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FARMED ANIMALS DEMONSTRATE INTELLIGENCE AND ALTRUISM
animals including hens, pigs, fish, and others are intelligent and have
complex social behaviors that include acts of altruism and competition,
according to new research. A new video provided by Compassion in World
Farming shows two examples, including a hen vehemently protecting her
chicks and a piglet helping a sibling wriggle out from under the suffocating
weight of their mother. Separately, the July issue of Discover Magazine
reviews two books that discuss opposing viewpoints explaining such behaviors
in animals, with one author saying that evolution and adaptive thought
indicate that other species have similar cognitive abilities to humans.
The June issue of New Scientist includes an in-depth article on the intelligence
of fish. According to the author, "Fish are more intelligent than
they appear. In many areas, such as memory, their cognitive powers match
or exceed those of 'higher' vertebrates, including non-human
primates." Many of the world's 28,500 known fish species can
use their memories and intelligence to recognize individuals and develop
complex social relationships. The article cites the September 2003 issue
of Fish and Fisheries, which included more than 500 research papers covering
the ability of fish to learn. That article and others have found that
fish are "steeped in social intelligence," they can use tools,
manipulate others for food, and cooperate with each other. The article
also discusses the role of perception in acknowledging fish intelligence,
including the difficulty in convincing the public to overcome their prejudice
VIDEO: "Hen and Piglet Altruism," AnimalSentience.com from
CIWF, July 2004
"Are Animals Smarter Than We Think?" Discover Magazine, Sy
Montgomery, July 27, 2004
"Fish Intelligence: Not Just a Pretty Face," New Scientist,
June 12, 2004
website -- subscription only)
2. LEGAL CHALLENGES TO ANIMAL CRUELTY DISMISSED
UK Court of Appeals has ruled that the government is not violating European
Union laws by allowing chickens to be raised and slaughtered on "factory
farms." The decision brings to a close a complaint by animal advocacy
group Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), who last year sued the UK Department
for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) for its policies that
allow chickens to suffer on the country's farms. Dismissing the
appeal, the judges claimed there was a lack of evidence that any offenses
are being committed against chickens. In the initial ruling last November,
the judge rationalized his decision by saying that "animals are
exploited by humans for any number of purposes including, in a number
of different circumstances, commercial gain." Elsewhere in the UK,
more than 34,000 chickens perished in flames when a broiler shed caught
In the US, an investigation of cruelty on a Native American pig farm
has been dismissed by the South Dakota state attorney general. In an investigation
conducted by activist group Humane Farming Association (HFA), pigs at
the farm were found to have widespread "abdominal ruptures and badly
chewed ears." HFA presented photos and more than 800 pages of written
testimony, and after receiving no response from the attorney general,
took out full-page advertisements exposing the cruelty allegations. The
state claims that HFA's media efforts took away its ability to conduct
a surprise inspection of the farm. When an inspection was conducted with
prior notification, six pigs of the 2,400 on the farm were found to have
abdominal ruptures. Unconvinced that the injuries constitute cruelty,
the attorney general dismissed the case and said, "On any given day,
you're going to be able to get a picture of some hog in distress. An isolated
picture is not, in and of itself, an indication of widespread abuse of
"UK Chicken Factories Don't Breach European Law, Court Says,"
Bloomberg.com, Liz Chong, July 29, 2004
"Over 30,000 Chickens Die in Fire," BBC News, August 2,
"Attorney General Dismisses Animal-Abuse Allegations," Associated
Press, Joe Kafka, July 28, 2004
3. VETERINARIANS' GROUP REVERSES POSITION ON "FORCED MOLTING"
its annual conference during the week of July 26, 2004, the American Veterinary
Medical Association (AVMA) adopted positions that discourage cutting off
the tails of cows and using starvation to force egg-laying hens to molt.
The AVMA also said it will review its positions that support force-feeding
ducks for foie gras and intensive confinement of breeding sows in gestation
crates. According to the AVMA president, "It is important for each
of us to recognize that we may at times become too close to the industries
we serve, losing our objectivity about what is the best welfare and adopting
instead that suggested by the industry."
Despite long-term efforts by farmed animal advocates to convince the AVMA
to reconsider its positions on these issues (see: http://www.farmedanimal.net/Newsletters/Newslettern56v2.htm#4),
only recently did the AVMA change its policies and agree to review its
positions regarding other farmed animal cruelty issues. Moreover, some
argue that the egg industry is already phasing out full starvation of
hens in favor of an "extremely low-calorie, low-nutrition food" that still
has dramatic health consequences for hens. Some also question why the
AVMA changed its position only after the egg industry already began to
mitigate its use of full starvation to induce molting.
"E-News & Action Alerts," Farm Sanctuary, July 30, 2004
"Veterinary Association Will No Longer Support Starving Hens,"
United Poultry Concerns, July 29, 2004
4. CLONING AND BIO-ENGINEERING ANIMALS FOR FOOD
US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) issued a report on July 27 stating
that more information is needed about the potential impact of consuming
cloned and bio-engineered animals on human health. While the report said
that there is "no evidence that foods from cloned animals pose an
increased risk to consumers," it went on to say that "profiling
methods... are not sufficiently developed to allow direct assessment
of potential health effects." A senior consumer advocacy researcher
goes further by saying that "researchers don't know when cloned
animals are healthy, let alone safe to eat." The scientist cites
studies in which cloned animals were stillborn or died prematurely, but
with no perceivable differences from their healthy, cloned counterparts.
