A Project of Animal Place
June 13, 2002
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1. World Hunger Solutions Disputed
2. Albertson's And Kroger Agree to Animal Welfare Standards
3. A Ban on Branding?
4. Taking The Trauma Out of Weaning
5. Turkeys Scalded to Death
6. Des Moines Register Examines Heartland Pork
7. The Ethics of Eating
8. Can Americans "Sue Their Own Fat Asses Off?"
9. Animal Rights 2002 Conference
1. WORLD HUNGER SOLUTIONS DISPUTED
The U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is holding its anti-hunger
World Food Summit in Rome this week. At the last Summit, held 5 years ago, the
delegates committed themselves to halving the number of hungry people in the
world (800 million) by 2015. The subsequent average annual reduction of this
number by 8 million shows the declaration is failing. Impoverished nations are
calling for lowered trade barriers against food imports and reducing subsidies
in the U.S. and Europe. The U.S. is calling for increased agricultural
production through the use of technologies, including biotechnology. The
leaders of wealthy nations were noticeably absent with lesser representatives
sent in their stead. Summit leaders feasted on foie gras, goose fillet and
A commentary on the Summit by Jeremy Rifkin, president of the Foundation on
Economic Trends, was published in the Los Angeles Times and The Guardian
(London). He explains the inefficiencies and other problems with producing
feed grain instead of food grain, noting that "Tragically, 80% of the
world's hungry children live in countries with food surpluses, much of which
is in the form of feed fed to animals [who] will be eaten by well-to-do
consumers." International charity Oxfam has released a report entitled
"Rigged Rules and Double Standards" which accuses rich nations of
robbing the poor of $100 billion a year by abusing world trade rules. See: http://www.meatnews.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Article&artNum=3058
"World Hunger Talks Start with Lobster and Foie Gras," The Times of
London, Richard Owen, June 11, 2002.
"The world's problems on a plate," The Guardian, Jeremy Rifkin, May
World Food Summit Project, The Global Hunger Alliance.
2. ALBERTSON'S AND KROGER AGREE TO ANIMAL WELFARE STANDARDS
Major grocery retailers Kroger and Albertson's have joined Safeway in
announcing that they will require their suppliers to comply with animal
welfare standards. All three companies will be following the guidelines being
developed by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI). The Institute, in conjunction
with the National Council of Chain Restaurants, has been working on guidelines
which address breeding, handling, and processing practices. They are to be
released this summer. PETA, which has been leading the campaign to get food
retailers to make welfare demands, wants the companies to conduct unannounced
inspections and ensure the standards are enforced.
Albertson's to follow stricter rules on animals: Competitors also to OK
guidelines on processing," Idaho Statesman, Sat, 1 Jun 2002.
"Albertson's Applauds and Supports Animal Welfare Guidelines Developed by
the Food Marketing Institute," Albertson's press release, May 31, 2002.
"Kroger to follow animals standard," The Cincinnati Post, Greg Paeth,
June 1, 2002.
3. A BAN ON BRANDING?
Major restaurant and grocery chains will meet this summer to consider a ban on
buying meat from companies that brand cattle. Applebee's had written a letter
to its suppliers asking that they refuse beef from companies that brand
cattle, and Burger King has already urged its suppliers to stop branding.
(Applebee's is currently reviewing its requirements. See back issue #62.) The
beef industry is revising its care and handling guidelines with an eye toward
making them more specific. Regarding branding, it plans to make
recommendations based on industry needs and the best interests of cattle.
Several states require that all cattle grazed on open range be branded. An
estimated 50% of U.S. cattle are branded, some more than once.
In addition to demands by animal protection advocates, the industry needs to
find a better identification method in order to be competitive in the world
market where animal ID and traceback is increasingly required. The worldwide
trend is rapidly moving toward mandatory electronic identification systems,
despite vehement objections from factions in the U.S. A 1999 article entitled,
"Identification, Please," explains the various systems used in other
countries, including a French system that includes a barcode which enables
supermarket customers to see the breed, origin and history of the animal. An
alternative system used in Iowa is also described. According to an industry
representative, "establishing an animal identification system and
modernizing ID methods and technology must be a major priority for our
industry in the next 24 to 36 months." A Senate bill to improve meat
safety by mandating farmed animal ID is being opposed by the National
Cattlemen's Beef Association. NCBA opposes any mandatory ID program that will
prove costly and that fails to improve traceback performance over existing
"Ranchers Feeling the Heat," The Los Angeles Times, Stephanie Simon,
June 8, 2002.
