Farmed Animal Watch
A Project of Animal Place

June 17, 2003                                                     (To Search This Page Press Ctrl F)
Number #20 Volume 2


CONTENTS


1. Horse Slaughter Effort Dies
2. FAWC Recommends Mandatory Stunning
3. Animal Science & The Holocaust
4. Vegism & Judaism
5. Agricultural Science & Technology Conference, Expo & Opposition
 

1. HORSE SLAUGHTER EFFORT DIES
Legislative attempts to legalize horse slaughter for human consumption in Texas have failed. House Bill 1324 passed the Texas House but died in the Senate. It resurfaced as an amendment
attached to a Senate bill but at the end of May it was removed out of fear it would kill the bill. Anti-horse slaughter rallies were held throughout the state and, according to the Texas Humane Legislation Network (THLN, http://www.thln.com ), many legislators reported receiving more calls on the issue than all other legislative issues combined. KTSM-TV reported that a statewide poll found 89% of Texans said they were unaware horses were slaughtered in the state, and 77% were opposed to changing the law to permit horse slaughter for human consumption. The two remaining Texas horse slaughterplants, the last in the country, have been permitted to continue operating until a pending county lawsuit against one of them goes to trial (see issue #86). The lawsuit was brought after animal rights activists discovered a 1949 state law banning horse slaughter for human consumption. Together, the two plants kill 50,000 horses a year, primarily for foreign markets. A THLN representative says slaughtering horses is crueler than slaughtering cattle due to the excitability of horses and the difficulty in restraining them. Supporters say they need the plants to humanely dispose of unwanted horses who otherwise might be neglected or sent to Mexico where they may suffer worse treatment. Animal handling expert Temple Grandin sees transport as a greater concern. Most horses are transported to slaughter in trailers designed for cattle in which they are unable to stand. Many thrash around, injuring themselves and other horses in transit. A federal law will ban the use of cattle trailers for horses in 2007. Federal legislation to ban horse slaughter, H.R. 857, is pending in Congress: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d108:HR00857:@@@N 
 
"Texas Slaughter Amendment Meets Demise," The Thoroughbred Times, June 5, 2003.
http://www.thoroughbredtimes.com/todaysnews/newsview.asp?recno=34235&subsec=1
"Horse-Meat Sales Stir Texas Controversy," The Christian Science Monitor, Kris Axtman, April 28, 2003. http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/0428/p03s01-usgn.html
 

2. FAWC RECOMMENDS MANDATORY STUNNING
Slaughter without stunning, as practiced by the Jewish and Muslim faiths, should be immediately banned in the U.K., according to the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC). {1} The Council is an independent advisory body funded by the government to review the welfare of farmed animals during production, transit, and slaughter. {2} The recommendation was included in the 72-page "Report on the Welfare of Farmed Animals at Slaughter or Killing," which also includes recommendations for the handling of animals, mass killing for disease control, on-farm killing, staff training, slaughterplant equipment, and proper enforcement. {3} It calls for the phasing out of the use of aversive gases as a means of stunning pigs, and for restrictions on horned cattle at slaughter. {4} The report pertains to commonly farmed mammals, deer, wild boar, and ostriches. The Council will be considering welfare recommendations for "white meat species" (i.e., chickens and turkeys) over the next year. {5}
 
Of the hundreds of millions of farmed animals slaughtered in the U.K. each year {6}, about 9 million are killed without first being stunned.{7} The report states: "We are persuaded that such a massive injury [throat cutting] would result in very significant pain and distress in the period before insensibility supervenes."{8} FAWC points out that it can take up to 2 minutes for some of the animals to bleed to death. {9} FAWC chairperson Dr. Judy McArthur Clark said scientific evidence has enable the Council to establish "without doubt that there is severe animal suffering."{10}
 
Members of the Jewish and Muslim communities deny their slaughter methods are cruel. "The brain is instantaneously starved of blood and there is no time to start feeling any pain," writes the Muslim Council of Great Britain. {11} McArthur Clark counters "This is a major incision into the animal and to say that it doesn't suffer is quite ridiculous." {12} The religious groups charge that stunning subjects animals to twice the amount of pain. {13} One rabbi contends, "There can be no doubt that every animal feels pain from the stunning, and moreover some 14,000 animals a year are stunned badly or wrongly." {14} Jewish law explicitly requires that animals must be conscious when slaughtered, while some interpretations of Islamic law allow for stunning. {15} According to McArthur Clark, already 80-90% of Muslim slaughter a involves electrical stunning, which she says is acceptable to most Muslims so long as the animals' heart is still beating when their throat is cut.{16} Nadeem Shaikh, a licensed slaughterer and poultry wholesaler, says that to expedite slaughter, an amount of electricity is used that would allow the animal to be able to recover, and as long as a devout Muslim says a certain prayer it is acceptable - a claim which outrages many Muslims. (Shaikh mentions a particular Muslim plant where 7,000 chickens an hour are mechanically killed while a taped prayer is played.) {17} According to McArthur Clark, 4/5ths of the meat from Muslim slaughter ends up in the general food supply, so the issue is one of concern to the common consumer. {18} She says the milder stunning would be acceptable as long as the animal dies without regaining consciousness. For kosher slaughter, she urges Jewish authorities to consider electrically stunning animals immediately after slitting their throat, a practice which is already approved by some rabbis. {19}
 
