Farmed Animal Watch: Objective Information for the Thinking Advocate
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June 9 , 2006 -- Number 20, Volume 6


1. TRANSPORT TRAUMAS

Animals at auction suffering from broken legs, infected eyes, foaming mouths and sores, forced to travel more than 30 hours in hot, overcrowded conditions without food, water or rest. These were among the findings of a just-released investigation by the Animal Protection Institute (API) and Compassion in World Farming that documents the transport of cows in the U.S. and pigs from the U.S. to slaughterhouses in Mexico. Dead and dying animals were also filmed at the auctions. API Chief Executive Michelle Thew said: “Farmed animals are typically moved several times during their lives…. Our investigation demonstrates that government action is urgently needed to regulate the transport of farmed animals and set a maximum journey time of eight hours.” The organizations are also calling on consumers and retailers to help. The report, entitled “Driving Pain,” along with video and photos, can be viewed at: http://tinyurl.com/lekep

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency may amend the section of the Health of Animals Act that covers the transport of farmed animals in order to reflect changes that have occurred since the law’s introduction 30 years ago. The Albert Farm Animal Care Association is urging the Agency to be flexible in regards to evolving industry practices and standards.

In the U.S., PETA is seeking legal action against Smithfield Foods for failing to promptly treat and/or euthanize pigs suffering from accidents involving the company’s trucks. Smithfield counters that it has a policy of responding as quickly as possible and euthanizing pigs as soon as they are identified as severely injured.


AFAC Calls for Flexible Animal Transport Regulations
Farmscape, Susan Church Bruce Cochrane, June 1, 2006
http://tinyurl.com/ldz28

Actor from 'Babe' Supports PETA'S Cruelty Concerns
Daily Press, Patrick Lynch, June 6, 2006
http://tinyurl.com/l6l59


2. NONAMBULATORY PIG PROBLEM INCREASING

The incidence of nonambulatory pigs has worsened in the U.S., according to Temple Grandin, an animal scientist and industry consultant. She suspects it is due to the overuse and abuse of Paylean, a drug used to increase muscle mass (see item #2: http://tinyurl.com/jbgvh ) in heavier pigs. In some plants it is a case of bad becoming normal, Grandin says. She blames financial premiums paid for heavy, weak pigs who have a lot of muscle, and recommends rewarding producers who present few nonambulatory animals as the most effective remedy. “If producers had to pay for them, the downer problem would disappear overnight,” she comments.


Fixing the Downer Pig Problem
Meat & Poultry, Temple Grandin, May 1, 2006
http://www.meatpoultry.com/feature_stories.asp?ArticleID=79351



3. ADVERTISING, ETHICS AND AUDITS

Following a complaint by East Bay Animal Advocates, the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has notified the Federal Trade Commission of Foster Poultry Farms’ refusal to participate in the NAD process. At issue are several of Foster Farms’s advertising claims regarding animal care. (Foster Farms is the largest poultry company in the western U.S.) In 2005, United Egg Producers changed its “Animal Care Certified” logo after a similar case initiated by Compassion Over Killing (see: http://www.cok.net/camp/acc/ ).

Regarding matters of social responsibility, the balance of power is shifting in favor of small, single-issue groups that use the Internet to their advantage, as public faith in government and business has declined, reports strategic management consulting firm McKinsey and Company in a recent article. In the meat and poultry industries, animal welfare is the most obvious point of vulnerability, attorney Robert Hibbert notes in his column in Meat Processing magazine. He advises that it may be time for the industry to consider establishing a non-governmental umbrella organization to develop standards for audits.



NAD Refers Foster Poultry Farms to the Federal Trade Commission
NAD News, June 1, 2006
http://tinyurl.com/qzfw3

Is it Time for You to Look at the Big Picture on Social Responsibility?
Meat Processing, Robert Hibbert, May 2006
http://www.meatnews.com/mp2/NorthAmerican/index.cfm?fuseaction=nawnes

See also:
How We Raise Foster Farms Poultry
http://www.fosterfarms.com/about/raise.asp

Fostering Cruelty in Chicken Production
http://www.fosterfacts.net



4. AVIAN INFLUENZA: CONTROLLING, KILLING & FIGHTING

Wild birds have and will continue to play a role in the transmission of highly pathogenic avian influenza over long distances. This was concluded at a recent 2-day international scientific conference called by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), which was attended by over 300 scientists from more than 100 countries. It was also recognized, however, that the H5N1 virus is mostly spread by the legal and illegal poultry trade. It was determined that the disease’s management must be based on better biosecurity and production level hygiene, and that contact between domestic and wild birds should be minimized. However, culling wild birds in an attempt to stop the disease’s spread was rejected, with one of the conference recommendations stating: “Destruction of wild bird habitats or indiscriminate hunting of wildlife is scientifically and ethically unjustified as a response.”

