Farmed Animal Watch
A Project of Animal Place

March 28, 2002                                                     (To Search This Page Press Ctrl F)
Issue #60


1. Banning Antibiotics
2. McDonald's: Resolution and Settlement
3. Battery Cage to Be Banned in Germany
4. Confinement Pig Operations Pose Serious Health Hazards
5. Biotech Boom or Bust?
6. Slaughterplant Caught Violating "Humane Slaughter Act"
7. Turkeys, Pigs Killed in Fires
8. Hens Find Sanctuary

The European Commission has proposed a permanent ban on the use of antibiotics in animal feed. Most antibiotics have already been banned in the European Union due to concerns about antibiotic resistance. The proposal seeks to ban the 4 remaining antibiotics, which are used to boost growth. New controls will also be introduced on other feed additives. Companies would have to prove any substance used in feed was good for animals and posed no risk to humans or the environment.
Subtherapeutic use of several antibiotics in farmed animals would be banned under legislation proposed by Rep. Brown (D-OH). The therapeutic use of fluoroquinolones in poultry would also be banned. The Preservation of Antibiotics for Human Treatment Act of 2002 (HR 3804) would, over 2 years, phase out 8 classes of drugs commonly used to promote growth and prevent disease in farmed animals. Their use is suspected of promoting the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can infect humans, too. Industry opposes the bill claiming it will impede efforts to keep animals healthy and create a safe food supply. If manufacturers can show within 2 years that such use of their drugs causes no harm to humans, they could continue to be used as growth promotants.
VOICE YOUR OPINION: Contact your federal representative about the bill. If you don't know who your representative is you can find out at:
"European Union Moves to Ban All Antibiotics in Animal Feed," Daily News, The Meating Place, Joshua Lipsky, March 27, 2002.
"Legislation would phase out some antimicrobials used subtherapeutically in livestock," The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, R. Scott Nelson, April 1, 2002.

The Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) have approved a resolution to force McDonald's to extend its animal welfare standards beyond the U.S. and Britain. Officials ruled that the company has done little to carry out its guiding principles in the management of its 29,000 restaurants around the world. The resolution was filed at the behest of PETA. McDonald's had opposed the resolution, arguing that existing policies already encourage its suppliers to treat animals humanely. SEC officials noted that the policies only apply to U.S. and British franchises.
McDonald's will give $10 million to Hindu, vegetarian, kosher and children's charities as settlement for lawsuits brought against it for using beef flavoring in its french fries. (See back issue #6.) The company will also make a public apology for misleading consumers. Menu item ingredients will be disclosed, and an advisory board is to be set up to advise the company on vegetarian dietary issues and propose meatless menu items. Additionally, 12 plaintiffs in class-action lawsuits filed in 5 states will receive $4,000 each. The court may yet approve up to $2.4 million for the plaintiffs' lawyers. The apology and disclosure agreement does not extend to the 39 other countries where McDonald's does business, and a Canadian lawsuit is still pending.    
"SEC backs animal welfare resolution against McDonalds," United Press International, Gregory Tejeda, March 25, 2002.
"McDonald's serves up beefy apology," Seattle Times, Sara Jean Green, March 8, 2002.

Battery cages will be banned in Germany as of 2007. This is 5 years earlier than a European Union (EU) phase out of the cages by 2012. Enriched cages, which contain a nest box, perches, and litter, will be banned in Germany as of 2012. The German ban is attributed to vigorous campaigning by animal advocates and the strong backing of Germany's agriculture minister. Compassion in World Farming is urging the EU to also ban enriched cages in favor of percheries or free-range systems.
VOICE YOUR OPINION: Contact EU Commissioner David Byrne, Health and Consumer Protection Directorate-General, Rue de la Loi 200, 1049 Brussels, Belgium.    
"Germany Bans Battery Cages," The Animals' Agenda, Peter Stevenson, January 30, 2002.

