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science has devoted an entire issue to five essays on farmed animal matters. The opening essay, “Food Animal Husbandry and the New Millenium,” examines male aggression and housing. It discusses experiments with mice, and concludes that instead of isolating aggressive males, alternatives such as improved housing should be considered. An essay by philosopher David Fraser, entitled “Farm Animal Production: Changing Agriculture in a Changing Culture,” identifies contradictory portrayals of animal agriculture. Dr. Fraser calls for research to create an accurate understanding of how modern animal agriculture affects animal and human welfare, along with measures to harmonize agricultural practices with evolving public values. An article by philosopher Paul B. Thompson examines animal welfare and farmed animal production in a post-industrial era. An essay by Ian Duncan examines poultry welfare problems, with the intent of preventing similar problems in other farmed animal industries. The paper discusses battery cages, forced molting and other food restriction, spent laying hens, fast growth problems, catching and transport, hyperaggression, surgical alterations, and stunning. A paper on assessing the welfare of dairy cattle, by Jeffrey Rushen, focuses on lameness.
Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, Volume 4, Number 3, 2001.
5. FARMED ANIMAL WELFARE RESEARCH
Depopulating spent laying hen flocks causes serious welfare problems. New modular systems for removing spent laying hens from battery cages may improve welfare for both birds and workers.
Beak trimming and related welfare problems are the topic of a Poultry International article. The information is derived from a United Egg Producers booklet entitled, “Animal Husbandry Guidelines for U.S. Egg Laying Hen Flocks.”
Transportation is addressed in two articles in a Canadian publication. One examines the impact of transport and handling on meat quality. The article considers feed withdrawal, holding time and conditions, and stunning methods for pigs at slaughterplants. The other article explains transportation regulations.
“Depopulation Systems for Spent Hens – A Preliminary Evaluation in the United Kingdom,”
Journal of Applied Poultry Research, H.H. Kristensen et al., October 2001.
“Proper Approach for Beak Trimming,” Poultry International, K. Keshavarz, September 2001.
“Meat Quality, a Link with Animal Welfare?” Ontario Pork News &Views, October 2001.
“Transportation Regulations,” Penny Lawlis, Ontario Pork News & Views, October 2001.
6. LIFE AND DEATH FOR CANADIAN TURKEYS
Nearly 21,000,000 turkeys are slaughtered in Canada each year. This article examines the “short, unhappy life of the turkey – the cramped, darkened pens, the cannibalism, and the fast track to the conveyer belt.” Due to the unfamiliarity of baby turkeys with commercial watering systems, the author concludes that the birds are dumb. She discusses an organic turkey farm and ends the article with a description of Tofurky, a popular vegetarian alternative.
“Some people call it fowl,” The Globe and Mail, Alanna Mitchell, October 6, 2001.
7. DANGEROUS DIETS
High-protein diets can be harmful and may not accomplish long-term weight loss, cautions the American Heart Association. The diets include the Atkins, Zone, Protein Power, Sugar Busters, and Stillman diets, and usually emphasize foods from animal sources. Consuming a lot of high-fat animal products over a length of time increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and several types of cancer. The diets may also fail to provide essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and other elements. Most Americans already consume excess protein, which can worsen kidney or liver disease. People on the diets report feeling tired, fatigued and grumpy after 3-4 weeks. The Association advisory calls instead for complex carbohydrates as the base of a healthful diet.
“Dietary Protein and Weight Reduction,” Circulation, Sachiko T. St. Jeor et al., October 9, 2001.
8. SURPRISING INGREDIENTS
People may be surprised at the vast array of food ingredients derived from animal sources, including human ones. Several Pillsbury frozen pizza products contain L-cysteine, a dough conditioner. Though it can be produced synthetically, L-cysteine is often produced from the hair of third world women. “Reading the Labels” tells of animal ingredients in alcohol and in candy, gum, and other sweets. The article also identifies fast-food restaurants that have been removing animal ingredients from some of their menu selections, largely to accommodate ethnic diversity in the U.S.
“Reading the Labels: Ordinary foods can have some very weird stuff in them,” Monday Magazine, Russ Francis, October 4-10, 2001.