Australian Live Export Company Charged with Animal Cruelty
In November 2003, the vessel "MV Al
Kuwait" left Fremantle, Western Australia bound for
the Middle East with more than 100,000 sheep on board.
The vessel was delayed, causing significant stress
and many sheep deaths; the incident also prompted
the activist groups Animals Australia and Compassion
in World Farming to call for an investigation. (See
5-6). Two years later, Western Australian authorities
have filed animal cruelty charges under the Animal
Welfare Act against the export company responsible
for the voyage. According to an Animals Australia
news release, "the outcome of the prosecution could
have wide-ranging ramifications for the live sheep
trade generally." The group calls the MV Al Kuwait
incident "representative" of the industry and hopes
the action will lead Australia's judicial system to
rule all forms of live animal export illegal.
1. "Live Export Company Charged With Animal Cruelty," Animals Australia, 11/10/05
2. "Live Export Company Charged With Animal Cruelty,"
Compassion in World Farming, 11/11/05
PDF file (43k): http://ciwf.org.uk/publications/prs/nr2305.pdf
2. More on Trader Joe's / HSUS Agreement Limiting Sales of Caged-Hen's Eggs
As mentioned briefly in FAW
5-42, US-based food retailer Trader Joe's has
agreed to use only cage-free eggs for its own brand
of chicken's eggs. The agreement results from a campaign
waged by The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS),
but Traders Joe's was also influenced by a media report
covering one of the company's egg suppliers. An investigative
team from San Francisco ABC affiliate KGO traced the
supply of Trader Joe's eggs to a farm in Turlock,
California that confines more than 1.5 million hens
to small "battery" cages. KGO also ran video footage
obtained from an undercover activist who had visited
that same farm several times to document the hens'
conditions. The video is available on the first website
listed below. Trader Joe's agreed to convert all of
its branded-label eggs to cage-free suppliers by February
1, 2006. The company also agreed that all store promotions
will feature exclusively cage-free eggs. Trader Joe's
joins other food retailers that have gone even further
by selling only cage-free eggs, including Whole Foods
Market and Wild Oats, among others. Trader Joe's sells
an estimated 100 million eggs per year under its own
label, which The HSUS says could result in the un-caging
of an estimated 380,000 hens under the new agreement.
Wayne Pacelle, HSUS's Chief Executive Officer, said
of the campaign, "All of the major chains that sell
eggs, we want them to offer consumers the option of
cage-free eggs and frankly to move the battery cages
off the shelves because we should not tolerate this
form of cruelty."
1. "Trader Joe's Makes Change to 'Egg' Policy," ABC-7, 11/8/05
2. "Trader Joe's 'Chickens Out,' Opts to Sell Only Cage-Free," Boston Herald, 11/9/05
Avian Influenza: Chicken Industry, Animal Activists Send Public Mixed Messages
According to the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF), a pro-industry group, nearly half of US adults (47%) agreed with a statement that they can catch avian influenza from eating chicken flesh. The responses are based on a representative survey of 1,007 adults conducted by Opinion Research Corp. CCF blames the "misconception" on the media and "needless hysteria from animal rights activists." The US poultry industry's major trade groups, including the National Turkey Federation (NTF), the National Chicken Council (NCC), and the Egg Safety Center (ESC), have launched a new website to counter the perception and protect sales of poultry products. Fast-food company KFC is also developing television advertisements to counter the public's belief that chicken products may pass on avian influenza. However, KFC says it will not air the commercials until (and if) there is an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza in the US.
Despite the industry's messages to the contrary, at least one author and health expert says, "There's evidence of transmission (of avian influenza) via dining on the meat of animals," according to an interview in E Magazine in August. A related action alert from United Poultry Concerns quotes several experts, including Dr. Perry Kendall, the chief medical officer for British Columbia, Canada. According to Kendall, "The methods of farming result in them (chickens) being actually more frail and more vulnerable to diseases, particularly since there are so many of them in such a small volume of space." Other animal activist groups are also commenting on a possible pandemic and using it as a basis to criticize modern poultry farming methods and crowded conditions. According to a spokesperson from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), "Avian flu is a direct consequence of a very sick and cruel industry."
1. "47% of Americans Mistakenly Believe Eating Chicken Can Spread Bird Flu," Center for Consumer Freedom, 11/8/05
2. "Poultry Industry Launches New Web Site on Avian
Influenza," News Release / Yahoo News, 11/15/05
3. "KFC Prepares Ads in Event of Bird Flu Outbreak,"
All Headline News, 11/9/05
4. "Bad News on Bird Flu a Feast for Anti-Industry
Activists," Meatingplace.com, 11/11/05
5. "Avian Influenza: Action Alert," United Poultry
6. "Laurie Garret talks about Avian Flu," United Poultry
Dairy Industry: U.S. Organic Ruling; Producers Invent New Derivative Products
ORGANIC: In the US,
sales of organic milk account for more than 3% of
all cows' milk sold directly to consumers, although
the trend is growing quickly. Organic milk sales are
increasing at an estimated 23% annually compared with
an 8% decline for the entire US dairy industry.
However, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has
amended the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 to
allow "organic" dairy farms to use some non-organic
or synthetic materials if they are "commercially unavailable."
The ruling also covers giving cows access to pasture
for grazing, which is required for organic producers
under the original act. However, the country's largest
organic milk producer (Horizon Dairy) reports feeding
its cows a diet of "up to 40% grain."
NEW PRODUCTS: Canada-based Dairy
Fresh Technologies Ltd., according to a company press
release, has developed a new milk product based on
blending "skimmed" cows' milk with canola oil. The
process uses canola oil as a fat substitute to produce
something the company claims is "nutritionally equivalent"
to 2% cows' milk, but with a richer taste. The company
test marketed its "new generation milk" with 300,000
retail consumers throughout Canada, boasting a "conversion
to purchase" ratio of 47% in October 2005. On a similar
topic, longtime 60 Minutes commentator Andy Rooney
recently ranted against the use of substitutes and
alternative ingredients used to supplement cow's milk.
According to Rooney, "I'll bet a calf wouldn't drink
most of the stuff called milk now sold in cartons."
1. "An Organic Cash Cow," New York Times, 11/9/05
2. "Congress Acts to Amend Organic Foods Law amid
Industry Split," Natural Foods Merchandiser, 11/1/2005
3. "Dairy Fresh Farms Announces Results of 'New Generation
Milk','" News Release / Yahoo News, 11/8/05
4. "What Have They Done To Milk?" CBS News / 60 Minutes,
Farmed Animal Statistics: U.S. Turkey Farming; Death
Loss Rates; etc.
In the United States, more than 250
million farmed turkeys are slaughtered every year;
an estimated 65 million of those turkeys are killed
and eaten during the holiday season toward the end
of the calendar year. The US Department of Agriculture's
National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released
a new report describing the rapid average weight growth
of farmed turkeys. An average turkey's weight increased
4% over the past year (2004-2005), and has increased
by 57% since 1965. According to the report, "Over
the past decade alone, turkeys have averaged a 5-pound
weight gain, from 23.2 pounds in 1995 to 28.2 pounds
The NASS data adds to research from Compassion Over
Killing (COK), which reported that in the 1960s it
took 220 days to raise a 35-pound turkey, but that
number had dropped to only 132 days by 2004. (See
2-77). The rapid growth and abnormally high weights
cause a host of welfare problems for turkeys. The
consumer's desire for flesh from a turkey's breast
has created birds too heavy for flight, according
to one professor at the University of Maryland. The
increased weight also makes normal breeding more difficult
for the turkeys, allowing farmers to justify the use
of artificial insemination despite animal welfare
concerns with the process. See below for a summary
of US turkey farming statistics, by region and for
the entire country.
US Turkey Farming Statistics, 2004
Region / Total
||Number of Hatcheries
||Poults Placed (000s)
||Death Loss Rate
|East North Central (IL IN MI OH
|West North Central
(IA KS MN MO NE ND SD)
|Atlantic (CT DE FL GA MD ME NH
NJ NY NC PA RI SC VA VT WV)
(AL AR KY LA MS OK TN TX)
|West (AK AZ CA CO
HI ID MT NM NV OR UT WA WY)
|U. S. (TOTAL)
The six largest turkey-farming states will contribute to a total slaughter of an estimated 166 million birds in 2005, accounting for two-thirds of all US turkey slaughter. See below for 2005 estimates for these six states.
Largest U.S. Turkey-Slaughtering States,
Region / Total
||Expected 2005 slaughter
1. "USDA Reports an Increase in the Average Weight of a Turkey," USDA / NASS, 11/15/05
2. "QuickStats Agricultural Statistics Database,"
USDA / NASS, Updated regularly
3. "Animal Suffering in the Turkey Industry: Breeding,"
Compassion Over Killing, 2005
4. "Professor Says There's Lots to Gobble About Today's
Modern Turkey," NewsDesk, 11/14/05
6. Other Items of Interest
"Farmers May be Losing
Battle with Animal Rights Activists," Agri-News, 11/15/05
Iowa university professor Wes Jamison claims that
animal protection activists seek to pass a federal
Animal Welfare Act that covers farmed animals that
he says means "confinement agriculture will cease."
Speaking to an industry audience at an Agri-Growth
Council meeting, Jamison says farmers and corporations
must seek to "establish the moral and scientific high
ground" with consumers and society.
"Call for Expressions of Interest," EU Welfare
Quality Project, 11/11/05
The European Union-funded "Welfare Quality Project" is inviting "expressions of interest" for activities that complement the coalition's work. The invitation mentions specific areas of interest involving the welfare of animals currently not covered under the project, including young farmed animals, sheep, turkeys, and others. Expressions of interest must be received by December 9, 2005 and the selected projects may receive up to 125,000 Euros in funding.
"The Role of Biotechnology for the Characterisation
and Conservation of Crop, Forest, Animal and Fishery
Genetic Resources in Developing Countries," United
Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Nov-2005
In June and July of 2005, the United Nation's FAO Biotechnology Forum held an email conference to discuss the role of biotechnology in "developing" countries. The conference touched on wide-ranging uses of biotechnology, including the "constraints" faced by such countries in growing their farmed animal industries.