A Project of Animal Place
September 6, 2002
(To Search This Page Press Ctrl F)
1. Biotech Considerations
2. Breeding and Management Practices Causing Problems
3. "Hold Your Breath, Canada"
4. Global Outlook
5. Oklahoma-Arkansas Feud Over Poultry Pollution
6. Nonhuman Rights & Factory Farming
7. 33 Calves Bludgeoned
8. Cage-Free Egg Market Competition
9. "Portrait of a Burger as a Young Calf"
1. BIOTECH CONSIDERATIONS
Britain's Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission has called for new body to be formed specifically to advise on animals, particularly farmed animals, created by bioengineering. The Commission said the government must overhaul its 90-year-old animal welfare laws to close a loophole which leaves animals vulnerable to "fundamentally objectionable changes to their nature." The article lists various types of animals who have been biologically engineered including "Dumber animals: Farm animals which would be less sensitive to stress and pain and less able to think for themselves, making them easier for farmers to handle." The Commission cautioned that many of the hypothetical ways animals could be modified, such as breeding animals with reduced sentience, raise difficult ethical issues. A 1995 report concluded that development of an animal with reduced sentience was "objectionable in principle, because it would stop the farm animal from living in accordance with its natural end in life."
The San Antonio Express-News has published a series of extensive articles on cloning this week. The prospects of cloning farmed animals, companion animals and humans are given from an array of perspectives, including both practical and ethical considerations. Japan recently ruled that meat and milk from cloned cows are safe, and a ban on their consumption may soon be lifted. (Meat from cloned cows had been found illegally being sold in Tokyo markets.) In the U.S., the FDA is drafting guidelines regarding food production from cloned animals.
An online discussion entitled "Barnyard Biotech: Panacea or Pandora's Box," was held today on the Washington Post web site. It can be accessed at:
"Britain urged to ban GM salmon," The Guardian, James Meek, September 4, 2002.
"Cloning: Man turns creator," San Antonio Express-News, Roy Bragg, September 1, 2002.
2. BREEDING AND MANAGEMENT PRACTICES CAUSING PROBLEMS
The high replacement rate of female pigs used for breeding purposes in the U.S. is proving problematic. A recent analysis shows that in order for industry to profit from these pigs, they need to have 3 or 4 litters, but many are not lasting that long. Genetically lean pigs, coupled with poor management practices, are identified as the reasons for this. The current high replacement also compromise herd immunity. A recent USDA survey found that 41.9% of pigs are removed from breeding herds because of age. Reproductive failure accounts for 21.3% and lameness 16%.
Problems, such as higher birth weights and longer gestation periods, resulting from intensive breeding for specific cattle production traits are discussed in another article.
"Is Your Sow Management Costing Pigs?" My Swine News, Debbie Neutkens, August 10, 2002.
"How much performance?" Beef, Wayne Vanderwert, September 1, 2002.
3. "HOLD YOUR BREATH, CANADA"
With environmental restrictions increasingly being imposed in the U.S., Canada stands as "the world's pork powerhouse." Canada raised 26.2 million pigs in 2001, a 70% increase over the decade. The number of farms raising pigs dropped from 63,602 in 1976 to 21,000 in 1996 to 12, 405 last year. Half of the pigs raised in Canada last year were from the 950 farms with more than 2,600 pigs each. [In comparison, in the U.S. in 1994, operations with 5,000 pigs or more accounted for only 27% of the pigs raised. In 2000, operations with more than 5,000 pigs accounted for 73% of the pigs raised. New survey results are expected soon.] In this extensive article, subtitled, "Hold your breath, Canada," the country's expanding pig industry is examined and a factory farm being battled in Montreal is featured. Six "Hog Hot Spots" are also listed.
