A Project of Animal Place
June 21, 2002
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2. Pig Gestation & Farrowing Research and Challenge
3. Salmonella and Forced Molting
4. Organic Production will Require Organic Feed
5. Time Magazine Defines "Specialty Eggs"
6. Live Export Trade Threatened
7. Foot-and-mouth Disease Killing Was "Barbaric"
8. Events: Solidarity Against Factory Farming
9. Meetings: Antibiotics; Animal and Egg Production Food Safety
1. CRIMINAL CHARGES URGED IN MASS HEN STARVATION CASE
Farm Sanctuary has submitted a 58-page legal brief to Florida State Attorney Bernie McCabe detailing why Cypress Foods Inc. should be held criminally responsible for abandoning 200,000 hens to starve to death. More than 20,000 chickens starved and another 180,000 were killed in Florida in March after the company went bankrupt (see issues 57 & 58). Another 800,000 chickens suffered the same neglect at Cypress operations in Georgia. Attorney Paul Rebein wrote, "To our knowledge, this (is) the largest case of animal cruelty in the history of the United States, perhaps even the world." Rescuers told of a river of manure and a crumbling barn stacked with cages of dead and dying birds. A Cypress attorney said the owner of the Florida operation, James Biggers, ran through all his funds hoping a buyer would save the farm and birds. Rebein countered that Biggers knew he was running out of money and refused offers to give the chickens away, choosing instead to file for bankruptcy to maintain control. A county spokesperson said an investigation should be completed soon.
"Cypress Egg Farms Disaster," The Humane Society of the United States, Susanne Abromaitis.
2. PIG GESTATION & FARROWING RESEARCH AND CHALLENGE
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania are focusing on gestation and farrowing crates with the goal of playing a key role in the growing controversy over them. The centerpiece of their setup is a computerized feeding system for group-housed sows. It helps ensure that each pig obtains adequate nutrition and cuts the time they spend in crates by 75%. By crating sows, the research director explains "....we're putting embryo welfare above the welfare of sows." Another "competing welfare agenda" is being tested with turnaround gestation crates which enables a sow to turn around at the temporary expense of space available to sows in adjacent crates. Some sows in European-style farrowing crates, which can be opened to allow more freedom of movement, have exhibited stronger maternal instincts and greater attunement to the location of their piglets. A genetic company may be enlisted to select for pigs who will excel in these systems.
"Sow Stall Ban Issue Reaches Oregon," National Hog Farmer, Joe Vansickle, May 15, 2002.
"Snatch-and-Save Program," National Hog Farmer, Joe Vansickle, June 15, 2002.
3. SALMONELLA AND FORCED MOLTING
Force molting hens by depriving them of food causes diminished immune responsiveness. USDA research has also shown that this type of molting causes recurrence of previous Salmonella enteritidis (SE) infection. Hens exposed to SE during molt were 100 to 1000 times more susceptible to infection by it. They had much more severe infections than did unmolted hens, with greater intestinal inflammation, and excreted more SE organisms. The force molted hens also readily transmitted SE to adjacent cages and birds through the air (see link, issue 26). With an estimated 70% of all flocks in the U.S. force molted, the article advises, "...this is a problem the commercial egg industry must face."
4. ORGANIC PRODUCTION WILL REQUIRE ORGANIC FEED
Another attempt to weaken national standards for organic production has failed (see issue 68). Fieldale Farms of Georgia had petitioned the USDA to allow chickens who are fed non-organic feed to be certified as "organic." The company complained that there is an inadequate supply of certified organic feed grains. Organic grain companies countered this by explaining that the supply was adequate but Fieldale didn't want to pay the higher price for it. The petition was denied. National organic food standards are to be implemented in October. The L.A. Times article includes a list of standards currently required for organic meat production.
"Standards for Organic Meat Under Review," The Los Angeles Times, Melinda Fulmer, June 5, 2002.
5. TIME MAGAZINE DEFINES "SPECIALTY EGGS"
The current issue of Time Magazine contains a small article in the "Personal Time" section (p. 75) that attempts to explain the differences between "specialty eggs." These include eggs marketed as nutritionally enhanced, vegetarian, all-natural, cage free, organic, or free range. For cage free, the magazine explains: "Birds are raised in a typical henhouse, though not confined to the normal 56-sq.-in. of cage space. Smaller cages are more sanitary, however, so cage-free hens have a higher mortality rate." It notes that organic eggs are from "hens [who] live cage free and eat organic feed." Free range eggs are described as being from "Hens [who] are raised outdoors or with outdoor ‘access.' But hens can't survive all seasons, and ‘access' varies widely."
6. LIVE EXPORT TRADE THREATENED
The latest report from the European Union (EU) Scientific Committee on Animal Welfare, if implemented, will effectively close down Ireland's international live animal export trade. So says the Irish Farmers' Association National Livestock Chairman, Derek Deane. He claims the density and unloading proposals in the report, and the weather restrictions it proposes, would effectively close down the live export trade. Mr. Deane has called on the Minister for Agriculture and Food to launch a major offensive in Europe to protect the trade and the industry.
7. FOOT-AND-MOUTH DISEASE KILLING WAS "BARBARIC"
Speaking at a European Union inquiry on last year's foot-and-mouth disease epidemic, Professor Fred Brown, a world expert on the disease, declared "The barbaric conduct in Britain last year was a disgrace to humanity." More than 10 million animals were killed with the contiguous slaughter policy (see issue #44). All 8 scientific expert witnesses said vaccination must be used in any future outbreak. They testified that vaccines are fully effective and sufficient supplies were available. Field tests to distinguish between vaccinated vs. infected animals have been in use for at least 6 years and are very inexpensive. An expert in vaccination from Munich University said it is not possible to control such an epidemic by the slaughter policy that was employed. He noted that "industrial farming had dramatically extended the spread of the disease."
8. EVENTS: SOLIDARITY AGAINST FACTORY FARMING
Viva!UK is planning a march against factory farming in London on July 13th (see http://www.factoryfarming.org.uk/). Viva!USA is encouraging activists and organizations here to participate in events in the U.S. as a show of solidarity. A list of suggestions and other information can be found at: http://www.vivausa.org/13july.htm. The organization asks those interested in attending to send a message with your name, city and contact information to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
9. MEETINGS: ANTIBIOTICS; ANIMAL AND EGG PRODUCTION FOOD SAFETY
ANTIBIOTICS: A public meeting on antibiotic resistance will be held in Bethesda, Md. on June 26th by the CDC, FDA and NIH. The federal agencies will present the first annual report of progress in meeting the activities outlined in the document "A Public Health Action Plan to Combat Antimicrobial Resistance (Part I: Domestic Issues)." Surveillance, prevention and control, research, and product development will be discussed. Public comment is solicited and will be taken under advisement by the Antimicrobial Resistance Interagency Task Force. The Action Plan, Annual Report, and meeting agenda are available at: http://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance. Persons interested in attending are to send written notification and contact information by June 22nd. Written comments are to be received by the end of July. The contact person is Vickie Garrett who can be reached at: 404-639-2603; fax 404-639-4197; or e-mail email@example.com.