1. Animal Activists Release US Turkey Industry Report and Website
Two animal activist groups have released new resources detailing practices of the US turkey industry, including a detailed report from Compassion Over Killing (COK). COK's report, entitled "Animal Suffering in the Turkey Industry," provides an in-depth, well-referenced account of the current state of the US turkey industry. The report describes current breeding, housing, transport, slaughter, and other practices with a focus on turkey welfare and includes more than 60 industry and academic citations. COK says that in the 1960s it took an average of 220 days to raise a farmed turkey, while today that number has dropped to only 132 days. Such rapid growth leads to severe skeletal diseases and other welfare issues for turkeys. Moreover, although most farmed turkeys are slaughtered at 20 weeks or less to maximize profits, turkeys in the wild may live up to 10 years. The COK report concludes, "Standard turkey industry selective breeding, mutilation, confinement, transport, and slaughter practices cause turkeys to experience both acute and chronic pain." The full report is available online (see link below).
Another animal activist group, East Bay Animal Advocates (EBAA), has released a new website providing an expose of the US turkey industry including the results of multiple investigations. The website includes a photo gallery of what EBAA and many activists consider cruel and inhumane conditions for turkeys that were found during the group's investigations spanning several years.
1."Animal Suffering in the Turkey Industry," Compassion Over Killing, 8/5/05
2. "Turkey-Production.com," East Bay Animal Advocates, Aug-2005
2. Mixed Reactions to Mulesing Phase-Out Plan for Australian Sheep
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has reached an agreement with the Australian Wool Growers Association (AWGA) to end the practice of mulesing by 2010. Mulesing involves cutting off the hind quarters of sheep to prevent blowfly infestations from weakening the animals and damaging wool production. The PETA-AWGA agreement would involve a phase-out of the practice beginning with a 10% reduction in 2005 and ending with a final 20% reduction in 2009 to eliminate the practice entirely. Having agreed in principle, PETA has suspended its campaign against Australian wool for 45 days pending sign-on to the agreement from other wool producers' groups. PETA also agreed to cease its campaign for 10 years if the entire industry ratifies the agreement.
The AWGA apparently represents only a minority of Australia's wool manufacturers, however, and the proposed agreement is meeting with resistance from others in the industry. Under the agreement, AWGA also agrees to seek support from other Australian wool industry groups and to create a consumer label for wool produced by un-mulesed sheep. In addition to ending mulesing by 2010, the agreement would also require wool producers to increase standards for live sheep exports and agree to several auditing procedures. The live export part of the agreement simply ensures that standards for transport, handling, and slaughter of exported sheep are held to Australia's minimum domestic legal requirements. The entire agreement can be read on the PETA website (see below).
1. "PETA, Wool Industry War Could Be Over," Seven News / AAP, 8/9/05
2. "Wool Producers Reject PETA's Mulesing Plan," ABC.au, 8/10/05
3. "Will Groundbreaking Agreement Work?" PETA, Aug-2005
(Includes link to PDF of the entire PETA-AWGA agreement)
3. Aquaculture: Shrimp Farming in Delaware; Groups Lobby Against Salmon Farms
SHRIMP FARMS: The US state of Delaware, though small, is a significant corn and soybean producer and a major chicken farming state. A possible new trend in Delaware, however, is shrimp farming in which as many as 40 million of the small shellfish will be bred at a single farm. Delaware has an integrated chicken slaughter industry including contract relationships between growers and slaughterers, and some chicken farmers are trying to apply similar principles to shrimp farming. One farm in particular hopes to build a network of up to 80 contract shrimp farmers. In the US overall, shrimp farming is measured in pounds of production by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). According to NOAA, production of farmed shrimp grew from 2.2 million pounds in 1997 to 9 million pounds in 2002, and there are now about 100 shrimp farms in the US.
SALMON FARMS: A coalition of more than 100 wilderness-related business and groups has added to the increasing criticism of the salmon farming industry in British Columbia (BC), Canada. Represented by the BC Wilderness Tourism Association, these businesses are complaining that aquaculture impacts tourism and other industries and are calling for a moratorium on building new salmon farms. The association was prompted to take action by at least one member who visited a salmon farm and saw "up to 130 sea lice on one little fish. The dominance of farmed fish resistant to such lice, at the expense of wild fish, is cause for concern among environmentalists and business owners alike. However, salmon farming groups dispute the link between such farms and lice infestations, suggesting there are other sources of lice not accounted for by current studies.
