Farmed Animal Watch
A Project of Animal Place

July 11, 2003                                                     (To Search This Page Press Ctrl F)
Number #22 Volume 2


CONTENTS


1. Seeking Slaughter Changes
2. "Downed Animal Protection" Amendment up for Vote
3. California "Agro-Terrorism" Bill Passes Senate
4. McDonald's Action on Antibiotics
5. New Cattle Growth Promoter
6. Animal Fat and Dioxins
7. Battling Obesity
8. Upcoming Events
 

1.  SEEKING SLAUGHTER CHANGES
The recent killing of 30,000 hens who were thrown alive into wood chipping machines (see issue N.16, V.2) has disturbed even some within the industry. While reforms are happening in the way farmed animals are kept and killed, critics say improvements are not happening fast enough and farmers are rarely held accountable when animals are made to suffer unnecessarily. During a May agriculture appropriations hearing, Senator Robert Byrd (D-W.V.) called on the Agriculture Department to speed up the hiring of more slaughterplant inspectors. "Despite the laws on the books, chronically weak enforcement and intense pressure to speed up slaughterhouse assembly lines reportedly have resulted in animals being skinned, dismembered, and boiled while they are still alive and conscious," Byrd stated. Taking a different approach, Senator Jim Moran (D - Va.) recently distributed copies of the video "Meet Your Meat" ( http://www.meetyourmeat.com ) to members of Congress. The American Meat Institute points to improvements the $133 billion industry has made in the past decade and denies that animal protection regulations are not being enforced at slaughterplants. According to the USDA, from January 1998 to January 2003, 21 of the nation's 900 slaughterplants were cited for violations resulting from animal abuse. This article (which ran in The New York Times and other papers) notes that every year in the U.S., 8 billion chickens and turkeys, 97 million pigs, 36 million cattle (including 1 million calves), and 3 million sheep are slaughtered in [federally inspected slaughterplants]. Birds, the vast majority of the animals killed, are not covered under the Humane Slaughter Act. 
 
"Activists Seek Changes at Slaughterhouses," Associated Press, Nada El Sawy, July 6, 2003.
http://tinyurl.com/gmur and http://www.boston.com/life_etc/health/diseases_treatments/activists_seek_changes_at_slaughterhouses_000128844
 

2.  "DOWNED ANIMAL PROTECTION" AMENDMENT UP FOR VOTE
The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on a version of the Downed Animal Protection Act during the week of July 14th. According to a notice released by The Humane Society of the U.S. and The Fund for Animals, Representative Gary Ackerman (D-NY) plans to introduce such a provision as an amendment to the House Agriculture Appropriations bill. The Ackerman amendment seeks to prohibit nonambulatory ("downed") animals -those who are unable to stand or walk- from entering the food supply. The organizations point out that this will help protect ill and injured animals from abusive treatment, and also help protect public health since nonambulatory animals are more likely to be suffering from diseases that are transmissible to humans (see issue #41).
 
"Downed Animal Protection Act: Vote Looming; Calls Needed Now!" Humanelines, July 10, 2003.
http://www.hsus.org/ace/441 
See also: http://www.hsus.org/ace/12578
 

3.  CALIFORNIA "AGRO-TERRORISM" BILL PASSES SENATE
The California state senate unanimously passed SB 933, a bill to make trespassing on land used to house, raise, breed, feed or keep animals used for human food a misdemeanor. The law is supported by numerous state animal agriculture associations and law enforcement agencies. It is opposed by the Fund for Animals and Viva!USA. They point out that there already are laws against trespassing and this bill is intended to prevent activists from documenting abusive animal production practices. The bill awaits a hearing by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
 
"California Passes Agro-Terrorism Bill," Poultry Times, June 23, 2003
http://www.poultryandeggnews.com/poultrytimes/focus/June2003/516798.html
Viva!USA/Fund for Animals Action Alert: http://www.vivausa.org/urgentactions/sb933.html
 

4.  MCDONALD'S ACTION ON ANTIBIOTICS
In mid-June, McDonald's globally called for its suppliers to phase out by the end of 2004 their use of antibiotics for animal growth promotion that are also used for human medicine. An Associated Press article noted that the decision "is a direct result of growing consumer awareness of food hazards and demand for meat that is safely produced and more humanely raised, according to researchers, activists and even some major food companies." A survey by natural foods retailer Whole Foods showed 74% of consumers are concerned about the presence of antibiotics in meat, although meat from animals produced without them only account for 1% of sales. The market for such meat is considered promising, however, with the number of certified organic cattle, pigs and sheep increasing 3-fold since 1997 while organic chickens and turkeys have increased 5-fold. (Since 2000, more organic food has been purchased in conventional grocery stores than in health food stores and 73% of all grocery stores now carry organic products.)   
 
