1. Clarification: European Proposals and Laws on Animal Welfare
6-5, we covered recent and proposed advancements
in the European Union regarding farmed animal welfare,
but our coverage slightly confused the two primary
events. Thanks to a reader and European animal welfare
policy expert for pointing out the inconsistencies
and assisting us with this clarification. The two
major developments include:
1) The European Commission released its "Community
Action Plan on the Protection and Welfare of Animals,"
which is the first of its kind and will make animal
welfare improvements part of the Commission's work
for the next five years. The plan outlines actions
including revising curren European laws covering animal
welfare at the time of slaughter, but it does not
extend to farmed fish as stated previously. The Commission
has yet to propose legislation for farmed fish, but
may be compelled to do so following a related recommendation
from the Council of Europe that comes into effect
in June 2006.
2) Separately, the Agriculture Committee of the European
Parliament voted to adopt measures to improve the
welfare of "broiler" chickens raised for their flesh.
The measures included minimum space requirements for
chicken "stocking densities" and suggest that imports
of chicken products be held to the same standards.
However, these measures must still survive votes in
the European Parliament's plenary in February 2006
and subsequently in the Council of Agriculture Ministers
before becoming European law.
2. United Nations Report on Environmental Impact of Industrial Animal Farms
A new report from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations provides a robust critique of industrial animal farms from an environmental perspective. According to the FAO: "Concentrated, large-scale livestock production often creates concentrated, large-scale environmental problems. Large industrial farms bring in massive quantities of nutrients in the form of concentrate feed. And they produce far more waste than can be recycled as fertilizer and absorbed on nearby land. When intensive livestock operations are crowded together, pollution can threaten the quality of the soil, water, air, biodiversity and ultimately public health."
The FAO report focuses on industrial animal farms
in "developing" countries, where farmed animal slaughter
(meat production) grew at an average 5% per year from
1980-2004 and tripled over the entire period. The
FAO report states that "the rapid growth of livestock
production highlights the urgent need for effective
policies to regulate intensive livestock operations."
This rapid growth of concentrated animal farming and
the resulting volume of animal waste are causing severe
water and land pollution, according to the report.
Specifically, the FAO says that industrial pig and
poultry farms in China, Thailand, and Vietnam are
the leading cause of nutrient pollution in the South
China Sea. The report states that "Pig production
accounts for an estimated 42% of nitrogen and 90%
of phosphorus flows into the South China Sea… Run-off
is severely degrading seawater and sediment quality
in one of the world's most biologically diverse marine
areas." In response to such problems, the FAO suggests
that developing nations use tax policies and subsidies
to discourage development of industrial animal farms,
particularly near urban areas.
1. "Industrial Livestock Production near Cities often Damages the Environment," UN / FAO, 2/2/06
2. Full Report: "Pollution from Industrialized Livestock
Production," UN / FAO, 2/2/06
PDF file (3.6 MB): http://www.fao.org/ag/AGAinfo/resources/documents/pol-briefs/02/EN/AGA02_EN_08.pdf
3. "FAO Faults Meat Production in Developing Areas,"
3. Part 3 of Fatigued and Dead Pigs Article Series Covers Transportation
6-5, we summarized findings from parts 1 and 2
of a study of death and fatigue among farmed pigs
prior to slaughter, conducted by John McGlone at Texas
Tech University. Part 3 of the series is now online
and includes a focus on pig welfare and death during
transportation from farm to slaughterhouse. McGlone
says the "stress of being moved at the farm, during
loading, transport, unloading, as well as the plant
experience, all add up in the pig's mind and body."
During transport, pig welfare is greatly influenced
by both the environmental conditions available on
trucks and the experience and behaviors of individual
McGlone studied 38 drivers who transported more than
one million pigs and found that the "dead and downed"
rate varied from a low of 0.02% to 1.4%. The median
rate appears to have been approximately 0.8%, suggesting
that truck drivers experienced on average at least
8,000 dead or fatigued pigs during transport (assuming
the minimum of one million pigs transported). McGlone
concluded that "the causative factors are found in
two general areas: truck set-up and driver behavior."
Environmental issues that often cause fatigue or death
are temperature and humidity variations as well as
bedding type or if bedding is provided.