1. "Fresh Del. Shrimp the Next Big Thing?" The News Journal, 7/31/05
2. "Province Must Close Salmon Farms, Prominent Tourist Organization Says," The Globe and Mail, 8/4/05
4. Vaccine Producers Struggle to Meet Demands of Avian Influenza
Given the growing concerns about a global
pandemic created by avian influenza, governments and
health officials are focusing more on the development
of a human vaccine. In the US, the National Institute
of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has developed and
successfully tested one such vaccine that could be
used for emergency purposes. The vaccine is being
produced by a French company but will undergo several
months of additional testing before offering it to
the public is considered. Separately, the Swiss manufacturer
of the generic influenza drug Tamiflu says it has
received orders from 25 countries and is considering
a donation to the World Health Organization to support
efforts in Asia where more than 50 people have died
of avian influenza. Despite growing interest in human
vaccines, there remains skepticism about both the
quantity that can be produced and the effectiveness
of the vaccine against a rapidly evolving influenza
1. "Bird Flu Vaccine Passes Preliminary Tests, But Other Obstacles Remain," Meatingplace.com, 8/10/05
2. "Roche Studies Anti-Bird Flu Drug Donation to UN,"
PlanetArk / Reuters, 8/4/05
5. Diet Studies: Milk Consumption Risks; Protein, Satiety, and Weight Loss
MILK: A meta-study
completed in January 2005 and published this month
in the International Journal of Cancer concludes
that available research "support(s) the hypothesis
that high intakes of dairy foods and lactose may increase
the risk of ovarian cancer." The article notes one
study that indicated a 13% increase in ovarian cancer
risk from a 10 gram increase in daily lactose consumption,
about equal to a glass of milk. The meta-study is
based on the findings of 21 independent studies including
nearly 4,000 women in total.
PROTEIN: A study published in the
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition finds
that a switch to high-protein diets causes "spontaneous
weight loss" and a sense of satiety (fullness). In
the small study of 19 women and men, the researchers
alternately prescribed high fat, low protein diets
or the reverse high protein, low fat diet; in each
case carbohydrate intake was held constant. The journal's
editorial sums up the research by relating it to the
popularity of high-carbohydrate diets such as the
Atkins Diet, saying the now unpopular diet goes "far
beyond what is commensurate with a healthy diet."
1. "Research Suggests Dairy Can be Deadly," Montreal Gazette, 8/5/05
2. "High-Protein Diets Increase Satiety and Spontaneous Weight Loss," American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, July 2005
6. Farmed Animal Statistics: Tyson Foods, Inc.
US-based Tyson Foods is the world's largest slaughterer of animals for food. Based on a steady stream of acquisitions including "beef packer" IBP in 2001, Tyson has also become one of the fastest growing US companies. The company started with a focus on chicken slaughter, but now is the self-proclaimed "world's leading producer and marketer of chicken, beef and pork." The company is also a producer of other types of prepared foods and a major supplier to the leather and pharmaceutical industries. On August 5, the company confirmed it will be added to the Standard and Poors 500 index, a key measure of the US financial markets.
For the year ending October 1, 2003, Tyson Foods had 68 chicken hatcheries and 42 company-owned facilities for "growing" chickens for meat consumption. However, it also had agreements with another 6,857 "contract poultry growers" who provide the vast majority of birds for the company to slaughter. In 2003 Tyson Foods slaughtered an average of 40.3 million chickens every week, or about 2.1 billion birds for the year; this is more than one fifth of the total US chicken slaughter of 9.8 billion birds. In 2003 Tyson Foods owned 52 chicken slaughter facilities.
Also for 2003, Tyson Foods slaughtered an average of 344,000 pigs every week, or nearly 18 million pigs for the year at 8 company-owned slaughterhouses. For the same year, the company slaughtered an average of 198,000 cows every week, or about 10.3 million cows total at 15 slaughter facilities. Tyson Foods' cow and pig slaughter operations were both the result of its acquisition of IBP in 2001. For more details on the largest farmed animal company in the world, please visit their website (see links below) and/or read the financial reports.
1. Tyson Company Information, Vital Pro Forma Statistics, Fiscal Year 2003
2. Tyson Foods Annual Financial Reports (includes SEC/financial data)
3. "Tyson Foods to Be Added to S&P 500," USAgNet, 8/8/05
Other Items of Interest
"Action Group Pushes for
Ammonia Standard around Confinement Buildings," Cedar
Valley Courier / Associated Press, 8/2/05
The nonprofit group Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement
(ICCI) says that ammonia-level readings at 9 factory
farms indicate a danger to public health and require
an immediate response. Using data collected by the
state, ICCI stated that ammonia levels were recorded
at up to 5 times the safety standard recommended by
Iowa's leading state universities. Higher-than-recommended
levels of ammonia were recorded at 9 of 11 farms.
"Organic Farmers Make a Difference for English
Wildlife," British Trust for Ornithology, Aug 2005
According to findings published in the August 3 edition
of the UK's Royal Society Journal, Biology Letters,
researchers "show conclusively that organic farms
provide greater benefits for a range of wildlife including
wild flowers, beetles, spiders, birds and bats than
their conventional counterparts." The research is
based on 5 years of data from 80 matched pairs of
organic and non-organic grain-producing farms in the
"China Produces First Cloned Pig," News 24,
China announced that a team of researchers from the
state-run Agriculture University has successfully
cloned a pig, making China only the seventh country
to do so. The cloned piglet is one of three siblings,
but the other two died after birth, which is typical
of most clones. China's report stated that cloned
pigs would be useful for producing organs for humans
and "improving pig species."
"Let There be White: Scientist Transforms
Dark Chicken Meat," Meatingplace.com, 8/10/05
A researcher at the University of Georgia is working
on a technique to render "dark" chicken flesh into
"white meat" by extracting some of its fat and color.
The researcher, Daniel Fletcher, describes the process
as grinding the up the flesh and making "essentially
meat slurry." Although the product is not likely to
sell with retail consumers, Fletcher believes it may
appeal to restaurants, some of which already use frozen
"shingles" of ground chicken flesh with burns to simulate