August 11, 2004
Number 63, 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


The discovery of BSE in Alberta in May 2003 and subsequent US beef import bans created a "backlog" of more than 500,000 older cows in Canada's beef industry. According to the Edmonton Journal, the Canadian government is considering slaughtering all of the cows to decrease inventory, although government officials have indicated that culling would be a last resort. Alberta's agriculture minister said the government has two years to decide how to handle the excess, suggesting that a compensation program may be an alternative. Lifting the ban on Canadian beef imports could also alleviate the country's surplus of cows, but US and Canadian officials have been quiet about the possibility of lifting the ban.

According to an Alberta government auditor, the province has tested only 900 cows so far this year, compared with the 2,700 tests that were mandated by the international body that oversees global BSE testing (OIE, or Office International des Epizooties). The auditor's report suggests that the small number of BSE tests conducted this year stems from reluctance by farmers to give up their cows for testing and thereby risk finding another case of BSE. Some farmers are opting instead to kill the animals themselves or leave them to be killed by wild predators. According to one Alberta farmer, "There are lots of dead animals just lying around the country."

"Officials Downplay Possibility of Cattle Cull," CTV, Deborah Shiry, August 8 2004

"Ranchers Thwart BSE Tests," Calgary Sun, Kristen Enevold, August 5, 2004

"BSE Still Affecting Canada," Farmers Weekly Interactive, August 6, 2004


The US Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will now wait for a second round of inconclusive rapid BSE tests before announcing the results publicly, rather than making announcement following only a single test. Of an estimated 28,000 rapid BSE tests conducted in the US since June 1, two samples were declared inconclusive using the rapid tests and announced publicly. Both samples later tested negative for BSE using the more accurate immunohistochemistry method considered the "gold standard" for BSE testing. APHIS Chief Veterinarian John Clifford made the announcement on August 4, 2004, following a 60-day review of the USDA's expanded BSE testing program. Another APHIS official said of the earlier inconclusive test announcements, "We were doing that in the beginning to be cautious." The change is being applauded by US beef industry groups.

"APHIS Changes Policy on Announcing Inconclusive BSE Tests,", Brendan O'Neill, August 5, 2004

"USDA Changes Mad Cow Testing System," Reuters, Charles Abbott, August 4, 2004

John Clifford's statement, APHIS, August 4, 2004

USDA BSE Test Results (updated daily)


Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD), the human form of BSE or "mad cow disease," may be more widespread than previously believed and may appear in a weaker, non-lethal form. A new research study from the UK's national CJD surveillance center and published in The Lancet medical journal indicates that vCJD can affect people whose genetic signatures are shared by about 50% of all Caucasians. The study demonstrates that the disease can affect many more people than previously thought; until recently scientists estimated that only 35% of Caucasians shared the at-risk genetic profile. Projections of future vCJD cases vary widely, from a handful to hundreds of thousands, but scientists say the new research will significantly increase those projections. More than 150 people have died of vCJD so far, most of whom were living in the UK. The new research is based on an autopsy of an elderly person who died of unrelated causes, but who had contracted vCJD from a blood transfusion five years prior. The transmission of vCJD via blood transfusions had only been theoretical prior to this recent finding.

"Research Shows vCJD Could Affect More People than Previously Thought,", Ann Bagel, August 9, 2004

"More People May be Incubating Mad-Cow Disease," Associated Press, Emma Ross, August 6, 2004


NEW OUTREACH: The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on August 3 that it would establish the Food Safety Institute of the Americas (FSIA) to promote food safety education and outreach in the western hemisphere. FSIA "will become a forum for scientific discussion and educational opportunities for government and industry in all countries to improve the safety of imported meat, poultry and egg products," according to food safety administrator Dr. Elsa Murano. To be located in Miami, Florida, FSIA will be managed by Linda Swacina, currently deputy administrator for the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

SALMONELLA RESEARCH: A new FSIS study of Salmonella contamination found an overall decline in meat and "poultry" products that tested positive for the bacteria. Random samples of seven product types yielded a salmonella contamination rate of 3.8% in 2003, compared to 4.3% in 2002 and 5% in 2001. However, while overall contamination was down for the year, salmonella presence in the sampled chicken and turkey products increased slightly from 2002 to 2003.

"FSIS Establishes New Institute to Promote Food Safety Education, Information, Communication and Outreach in the Americas," FSIS, August 3, 2004

"USDA Food-Safety Department Expands," Pork Magazine, August 09, 2004

"FSIS Data Shows Decline in Meat and Poultry Testing Positive for Salmonella,", Ann Bagel, August 6, 2004

"Progress Report on Salmonella Testing of Raw Meat & Poultry Products, 1998-2003," FSIS, August 2004
PDF File, 185k:


A task force appointed by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has recommended the formation of a National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to centralize agricultural research. The task force recommends a $1 billion annual budget within five years for NIFA, which would primarily operate as a grant-making entity for scientific research studies. NIFA would be led by a director appointed by the US president and confirmed by the US Senate, and it is recommended that the institute operate with "its own culture and establish its own methods of operation" separate from the USDA. The task force recommends that NIFA's primary objective be to ensure the "technological superiority of American agriculture" in part to keep domestic producers competitive in an increasingly internationalized market. Other NIFA objectives include establishing the institute without delay, providing grants for agricultural research, and supplementing the work of other USDA research groups.

