Farmed Animal Watch: Objective Information for the Thinking Advocate
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June 23 , 2006 -- Number 22, Volume 6


1. EU WELFARE INITIATIVES

Responding to the opinion held by most Europeans that farmed animal welfare is very poor, European Union (EU) farm ministers mostly backed a welfare labeling idea, while meeting on June 19th. The proposal is part of a 5-year plan by the European Commission to improve animal treatment. The Commission’s plan also calls for species-specific welfare rules and improvements in monitoring vehicles transporting animals long distances across the 25-nation region. While the majority of ministers agreed on the need for minimal welfare rules, they also warned of increased costs to consumers and competition from countries with cheaper products but lower standards. They requested that the Commission carry out a full impact assessment on the labeling concept and more scientific analysis before a decision is made. See also: http://tinyurl.com/fosth

Meanwhile, the European Commission has requested that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) issue a scientific opinion on “the animal health and welfare aspects of intensive calf farming systems” and their compatibility with the needs of these animals. Both major and minor welfare risks are identified in the various husbandry systems considered.

Also in the EU, new rules for the transport of farmed and other animals (e.g., dogs and horses) for commercial purposes are slated to come into effect in January 2007. Among the wide-ranging rules is a requirement that anyone transporting such animals more than 65 kilometers (40.36 miles) must be specifically authorized. Drivers and attendants for such trips will need a certificate of competence, and vehicles used to transport animals for longer than 8 hours will need to pass an inspection.



EU Considers Labeling Food to Boost Animal Welfare
Reuters Limited, Jeremy Smith, June 20, 2006
http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/36896/story.htm

Opinion of the Scientific Panel AHAW Related with the Risks of Poor Welfare in Intensive Calf Farming Systems
European Food Safety Authority, June 6, 2006
http://www.efsa.eu.int/science/ahaw/ahaw_opinions/1516_en.html

European Livestock Transport Rules Changed
(Meat Processing, Chris Harris, June 15, 2006
http://meatnews.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Article&artNum=11779


2. CANADIAN, AUSTRALIAN WELFARE INITIATIVES

Funded in part by government agencies, a national project to develop a “coordinated, proactive approach to farm animal welfare” in Canada is being coordinated by the industry-based Ontario Farm Animal Council (OFAC); its three sister groups in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta; and the new National Farm Animal Care Council. The Putting Farm Animal Welfare on the Agenda project will “promote initiatives to farmers and veterinarians who work directly with the animals, as well as to consumers who are interested in knowing how animals are raised.” Its three major components are a workshop and speakers bureau, enhanced communications and outreach, and farm animal handling training. The $700,00 project is to take place over the next three years.

Australia’s Voiceless is accepting applications for its annual grants program. Over $100,000 will be awarded to non-profit organizations, councils and universities working to improve the lives of animals in Australia. Applications must be project-based, aiming to change attitudes and/or increase awareness about animal protection, encourage the public to take action for animals in their personal lives, or work to modify or create new laws or policies to further animal protection in the country. A $10,000 grant and a $5,000 grant are intended specifically “to end the suffering of factory farmed animals.” The application deadline is June 30th. An article by the corporate counsel of Voiceless about the global status of farmed animals can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/oj39q



New Project Puts Farm Animal Welfare on the Agenda
National Farm Animal Care Council, Susan Church, June 14, 2006
(pdf file): http://tinyurl.com/hvp7y

Over $100,000 Up for Grabs!
Voiceless, press release, May 2, 2006
http://tinyurl.com/rpzud


3. SALMONELLA AND EGG TRACEBACK

About one in every five large-scale commercial egg operations have laying hens infected with pathogenic Salmonella, according to an EU-wide study by the European Food Safety Authority. Samples came from laying hen flocks in the last nine weeks of production. In countries with both vaccinated and unvaccinated flocks, there was no difference in the proportion of infected hens. The study is part of an EU-wide program to improve food safety by scientifically assessing the problems at the farm level and then determining what policies should be followed throughout the supply chain. Tighter regulatory controls on farms and processors could result. The agency expects to release a final report this October.

Eggsactrace is a new system devised in Canada to allow anyone to trace an egg back to its site of origin. It can also tell the date it was laid and the type of production system used, along with other information. It involves a code that is stamped on eggs with a food-grade ink that will not wash or boil off. The coding could also identify disease in a particular batch of eggs at a certain farm, precluding the need for retailers to pull their entire supply and the killing thousands of uninfected birds. Promotional information about the system has been sent to provincial and federal government officials.