"The Heat is On," Beef Magazine, Diana Barto, June 1, 2002.
"Seeking Quality Assurance," Beef Times, Willie Vogt, June 10, 2002.
4. TAKING THE TRAUMA OUT OF WEANING
Separating cow and calf during the weaning process with a fence that still
allows them to interact is advantageous to the conventional system of removing
the calf to a feedlot. Calves able to see and hear their mothers were found to
be 20-25 pounds heavier after 10 weeks in comparison to calves who could not.
Researchers at the U. of California attribute this to the reduction of trauma
from separation and dietary and environmental changes. Unlike conventional
weaning, fence line weaning caused very few behavioral signs of distress, even
during the initial days of separation. The risk of lung infection is also
thought to be higher in calves moved to a feedlot than in those allowed to
remain on pasture. UC advisor Glen Nader explains, "When they are
bellowing all day in a dusty environment they are bound to get bacteria in
5. TURKEYS SCALDED TO DEATH
Canada's largest poultry company has pled guilty to causing "avoidable
distress and pain," in violation of the country's Meat Inspection Act,
after 284 live turkeys were scalded to death. The birds were to have their throats cut and be bled to death prior to being
scalded but the worker assigned to do the cutting was not on duty. Instead,
they went through a stunning device and regained consciousness before being
immersed into scalding water. Investigators said the January 2nd incident
happened in a period of about 15 minutes. The company, Lilydale Co-operative
Ltd., was fined $2,500 (Canadian). According to its lawyers, equipment
has since been set up in the British Columbia plant to ensure the line can't
run unless a person is in the throat-cutting ("sticker") position
and working. [In the U.S., birds are not covered by the Humane Slaughter Act
and there is no provision for their humane treatment in the Poultry Inspection
6. DES MOINES REGISTER EXAMINES HEARTLAND PORK
Heartland Pork, one of Iowa's largest pig production companies, is the subject
of a contentious debate. The company has 61,000 sows and sold 1.2 million pigs
last year. It has 550 employees "90 percent of whom have grown up on
family farms" and 200 "farmer-growers" working in rural Iowa.
The company calls itself a family operation, its critics call it a factory
farm corporation. An extensive article on Heartland intersperses the debate
with verbal sketches of what life is like for the pigs of Heartland. There is
also a shorter accompanying piece on pig meat prices, promotions and trade.
7. THE ETHICS OF EATING
In an extensive 3-part series, the National Catholic Reporter examines food
production. The first part, "Food: An overview," examines
environmental effects, food quality and taste, food safety, social justice,
cruelty to animals, and food monopolies. It includes a section entitled
"Vote with your fork," and links to related sites. The second part
examines the demise of small family farms. Part 3 considers grass-roots
solutions to counter directions in food production and distribution that are
perceived to be destructive. A reading list is also included.
8. CAN AMERICANS "SUE THEIR OWN FAT ASSES OFF?"
John Banzhaf pioneered the notion of suing tobacco companies for the health
consequences of smoking. A vegan student in his graduate class on legal
activism, at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., inspired the
case which resulted in McDonald's paying $10 million to vegetarian groups for
having used beef fat to flavor french fries (see issue #60). Banzhaf's is now
looking at taking on the entire junk-food industry. This lengthy article
explains the strategies he is devising to see if, as he puts it,
"Americans can sue their own fat asses off."
9. ANIMAL RIGHTS 2002 CONFERENCE
The annual national animal rights conference will again take place in McLean,
Va., June 28-July 3rd. The program will feature 120 presentations, 5 plenary
sessions, 100 Workshops, 50 campaign reports, and 16 "Rap Sessions."
There will also be 80 exhibits, 100 videos, a newcomer orientation, an awards
banquet, planning meetings, an employment clearinghouse, and a march on
Washington. For the program schedule and other information visit: http://www.animalrights2002.org