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Corrections: Farmed Animal Watch #68 included two factual errors: 1) Egg statistics: There were 7.54 BILLION (not million) eggs produced by 342 million hens in July 2004, yielding an average of 22 (not 45) eggs per hen; 2) Rabbits: It was implied that rabbits are classified as rodents, but in actuality they belong to the order Lagomorpha, which includes rabbits, hares, lagomorphs, and pikas. Thanks to our users for notifying us of these errors.
SENATOR SEEKS TO EXEMPT ANIMAL FARMS FROM POLLUTION REPORTING
A US Senator is moving to exempt so-called factory farms from federal regulations that require industrial sites to report the amount of pollution that the operations emit. Larry Craig (R-Idaho), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, is seeking to attach an amendment to a spending bill to fund the federal agencies responsible for pollution control and compliance. According to Craig's office, "environmental activists merely want to force the (animal agriculture) industry to comply with another burdensome law." In Craig's home state of Idaho, however, one 8,800-cow dairy farm emitted more than 130 tons of ammonia during 2003, according to the Idaho Conservation League. The League, along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), is suing the Idaho State Agriculture Department for withholding pollution records to which they had previously been allowed access. Craig's proposed amendment would weaken federal pollution reporting laws covering not only dairy operations, but also chicken and pig farms. Critics say, "Craig is laboring under an outdated view (that) dairies, pig farms, and chicken farms aren't Superfund sites and shouldn't be treated like them."
"Craig Would Let Livestock Industry Pollute in Secret," Idaho Statesman, September 22, 2004
"Groups Sue to See Idaho Dairy Nutrient-Management Plans," Dairy Alert, September 22, 2004
http://www.dairyherd.com (Registration Required)
JOHNE'S DISEASE PREVALENT IN U.S. HERDS, MAY CAUSE VARIANT IN HUMANS
Crohn's disease, a chronic digestive disease found in humans, may be linked to a type of bacterium found in the intestines of farmed animals afflicted by Johne's disease, according to researchers at the University of Central Florida - Orlando. The researchers found the bacterium in the blood of humans suffering Crohn's disease, but not in the blood of otherwise healthy humans. The discovery is cause for concern in particular because Johne's disease is present in an estimated 20% of US cow herds. According to one veterinary health expert, "for every cow in a herd showing symptoms of Johne's, there are probably 12 to 18 that have it and are shedding the bacteria but showing no signs." Johne's disease, similar in ways to Crohn's disease, has a long incubation period and eventually causes cows to experience diarrhea and chronic weight loss. Although far more common in cows, the disease is also known to infect other species of animals, primarily other ruminants including sheep, goats, deer, antelope, and bison.
"Crohn's Disease Linked to Cattle, Sheep and Goats," Meatingplace.com, Pete Hisey, September 20, 2004
"Johne's Stalks Dairy, Beef," Agri News, Laura Theobald, September 21, 2004
ANIMAL-HUMAN DISEASES: POTENTIAL PANDEMICS; ANIMAL TRANSPLANTS
European Union member countries are woefully under-prepared for animal-to-human (zoonotic) disease outbreaks that could lead to continental or global pandemics, according to the EU Health Commissioner. The commissioner said, "The present situation is not satisfactory and gives rise to concerns about readiness for the next pandemic." Speaking in the Netherlands, the commissioner made reference to the culling of more than 30 million birds on 1,300 Dutch farms due to Avian Influenza, as well as the infection of 90 people with the disease.
The lead scientific research body in Australia announced it is imposing a five-year ban on research related xenotransplantation, including the breeding of pigs to "farm" organs for human patients. According to the group's chairman, "There were ethical concerns, there were social concerns, but the major area (of concern) were the risks. There were risks to health, not only of the individual but to their immediate family and from there to the wider population." The group also noted animal welfare concerns in addition to the risk of trans-species diseases resulting from such transplants.
"Europe Could Face Flu Crisis," Planet Ark / Reuters, September 21, 2004
"Officials Warn of Animal Disease Threat to Humans," Planet Ark / Reuters, Anna Mudeva, September 20, 2004
Australia: "Animal-Human Transplants Frozen," The Sunday Mail, September 21, 2004
http://tinyurl.com/5ume5 (The Sunday
CONSUMER ISSUES: EGGS, SALMONELLA, AND "ENHANCED" CHICKEN MEAT
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is recommending changes in farm safety procedures to reduce the incidence of salmonella infection from eating eggs. The FDA on September 20, 2004 proposed changes that would apply to an estimated 4,100 farms housing at least 3,000 hens without pasteurization processes, according to the statement. The FDA estimates that 118,000 people become ill each year due to salmonella poisoning, with results ranging from mild stomach pains to death, and the FDA hopes to reduce that number by one third. The new biosecurity and regulatory recommendations, if enacted, are expected to cost approximately $82 million per year.
