Farmed Animal Watch: Objective Information for the Thinking Advocate
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APRIL 28, 2009 -- Number 7, Volume 9

**FAREWELL**

This is the final issue of Farmed Animal Watch. Writing it has been an honor, a privilege, a LOT of work, and truly a labor of love. Sincere thanks go to: our past and present sponsors; Kim Sturla, who conceived and administered the digest; Howard Edelstein, our web wizard; Cat Carroll, Che Green, Hedy Litke, and Suzanne McMillan for previous research and writing; those of you who have suggested news items; and most especially to you, the readers, for your interest in and especially for your concern for farmed animals. The website will remain on-line. The searchable archives provide a valuable repository of farmed animal news and background information. Please avail yourself of it: archives.htm

 

1. 11,000 PIGS BELIEVED TO HAVE PERISHED IN FIRE

Eleven thousand pigs are estimated to have been killed in a fire on April 22nd at an Illinois confinement facility. Some 9,000 piglets are believed to have been among the dead, with the fire having destroyed a building housing mother and baby pigs and another housing pregnant pigs. (Photos and video at the first source below.) The safety of the surviving 2,500-3,000 sows became a concern since electricity was cut off to two remaining buildings where they were housed: http://tinyurl.com/d2p33l. The facility, Timberline LLC, is owned by farmers from Illinois, Iowa and Missouri who hired Carthage Veterinary Service to manage it: http://tinyurl.com/ddxfzx. The cause of the fire was undetermined. The dead pigs were to be used for non-food purposes or otherwise disposed.

Noting that this is the 2nd Midwest fire within a month in which large numbers of pigs perished (see: http://tinyurl.com/dblo8e ), Farm Sanctuary called for the passage of Illinois Senate Bill 1337 to ban the use of gestation crates and other intensive confinement systems. The organization pointed out that “a power outage for even a few hours quickly creates life-threatening conditions for animals trapped inside” such facilities. It also noted that during flooding of the Mississippi river last year, “thousands of pigs perished in CAFOs irresponsibly built on flood plains.”


ESTIMATED 11K PIGS KILLED IN HOG CONFINEMENT FIRE
WGEM, April 22, 2009
http://www.wgem.com/global/story.asp?s=10233491

FARM SANCTUARY ISSUES STATEMENT ON FIRE AT ILLINOIS PIG FARM THAT KILLED THOUSANDS OF SOWS AND PIGLETS
Business Wire, Farm Sanctuary, April 24, 2009
http://www.pr-inside.com/farm-sanctuary-issues-statement-on-r1207347.htm

 

2. ANIMAL RIGHTS: WHERE TO DRAW THE LINE?

“[A]nimal rights are now firmly on the mainstream ethical agenda,” Nicholas D. Kristof [ http://tinyurl.com/c7v4n6 ] states in his April 9th New York Times column. He explains how “[f]or most of history, all of this would have been unimaginable,” and credits philosopher Peter Singer with providing the modern intellectual basis for the new sensibility. “Legislation is playing a role…but consumer consciences are paramount,” Kristof points out. He continues: “even for those who accept that we should try to reduce the suffering of animals, the question remains where to draw lines.” Singer casts doubts on the ability of insects to suffer but gives shellfish “the benefit of the doubt and tends to avoid eating them” (see item #3). While “free-range eggs don’t seem offensive to him,” slaughter of the male chicks is a matter of concern. Asked to weigh human lives against animal lives, Singer “wouldn’t favor executing a human to save any number of animals” but “would be troubled by the idea of keeping one human alive by torturing 10,000 hogs to death.”

Five responding letters were subsequently published. Asserting that “Blithe images of all forms of animal production hide the bleak realities,” Karen Davis, head of United Poultry Concerns (see item #9), states: “Hens in all forms of egg production endure an equally cruel execution once their profitability has declined.” Irene Muschel contends, “Animal agriculture is inherently inhumane.” Cautioning that “it is important to evaluate the reality of our words,” she asks: if humans were treated as alternatively raised farmed animals are, would we refer to it as “humane” or “say these people were slaughtered in a `people friendly’ manner?”


HUMANITY EVEN FOR NONHUMANS
The New York Times (Opinion), Nicholas D. Kristof, April 9, 2009
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/09/opinion/09kristof.html?_r=1

A MORAL QUESTION ON THE DINNER TABLE
The New York Times, Letters, April 16, 2009
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/16/opinion/l16kristof.html?ref=opinion

 

3. SHELLFISH FEEL AND REMEMBER PAIN

Shellfish are capable of consciously experiencing and remembering pain, according to study results published by researchers at Queen’s University in Ireland. Hermit crabs [who are in the same order of crustaceans as are crabs, lobsters and shrimp] subjected to small electric shocks moved out of shells they inhabited so as to escape the sensation and later acted to avoid it. The crabs’ behavior was not mere reflex, according to the researchers, but an intentional reaction. Professor Bob Elwood said his research indicates that the welfare of crustaceans used as human food is a "potentially very large problem" which is being ignored, and that legal protection for these animals should be considered (see item #2). (The crabs reportedly were not permanently injured and afterwards were returned to the shore.