The ineffectual protections offered to farmed animals by Canada's "Recommended Codes of Practice" (see issue #82) is the focus of a recent Vancouver Sun op-ed by the executive director of the Vancouver Humane Society. In it, she sums up industry's objection to pending animal protection legislation with this quote by the president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture: "We don't want the public to suddenly be the judge as to what is right and what is wrong when these production practices have been developed by the industry."
"High on the Hog," The Globe and Mail, Konrad Yakabuski, August 30, 2002.
"Hog Breeding," UPI Farming Today, Gregory Tejeda, September 5, 2002.
"It's time to go whole hog to protect Canada's farm animals," The Vancouver Sun, Debra Probert, August 29, 2002.
4. GLOBAL OUTLOOK
Global meat consumption is predicted to grow by 2% annually until 2015, according to the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Consumption in developing countries is expected to grow by 2.7% annually compared to 0.6% in wealthier countries. The annual increased demand for poultry (2.9%) is expected to be nearly double that for beef (1.4%). Increased trade and transport raise the risks of diseases spreading internationally. This article gives the amounts, in terms of animal lives, money and environmental contaminants, that recent disease epidemics have cost. (A review of "Love, Labour and Loss," an art exhibit currently on display in England which "....ask[s] us to reflect on our increasingly confused and even perverse love affair with animals, the countryside and meat a year after the foot and mouth epidemic...." can be found at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/features/story/0,11710,778603,00.html
Cargill president and CEO Greg Page believes the growth potential for the U.S. beef industry clearly lies in foreign markets. He explains, "Three billion people in the world live on incomes below $1,000/year. They consume almost no meat, milk or eggs. If just one-third of those people increased their incomes by 25 cents/hour, they would consume enough meat, milk and eggs to require the entire U.S. grain crop." Regarding trade, Page admonishes "....our behavior showing that we're less-than-honorable free traders has encouraged other countries like China to act just as dishonorably." He calculates the high cost the beef industry faces in competing with ethanol for corn, and tells of Cargill's efforts to increase beef demand. Page gives brief opinions of the challenge presented by competing countries. The article also contains a profile of Cargill.
"World meat demand to rise, animal disease fears - FAO," Reuters, David Brough, 08/08/02.
"BEEF Chat: Cargill's Greg Page," Beef, Clint Peck, September 1, 2002.
5. OKLAHOMA-ARKANSAS FEUD OVER POULTRY POLLUTION
Seven months after a failed attempt to build 90 chicken sheds in Oklahoma, Arkansas-based Prosper Farms is building as many as 50 chicken sheds in Arkansas near the Oklahoma border, each to produce 165,000 birds per year. The company faced heated opposition in Oklahoma, and the state recently passed environmental laws restricting construction of poultry operations. State officials point out that the new location will still pollute Oklahoma watersheds. Oklahoma was preparing to sue several Arkansas poultry companies for pollution (see issue #61) but instead entered into negotiations with Arkansas after the state threatened to retaliate for pollution from Oklahoma's petrochemical industry runoff.
"Poultry houses find home in Arkansas after failed Oklahoma plans, move raises pollution concerns," The Daily Oklahoman, Sheila Stogsdill & Sonya Colberg, August 29, 2002.
6. NONHUMAN RIGHTS & FACTORY FARMING
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently ran a series of articles about animal rights, one of which notes that the Florida gestation ban initiative has fueled the debate and includes a section on factory farming. The article ends with this quote from the Humane Society of the United States: "All of the animals we refer to as ‘farm animals' have unique personalities. They're fascinating creatures with the ability to love, form friendships, mourn, get angry and show a variety of other emotions. They're deserving of our respect, our compassion and our gratitude for what they give us." Concludes the article: "And maybe more legal protection, too."
The New York Times ran an editorial condemning factory farming and criticizing the government's support of it. The editorial focuses on environmental problems and only considered the animals involved in mentioning that they "live cheek by jowl their entire lives."
"Nonhuman rights," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Eric Sundquist, August 25, 2002.
"Opinion: The Curse of Factory Farms," The New York Times, August 30, 2002.
