A Project of Animal Place
January 24, 2002
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1. USDA to Issue Proposed Rule on Animal Handling
2. Florida Anti-gestation Crate Initiative Clears Court
3. Smithfield Foods Responds to Abuse Notoriety
4. Horse Woes, Here and Abroad
5. New Horse Transport Rules
6. Cruel EU Export Subsidies Denounced
7. Foot-and-Mouth Casualties Could Be Double Official Figures
8. China's First Cloned Calf Dies Soon after Birth
1. USDA TO ISSUE PROPOSED RULE ON ANIMAL HANDLING
The USDA announced plans to propose stricter meat industry guidelines for
the treatment of animals. Last summer, animal protection organizations and
Burger King petitioned the department to enforce the Humane Slaughter Act
(see back issues 13 & 16). At the time, the USDA denied that it was not
fully enforcing the law. The department now claims to be reviewing all
aspects of the meat industry. A meat industry representative said any effort
by the USDA to improve the way animal handling and stunning is regulated
would be given thoughtful consideration. No date has been set for when the
proposed rule will be issued.
"USDA to seek more humane treatment in meat plants," Reuters, January 23,
"USDA Grants Burger King Corporation's Petition to Enforce the Federal
Humane Slaughter Act," Burger King press release, January 23, 2002.
2. FLORIDA ANTI-GESTATION CRATE INITIATIVE CLEARS COURT
The Florida Supreme Court ruled that an initiative to ban pig gestation
crates is acceptable for placement on the state ballot. (See issues 16 and
39.) The amendment was deemed valid for the ballot since it deals with a
specific issue and is accurately described. Though the decision was
unanimous, 3 of the 7 judges questioned the appropriateness of addressing
the issue by amending the state constitution. Animal protection,
environmental and civic groups cheered the ruling. To go to a vote in
November, a total of 488,722 residents need to sign the petition. About
235,000 signatures have so far been collected.
"Florida Groups Oppose Gestation Crates," AgWeb News, Darcy Maulsby, January
"Florida high court says pregnant pigs amendment can go on the ballot,"
Naples Daily News, Jackie Hallifax, January18, 2002.
Ban Cruel Farms
3. SMITHFIELD FOODS RESPONDS TO ABUSE NOTORIETY
Smithfield Foods tops the list of animal abusers in 2001 which United Animal
Nations (UAN) compiled. The list was released to identify those who cause
the most pain and suffering to animals and to hold them responsible. UAN
President Jeane Westin stated, "Factory farms are killing most of the 9.2.
billion food animals per year in our nation....We need to point fingers if
we are going to tackle this overwhelming and completely unacceptable abuse
of animal life." Smithfield was selected because it operates "one of the
largest and most lethal factory farms in the U.S.," and because of its
expansion here and abroad. Smithfield responded to the notoriety through an
interview in an industry publication. The company claims that, as a
vertically integrated company with interests from breeding to marketing, it
proactively and positively addresses animal welfare issues throughout the
process. The interview includes the animal welfare policy of Smithfield's
primary producer and subsidiary, Murphy-Brown Farms. The company also
pointed out that it follows the industry's Good Management Practices and
complies with the Humane Slaughter Act (see item #1 above). It concluded
that it is guided by science-based information and remains open to
improvements through it.
"Top 10 Animal Abusers of 2001," United Animal Nations, January 16, 2002.
"Smithfield Foods Responds to Charges of being Labeled the Leading Animal
Abuser," Meating Place Daily News, Bryan Salvage, January 22, 2002.
4. HORSE WOES, HERE AND ABROAD
Many of the 50,000 horses slaughtered annually in the U.S. are abused and
cruelly killed say horse advocates who want the slaughter stopped. "Some
look like skeletons, others can barely walk," stated one horse rescuer.
Activists attempt to outbid slaughterplant representatives at auctions held
throughout the country but have very limited funds. Slaughterplants also get
horses from Canada's Premarin operations. The urine of pregnant mares
contains a hormone used to make the drug. Their foals result in an excess of
horses. Horse meat is exported to Europe where, after a decade of decline,
sales rose due to foot-and-mouth disease. American horses are said to be
favored because they are better cared for.
Poland became the largest exporter of horses in Western Europe after
communism collapsed there a decade ago. Last year, 40,000 live Polish horses
were shipped to European Union countries. About 90% of them make a 1,500
mile trip to Italy where they are killed for food. A recent documentary
showed few still standing after the 4 day journey. "The others, covered in
blood and filth, were lying in a tangled heap on the trucks' floor." To
avoid Austria's strict veterinary measures, truckers take a less direct
route bypassing the country. Poland's largest meat producer and livestock
exporter, Animex, was recently purchased by SMITHFIELD Foods. Animex blames
Austria's strict regulations for prolonging the horses' misery. The industry
is resistant to slaughtering horses in Poland and shipping the meat instead
since fresh meat is preferred and refrigerated trucks are expensive.
