Farmed Animal Watch: Objective Information for the Thinking Advocate
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March 2 , 2007 -- Number 7, Volume 7

1. PCV-2 "WREAKING HAVOC"

Porcine Circovirus-2 (PCV-2) has become a major health concern around the world, and is associated with numerous pig disease syndromes. One is postweaning multi-systemic wasting syndrome (PMWS). Clinical signs include diarrhea, hyperthermia, jaundice, tremors and wasting, the severity of which seems to increase with excessive vaccinations. Overcrowding is one of the factors contributing to the morbidity and mortality rates associated with PMWS, and the PCV-2 virus has been found to be highly resistant to common detergents and disinfectants. In Europe, the disease was first isolated from pigs with wasting disease in 1997. In Asia, severe clinical losses from PMWS were first seen in 2001 in the Guangdong province of China, where large companies employ intensive pig production. PCV-2 associated diseases have also been a major problem in South Korea since about 2001, with baby pig mortality ranging from 10-30%. Thailand has experienced similar problems but not the Philippines, where health levels in breeding facilities are said to be relatively high.

Industry consultant Mark Greenwood attributes a large spike in mortalities in pig production systems across the U.S. midwest to Porcine CircoVirus-Associated Disease (PCVAD). He says it is “wreaking havoc” in these systems, and estimates death losses are up at least 4%. “A veterinarian told me this week that he has never seen health this bad in the country. I agree. I am seeing closeouts on many systems with 14-16% mortality - as an average!” Greenwood exclaimed.


PORCINE CIRCOVIRUS-2 AROUND THE WORLD
National Hog Farmer's North American Preview, JoAnn Alumbaugh, Feb. 2, 2007
http://tinyurl.com/2tw3kz

PORCINE CIRCOVIRUS TYPE-2 IN ASIA
National Hog Farmer's North American Preview, Production Preview, JoAnn Alumbaugh, Feb. 9, 2007
http://tinyurl.com/2wx9tx

EVER-INCREASING COSTS OF PRODUCTION
National Hog Farmer's North American Preview, Mark Greenwood, Feb. 23, 2007
http://tinyurl.com/3c7lr2

 

2. BSE IN THE USA

Three years after bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, a.k.a., “mad cow disease”) was officially detected in the U.S., measures put in place against it are being shelved. Others never materialized. Cattle blood is still permitted as a food supplement for calves, and slaughterplant waste and dead cattle are still used to make other farmed and companion animal food. Rules to keep the most infective cow parts out of the human food supply have fallen short according to an analysis by the consumer group Public Citizen, which found more than 800 violations in 2004 and 2005. A ban on slaughtering nonambulatory (“downer”) cattle, who are considered to be most suspect for BSE, has yet to be made permanent, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently scaled back testing for the disease by 90%. It has also backed off plans for a mandatory animal-tracking system after cattle industry groups objected to it, saying the program will instead be voluntary.

The USDA asserts that testing and tracking programs are too costly for such a rare disease. Of the 759,000 cattle tested since 2003, only two more infected animals have been found. However, the USDA's inspector general said the USDA's expanded testing program, which was voluntary, could have missed the highest-risk animals. Many in the U.S. cattle industry are especially upset by the USDA’s proposal to allow shipments of older cattle from Canada. The initial cow reported to have BSE in the U.S. was from Canada, and investigators were unable to locate all the other cattle shipped with her due to Canada’s inadequate tracking system. However, the same problems occurred with the two U.S.-born cattle found with the disease. Canada now has a mandatory tracking system, though critics claim it is not being enforced. Almost all European countries have tracking systems, and many are wary of allowing the importation of U.S. beef due to the lacking system here. Most European and Asian nations also test a much higher percentage of animals for BSE than does the U.S. McDonald’s is among those calling for tighter regulations. The article includes a timeline of U.S. BSE incidents and actions.


MAD-COW SCRUTINY IS SCALED WAY BACK
Seattle Times, Sandi Doughton, February 22, 2007
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2003583249_madcow22m0.html



3. PROCESSING PLANTS TO BE TARGETED

Meat processing plants with a high likelihood of pathogenic germs or with poor inspection records will be subject to greater inspection scrutiny while less risky plants with better records will get less inspection under a new “risk-based inspection” (RBI see: http://tinyurl.com/yq868n ) plan by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Mandatory daily inspections would continue, with the data used to determine which plants need the most attention. The program -limited to processing plants and not slaughterplants- will start with 254 plants, about 5% of the country’s 5,300 processing plants, and include as many as 1,200 plants by the end of the year. Some public interest groups say that current inspection data is not adequate for risk-based assessment to work correctly. Another contention is that since all concerned entities are not involved in the planning and design of RBI, the government will not receive the co-operation needed for it. The American Meat Institute (AMI) is urging the USDA to slow the process down and make participation voluntary.


DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE TO STEP UP INSPECTIONS OF MEAT, POULTRY IN APRIL
The York Dispatch/The Associated Press, Libby Quaid, Feb. 22, 2007
http://www.yorkdispatch.com/business/ci_5279905

US GOVERNMENT PUSHES AHEAD WITH NEW MEAT INSPECTION SYSTEM
Medical News Today, Catharine Paddock, Feb. 2007
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/healthnews.php?newsid=63711


4. J.M. COETZEE ON SPEAKING FOR THE "VOICELESS"

In selecting him as the 2003 Nobel Prize laureate for literature, the award committee described J.M. Coetzee as “ruthless in his criticism of the cruel rationalism and cosmetic morality of western civilization.” Coetzee spoke recently in Sydney, Australia at the opening of an art exhibition entitled Voiceless: I feel therefore I am. He stated that, of the many “ways in which our relations to animals are wrong…the food industry…dwarfs all others in the number of individual animal lives it affects.” He points to the “processing of human beings” by the Nazi government as “one warning on the grandest scale that there is something deeply, cosmically wrong with regarding and treating fellow beings as mere units of any kind.” Coetzee asserts that included in the outcry against these World War II atrocities should have been: “What a terrible crime, come to think of it - a crime against nature - to treat any living being like a unit in an industrial process!” (See also: http://www.powerfulbook.com ) He continues: “It would be a mistake to idealise traditional animal husbandry as the standard by which the animal-products industry falls short: traditional animal husbandry is brutal enough, just on a smaller scale. A better standard by which to judge both practices would be the simple standard of humanity: is this truly the best that human beings are capable of?”

Coetzee advises: “The task of the movement is to offer [“decent”] people imaginative but practical options for what to do next after they have been revolted by a glimpse of the lives factory animals live and the deaths they die. People need to see that there are alternatives to supporting the animal-products industry, that these alternatives need not involve any sacrifice in health or nutrition, that there is no reason why these alternatives need be costly, and furthermore that what are commonly called sacrifices are not sacrifices at all - that the only sacrifices in the whole picture, in fact, are being made by non-human animals.” In closing, he contends: “…the animal-rights campaign remains a human project from beginning to end.”

ANIMAL SLAUGHTER LIKE THE HOLOCAUST – COETZEE
The Citizen, Feb. 23, 2007
http://www.citizen.co.za/index/article.aspx?pDesc=32757,1,22

ANIMALS CAN'T SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES - IT'S UP TO US TO DO IT
The Age, J.M. Coetzee, February 22, 2007
http://tinyurl.com/22uhj2

 

5. AMAZING GRACE

The Foreign Slave Trade Act, the first blow to the human slave trade by England, became law 200 years ago this spring. Its champion, William Wilberforce, also sponsored the first modern animal protection laws and co-founded the world’s oldest anti-cruelty society. His work is chronicled in the new movie, “Amazing Grace.” According to The Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS), the film “…captures Wilberforce's deep devotion to animals and his determination to end the cruelty and suffering imposed upon them in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.” Despite objections that the subject of cruelty to animals was not worthy of legislative consideration, Wilberforce endeavored for over two decades to ensure it did receive political attention and provided key support for the first modern anti-cruelty legislation (see p. 67 of [PDF FILE]: http://tinyurl.com/22yuod ). The HSUS web page includes film clips, a link to the movie’s official website and one to “The Amazing Change: A Campaign to Carry on Wilberforce's Vision of Mercy and Justice”:

AMAZING GRACE - THE WORK OF WILLIAM WILBERFORCE
The Humane Society of the United States, February 16, 2007
http://tinyurl.com/2cuvgd


6. UPCOMING EVENTS

MEATOUT – “an international observance…to expose the public to the joys and benefits of a plant-based diet, while promoting the availability and selection of meat and dairy alternatives in mainstream grocery stores, restaurants, and catering operations” will be observed on and around March 20th. Begun in 1985, the event is coordinated by the Farm Animal Reform Movement (FARM). More information and resources for participation can be found at: http://www.Meatout.org

AMIF ANIMAL-HANDLING CONFERENCE – The invitation-only conference will take place March 29-30 at the Sheraton Hotel in Overland Park, Ks. “Sponsored by the American Meat Institute Foundation, the Animal Care and Handling Conference for the Food Industry is the leading animal welfare educational opportunity for meat and poultry companies, their customers and those involved in the production and management of livestock and meat products.” Topics will include welfare standards and audits, a status report on international welfare guidelines, handling of nonambulatory animals, electric and CO2 pig stunning, religious cattle slaughter, handling techniques and associated product quality, and updates on the National Commission on Industrial [Farm Animal Production] (see next item). More information at: http://tinyurl.com/2kqxk4

Conference proceedings from the American Meat Science Association’s 2006 Meat Industry Research Conference are available on-line at: http://tinyurl.com/3b6pah

THE NATIONAL COMMISSION ON INDUSTRIAL FARM ANIMAL PRODUCTION
continues holding public hearings as part of its 2-year examination of intensive animal agriculture on public health, the environment, rural areas, and animal welfare (see: http://tinyurl.com/35vqno ). Anyone attending may also offer testimony, and pre-registration is encouraged. The events are to occur: April 9-11th in Durham, N.C., June 4-6th in Fort Collins, Co., Sept. 10-12th in Madison, Wi., and Nov. 12-14th in Kansas City, Mo. See: http://www.ncifap.org






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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.