FDA APPROVES FOOD FROM CLONED ANIMALS
"Meat and milk from clones of cattle, swine, and goats, and the offspring of clones from any species traditionally consumed as food, are as safe to eat as food from conventionally bred animals," a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) official announced on January 15th. The announcement, after years of controversy (background info at: http://tinyurl.com/25arqt) and despite high rates of abnormalities and early mortality of cloned animals (see: http://tinyurl.com/yo79zo), clears the way for milk and meat from cloned cows, goats and pigs to be sold to the public. The FDA further stated that these products would not need to be labeled, but that producers could apply for the right to label their foods "clone-free." A bill to require labeling has been introduced in Congress, and a battle over labeling is anticipated.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has, however, asked farmers to continue to voluntarily withhold cloned animals from the food supply while it attempts to put retailers and foreign trade partners at ease over the technology. (Cattle cloning companies concede they have been unable to track how many children of cloned animals have already been put in the food supply, see: http://tinyurl.com/2z2jgq). Companies such as Cargill, Smithfield and Tyson expressed reservations about the technology, and some supermarket chains have vowed to not carry products derived by it. The U.S. National Organic Program regulations prohibit cloning (see: http://tinyurl.com/27z9kr ).
The European Food Safety Authority has also declared that meat and milk from cattle and pig clones is probably safe for human consumption. The European Commission said it will consult with consumers before ruling on the matter in May. European Union ministers will be asked to make a final decision later this year. Individual government will not be able to opt out.
US AUTHORITIES APPROVE CLONED ANIMAL FOODS
Agence France-Press, January 15, 2008
F.D.A. SAYS FOOD FROM CLONED ANIMALS IS SAFE
The New York Times, Andrew Martin and Andrew Pollack, January 16, 2008
USDA RECOMMENDS THAT FOOD FROM CLONES STAY OFF THE MARKET
The Washington Post, Rick Weiss with Madonna Lebling, January 16, 2008
F.D.A. DECLARES FOOD FROM CLONED ANIMALS IS SAFE
Meat & Poultry, Keith Nunes, January 15, 2008
EU FOOD-SAFETY AGENCY BACKS PRODUCTS FROM CLONED ANIMALS
The Wall Street Journal, John W. Miller with Jane Zhang, January 12, 2008
EU BATTERY-CAGE BAN DEADLINE UPHELD
On January 8th, the European Commission (EC) announced than a European Union ban on keeping hens in battery cages will come into effect in 2012, per a 1999 agreement. Afterwards, cages will have to provide at least 750 square centimeters (116.28 sq. inches) per bird and contain a nest, litter, perch and clawing board (see item #2: http://tinyurl.com/34hc96). Alternatively, birds can be kept in cageless systems. A new EC report says that switching to “enriched cages” could cost less than 1% per egg. It also says that improved conditions for hens could boost sales since consumers are increasingly concerned about animal welfare. (Eggs laid by non-caged birds in Britain have risen from 10% in 1995 to 30% in 2005. Many supermarkets have ceased or are ceasing to carry battery eggs. See: http://tinyurl.com/36c5er and http://tinyurl.com/yp4jnb) The report recommends actions to further increase public awareness of how hens are kept.
Many European farming organizations are calling for more time before complete implementation of the ban. They warn that the same standards also need to be applied to imported eggs. The UK’s National Farmers Union has called upon the government to set an example with its own food procurement policies. In regard to the deadline, Peter Stevenson of Compassion in World Farming counters: "The Directive gave farmers a very generous 12 years to move away from battery cages. It’s a scandal that the industry has been pressing for even more time.”
EU CONFIRMS 2012 DATE FOR BAN ON RAISING HENS IN SMALL BATTERY CAGES
Associated Press, Jan. 8, 2008
EUROPEAN COMMISSION REPORT CONFIRMS BENEFITS OF BAN ON BATTERY CAGES
The Poultry Site, January 9, 2008
GOVT HELP REQUIRED ON BATTERY BAN
The Poultry Site, January 11, 2008
HORSE SLAUGHTER IN NORTH AMERICA
Following the closing of horse slaughterplants in the U.S. (see: http://tinyurl.com/275wlg), tens of thousands of horses are instead being sent to Canada or Mexico to be slaughtered. For many, it means traveling hundreds more miles, often in crowded trailers, without food or water. Exports of horses to Mexico have more than tripled. In U.S. slaughterplants, horses were killed by having steel pins driven through their heads. In Mexico, according to Temple Grandin (see: www.Grandin.com), they are disabled by having their spinal cords severed with a knife. (A Mexican agriculture official said the procedure is illegal there.)