"As demand for horse meat rises, so does area activism," Chicago Tribune,
Tom McCann, January 22, 2002.
"Discarded horses face brutal end,"Chicago Tribune, Tom Hundley, January 22,
Letters to the Chicago Tribune Editor can be sent to:
ctc-TribLetter@Tribune.com (include name, address, and phone number).
5. NEW HORSE TRANSPORT RULES
The USDA is instituting several new rules on the care of slaughter-bound
horses. As of Feb. 5th, horses may not be transported to slaughter if they
are less than 6 months old, severely debilitated, likely to foal during
transit, or are blind in both eyes. Stallions and aggressive horses must be
separated during transit. They must have access to food, water and rest for
6 hours immediately prior to loading, and they must be offloaded and rested
for 6 hours if traveling more than 28 consecutive hours. (See issue #45 for
additional provisions.) Penalties for violations range up to $5,000.
"Horse transportation rules imposed by USDA," The Journal of the American
Veterinary Medical Association, February 1, 2002.
6. CRUEL EU EXPORT SUBSIDIES DENOUNCED
Some 300,000 cattle are exported from Europe to North Africa and the Middle
East each year. They may travel thousands of miles on trips lasting up to 10
days. Upon arrival, a slow and painful death awaits many of them. European
Union (EU) taxpayers generously subsidizes the trade at the annual tune of
60-100 million euros. Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) and other animal
protection organizations showed journalists a film of brutal slaughter
practices representative of those occurring in North Africa and the Middle
East. Animals were shown hanging from rails by a single leg before being
dragged, still alive, to have their throats cut and slowly bleed to death.
CIWF contends that the cattle trade probably would not continue without the
subsidies. The European Commission (EC) disagrees, opining instead that the
removal of subsidies could result in longer travel times. "In a globalised
world certain third countries, for religious or other reasons, will always
need to import live cattle," an EC spokesperson said. CIWF counters that EU
animal welfare rules aimed at limiting travel time are largely
unenforceable, pointing out that of the 500,000 cattle exported between 1998
and 2000, rule violations blocked only 3,000 animals. The EC points to this
as an important first step highlighting the Commission's commitment to
animal welfare. It acknowledged that existing legislation is not fully
implemented by all member states. The EU only has authority concerning
animal transport, and cannot intervene in the treatment of animals in
slaughterplants outside the member bloc. Germany, Ireland, France and the
Netherlands are the main exporting countries.
"Welfare group says EU condones cruelty to cattle," Reuters, January 22,
"Taxes are Funding Brutal Slaughter," PA News (AnimalNet, Jan. 22, 2002),
Amanda Brown, January 21, 2002.
"EU Subsidises Illegal Animal Treatment and Cruel Animal Trade," Compassion
in World Farming news release, January 22, 2002.
7. FOOT-AND-MOUTH CASUALTIES COULD BE DOUBLE OFFICIAL FIGURES
Nearly 11 million animals may have been killed because of the foot-and-mouth
outbreak, a number more than double the official figures. The government
said 4,068,000 animals were killed between Feb. 20th and Sept. 30th, the
date the last case was detected. (Britain has since been declared free of
the disease.) The Meat and Livestock Commission, however, sets the figure at
10,849,000. Not counted in the official figures are the 2 million animals
killed for welfare reasons, such as limited feed and space. Others, such as
babies with their mothers, were overlooked or not counted at all once the
market for them closed. Some 100,000 young calves and another 50,000 calves
close to birth were not officially counted. The Dept. for the Environment,
Food and Rural Affairs confirmed the Commission's figures. Exports resumed
minutes after official approval was given, which had not been expected until
"10 million animals were slaughtered in foot and mouth cull," The Telegraph,
Robert Uhlig, January 23, 2002.
8. CHINA'S FIRST CLONED CALF DIES SOON AFTER BIRTH
Weiwei, China's first domestically cloned calf, died half an hour after her
birth. The calf was born by Cesarean section and was televised laboring for
breath before dying. A dissection revealed an oversized heart and liver, and
a lung abnormality. The actual cause of death was yet undetermined. Weiwei's
mother had been treated for an unidentified ailment 2 months earlier. State
television had touted the birth as a major technological accomplishment
showing China's "cloning technology had reached the world's most advanced
level." Previously, the world's first cloned kid died 36 hours after birth
in China from respiratory failure. About a dozen pregnant Chinese cows are
expected to give birth to clones in the next few weeks. (The first site
below contains many links to related information.)
"China's First Cloned Calf Dies Soon After Birth," Reuters, January 19,
"Abnormal structure may cause death of China's first cloned calf, says
experts," Xinhua News Agency, January 22, 2002.