May 26 , 2004
Number 52, Volume 2


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1. 33 MILLION POUNDS OF BANNED CANADIAN BEEF ENTERED US

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) allowed the import of 33 million pounds of processed beef from Canada, just weeks after the US Agriculture Secretary affirmed a ban on Canadian beef products due to the discovery of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in Alberta last year. USDA issued a series of undisclosed permits to meatpackers allowing the import of previously banned beef products, including ground beef, hamburger patties, pepperoni, and other products. The issuance of such permits by USDA was halted on April 19 in accordance with an order from a federal judge. The judge was responding to a complaint from the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund (R-CALF), a consortium of cow and calf farmers who oppose imports in order to protect the US domestic beef industry.

“U.S. Quietly OKs Imports of Banned Canada Beef,” Washington Post, May 20, 2004
http://tinyurl.com/39bok (San Francisco Chronicle website)

“Judge Blocks Expanded Canadian Beef Imports,” Associated Press, April 26, 2004
http://us.cnn.com/2004/LAW/04/26/cattlemen.lawsuit.ap/

2. BEEF INDUSTRY NEWS: CLONING AND CONSUMER DEMAND

Researchers in Japan successfully cloned an animal who himself was the clone of a “prized bull” known for siring more than 165,000 offspring. This is the first time that scientists have succeeding with “serial cloning,” which is believed will have significant future implications for animal farming, though cloning is currently too inefficient for producing large numbers. The latest cloning of the cloned bull was actually completed in the year 2000, but an announcement was delayed until researchers were sure the serially cloned animal was healthy. The bull is said to be both fertile and devoid of the signs of chromosome deficiency that have been witnessed in other cloned animals.

In the US, beef cow herds have not expanded in four to five years due largely to a drought in the western part of the country. However, recent data released from the National Cattleman’s Beef Association (NCBA) indicate that consumer demand increased a substantial 10.4% in the first quarter of 2004. A NCBA economist says the increased demand is the result of US economic recovery and the popularity of high-protein diets.

“Researchers Clone Calf from Cloned Bull,” Meating Place, Eric Hanson, May 25, 2004
http://www.meatingplace.com/DailyNews/pop.asp?ID=12412

“Demand for US Beef Outpacing Production,” Meating Place, Brendan O'Neill, May 21, 2004
http://www.meatingplace.com/DailyNews/pop.asp?ID=12397

3. CONSUMER SURVEYS: LOW-CARB DIETS AND “ETHICAL FOODS”

Approximately one-fifth of Americans have altered their eating habits to some degree in response to the currently popularity of high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets, according to a survey by the US chicken and egg industries. Two-thirds of respondents (67%) say the popularity of such diets has had no impact on their eating habits. However, twice as many Americans following a low-carb diet report eating more chicken than eating more beef; 62% of such dieters are eating more chicken as a result of being on the diet. By comparison, only 31% are eating more beef and 28% are eating more pork products. The survey is based on interviews with 1,000 adults and was conducted by the National Chicken Council and the US Poultry & Egg Association.

In the UK, a large survey of 30,000 people showed that 84% of consumers are willing to pay “a little extra” for food that meets “higher ethical standards for production.” The number is said to be up substantially from a 1994 survey in which only 62% of consumers were willing to pay more for higher ethical standards.

“Survey Shows Chicken Beats out Beef and Pork Among Low-carb Consumers,” Meating Place, Ann Bagel, May 19, 2004
http://www.meatingplace.com/DailyNews/pop.asp?ID=12381

“Consumers Say They Will Pay More for Ethical Food,” Dairy Alert, May 19, 2004
http://www.dairyherd.com/news_editorial.asp?pgID=675&ed_id=3473

4. CHANGES UNDERMINE USDA’S ORGANIC LABELING STANDARDS

In mid April, 2004, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) made public several changes to the National Organic Program that consumer groups say undermine the organic standards in favor of large-scale agribusiness. The changes are significant for farmed animals because they permit the use of antibiotics on dairy cows, provided that a year passes between the antibiotic treatment and the time the milk is sold. Watchdog groups argue that this change will hurt organic consumers and benefit large dairy operations that seek to commingle organic and non-organic herds. The changes also include allowing the use of non-organic fishmeal for cows and calves raised for beef, as well as the announcement that organic standards will not be developed for fish. As a result, fish farmers are able to use the term organic (though not the USDA certified label) without meeting any standards at all. USDA is said to have issued the legally binding changes without input from the public or from the National Organic Standards Board, the advisory group set up to establish federal organic standards.

