Farmed Animal Watch
A Project of Animal Place

September 23, 2003                                                     (To Search This Page Press Ctrl F)
Number #30 Volume 2


CONTENTS


1. Foie Gras Expose' Draws Media Attention
2. Activists Raid Australia's Largest Chicken Company
3. Thousands of Sheep Perishing at Sea
4. Klein: Rancher Should Have "Shot, Shovelled and Shut Up"
5. Upcoming Events
 

1. FOIE GRAS EXPOSE' DRAWS MEDIA ATTENTION
GourmetCruelty.com, a coalition of organizations and individuals, has released the results of a year-long investigation of conditions at the 2 U.S. foie gras production facilities. The process involves pneumatically feeding birds large quantities of corn 2-3 times a day for a month through a long metal tube forced down their throat. As a result, the birds' livers swell to 12 times the normal size. This "disease marketed as a delicacy" is a medical condition known as hepatic lipidosis. The coalition reports having found dead ducks who had literally burst open through overfeeding, and others who had choked to death on their own vomit. Necropsies revealed others had died from aspiration pneumonia "a painful and often fatal condition caused, when, during the process of forced-feeding, food is pushed into the lungs of the birds."
 
All the foie gras produced in the U.S. is from 2 companies, Hudson Valley Foie Gras in New York and Sonoma Foie Gras (SFG) in California. Together they use a half million ducks annually. Birds at Hudson Valley are essentially immobilized in confinement chambers barely larger than their bodies. At Somona, rats were videotaped eating the bodies of live but debilitated ducks. Dead birds were found at both operations, in cages, pens, garbage cans, and in piles of excrement. Fifteen ducks were removed for veterinary care and sanctuary. The coalition has produced a 16-minute video of the investigation entitled "Delicacy of Despair," which is available on the web site. Photographs, video clips, and a report are also available at http://www.GourmetCruelty.com
 
The investigation has received significant media attention. San Francisco ABC News affiliate KGO TV broke the story on September 16th with an exclusive report that included interviews with an activist, a veterinarian and Laurent Manrique, a chef who has been targeted for serving foie gras (see item #3 of http://tinyurl.com/nk44 ). Manrique tells reporter Dan Noyes: "[T]he farmer takes the duck and just [puts] the tube right at the entrance of the beak." When Noyes shows him the undercover footage of force feeding and calls him on the misrepresentation, Manrique replies, "You should put it on TV. That's the normal process." Guillermo Gonzalez, owner of Sonoma Foie Gras, rescinded an offer of an interview and tour of his operation. A video of the broadcast, entitled "Domestic Terrorism?,"can be viewed on the station web site at: http://tinyurl.com/o6g6  Numerous links are also posted.
 
Later, Gonzalez did give Noyes a tour of his operation. He said the worker on the video tape had been fired, and he had a new employee give a feeding demonstration. He admitted the "speed feeding" would kill the ducks were they not sent to slaughter first, and that ailing ducks had been sent to slaughter prior to the tour. Hours later, a reporter from The Los Angeles Times (LAT) accompanied 4 activists with the Animal Protection and Rescue League (APRL) on a covert visit to an SFG duck shed. The group documented conditions to show they had not been improved and removed 4 more ducks, one of whom died. Activist Bryan Pease denied he was breaking the law, explaining: "We are upholding California's anti-animal cruelty law. We're going in with the purpose of providing veterinary care to the animals that need it." APRL wants Gonzalez prosecuted for animal cruelty. KGO TV aired a 2nd report on September 19th entitled, "The Foie Gras Controversy." It can be viewed at: http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/news/091903_iteam_foie_gras_folo.html
 
Gonzalez reacted with outrage when contacted by the LAT reporter and threatened to charge the activists with trespassing. [Trespassing on private property was recently raised to a misdemeanor in California.] "Our animals are treated humanely, and anybody who enters our farm can see that," he said. "It's a matter of principle....It's not about four ducks. It's that they are abusing my rights as both a businessman and as a human being." He acknowledged some of the scenes on the televised report were of his property but said he couldn't confirm "the more gruesome images" were filmed there because they were close-ups. The FBI considers the covert actions at the production facilities and recent vandalism of a foie gras shop and restaurant to be part of a "domestic terrorism" case. Time magazine also ran a brief piece on the events: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1101030929-488814,00.html
 
See also: "The Taste of Torture," Amanda Katz, Animal News Center, September 10, 2003.
http://www.anc.org/editorials/editorials_article.cfm?identifier=2003_0910_foiegras
and "Welfare Aspects of the Production of Foie Gras in Ducks and Geese," (U.K.) Report of the Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare, December 1998 (PDF File): http://europa.eu.int/comm/food/fs/sc/scah/out17_en.pdf
"Activists Take Ducks from Foie Gras Shed," The Los Angeles Times, Marcelo Rodriguez, September 18, 2003.
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-foiegras18sep18,1,7982772.story
 