A researcher with the US Agricultural Research Service (ARS) has concluded that so-called "free range" chicken products contain salmonella in equal proportions to conventionally-raised chicken products. In a study of 110 free range chicken corpses, the researcher found that 25% of the chickens tested positive for salmonella. Free range chickens make up less than one percent of the nearly 10 billion chickens processed for meat in the US each year. Chicken consumers may also be at risk of increased sodium intake from purchasing "fresh" chicken products labeled as "enhanced." Fresh chicken products produced by companies such as Tyson Foods and sold by Wal-Mart and others have up to 15% of their weight added as part of a water and sodium solution. An estimated 10-20 percent of fresh chicken sold in the US is enhanced, and the number is growing. While federal laws require labeling for any added products, a group of California chicken farmers is working to make the labeling more prominent.
"Changes Eyed to Reduce Salmonella in Eggs," NY Times / Associated Press, September 20, 2004
"'Free-Range' Chicken - No Guarantee It's Free of Salmonella," The Poultry Site, Sharon Durham, September 20, 2004
"Fresh Chicken Might be 'Enhanced' with Water, Salt," The Seattle Times,
Judith Blake, September 15, 2004
BSE NEWS: JAPAN CEDES GROUND ON U.S. BEEF IMPORT BAN; MORE
Japan is backing down from earlier demands that the US must test all cows for BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) infection prior to lifting its import ban on US beef products. Based on a Japanese food safety panel's recommendation, the government now says that BSE testing would not be required for cows under 20 months old. Japan, which banned US imports upon discovery of BSE in Washington State in December 2003, previously accounted for 37% of the value of US beef exports, or $1.2 billion. The US and Japan have argued about testing younger cows for BSE, with the US claiming that tests are useless at less than 30 months old, but Japan says that they have found the disease in cows at ages 21 and 23 months. Most US cows raised for beef are slaughtered before reaching 21 months of age, according to the beef industry. The US currently has approximately 96 million cows counting both dairy and beef operations.
In other BSE-related news, researchers at the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute and the University of California San Francisco have reportedly proven that proteins can be infectious by themselves. A paper published in the journal "Science" on July 30, 2004 explains the nature of "prions," malformed proteins that are blamed for a range of neurological diseases including BSE and the human variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD). Prions have been known to cause such diseases, but researchers have been unable to determine whether they simply facilitated infection or were infectious themselves. According to the lead researcher, "This is an essential step forward toward understanding the chemical nature of the infectious agent of mad-cow disease and other prion maladies."
"Japan Eases on BSE Testing for All US Cattle," Denver Post, Steve Raabe, September 21, 2004
"Japan is Closer to Lifting US Beef Ban," New York Times / Associated Press, September 20, 2004
"Science Publishes Report on Prion Breakthrough," UMBI News, August 5, 2004
OTHER ITEMS OF INTEREST
"Dairy Industry Benefits from Research Linking Products to Weight Loss," The Business Journal of Kansas City, Lola Butcher, September 17, 2004
Sales of cheese in the US have increased by 5% over the past year, with growth coming from the popularity of high-protein diets and recent research suggesting that dairy consumption may help people lose weight.
"France Defies EU to Continue Force-Feeding Birds for Foie Gras," The Guardian, Jon Henley, September 18, 2004
The French Agriculture Ministry has given foie gras producers an additional five years, until 2010, to discontinue the use of cramped individual cages for geese; France's 6,000 producers provide 70% of the global supply of foie gras.
"Hi-Tech Chook Sheds Where Life is Cheap, Death Sudden," The Australian, Richard Yallop, September 20, 2004
Australia: Hi-tech and high-cost atmospheric control systems have broken down at least six times during the past year, in each case causing 10,000 to 30,000 chickens to suffocate and die.
http://tinyurl.com/6rxvc (The Australian
"Livestock and Products Country Reports - 2004," ThePigSite.com, from
USDA / FAS
Provides detailed industry data based on USDA "Livestock and Products" Annual 2004 reports, including individual country reports for Australia, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Hong Kong, Philippines, Romania, Slovakia, and Taiwan.
"Vegetarian Foods Plant Stronger Sales," MSNBC / Forbes Magazine, Mark Tatge, September 13, 2004
Sales of vegetarian foods in the US rose to $1.6 billion in 2003 and are forecast to grow by more than 60% by 2008, driven by an interest among more than a third of US in reducing their meat consumption.
- Senator Seeks to Exempt Animal Farms from Pollution
- Johne's Disease Prevalent in US Herds, May Cause Variant in Humans
- Animal-Human Diseases: Potential Pandemics; Animal Transplants
- Consumer News: Eggs, Salmonella, and "Enhanced" Chicken Meat
- BSE News: Japan Cedes Ground on US Beef Import Ban; More
- 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.