"USDA Task Force Announces Recommendations to Promote Agriculture Research,", August 4, 2004 ( website)

"USDA Research Economics and Education Task Force Makes Recommendations," July 30, 2004


Cow and sheep ranchers and concentrated farming operations are creating widespread environmental degradation, human health issues, and animal welfare concerns. According to a new book titled "Welfare Ranching: The Subsidized Destruction of the American West," about 300 million acres in 11 western US states are leased to ranchers. The mostly federal lands are leased at "notoriously" low prices, as much as 8-10 times lower than comparable fees charged by private landowners for grazing. As a result of widespread use of lands for ranching, western states are increasingly faced with loss of wildlife habitat, soil erosion, invasion of exotic plants, and water quality concerns. According to one of the book's authors, "If you look at the cumulative effect of livestock production, no other human activity has a larger negative impact on the environment in the West."

Corporate control of farming and its impacts on consumers, animals and the environment is the subject of another book titled "The Meat You Eat: How Corporate Farming Has Endangered America's Food Supply." Authored by Ken Midkiff, the Sierra Club's clean water campaign director, the book criticizes concentrated US farming operations for "killing the land, killing communities, and, very likely, killing us." The book offers a critique of the corporate farming industry from perspectives including consideration of animals, farm laborers, the natural environment, and human health. One review says the book is "probably the best collection of facts and figures about the sorry state of our meat supply."

"Wasting the West,", Jack Rosenberger, July/August 2004 (Subscription required for full story)

"'Big Meat,' Big Trouble," San Francisco Chronicle, Kim Severson, August 8, 2004 ( website)


Fifteen farms in South Africa were initially quarantined due to an outbreak of avian influenza that has infected and killed at least 2,000 ostriches; two farms are still covered by the quarantine. Another 6,000 ostriches are being killed to contain the disease, while the South African government considers killing 24,000 more as a preventive measure. Government officials said that the strain of avian influenza is related to the Asian outbreaks that occurred earlier this year and resulted in the deaths of millions of birds. South African exports of ostrich meat and other "poultry" products have been suspended awaiting further tests.

"SA Bird Flu Ostrich Cull Begins," BBC News, Richard Hamilton, August 8, 2004

"Farms Quarantined After Bird Flu Outbreak," Agence France Presse, August 6 2004 ( website)


"Animal Cruelty 'is Worst on Farms,'" Cambridge News, July 28, 2004
UK: In the East of England, more than 22,000 complaints of animal cruelty were submitted during the last year, including 3,464 cases concerning sheep, cattle, goats, and pigs; other statistics also provided.

"Tyson Foods Launches New Campaign," Pork News, August 4, 2004
On August 31, Tyson Foods will launch a $75 million advertising campaign to promote the company's meat products as a "prime source of protein" to 25 million shoppers.

"Vegan in the Henhouse," Washington Post, Don Oldenburg, August 9, 2004
Profile of Wayne Pacelle, recently appointed Chief Executive Officers of the Humane Society of the United States, including his goals relating to farmed animals, cockfighting, and other issues.

"Egypt: 36,000 Chicks Die After Missing Flight," Planet Ark, August 9, 2004
36,000 new-born chicks bound for Ethiopia died or were incinerated at the Cairo airport after a late flight caused them to miss their connection.

"Rethink the Bird Trade," New York Times, Reader letter, August 6, 2004
A bird advocate writes the NY Times: "Our penchant for international trade in birds - whether for eggs, meat, live poultry or pets - that (threatens) agriculture, wildlife and human health."

"State Proposal Aims to Curb Pollution from Factory Farms," Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Don Hopey, August 11, 2004
A state proposal would require the 118 factory farming operations in Pennsylvania to limit manure-related odor and air and groundwater pollutants.


  1. Canada Mulls Killing
    500,000 Cows Due to BSE Crisis

  2. USDA Will No Longer Announce Initial Inconclusive BSE Tests

  3. vCJD Possibly More Widespread than
    Previously Thought

  4. Food Safety: New Outreach Efforts and Salmonella Research

  5. USDA Task Force Proposes New Institute of Food and Agriculture

  6. US Corporate Farming Destroys Western Land
    and Lives

  7. South Africa: Up to 30,000 Ostriches Killed Due to Avian Influenza

  8. 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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