2. ACTIVISTS RAID AUSTRALIA'S LARGEST CHICKEN COMPANY
In early September, Animal Liberation raided 2 operations that raise chickens for Inghams, Australia's largest chicken company. The Sunday Telegraph, with a readership of 1.9 million, reported that 15 chickens were "rescued" during the raids. It explained that video footage and photos: "showed chickens unable to hold up their own body weight lying in manure suffering ammonia burns. Some who were helped to their feet only to topple over, leaned precariously on their beaks before falling to the ground. Others flapped their wings as they dragged themselves around the floor. Many could be seen with their legs splayed; their young joints unable to take the weight of their huge bodies" (see: http://tinyurl.com/ob2y ). The industry averages a 5% mortality rate although the birds are slaughtered at 6 weeks of age. It is illegal to use growth hormones to increase growth, but experts say the industry is breeding oversized birds (see also item #3: http://tinyurl.com/ob3v ).
 
The video has prompted a joint investigation by the Department of Agriculture and the RSPCA. The Minister of Agriculture also announced tougher penalties for animal cruelty, with doubled fines and jail terms of up to 2 years. The RSPCA is calling for an end to industry self-regulation and for random audits of chicken sheds by an independent entity. Contract "growers" argue the intensive production methods are the result of processors and consumers wanting cheap meat. A Contract Poultry Group spokesperson denies the birds are mistreated and argues that a reduction in the number of chickens per shed would end the industry. A poultry expert says change will not occur while contractors receive such a small part of the profits and consumers want cheap chicken.
 
"Cruel Chicken Farms Exposed," The Sunday Telegraph, September 14, 2003.
http://www.sundaytelegraph.news.com.au/story/0,9353,7258231-28778,00.html   
"Animal Liberation Poultry Raid Prompts Govt Investigation, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, September 14, 2003.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/s945559.htm
 

3. THOUSANDS OF SHEEP PERISHING AT SEA
Animal protection advocates are calling for the immediate euthanization of some 50,000 sheep who have been stranded onboard a 10-story ship in the Persian Gulf since early August. Temperatures in the Gulf have reached up to 122 degrees F. The government is refusing to reveal how many sheep have died but it is believed some 3,800 sheep have perished. The sheep were exported from Australia to Saudi Arabia where they were rejected on the grounds that 6% of the original 57,000 sheep were infected with scabby mouth disease, which is 1% more than the allowed rate. A quarantine pact between Gulf states prohibits any of them from accepting the sheep, either. The viral infection is common with live exports on account of the close, stressful confinement on ships. It is not fatal and usually heals within weeks: http://tinyurl.com/o89r 
 
According to the Australian government, the sheep no longer belong to the country so it has limited ability to intervene. Animals Australia is offering financial and expert assistance. A "stun gun" is onboard but only has enough charges to kill between 5,000 and 6,000 sheep. (Permission was granted for the ship to dock at a port on Sept. 18th in order for food to be loaded and the sheep are said to now have fresh food.) The Australian Veterinary Association has warned that mass slaughter could be "an animal welfare and environmental disaster," and that the sheep might have to view it. The Saudi importer who ordered the sheep has ignored the advocates' pleas but is offering to give the sheep away. The Australian government is rejecting the Dutch ship owner's proposal that the sheep be returned.
 
Australia is the world's largest farmed animal exporter. Due to the current dispute, it has ceased sales to Saudi Arabia. Last year, Australia imposed tougher rules on the exports after it was revealed that 14,500 sheep died from heat exhaustion in one month. (A chronology of the sheep trade can be found at:http://tinyurl.com/oc2g  See also item #4: http://tinyurl.com/o8k6 ). According to the RSPCA, mortality rates increased after the government deregulated the industry. Veterinarians have reportedly been forced to lie about the mortality rates and members of Livecorp, the private company which now controls live exports, are accused of keeping their trading licenses despite high mortality rates. A veterinarian who previously oversaw a transport vessel stated on Australia's Sixty Minutes television program: "It became like a gas chamber, in effect, the ship. We saw sheep leaning out of the ship and trying to throw themselves out through the bars and frothing at the mouth and then just expiring." The treatment of animals arriving in the Middle East is also a matter of grave concern. Describing the slaughter of cattle exported to Egypt, another vet explained: "[The slaughterers] strike out with long knives and they cut further tendons and they smash the joints. And finally the animal breaks down and the eyes are stabbed. So when the eyes are stabbed out, and the cattle breaks down, sometimes they can't get up again and it's very severe how the cattle are dealed with then." See: http://tinyurl.com/i669 (the site also includes a video and links).
 
