August 4, 2004
Number 62, Volume 2

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Farmed Animal Watch is sponsored by Animal Place, Animal Welfare Trust, Farm Sanctuary, The Fund for Animals, Glaser Progress Foundation, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals


Farmed 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 against fish.

VIDEO: "Hen and Piglet Altruism," 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)


The 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 fire.

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 the critters."

"UK Chicken Factories Don't Breach European Law, Court Says,", Liz Chong, July 29, 2004 ( website)

"Over 30,000 Chickens Die in Fire," BBC News, August 2, 2004

"Attorney General Dismisses Animal-Abuse Allegations," Associated Press, Joe Kafka, July 28, 2004


At 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:, 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


The 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) (NAS website)

"Clone Steak Safe, Unless It Isn't,", By Kristen Philipkoski, July 29, 2004,1286,64400,00.html

"Federal Panel Urges Fresh Scrutiny of Altered Foods," Environment News Service, J.R. Pegg, July 29, 2004


University 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,", Ann Bagel, August 2, 2004

"Research Sheds Light on Mad Cow," / Associated Press, July 29, 2004,1286,64403,00.html


Members 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


"S.C. Ag Commissioner Indicted for Alleged Cockfighting Connections,", 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 1, 2004
Extensive article discusses how manure from large-scale dairies creates environmental issues in Ohio. (Plain Dealer website)

"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 cannot live."

"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%.


  1. Farmed Animals Demonstrate Intelligence and Altruism

  2. Legal Challenges to Animal Cruelty Dismissed

  3. Veterinarians' Group Reverses Position on "Forced Molting"

  4. Cloning and Bio-Engineering Animals for Food

  5. Researchers Create Synthetic Prion Believed to Cause BSE

  6. World Trade Leaders Agree to End Export Subsidies

  7. 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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