The article went on to state "Besides speeding growth, antibiotic-laced feed is also used to ward off illnesses that can move quickly through animals' crowded and often filthy feedlots." The government does not monitor antibiotic usage but according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) about 70% of antibiotics and related drugs in the U.S. are administered to farmed animals to promote growth and prevent disease. UCS estimates that 50% of the antibiotics used in animal agriculture are used for growth promotion while the Animal Health Institute, a trade organization for animal drug manufacturers, says it is instead 13-17%. According to an FDA official, growth promoters are administered to most [farmed] animal in the U.S. Over half of these drugs are so closely related to human medicines that microbes exposed to them can also develop resistance to the human medicines. A recent U.S. Geological survey found antibiotic residues in nearly half of 139 streams evaluated nationwide.
 
McDonald's new policy will prohibit its direct suppliers (mostly chicken companies) from using 24 growth promoters that are closely related to antibiotics used in human medicine. In deciding which independent operators to purchase meat from (mostly beef and pork), the company will give favorable status to those who avoid growth promoters. It will allow the use of antibiotics to treat sick animals and to prevent and control disease outbreaks. Some skeptics have said this will allow suppliers to continue using the drugs, which do not require a prescription, under the pretext of disease control and prevention. The European Union voted in 1998 to ban the use of antibiotics for growth promotion (see issue #98) by 2006. It is already banned in Denmark and Sweden. Overall, antibiotic use on European farms dropped considerably after the ban began being phased in there, and resistance to antibiotics has declined. But reports show the drugs are being used more frequently to treat sick animals. McDonald's European-based poultry suppliers had eliminated their use of the drugs in feed by the end of 2001. That same year, the company also decided to phase out all uses of fluoroquinolone antibiotics with its U.S. poultry supply (see issue #54). Some U.S. industry representatives have responded to McDonald's new policy by saying it is based on marketing and political reasons rather than science. It is anticipated that other companies will follow McDonald's lead. McDonald's new policy can be found at: http://www.mcdonalds.com/corporate/social/marketplace/antibiotics/global/index.html A coalition effort to introduce a bill phasing out the majority of animal agriculture antibiotic use is being opposed by the pharmaceutical lobby (see: http://www.keepantibioticsworking.com ).
 
"Demand Led McDonald's to Cut Antibiotics," Associated Press, Beth Fouhy, June 19, 2003.
http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/business/6126745.htm
"Fast Food Giants Move Throws Light on Antibiotics Overuse," Inter Press Service, Katherine Stapp, July 1, 2003.
http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/0701-04.htm
"McDonald's Will Tell Meat Suppliers to Cut Antibiotics Use," The Washington Post, Marc Kaufman, June 19, 2003
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A11152-2003Jun18.html?nav=hptoc_b
"McDonald's Asks Meat Industry to Cut Use of Antibiotics" The New York Times, David Barboza with Sherri Day, June 19, 2003. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/06/20/business/20MEAT.html     
 

5.  NEW CATTLE GROWTH PROMOTER
Elanco Animal Health recently announced it has received FDA approval to market a new growth promoter for cattle used for meat production. Optaflexx is derived from the same compound used in Elanco's Paylean growth promoter for pigs. [Paylean has been associated with "Downer's Syndrome," see issue #77.] Optaflexx will cause an average steer to gain about 17 additional pounds. It is not an antibiotic and so will not be affected by McDonald's new policy (see item #4).
 
"FDA OKs Elanco's Meat Promoter," The Indy Star, Jeff Swaitek, June 21, 2003.
http://www.indystar.com/print/articles/4/052297-6404-031.html    
 
 
6.  ANIMAL FAT AND DIOXINS
Dioxins are chemical compounds primarily created by the incineration of chlorinated wastes. Air-borne particles contaminate vegetation and when eaten by animals accumulate in their fat. Billions of pounds of animal fat are fed back to animals each year, further adding to dioxin buildup. Most human exposure to dioxins is through the consumption of animal fat in meat (including poultry and fish) and dairy products. High levels of these compounds are associated with neurological and developmental problems, and increased susceptibility to cancer due to hormonal disruption. Of particular concern are the vulnerability of fetuses and nursing children. The Institute of Medicine, one of the National Academies of Science, which advises the federal government on medical matters, recently released a report on dioxins. It notes that people can limit their dioxin intake by reducing meat consumption. Additionally, it recommends that the government increase the availability of foods low in animal fat in the National School Lunch Program. Among its other recommendations is the interruption of dioxin recycling which results from the use of animal fat in feed. A preliminary draft of the full report can be viewed at: http://www.nap.edu/catalog/10763.html
 
"U.S. Needs to Act to Recude Dioxins, Says Panel," Reuters, Maggie Fox, July 2, 2003.
http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/21365/story.htm
"Report Recommends Steps to Reduce Dietary Dioxin Exposure," The National Academies press release, July 1, 2003.
http://www4.nationalacademies.org/news.nsf/isbn/0309089611?OpenDocument
 