7. 33 CALVES BLUDGEONED
Kevin Broers, 19, of Monroe, Washington has been charged with 3 felony counts of animal cruelty for the baseball-bat bludgeoning of 33 calves at a neighboring dairy farm. The attack left 16 3- to 4-month-old calves dead from massive brain hemorrhaging (1 was euthanized) and 17 suffering from head injuries. Of the surviving calves, 6 were in serious condition and 3 others appear to be suffering permanent damage. Broers was only charged with 3 counts of cruelty since, according to a prosecuting attorney, the veterinarian who treated the calves has been only able to provide evidence that 3 of the surviving calves suffered. Prosecutors are seeking an exceptional sentence of up to 10 years in prison because of the viciousness of the attack. Two other juveniles allegedly witnessed the attacks but have not been charged. The farm owners contend that, due to the nature of the calves, more than one person had to have been involved.
Broers has also been charged with 3 counts of 2nd-degree burglary and 1 count of malicious mischief. In 2000 and 2002, he was arrested for allegedly kicking and hitting his father and sister. After the first incident, he was ordered to not have contact with them. Several years ago he was caught stealing liquor and video games from the same farm. He paid restitution and was said not to be on bad terms with the family. One of the dairy farm owners said, "I worked my tail off day and night for those critters. I liked them. They are wonderful animals. I appreciate them a lot."
"Monroe man charged in cow attacks," Seattle Times, Lynn Thompson, September 5, 2002.
"19-Year-Old Accused of Beating Calves had Juvenile Record," Seattle Times, Diane Brooks & Janet Burkitt, August 31, 2002.
"Baseball bat used to kill 16 dairy calves," Seattle Times, Diane Brooks & Janet Burkitt 08/30/02
8. CAGE-FREE EGG MARKET COMPETITION
Colorado Natural Eggs (CNE) sells eggs from uncaged hens to 6 supermarket chains in the Rocky Mountain states. Business grew more than 20% annually to about $4 million last year after PETA campaigned for retailers to require animal welfare standards be met by their suppliers. This article tells of the making of this family-run company, and the rivalry it now faces from a relative who heads Moark L.L.C., one of the nation's largest egg producers, owned in part by Land O'Lakes (LOL). Sales of specialty eggs (e.g., free range, cage free, organic, fortified) have grown fivefold since 1997 to 5% of the market. Cage-free is said to be the fastest-growing segment with the highest profit margins. This is attributed to reduced farm prices for conventional eggs, primarily because of a 3-year "glut of caged hens." CNE's Syd Szymanski contends that LOL priced its eggs just below theirs and used similar wording on the package. She claims "Land O'Lakes has got this great name and reputation, but that egg isn't any more ‘natural' than a regular egg." The article describes conditions for a flock of 14,000 CNE hens kept in one building. (Moarke has 14 million hens.)
"A Marketing Cry: Don't Fence Them In," The New York Times, Alex Markels, Sept. 1, 2002.
9. "PORTRAIT OF A BURGER AS A YOUNG CALF"
This review of a book by Peter Lovenheim, who purchased twin calves and follows their life from pre-conception on, notes the surreal advertising that shapes consumer perceptions: "a barbecue grill featuring a grinning pig in a chef's hat and apron; a restaurant advertising steaks with a picture of a cow in a bib clutching a knife and fork, an ice cream cone with a face licking another, smaller ice cream cone." Lovenheim's account differs from Michael Pollan's recent expose on grain-fed cattle (see issue #61) in that it does not involve Midwestern industrial feedlots. According to the review, "[Lovenheim] figures out a way to have his calf and eat it, too. Lovenheim gets his book, the reader gets his Happy Meal, and the farmer gets to keep doing what he does." The first chapter of the book can be read at: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/08/11/books/chapters/0811-1st-lovenh.html
"Toy Cows Led to Rumination on Food," Montreal Gazette, Bruce Taylor, August 31, 2002.