The NAS report said animal cloning is inefficient and leads to many abnormal
and stillborn animals. It called for more research and procedures for
tracking the presence and movement of cloned animals in the food supply.
National Academy of Sciences Press Release, July 27, 2004 (includes link
to full report)
http://tinyurl.com/4qq3l (NAS website)
"Clone Steak Safe, Unless It Isn't," Wired.com, By Kristen Philipkoski,
July 29, 2004
"Federal Panel Urges Fresh Scrutiny of Altered Foods," Environment
News Service, J.R. Pegg, July 29, 2004
5. RESEARCHERS CREATE SYNTHETIC PRION BELIEVED TO CAUSE BSE
of California (San Francisco) researchers claim to have created the first
synthetic prion, or malformed protein, that many scientists believe is
the cause of brain-wasting diseases that impact humans and other animals.
The researchers grew protein fragments in a laboratory, flattened them,
and injected them into seven genetically engineered mice, all of whom
got sick and died within a year's time. The new study would be the
first successful attempt at demonstrating the infectiousness of prions.
Others, however, are questioning the findings due to possible cross-contamination
in the lab and the use of genetically engineered mice, who are susceptible
to disease. The debate and ongoing research are focused on finding early
tests to identify brain-wasting diseases in humans and animals. Scientists
believe the multiple variants of the disease are related, including Creutzfeldt-Jakob
Disease in humans, BSE in cows, scrapie in sheep, and chronic wasting
disease in deer.
"Prion Research Could Shed New Light on BSE," Meatingplace.com,
Ann Bagel, August 2, 2004
"Research Sheds Light on Mad Cow," Wired.com / Associated
Press, July 29, 2004
6. WORLD TRADE LEADERS AGREE TO END EXPORT SUBSIDIES
of the World Trade Organization (WTO) voted unanimously on July 31 to
approve a plan that will end export subsidies and dramatically reduce
other domestic subsidies for farm products. Representatives of the world's
major agricultural countries including the US, Brazil, and European Union
members, agreed to an initial framework that will be further negotiated
beginning in September 2004. Overall, the expected impact is to shift
the trade balance in favor of developing countries and the global agricultural
economy, at the short term expense of developed nations. In the US, the
export value of "livestock and livestock products" is forecasted
to be $6 billion in 2004. The new trade policies may be implemented as
early as 2006.
"WTO OKs Plan to End Farm Export Subsidies," Associated Press,
Jonathan Fowler, July 31, 2004
"Deal to End Export Subsidies," Farmers Weekly Interactive,
August 2, 2004
"US Agricultural Exports Forecast to be a Record $61.5 Billion
in FY 2004," USDA, May 26, 2004
7. OTHER ITEMS OF INTEREST
Ag Commissioner Indicted for Alleged Cockfighting Connections,"
Meatingplace.com, Ann Bagel, August 3, 2004
A federal grand jury has indicted the Agriculture Commissioner of South
Carolina on charges that he was bribed to protect a cockfighting operation.
"Big Farms, Big Problems?" Plain Dealer, Fran Henry, August
Extensive article discusses how manure from large-scale dairies creates
environmental issues in Ohio.
"Study Debunks Cost of Healthy Food in US," Associated Press,
J.M. Hirsch, July 30, 2004
A USDA study found that "consumers can get the recommended three
servings of fruits and four servings of vegetables daily for just 64 cents,"
a lower cost than perceived by most people.
"Ag Studies Thrive Thanks to New Interest in Farm-Related Careers,"
Associated Press, Megan Boldt, July 30, 2004
High school and collegiate agribusiness educational programs in Minnesota
and elsewhere are becoming more popular with students with an interest
in farming and teaching.
"Manure Cited as Key Pollutant," Washington Post, David Fahrenthold,
July 29, 2004
Manure from farmed animals is a leading cause of pollution in Chesapeake
Bay, "contributing to 'dead zones' where fish and crabs
"Banned US Beef Mixed with Mexican Beef, Imported to Korea,"
English Cho Sun, Park Jong-se, July 28, 2004
Some US beef was mixed with Mexican beef and exported to Korea for public
sale, despite Korea's ban on beef imports from the US due to the
discovery of BSE in December 2003.
Australia: "Pork Industry Facing Devastation," ABC Online,
July 28, 2004
Industry group Australian Pork Limited says the country's pig farming
industry is unable to handle drought-related costs without government
aid, and production may be cut by 60%.
- Farmed Animals Demonstrate Intelligence and Altruism
- Legal Challenges to Animal Cruelty Dismissed
- Veterinarians' Group Reverses Position on "Forced Molting"
- Cloning and Bio-Engineering Animals for Food
- Researchers Create Synthetic Prion Believed to Cause BSE
- World Trade Leaders Agree to End Export Subsidies
- Other Items of Interest
Compiled and edited by Hedy Litke and Che Green, Farmed Animal Watch
is a free weekly electronic news digest of information concerning farmed
animal issues gleaned from an array of academic, industry, advocacy and
mainstream media sources.
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