Study Finds Salmonella in One-Third of the EU’s Egg Producers
Food Production Daily, June 16, 2006
http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/news/ng.asp?n=68472&m=1FPD616&c=ctnjryolzpagjlt

Hatching a Plan to Trace Eggs Back to the Farm
Metroland Durham Region, Chris Hall, June 16, 2006
http://www.durhamregion.com/dr/regions/scugog/story/3551434p-4102742c.html


4. DOUBLE WHAMMY FOR NEW YORK FOIE GRAS

With a double whammy, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has attacked foie gras production in New York as being both unwholesome and a cause of pollution. Using a novel legal strategy, the organization has petitioned the state's Department of Agriculture and Markets with a request that foie gras be declared an adulterated food. It provided evidence that the process of producing foie gras causes the birds’ livers to become pathologically large ("hypertrophied"), resulting in a diseased product. As such, the agriculture commissioner would have the option of banning it.

In a separate action, HSUS notified New York’s Hudson Valley Foie Gras and the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) of its intention to sue Hudson Valley for more than 900 violations of the federal Clean Water Act. It claims the company has released unacceptable amounts of ammonia, chlorine and fecal bacteria into the Middle Mongaup River. Hudson Valley claims most of the alleged violations were due to typographical errors in the records it was required to provide the DEC. The company has six months to respond or the state could force compliance. Otherwise, the suit will go forward. Hudson Valley is the sole producer of foie gras in New York, with the only other U.S. foie gras producer being in California.

As we previously reported, HSUS has asked N.Y. Governor George Pataki to retract a $420,000 grant to Hudson Valley and investigate it for violations of state animal cruelty laws. The HSUS also threatened to sue the state for funding an illegal activity.

The 2-year campaign against serving foie gras in Pittsburgh, which has included acts of vandalism, is discussed in a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article with photographs at:
http://tinyurl.com/gq26v



Animal Rights Groups Ask New York to Ban Foie Gras
The New York Times, Anthony Ramirez, June 22, 2006
www.nytimes.com/2006/06/22/nyregion/22ducks.html

Foie Gras Targeted Again by Animal Rights Group: Are the Ducks Really in Pain?
River Reporter, Fritz Mayer, June 15-21, 2006
http://www.riverreporter.com/issues/06-06-15/head1-foiegras.html


5. CALIFORNIA DAIRY POLLUTION

California’s San Joaquin Valley is the nation's top-producing dairy region. As the latest step in carrying out a 2003 state law aimed at air pollution caused by agriculture, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District board has approved rules to cut pollution in the form of volatile organic compounds from large dairy farms. These compounds drift into the air from manure, feed piles and other dairy sources, and then mix with other pollution and sunlight to form smog. Dairy industry groups generally support the rules but environmentalists say that they rely on existing dairy practices and won’t cut down on smog. The Board contends that the rules will eliminate a quarter of the smog-making gases coming from dairies. Earthjustice Legal Defense is hinting of a lawsuit. Waterkeeper Alliance founder and president Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has also been campaigning against “megadairies” in the state, with a focus on water quality issues.

Measures to Reduce Smog from Cows OK’d
Sacramento Bee, John Holland, June 16, 2006
http://www.modbee.com/ag/story/12327052p-13059344c.html


6. QUICK UPDATES

Alleging that several Smithfield Food employees "slapped, kicked, dragged by the ears and cruelly transported and killed pigs who were severely injured," People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has asked law enforcement officials in Suffolk County, Va. to file criminal charges against the company for mistreating pigs involved in traffic accidents. See: http://tinyurl.com/mrxfh PETA has posted footage of the most recent incident on-line: http://goveg.com/f-smithfields.asp

Whole Foods has selected Clearwater Seafoods as its sole supplier of frozen lobsters, following the grocery retailer’s ban on the sale of live lobsters. Clearwater employs “condos” that maintain lobsters in individual cells and reportedly shocks them to death instantaneously in a water chamber that is said to be less inhumane than is boiling them alive. Stating that the company shares with Whole Foods "a commitment to resource sustainability, a healthy ecosystem, and a deep respect for the lobster," Clearwater’s CEO later acknowledged that its innovations are more about savvy marketing than saving lobsters from pain and suffering. See: http://tinyurl.com/jof6h Boston Globe columnist Alex Beam presents an interesting perspective on the matter:
http://tinyurl.com/qrg93

An article detailing Maine’s new meat-procurement policy (see last week’s issue of the digest) can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/qb8v5

“Test Tube Meat Nears Dinner Table,” an article about the prospects for lab-cultured meat, is at: http://wired.com/news/technology/0,71201-0.html?tw=wn_index_1

 





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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.