Approximately 200 million birds have been killed in Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East over the past 3 years in an attempt to halt the spread of bird flu. Alarmed by reports of birds in Asia being burned or buried alive, and with emergency killing and disposal training programs are already being carried out in the U.S., animal advocates here are encouraging the use of “controlled atmosphere killing” if emergency slaughter is conducted. Smothering birds with fire-fighting foam is another killing method being considered. While a preventative vaccination has been used in some countries, the National Chicken Council says it is impractical for the U.S. due to the structure of poultry production here. Animal Place’s Kim Sturla said: “If avian influenza comes and they are killing millions of birds, gassing them or foaming them or whatever they are going to do is no worse than what's done every single day to birds who are grabbed out of barns, taken to the slaughter line, shackled upside down and have their throats slit.” Both industry and advocacy are addressing the subject through billboard campaigns.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has drafted a summary of its avian flu response plan, which addresses emergency killing, quarantine and vaccination. Although there is no formal public comment period, the agency says it will consider comments in making future revisions. The document can be viewed at: http://tinyurl.com/n5zgw and comments can be submitted to: NAHEMS.Guidelines.Comments@aphis.usda.gov

On a related note, a bill to ban cockfighting in Louisiana was defeated last week. Opponents argued that the practice is “an integral part of the state’s heritage and important to the economy in rural areas where the birds are raised and fought.” Senator Art Lentini, the bill’s sponsor, responded that economics does not justify the “morally repugnant” practice. An article detailing the politics involved can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/rt4ke



Wild Birds’ Role in HPAI Crisis Confirmed: But Scientific Conference Fingers Poultry Business
Food and Agriculture Organization (U.N.), June 1, 2006
http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2006/1000312/index.html

Amid Bird Flu, Activists Plead for Humane U.S. Culling
Reuters, Jill Serjeant, June 5, 2006
http://tinyurl.com/mmz79

House Committee Kills Cockfighting Ban
The Times, Mike Hasten, June 1, 2006
http://tinyurl.com/h6ouh




5. THE FUTURE OF MEAT

After World War II, the U.S. began confining cattle in feedlots of tens of thousands and fattening them with grain. Previously, cattle had grazed on grass throughout their lives, as is still common in Europe, South America, New Zealand and elsewhere. The new system was possible due to vast surpluses of government-subsidized corn and soybeans produced with petroleum-based fertilizers. Where steers had taken 3-4 years to fatten on pasture, they now grow to slaughter size in less than 2 years: “an efficient industrial process that has transformed beef from a luxury meal into a cheap fast food.” In the past five years, over 1,000 U.S. ranchers have switched herds back to an all-grass diet. Although this still represents less than 1% of the nation’s beef supply, last year’s sales reached some $120 million and are expected to increase more than 20% a year over the next decade. Grass-fed cattle may be more resistant to E.coli and lessen concerns over “mad cow” disease.

University of Maryland scientists say they could grow huge quantities of meat in a laboratory by extracting muscle cells from animal biopsies, isolating the cells that are precursors to muscle, and then allowing them to multiply. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals President Ingrid Newkirk says this could provide “an end to the misery” suffered by the billions of farmed animals killed every year for human consumption. She explains how it could also help end world hunger and benefit the environment.

The Grass-Fed Revolution: Beef Raised Wholly on Pasture, Rather than Grain-Fed in Feedlots, May be Better for your Health – and for the Planet
Time, Margot Roosevelt, June 4, 2006
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1200759,00.html

Will We See Meat Even Vegetarians Can Love?
American Chronicle, Ingrid E. Newkirk, June 1, 2006
http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/viewArticle.asp?articleID=10570



6. NOTES & CORRECTION

Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack has vetoed part of a bill that would have designated dogs from licensed facilities as farm products, as we previously reported. Vilsack vetoed a similar bill in 2004.

Vilsack Veto Hounds Dog Breeders
The Des Moines Register, Jenna Johnson, June 2, 2006
http://tinyurl.com/klo5o

An article on the Vegetarian Resource Group website elaborates on the vegetarian statistics mentioned in last week’s issue of the news digest. See: http://tinyurl.com/f585t

Correction: The grant made by New York Gov. George Pataki to Hudson Valley Foie Gras is $420,000 rather than the $42,000 reported in last week’s digest. We regret the error.
The Humane Society of the United States has notified Hudson Valley Foie Gras of its intent to sue the company for more than 900 documented violations of the federal Clean Water Act. See: http://tinyurl.com/k2z6g

 





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Compiled and edited by Cat Carroll and Mary Finelli, 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.