Reform rabbi Dan Cohn-Sherbok, professor of Judaism at the University of Wales, says the kosher slaughter method once was the most humane way but is no longer in keeping with high ethical principle. "It's a pity that this is what draws the [religious] communities together, saying ‘We want to kill animals like we've always done,'" he laments. {20} In an op-ed, philosopher Brian Klug contends that "Whichever method is used, all animals at the point of slaughter are subjected to a violent act while fully conscious." He writes that slaughter "is a small part of the total ordeal we put animals through in the process of turning them into meat." Klug considers FAWC's recommendation to be culturally-biased and too problematic. {21} Jewish Vegetarians of North America points out that, according to slaughter expert Temple Grandin, shackling and hoisting is banned in the U.K. where restraint systems that minimize pain are instead employed. Grandin warns that if stunning is mandated, kosher meat might instead be imported from countries with more inhumane practices {22, (see: http://www.grandin.com/ritual/rec.ritual.slaughter.html )} and become increasingly expensive. {23}
 
In the U.S., Meat Processing Editor Chris Harris considers the report proposals to be "‘good working practice.'" He says that by implementing better welfare conditions, industry makes itself more efficient. He urges the recommendations be recommended for all of Europe, and that they be adopted industry-wide as a guide but not mandated by law. {24}
 
The report had been in the making for the past four years. {25} FAWC had called for an end to slaughter without stunning once before, 17 years ago. {26} Last year, Switzerland proposed lifting a 19th century prohibition on ritual slaughter but backed down due to public pressure. {27} Britain's agriculture ministry is considering FAWC's recommendations. {28} The report can be accessed at (PDF file): http://www.fawc.org.uk/reports/slaughter/report.pdf  A Q/A on ritual slaughter can be found at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/2977836.stm  See also item #3 below, and item 4 of issue #9.
 
1, 8, 9, 10, 16, 18, 19: "Ban Urged on Kosher and Halal Butchery," Telegraph, Robert Uhlig, June 6, 2003. http://tinyurl.com/ejgp or http://www.dailytelegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2003/06/11/nmeat11.xml&sSheet=/news/2003/06/11/ixhome.html
2: "Slaughter Law Proposal Infuriates Two Faiths," The Western Mail, Patrick Fletcher, 5/19/03. http://tinyurl.com/ehrh or
http://icwales.icnetwork.co.uk/0300business/0100news/page.cfm?objectid=12971456&method=full&siteid=50082&headline=Slaughter%20law%20proposal%20infuriates%20two%20faiths 
3: "Report on the Welfare of Farmed Animals at Slaughter or Killing: Part I," Farmed Animal Welfare Coalition, June 2003: http://www.fawc.org.uk/reports/slaughter/report.pdf
4, 5: "Report Recommends End to Slaughter Without Stunning," Meat News, June 11, 2003
http://www.meatnews.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=PArticle&artNum=5558
6, 13, 28: "Meat Ban Call Unites Muslims, Jews," CNN News, Robin Oakley, June 13, 2003.
http://edition.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/europe/06/13/britain.meat/
7, 14, 17: "Muslims Unite With Jews to Defend Animal Slaughter Rites," The Independent, Paul Vallely, June 11, 2003.
http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/this_britain/story.jsp?story=414383
11, 12: "Halal and Kosher Slaughter ‘Must End,'" BBC News, June 10, 2003.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/2977086.stm
15, 23: "Britain Set to Deliberate Ban on Kosher Slaughter," Forward, Sam Greene, May 29, 2003.
http://www.forward.com/issues/2003/03.05.30/news9.html
20, 25, 26, 27: "A Stunning Debate," Time Europe, Aisha Labi, June 23, 2003.
http://www.time.com/time/europe/magazine/article/0,13005,901030623-458740,00.html
21: The Animal Welfare Lobby is Wrong," The Guardian, Brian Klug, June 11, 2003.
http://politics.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,9115,974976,00.html
22: Jewish Vegetarian Group Opposes Effort to Single Out Kosher Slaughter for Banning," Jewish Vegetarians of North America, press release, Richard Schwartz, June 10, 2003.
24: "Perspective by Chris Harris," Meat News, Chris Harris, June 11, 2003.
http://www.meatnews.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=article&artNum=5553
 