"Fatigued Pigs: The Transportation Link,"
Pork Mag, 2/1/06
4. US Government Report Says Downer Cows Still Being Slaughtered for Food
The US Department of Agriculture's Office
of the Inspector General (OIG) has audited the country's
bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) surveillance
program and found several problems. In particular,
the OIG report states that some slaughterhouses continue
to kill and process non-ambulatory or "downer" cows
for human consumption. According to the report, "At
2 of the 12 slaughter establishments reviewed… 29
non-ambulatory animals were slaughtered; 20 of them
were identified as downers with no documentation of
any acute injury." A policy against slaughtering non-ambulatory
animals for human food has been in place since the
discovery of BSE in the US in late 2003.
The OIG report also says that officials at the Animal
and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) attempted
to quash a tissue sample retest for fear of undermining
confidence in the agency's procedures. According to
the OIG, upon retesting the cow's brain sample eventually
resulted in the US's second confirmed BSE case. The
report notes that APHIS has conducted more than 350,000
BSE tests as of May 2005, but underscores that problems
remain with testing procedures that could put public
health at risk. The OIG made numerous suggestions
for APHIS and the Food Safety and Inspection Service
(FSIS), which have responded and agreed to implement
1. "Audit Report: APHIS BSE Surveillance Program and FSIS Controls over BSE Sampling, Specified Risk Materials, and Advanced Meat Recovery Products," USDA / OIG, Jan-2006
PDF file (5.9 MB): http://www.usda.gov/oig/webdocs/50601-10-KC.pdf
2. "Downer Cows' Entering Meat Supply, USDA Inspector
General Says," Bloomberg News, 2/2/06
3. "Agency Fought Retesting of Infected Cow," Washington
Upcoming Farmed Animal and Related Events
Following is a subset of the full farmed
animal and related events list currently available
To suggest other events that may be of interest to
FAW readers, please email email@example.com.
"2006 Agricultural Outlook Forum," US Department
February 16-17, 2006; Arlington, Virginia, USA
"International Meat Animal Welfare Research
Conference," American Meat Institute
February 22, 2006; Overland Park, Kansas, USA
"Farm Animal Forum," Farm Sanctuary
March 25, 2006; San Francisco, California, USA
"Using the Media Effectively to Promote Farmed
Animal and Vegetarian Issues," United Poultry Concerns
April 8-9, 2006; Columbus, Ohio, USA
"6th Congress of the European Society for
Agricultural and Food Ethics," EurSAFE
June, 22-24, 2006; Oslo, Norway
Other Items of Interest
"Suit Aims to Ease Confinement
of Egg-Laying Hens," latimes.com, 2/1/06
A California lawsuit filed by The Humane Society of
the United States (HSUS) seeks to end a tax break
egg farmers currently receive on their purchases of
"battery" cages for housing hens. Egg producers receive
a 5.25% tax break on cage purchases, but the lawsuit
argues such "subsidies" violate California's law against
confining any animal without providing sufficient
space to exercise.
"Per Capita Consumption," Livestock Marketing
Information Center, 2/3/06
US domestic per-capita consumption of animal flesh declined in 2005 due to decreased consumption of major "red meat" products including beef, pork, lamb, and veal products. Consumption of turkey flesh also declined in 2005, but chicken consumption increased by about a pound per person (retail), on average. Chicken slaughter as measured by federally inspected weight increased to more than 35 billion pounds in 2005, a new industry record.
"Bison Slaughter up 17 Percent in 2005," Meatingplace.com,
The number of bison slaughtered in the US at federally
inspected facilities increased by 17% in 2005 to a
total of 35,000 bison killed during the year. For
2006, the National Bison Association predicts the
industry will slaughter 11-15% more bison due to growing
consumer demand for "more variety in their diets."
Bison flesh is still a niche product marketed as healthier
and more natural than conventionally raised and farmed
"Genes of Deadly Bird Flu Reveal Chinese Origin,"
A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says that highly pathogenic avian influenza has been circulating among poultry in China for more than a decade. The study found the H5N1 strain of avian influenza in about 2% of ducks, geese, and some chickens during most of the testing period. The study is based on samples from 50,000 farmed poultry and 13,000 migratory birds. The study authors state that the virus originated in China's Guangdong province and since evolved into several divergent strains.