The Australian government is being strongly criticized for its handling of the matter (in particular, see: http://tinyurl.com/odky ). Animal protection advocates are again calling for a cessation to the live animal trade. Compassion in World Farming is planning a demonstration outside the Australian High Commission in London on World Farm Animals Day (October 2nd, see item #5 below): http://tinyurl.com/oc2j  In the U.K., a shipment of live lambs from Scotland was halted late last month due to protests by animal protection advocates: http://tinyurl.com/o88f
 
"Sheep Ship Docks," Herald Sun, Alison Rehn & Charlie Bain, September 19, 2003.
http://tinyurl.com/o6sv or http://www.heraldsun.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5478,7306035%5E662,00.html
"50,000 Australian Sheep Available for Free," Meating Place News, Daniel Yovich, Sept. 16, 2003.
http://www.meatingplace.com/DailyNews/pop.asp?ID=11256
"Sheep Onboard a National Shame," The Age, Michelle Grattan, September 24, 2003.
http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/09/23/1064082991895.html
"Australia Rules Out Taking Back Stranded Sheep," Reuters, September 21, 2003.
http://tinyurl.com/o89g or http://www.nzherald.co.nz/storydisplay.cfm?storyID=3524585&thesection=news&thesubsection=world
"Cruelty Sustains Australia's Live Export Trade, RSPCA Claims," Agence France Presse, 7/28/03.
http://131.104.232.9/animalnet/2003/7-2003/animalnet_july_28.htm#CRUELTY
 

4. KLEIN: RANCHER SHOULD HAVE "SHOT, SHOVELLED AND SHUT UP"
At a meeting of U.S. governors and western Canadian premiers, held in Montana on September 14th, Alberta Premier Ralph Klein said of the Canadian rancher whose cow was found to have BSE: "I think he was a Louisiana fish farmer who knew nothing about cattle ranching. I guess any self-respecting rancher would have shot, shovelled and shut up, but he didn't do that. Instead he took [the cow] to an abattoir and it was discovered after testing in both Winnipeg and the U.K. that this older cow had mad cow disease." The single case of the disease has cost the Canadian cattle industry over a billion dollars as more than 30 countries closed their borders to Canadian beef (see item #2 of: http://tinyurl.com/n13c ). Later, Klein's spokesperson said he was being sarcastic and would never counsel anyone to break the law or not follow international protocols. Previously, Saskatchewan's lone federal cabinet minister garnered headlines when he wrote in an open letter that the ban has more to do with trade than health concerns, and sends a message to "shoot, shovel and shut up" instead of reporting future cases. The president of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association warned that if the resumption of trade does not become more promising, such coverups could occur. In July, Klein made headlines when he offered to pay $10 billion to any Japanese who comes to Canada and gets ill due to beef traced back to a BSE-infected cow. Japan has threatened to reject U.S. beef if Canadian beef is mixed in with it.  
 
"Farmer Should Have Covered Up Mad Cow, Klein Says," Canadian Press, Tim Cook, Sept.16, 2003.
http://tinyurl.com/o3se or http://www.globeandmail.com/servlet/ArticleNews/TPStory/LAC/20030917/UMADDN//?query=Klein
 

5. UPCOMING EVENTS
THE WORLD DAIRY EXPO, the international trade and cattle show, will be held in Madison, Wis., Sept. 30-Oct.4th. Three educational seminars and three virtual farm tours will be featured daily. About 600 companies and nearly 2,000 cattle will be present. Daily admission is $6, season passes are $18. Detailed information can be found at: http://www.world-dairy-expo.com
 
The 20th anniversary of WORLD FARM ANIMALS DAY will be observed on October 2nd. The day is intended to "memorialize, mourn, and mitigate the needless suffering and death of 50 billion cows, pigs, and other innocent, sentient animals each year in the world's factory farms and slaughterhouses. It also exposes the other devastating effects of today's intensive animal agriculture on human health and environmental quality." In the U.S., it is being coordinated by Farm Animal Reform Movement (FARM), In Defense of Animals and PETA, with a focus on KFC (see http://www.kfccruelty.com ). A diversity of events are planned, and potential participants are invited to visit the web site: http://www.wfad.org
 
PETA's HELPING ANIMALS 101 CONFERENCE will be held in Birmingham, Al., October 4-5th. The regional conference is designed to help both seasoned and new activists "hone the skills and knowledge you need to fight for animals in your communities." A post-conference demonstration will be held on October 6th. Advance registration is required. For more information see: http://helpinganimals101.com
 
4TH NATIONAL LEAFLET YOUR LOCAL SCHOOL DAY, to be held October 14th, is being sponsored by Animal Rights International, Viva! And Vegan Outreach to promote vegetarianism. Special packets of information are available for a $5 donation but orders must be placed by September 25th. This year, an "Adopt a College" program has been initiated. For more information see: http://www.veganoutreach.org/spam/20030825.html