Government documents obtained under Canada's Access to Information Act show large-scale pig operations are responsible for air and water pollution, and pose a significant health hazard. Ammonia fumes combine with industrial air pollutants and car exhausts to produce dangerous acidic compounds. These compounds can evade the normal defenses of the human respiratory system. The substances that cause odors may cause nausea, headaches, sleep disturbances, stomach upset, appetite loss and depression. Workers in the operations can develop chronic bronchitis and asthma. Particulates concentrate odors up to 40 million times and can carry them long distances. Pollution solutions, such as manure composting, sewage treatment plants, artificial marshes and pigs genetically modified to produce "cleaner" manure, are deemed unaffordable. Canada produced 28.2 million pigs last year, an increase of 1.8 million from the year before. At the current rate of growth, pigs may soon outnumber Canada's 30,007,000 people.
"Large pig farms pose significant health hazard, federal papers say,", Tom Spears, March 19, 2002.

Australia's first cloned and genetically modified (GM) calves have been born. The country joins the U.S., Europe and New Zealand, which are already cloning and genetically modifying cattle with a push toward revolutionizing the world dairy market. Commercial production of GM milk in Australia is predicted to be 7-10 years away, but milk modified to contain human medicines and vaccines could be available in 5 years.
Setbacks, delay, and bankruptcy have biotech analysts questioning the viability of the technology.  Investor confidence was shaken by the recent announcement that, due to a side effect, the first "pharmed" product to hit the market will be delayed at least 2 years. Notes one analyst, "This is pretty significant bad news - they've had delay after delay. Doubts have been growing about the viability of transgenic animals for some time."
"Australia Produces Cloned Dairy Calves," Reuters, March 27, 2002.
"Doubts over ‘pharming' technology," BBC News Online, Dr. David Whitehouse, March 25, 2002.

Slaughterplant workers in Alabama were caught on videotape "dragging a large sow with a chain behind a forklift from one side of the compound across a parking lot inside the slaughtehouse." This is a violation of the "Humane Slaughter Act," and is condemned by farmed animal handling authority Dr. Temple Grandin. The footage was among that taken by a long-suffering neighbor of the Diamond Meat Company. Nearby residents have brought suit against the slaughterplant, based on a state nuisance law, because of noise, odors, etc. The article elaborates on the similarities of human and pig manure. A veterinarian explains, "There isn't much difference between the organic and chemical makeup of human feces and hog feces. If people are living a few hundred feet from a pond full of hog waste, they may as well be living that close to a pond full of untreated human waste." A Freedom of Information Act request was denied because the documents are related to an investigation already underway by the Inspector General. A close relative of one of the company officers was sentence to 30 months in prison for deliberately selling rotting, urine-covered meat from a N.C. slaughterplant. The article includes photographs and concludes with a section on suggested legislation.
"The hogs of Spring Brook," The Anniston Star, John Fleming, March 17, 2002.

A mid-March fire killed 8,500 young turkeys. An electrical malfunction is suspected to have been the cause. The birds were being raised for Purdue.
Fire at a north central Iowa pig operation killed 900 pregnant pigs on March 24th. A faulty ventilation fan may have caused the fire at the 5-building site. The roof of the building collapsed and all the pigs inside perished.    
"Barn Fire Kills 8,500 Baby Turkeys," Daily News, The Meating Place, Joshua Lipsky, March 20, 2002.
"Fire kills nearly 900 hogs," Iowa Farmer Today, March 26, 2002.

More than 300 of the hens who had been left to starve at Cypress Foods in Florida (see back issues #57 & 58) have found permanent homes at 4 farmed animal sanctuaries. Some 150 other hens were adopted by animal advocates in Florida and North Carolina. About 60 of the birds were rescued from the Georgia facility, where more than 1 million hens were abandoned. Activists took photographs of legs, wings, and other body parts left clinging to the cages from which the hens were ripped. Birds had their necks broken and were thrown still alive on "dead" piles. A Florida rescuer attempted to remove birds from manure pits but abandoned the effort when the manure became waist high. The new residents at one sanctuary were quick to perch in bushes and trees.
"Good News! Pasco County Hens Find Sanctuary at United Poultry Concerns," UPC press release, March 23, 2002.