7.  BATTLING OBESITY
One-fourth of all Americans eat at a fast-food restaurant every day. Over 60% of U.S. adults and 13% of U.S. children and adolescents are overweight. Obesity now rivals smoking for chronic health problems and aging for medical costs. Recently, the Public Health Advocacy Institute held the "First Annual Conference on Legal Approaches to the Obesity Epidemic" (see also issue #72). Prior to that, a House subcommittee held a hearing on the "Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act," which is designed to provide legal liability protection for food companies from lawsuits brought about by obese customers. Lisa Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for Legal Reform, which opposes "McLawsuits," argues that, unlike tobacco cases, "no one has ever argued that fast food is addictive." However, according to Neal Barnard, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, previously unpublicized studies suggest that cheese, meat, chocolate and sugar cause the release of opiate-like substances that cause people to crave them (see: http://www.pcrm.org/news/health030529.html ). Kraft Foods, which was sued over the fat content of Oreo cookies, has announced it is taking steps to counter obesity by reducing the portion sizes and fat content of some of its products, and eliminating in-school marketing of its brands. The July 4th issue of Cow-Calf Weekly comments: "When McDonald's begins putting fruit instead of fries into Happy Meals, when Frito-Lay eliminates trans fatty acids from its chips, and when Pepsi promises half of its product line will be geared to health-conscious consumers, it's time for the beef industry to take notice."
 
"Overweight Americans - Are We Biggie-Sizing Ourselves?" Reality Check, March 2003.
http://ncadi.samhsa.gov/reality/articles/2003/fastfood.asp
"Involvement of Lawyers in Obesity Battle Not Good Sign," Cheese Reporter, Editorial, Dick.
http://www.cheesereporter.com/editorial.htm
"‘McLawsuits' May be Banned," CNN, July 2, 2003.
http://money.cnn.com/2003/07/02/news/companies/obesity_lawsuits/
"Big Fat About to Lose It's Biggest Defense," Grand Forks Herald, Neal Barnard," June 9, 2003.
http://www.grandforks.com/mld/agweek/news/opinion/6045878.htm
 

8.  UPCOMING EVENTS:
ANIMAL WELFARE: AN UPDATE is the title of a symposium to be held at the annual meeting of the Institute of Food Technologists in Chicago, July 16th. The symposium will feature animal handling/slaughter authority Temple Grandin ( http://www.grandin.com ); Janet Riley of the American Meat Institute; Chester England III of Burger King restaurants; Jill Hollingsworth of the Food Marketing Institute; and Adele Douglass of Humane Farm Animal Care. For information on the symposium, contact Blaine P. Friedlander Jr. at: 607-255-3290 or BPF2@Cornell.edu  Information on the meeting can be found at: http://www.worldfoodscience.org/worldcongress/program.html  
 
A SYMPOSIUM ON THE WELFARE OF LAYING HENS will be held in Bristol, England on July 17-20th. Sponsored by The World's Poultry Science Association, the symposium will review scientific information regarding hen welfare including breeding, behavior, production systems, handling, transport, stunning and slaughter, along with "spent hen"issues. For more information, see: http://www.volny.cz/sdvs/Bristol-UK.doc
 
HELPING ANIMALS 101 will be held in Las Vegas, July 26-27th. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is hosting this 2-day, regional conference. PETA president Ingrid Newkirk will be speaking at the event which will cover such topics as choosing a target and waging a successful campaign, starting your own group, vegan eating and cooking, media interview techniques, writing letters to the editor, and passing animal protection legislation. Registration deadline is July 21st. A demonstration against KFC is also planned. A Helping Animals 101 conference to be held in Birmingham, Al. is scheduled for early October. For more information on both, see: http://www.helpinganimals101.com
 
ANIMAL RIGHTS 2003 WEST COAST will be held in Los Angeles, Ca., August 1st-5th. This national conference will feature 100 speakers, workshops, plenary sessions, campaign reports, "rap sessions," exhibits, videos, an awards banquet and more. Additional information can be found at: http://www.animalrights2003.org The full program and presentation outlines will soon be posted to the site.
 
VEGETARIAN SUMMERFEST 2003 will be held in Johnstown, Pa., August  6-10. This annual conference, hosted  by the North American Vegetarian Society, will feature educational sessions by 25 experts on health and nutrition, cooking, fitness, animal rights and lifestyle issues. Films, exhibits, and activities for adults and youth are also scheduled.  For more information, visit  http://vegetariansummerfest.org
 
"HOW TO PROMOTE VEGANISM WIDELY AND EFFECTIVELY" is the theme of United Poultry Concerns (UPC) Annual Forum to be held Boulder, Co., August 16-17th. Speakers from national and local animal protection organizations will discuss various approaches to promoting veganism. Also to be discussed is "Should Animal Advocates Promote a ‘Humane' Animal-Based Diet and Endorse ‘Humane' Farmed Animal Production and Products?" An inter-active mini-workshop and exhibits are among the event plans. A list of speakers and details of their presentations can be found at: http://www.upc-online.org/alerts/forum2003.html
 
THE EUROPEAN ASSOCIATION FOR ANIMAL PRODUCTION MEETING will be held in Rome, Italy, August 31- September 1st. This 54th annual meeting will combine workshops, a plenary session, a poster session, and symposia to present the latest scientific developments in various animal production fields. Topics include genetics, farmed animal health and welfare, horse production and welfare, and changes in husbandry and attitudes. Local tour sites include a pig farm, an organic dairy sheep farm, a large cattle dairy and ranch, and the Animal Production Research Institute. For more information, visit: http://www.newteam.it/EAAP2003