Farmed Animal Watch: Objective Information for the Thinking Advocate
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SEPTEMBER 15 , 2006 -- Number 34, Volume 6


1. FOIE GRAS BAN THREATENED

Chicago’s ban on the sale of foie gras, approved by the City Council five months ago and implemented just last month, is now at risk. Two council members, both of whom had voted for the ban, have filed an ordinance with the city clerk to repeal it. While Bernard Stone still agrees that "in principle [the ordinance] is probably correct," he now blames it for making Chicago a national laughingstock. Burton Natarus has different reasoning for his action: “People have to be able to exercise choices.”

Gene Bauston, president of Farm Sanctuary, which pushed for the ban, counters that "Chicago has set a humane example, and it should be proud," and that "animal cruelty should not be a choice." Bauston vows to “[monitor] the situation closely and vigorously oppose efforts to undo [it].” He recently had a letter published in the Chicago Sun-Times admonishing chefs who “are still griping and trying to undo this humane ordinance,” and explaining why “it is time for this good law to be observed and enforced” (see: http://tinyurl.com/q459r ).

The Natarus-Stone proposal will get a hearing in the Council's Health Committee. If it wins a majority of votes there, it goes to the full council. Repeal would require a simple majority of votes at a council meeting. Alderman Joe Moore, who proposed the ban, says he does not believe the ordinance will get enough votes, noting that the ban passed the Council by a nearly unanimous vote.


LOVERS OF LIVER MAY TASTE VICTORY AFTER ALL
The Chicago Tribune, Gary Washburn and Mark Caro, September 12, 2006
http://tinyurl.com/n5c4r


2. ERNESTO STORMS AG OPERATIONS

Tropical Storm Ernesto’s pass across eastern North Carolina on August 31st dumped over a foot of rain in some areas. In Duplin County, 44,000 chickens and turkeys drowned. Additionally, dozens of pig farm lagoons were left full of wastewater – the state Division of Water Quality said that at least 70 of the 2,350 lagoons it monitors were nearing capacity. Raleigh Office of Environmental Defense Senior Scientist Joe Rudek said these wet conditions demonstrate the need to wean pig farmers from reliance on lagoons as their method of waste treatment.


ERNESTO COSTING FARMERS MILLIONS
The News & Observer, Jerry Allegood, September 6, 2006
http://www.newsobserver.com/102/story/483057.html



3. SOMETHING FISHY

Almost half the fish eaten by people worldwide are farmed, rather than wild-caught, according to a new report by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The percentage has risen to 43%, up from only 9% in 1980. Since just after that time, aquaculture has experienced a boom, holding an annual growth rate of about 8%, while wild fish populations wane. The agency’s most recent global study found that of the nearly 600 species groups it monitors, 52% are “fully exploited” and 25% are either “overexploited, depleted or recovering from depletion.” Another 20% are “moderately exploited,” and only 3% are “underexploited.” About 116 million tons of fish, both farmed and wild-caught, were eaten in 2004, and about 38 million tons more were used for other purposes ( http://grist.org/news/daily/2006/09/05/4/ ).

FAO estimates that an additional 40 million metric tons of aquatic food will be required by 2030 -- just to maintain current levels of consumption. Limiting aquaculture are rising energy costs, the availability of land and fresh water, environmental impacts and food safety concerns. Future supplies of fishmeal and oil, used to feed carnivorous cultured species, are also in question. Aquaculture now accounts for 35% of the world's fishmeal supply. The majority of fishmeal is used for farmed animal feed, primarily by the poultry sector.


NEARLY HALF OF ALL FISH EATEN TODAY FARMED, NOT CAUGHT
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Sept. 4, 2006
http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2006/1000383/index.html


4. FIXING FOOD

“Every decision we make about food has personal and global repercussions,” Alice Waters states in the introduction to a forum on food in The Nation magazine. The reason eating healthfully in the U.S. costs more than eating poorly is because our agricultural policies subsidize “fast food,” making fresh, wholesome foods, which are not given such support, seem expensive, she says. “Industrial food is artificially cheap,” she explains, “with its real costs being charged to the public purse, the public health and the environment.” In the forum, noted contributors were asked to tell about one thing that could “fix the food system.” Eric Schlosser believes that widespread public awareness would do the most, explaining: “Once you learn how our modern industrial food system has transformed what most Americans eat, you become highly motivated to eat something else.” (The movie version his book “Fast Food Nation” will be released on November 17.)