“USDA Dilutes Meaning of ‘Organic’ Label,” Grist Magazine, Amanda Griscom, May 18, 2004
http://www.gristmagazine.com/muck/muck051804.asp?source=daily

“Changes in Standards Permit Use of Antibiotics and Hormones,” San Francisco Chronicle, Carol Ness, May 22, 2004
http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2004/05/22/ORGANIC.TMP

5. GAO REPORT: ANIMAL ANTIBIOTICS THREATEN HUMAN HEALTH

Antibiotics used in animal farming pose a significant risk to humans, according to a US General Accounting Office (GAO) report released in April. The GAO looked at other research data on the topic and concluded that “many of the studies we reviewed found that this transference poses significant risks for human health.” The report questions the effectiveness of efforts by several US agencies to combat the growing problem, specifically critiquing the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) slowness to assess the risks to humans of antibiotics used in animals. The report provides two main recommendations: 1) FDA should expedite its antibiotic risk assessment efforts and 2) the Agriculture Department (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) should jointly develop a plan for collecting data on the use of antibiotics on animals. The GAO report was criticized recently by the Animal Health Institute, an industry group that represents manufacturers of animal antibiotics, among others. The industry group cites several peer-reviewed studies showing that use of antibiotics in animals poses only a low risk to human health.

“GAO Report: Animal Antibiotics Threaten Human Health,” Meating Place, Ann Bagel, May 25, 2004
http://www.meatingplace.com/DailyNews/pop.asp?ID=12407

“Animal Health Institute Says Animal Antibiotics Pose 'Low' Risk to Humans,” Meating Place, Ann Bagel, May 26, 2004
http://www.meatingplace.com/DailyNews/pop.asp?ID=12421

FULL GAO REPORT (PDF File, 2.7 MB): http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d04490.pdf

6. NEW LAWS PROTECT FARMED ANIMALS IN ISRAEL AND AUSTRIA

Lawmakers in Israel submitted a bill on May 24th that would have a significant positive impact on the living and dying conditions of farmed animals. The bill provides specific guidelines for treatment of animals, including space requirements for pigs as well as a 28-day mandatory allowance for newborn pigs to stay with their mothers. An article describing the bill stated that, “animals would be held in conditions that are suited to their social and psychological behavior… including flying, running, climbing, or playing in water.” The bill was introduced by several Israeli lawmakers who say that the country’s 1994 Animal Rights Law was not being implemented in full.

A similar law in Austria that will go into effect in 2005 will ban battery cages for egg-laying hens, slaughtering animals without sedation (except in Kosher situations), and tethering of horses, cows, or goats. Austria’s four parliamentary parties compromised on a new version of the law that still allows tethering of cows on “certain days of the year,” and it provides no regulations for the treatment of farmed pigs.

“Sweeping Animal Rights Bill Introduced,” Jerusalem Post, Nina Gilbert, May 25, 2004
http://tinyurl.com/2ylya (Jerusalem Post website)

“Banning Hen Batteries, Puppies in Pet Shops and Keeping Animals on Chains,” Wiener Zeitung, May 25, 2004
http://www.wienerzeitung.at/frameless/eng_news.htm?ID=Eng&Menu=7432

7. OTHER ITEMS OF INTEREST

“What Would You do if Your Company was an Animal Rights Group’s Target?” MeatNews.com, J. Phillip Lobo, May 18, 2004
http://www.meatnews.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Article&artNum=7510
ABSTRACT: The Communications Director of the Animal Agriculture Alliance, a pro-industry group, provides guidance to farmers that may be targeted by animal rights activists.

“USDA: Foreign Pork Demand on Fire,” AgWeb, Julianne Johnston, May 19, 2004
http://tinyurl.com/2p4aq (AgWeb website)
ABSTRACT: US exports of pig (pork) products is up 19% for the first quarter in 2004, reflecting increased demand from Japan, Mexico, and Taiwan.

“Malformed Proteins Found in Sheep Muscle,” NY Times, Donald McNeil, May 24, 2004
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/24/science/24sheep.html (REGISTRATION)
ABSTRACT: Prions, malformed proteins believed to cause brain-wasting disease, have been found in sheep muscle.

“Bush Speechwriter Emerges as Animal Welfare Advocate,” Washington Post, Shankar Vedantam, May 24, 2004
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A50367-2004May23.html
ABSTRACT: Profile piece of Matthew Scully, the conservative author of “Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy.”



CONTENTS

  1. 33 Million Pounds of Banned Canadian Beef Entered US

  2. Beef Industry News: Cloning and Consumer Demand

  3. Consumer Surveys: Low-carb Diets and “Ethical Foods”

  4. Changes Undermine USDA’s Organic Labeling Standards

  5. GAO Report: Animal Antibiotics Threaten Human Health

  6. New Laws Protect Farmed Animals in Israel and Austria

  7. Other Items of Interest



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