3. ANIMAL SCIENCE & THE HOLOCAUST
The current issue of Tikkun, the liberal "bimonthly Jewish critique of politics, culture and society," features an article by Charles Patterson, author of Eternal Treblinka (see N.7, V.2). In "The Great Divide: Animals and the Holocaust," which begins with a quote by Sigmund Freud, Patterson offers an explanation of why people may be so desensitized to the suffering and death of other humans. He attributes it to the domestication of animals, noting "This domination, control, and manipulation of animals served as the model for the enslavement/domestication of people." Patterson tells how slaughterline principles were applied in Nazi death camps. He explains how selective breeding practices employed with plants and nonhuman animals were attempted with humans in eugenics programs, described by the leader of the American eugenics movement as "the science of the improvement of the human race by better breeding." Castration and killing programs in America and Germany targeted criminals and other people considered to be defective and undesirable. "By the summer of 1942," Patterson writes, "Auschwitz was a vast, full-service Eugenics center for the improvement of animal and human populations...." He gives examples of the agricultural background and education of key German officials involved in the Holocaust. Patterson concludes: "Our detachment and indifference toward [other animals'] fate makes us more inclined to commit atrocities against each other....We need to eradicate the notion that there exist in the world groups of sentient beings not entitled to our empathy and protection. Extending the circle of our compassion to include all living beings will make the world a safer and more humane place. It's the only thing that will." The article is on-line at: http://tinyurl.com/eie3 or http://www.tikkun.org/magazine/index.cfm/action/tikkun/issue/tik0305/article/030526a.html
         
A commentary by Stephen R. Dujack, grandson of Nobel Laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer who fled Nazi Europe, was published in The Los Angeles Times and other newspapers in April. Dujack defends comparisons of the way farmed animals are treated with the atrocities that occurred during the Holocaust. "Animals Suffer a Perpetual ‘Holocaust'" is on-line at: http://www.ajc.com/opinion/content/opinion/0403/25special_dujack.html  See also N.7, V.2.
 

4. VEGISM & JUDAISM
The May/June issue of Tikkum (see item #2 above) also contains a section entitled "The Politics of Eating." It consists of an article entitled "18 Reasons Jews Shouldn't Be Vegetarians (and Why They're Wrong)" by Richard H. Schwartz, and an essay entitled "Why I am Vegan" by Jeffrey M. Freedman. Among the questions Schwartz answers are two pertaining to ritual slaughter (see item #1 above). Freedman explains that, for him, veganism "is a prayer, a petition asking why animals and people suffer greatly in a Universe created by a benevolent and loving G-d....[it] is not so much about dietary abstinence as it is about spiritual sustenance; spiritual sustenance that fills the dark and empty spaces I feel lost in when I witness animal and human suffering, or anything that is an affront to what is Holy or good in the world. It is a lifestyle imperative that flows from my love of animals and reverence for life." Schwartz's article is on-line at: http://tinyurl.com/eiff or   http://www.tikkun.org/magazine/index.cfm/action/tikkun/issue/tik0305/article/030526b.html and Freeman's is at: http://tinyurl.com/bp33 or http://www.tikkun.org/magazine/index.cfm/action/tikkun/issue/tik0305/article/030526c.html   
 

5. AGRICULTURAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY CONFERENCE, EXPO & OPPOSITION
Sacramento, Ca. will be the site of a June 23-25th Conference and Expo on Agricultural Science and Technology. The conference theme is "the critical role science and technology can play in raising agricultural productivity in developing countries in an environmentally sustainable way to alleviate world hunger and poverty." More than 150 ministers representing over 100 countries have registered to attend the conference, which is only open to invited delegates. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman will deliver the keynote address and participate in meetings. International organizations, universities, research centers and non-governmental organizations will also be represented. According to Corpwatch, which "counters corporate-led globalization through education, network-building and activism," the Expo "will promote an industrialized, hunger inducing, agricultural model." The organization is calling on animal rights activists and others to help counter the event. A teach-in, rally and march are planned. The conference web site is: http://www.fas.usda.gov/icd/stconf/conf_main.html
 
"Veneman to Keynote Technology Conference," Farm Progress, Laura Engelson, June 12, 2003.
http://www.directag.com/directag/news/article.jhtml?article_id=1016004
"Call to Action! Stop Corporations From Hijacking the World's Food Supply and Increasing Hunger," CorpWatch, June 11, 2003.
http://www.corpwatch.org/action/PAA.jsp?articleid=7109