There are more than nine million horses in the U.S. today, up from just over six million in the mid-1990s. Some contend that the slaughterplant closings may have increased the population of unwanted horses by decreasing their monetary value. Higher hay and grain prices have added to it, as did a boom in “backyard breeding.” (Horses can live 20 to 25 years, and the cost of basic care is estimated to range from $1800 to $2400 per year, according to the Unwanted Horse Council.) Euthanasia and disposal is said to cost upward of $140, and burial can raise environmental issues. One auctioneer said the price paid for “meaty” horses at slaughter has dropped to an average of $230 from $330 a year ago. The cost of fuel makes transporting some small or thin horses to slaughter unprofitable. Horses have been shot, others reportedly left to starve.
Even with the increased exports, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 105,000 American horses were slaughtered in Canada, Mexico or the U.S. in 2007, down from about 138,000 in 2006. “It’s a step closer to the long-term goal of banning slaughter in North America,” said Wayne Pacelle, head of The Humane Society of the U.S., about the U.S. slaughterplant closings. Federal legislation is pending in both Congress and the Senate to ban the sale and transport of horses for human consumption, essentially eliminating the export market. The matter is so controversial that the American Horse Council, a national lobbying group for the horse industry, is taking a neutral position on it (see also item #7: http://tinyurl.com/2ccqa).
On a related note, the use of double-decker trucks to transport horses to slaughter is illegal in the U.S. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed a rule to also ban their use for transporting horses to intermediate points (e.g., stockyards). See: http://tinyurl.com/2bmhgf
HORSES SPARED IN U.S. FACE DEATH ACROSS THE BORDER
The New York Times, Catrin Einhorn, January 11, 2008
LEANER PASTURES: AS HORSES MULTIPLY, NEGLECT CASES RISE
The Wall Street Journal, Paulo Prada, January 7, 2008
SHELTERS INUNDATED AS OWNERS CAN'T CARE FOR HORSES
Tribune-Review, Craig Smith, January 13, 2008
HORSE SLAUGHTER IN (AND OUT) OF BRITAIN
“First, a bullet, designed to expand on impact, is fired from a rifle at point-blank range into the brain. Next, they are lifted up by their hind legs, their throats are cut and their blood drained. Then the process of dismemberment, disembowelling and flaying swings into action.” The slaughter of horses in Britain, described by the Daily Mail, is so controversial the government will not disclose the locations of the slaughterplants (“abattoirs”). Among the more than 5,000 horses butchered for human consumption annually in the United Kingdom are more than 2,000 racehorses, according to the animal rights organization Animal Aid. (The racing industry disputes the figures.)
The abattoirs say they prevent horses from suffering because they increase their value, resulting in them being treated better. The Daily Mail states: “One thing on which everyone agrees is that if horses have to be slaughtered for meat it is better that they die in Britain than abroad. Every year some 100,000 horses are transported in horrific conditions-across the Continent from Eastern Europe so that they can be butchered fresh to satisfy the tastes of dinners in Belgium, Italy and France.” In Britain, it is illegal to export live horses for use as meat. The article includes photographs.
HOW 5,000 HORSES A YEAR SECRETLY GO TO SLAUGHTER
Daily Mail, Tom Rawstorne, January 10, 2008
HUMANE SOCIETY VETERINARY MEDICAL ASSOCIATION
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights (AVAR) have announced the reorganizing of AVAR as a division of HSUS: the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Assn. (HSVMA). The organizations explained that HSVMA will provide veterinarians, veterinary students and veterinary technicians "an opportunity to participate in animal welfare programs, including disaster response, expanded hands-on animal care, neutering and spaying and advocacy for legislative, corporate and veterinary medical school reforms."
Both AVAR and The HSUS are frustrated “with the industry-biased positions taken by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).” Referring to the AVMA as “an impediment to social progress for animals,” HSUS head Wayne Pacelle elaborates in his weblog: “AVMA does not oppose the force-feeding of ducks or geese for foie gras production or the confinement of laying hens in restrictive cages and veal calves and breeding sows in crates so small the animals cannot turn around or extend their limbs. It opposes legislation to halt the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms for non-therapeutic uses” (and see: http://tinyurl.com/32vqab and http://tinyurl.com/2rtzy6). A joint press release states: “The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association will be a voice for the vast majority of veterinarians not in the employ of industries that do harm to animals” (see: http://tinyurl.com/28et4q). In a response on its website, the AVMA explains the principles on which it bases its decisions about animal welfare issues. It also directs readers to its animal welfare policies: http://tinyurl.com/yw65hm
Of the roughly 80,000 veterinarians in the U.S., the AVMA claims more than 76,000 as members. Some 11,000 are said to be HSUS supporters, and 3,500 are affiliated with AVAR (which was founded in 1981). HSVMA is to come into effect on February 1, 2008.
VET GROUP REORGANIZING AS PART OF HSUS
Feedstuffs, Rod Smith, January 14, 2008
Wayne Pacelle blog (HSUS), January 14, 2008
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE AVMA AND THE HSVMA
American Veterinary Medical Association, W. Ron DeHaven, January 16, 2008