According to Jim Hightower: “In the very short span of about fifty years, we've allowed our politicians to do something remarkably stupid: turn America's food-policy decisions over to corporate lobbyists, lawyers and economists… As a result, America's food system (and much of the world's) has been industrialized, conglomeratized and globalized.” Hightower notes: “The attitude of agribusiness is that if brute force isn't working, you're probably just not using enough of it.” He challenges: “It's not a particular policy or agency that must be changed but the most basic attitude of policy-makers. And the only way we're going to get that done is for you and me to become the policy-makers, taking charge of every aspect of our food system--from farm to fork.”

Michael Pollan (see: http://tinyurl.com/oxq3z ) opines: “…the American food system is a game played according to a precise set of rules that are written by the federal government with virtually no input from anyone beyond a handful of farm-state legislators.” That “game,” commonly known as the farm bill, “determines what crops the government will support” and “writes the regulatory rules governing the production of meat in this country.” It also decides what will be served in the national school lunch program, which is designed “to help dispose of surplus agricultural commodities, especially cheap feedlot beef and dairy products…” Pollan advises: “...the debate over the 2007 farm bill is about to be joined. This time around let's call it ‘the food bill’ and put our legislators on notice that this is about us and we're paying attention.”

Peter Singer (see: http://tinyurl.com/oxq3z ) explains inefficiencies and inhumaneness of “factory farmed” animal products. He states: “Factory farming is not sustainable. It is also the biggest system of cruelty to animals ever devised.” Singer recommends: “Going vegetarian is a good option, and going vegan, better still. But if you continue to eat animal products, at least boycott factory farms.” Wendell Berry, Eliot Coleman, Troy Duster, Winona Laduke, Marion Nestle, Carlo Petrini, Elizabeth Ransom, and Vandana Shiva also contribute to the forum.


SLOW FOOD NATION
The Nation, Alice Waters, September 9, 2006
http://www.thenation.com/doc/20060911/waters

ONE THING TO DO ABOUT FOOD: A FORUM
The Nation, September 11, 2006
http://www.thenation.com/doc/20060911/forum


5. UPCOMING EVENTS

THE 2006 INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON AGROTERRORISM
The 2006 International Symposium on Agroterrorism, to be held September 25-29 in Kansas, Mo., “will provide a more detailed discussion of topics and issues related to food defense and security through a collaborative environment in order to facilitate the exchange of intelligence and enhance the understanding of the respective roles among the stakeholders within this evolving arena. Delegates from the United States and over 20 foreign countries are expected to participate in this symposium.” A copy of the draft agenda is now available: http://www.fbi-isa.org Info on the 2005 symposium, including the presentations, can be found at: http://www.fbi-isa.org/isa_2005.htm and http://www.fbi-isa.org/presenters.htm

WORLD FARM ANIMALS DAY
World Farm Animals Day will be observed on October 2nd (in honor of the birthday of ethical vegetarian Mahatma Gandhi) in all 50 states and two dozen other countries as “a time for all to stand up to the pointless suffering and death of 50 billion cows, pigs, turkeys, chickens and other innocent, feeling animals in the world’s factory farms and slaughterhouses.” See: http://wfad.org

THE STRENGTH OF MANY
The 21st Annual International Compassionate Living Festival will be held October 6-8 in Los Angeles, Ca. Presentations on poultry and one on “Farm workers and other Latino issues related to animals, agribusiness and culture” are among those scheduled. See: http://www.animalsandsociety.org/conference06.htm Information about the 2004 and 2005 conferences is also available on the site.

MODERN AGRICULTURE AND PUBLIC TRUST
The Grow America Project (GAP) is a just launched “agricultural and food industry consortium developed to improve the public's understanding of modern agricultural and food production systems.” The founding members are Elanco Animal Health, Country Mark Co-op, Fair Oaks Dairy, the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, Maple Leaf Duck Farms, Monsanto Co., and the Pork Board. GAP will be holding a summit on October 25 & 26 in Indianapolis, In., to “address the growing challenges facing modern agriculture in America.” Keynote speaker U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns will be joined by other Summit participants, including “members of the food production industry, members of academia, and members of health, conservation and environmental organizations.” Info at: http://www.growamericaproject.org/summit/





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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.