CRABS 'SENSE AND REMEMBER PAIN'
BBC News, March 27, 2009
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/7966807.stm

THAT CRAB ON YOUR PLATE FELT PAIN
The Register-Guard, Winston Ross, March 27, 2009
http://tinyurl.com/ckrrw8

 

4. FISH PERCEPTION AND WELFARE

“During the race of global aquaculture industries, fish welfare needs have been left behind,” notes an article for The Fish Site, an industry-oriented website. It continues: “In 1997, the Treaty of Amsterdam agreed that throughout the EU the concept of welfare is the same in fish as it is in mammals and birds and necessary protection should be applied. More recently, the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) announced its plan to harmonise standards throughout its 172 member countries (see: http://tinyurl.com/crejro ). Following a request from the European Commission the Animal Health and Welfare (AHAW) panel was asked to deliver a Scientific Opinion on welfare aspects of husbandry systems for farmed fish.”

AHAW notes there is scientific evidence that at least some fish species have brain structures potentially capable of experiencing pain and fear. Some scientists suggest that parts of the brain other than the one commonly recognized may have evolved the capacity of generating pain and other emotional states. Fish have shown prolonged response to noxious stimuli, which indicates a psychological component indicative of suffering. Learned avoidance studies also provide evidence that the reaction of fish to frightening stimuli is more than mere reflex. Additionally, oxytocin, a hormone associated with pleasure in mammals, also occurs in fish. Concluding the article on welfare, The Fish Site states: “there are ethical obligations that should be fulfilled."

BECOMING CONSCIOUS ABOUT FISH CONSCIENCE
The Fish Site, Adam Anson, March 2009
http://tinyurl.com/dgw44h

 

5. ANIMALS’ “REMARKABLE COGNITIVE ABILITIES”

"I suggest we humans should keep our egos in check," said Edward A. Wasserman, professor of experimental psychology at the University of Iowa, who led a February symposium on animal awareness at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (see 2nd session: http://tinyurl.com/clh8vq ). Showcasingthe latest empirical discoveries in the field of comparative cognition,” the symposium revealed “remarkable cognitive abilities” of birds and mammals, including memory and planning for the future, counting, comprehension of abstract concepts, and tool creation and use. The term "birdbrain," is obsolete and should be replaced by "brainy birds," said Nicola S. Clayton, Cambridge professor of comparative cognition. She noted that there has been a major revolution in the understanding of animal cognition during the last 20 years.[T]he evidence that we collect constantly surprises us,” Wasserman said, “Why we would believe that humans alone have such capabilities is a peculiar and unfortunate arrogance.” See also: http://www.livesofanimals.org

RESEARCHERS SAY ANIMALS PLAN FOR THE FUTURE
Associated Press, Randolph E. Schmid, February 12, 2009
http://www.wtop.com/?nid=220&sid=1600134

BEHAVIORAL STUDIES SHOW BABOONS AND PIGEONS ARE CAPABLE OF HIGHER-LEVEL COGNITION
RxPG News (University of Iowa), February 12, 2009
http://tinyurl.com/c5m9t6

 

6. THE INNER WORLD OF FARM ANIMALS

“Chickens can count. Pigs are smarter than poodles. Cows form close friendships. Turkeys know one another by their voices, and sheep recognize faces—of other sheep, and of people. Far from lacking thoughts and feelings, barnyard creatures demonstrate sophisticated problem-solving abilities, possess rich social lives, and feel a wide range of emotions. In other words, they’re much like humans in countless ways. And, like us, they suffer physical pain and mental anguish.” Abrams continues about its newly published book: “In The Inner World of Farm Animals, Amy Hatkoff combines the latest research on the emotional and intellectual capacities of farm animals with touching—and often surprising—stories [and “soulful photographs”] to bring their inner world to life.”

Introduced by Jane Goodall and with an afterword by Wayne Pacelle (see item #8) the book has also been praised by Temple Grandin, Peter Singer (see item #1) and others: http://tinyurl.com/dncrze. Compassion in World Farming states: “Amy Hatkoff  has backed up these [anecdotes] with short passages based on the work of leading animal welfare scientists such as Professors Marian Dawkins and Mike Mendl, showing the unexpected intelligence of farm animals, such as long-term recognition of missing comrades, delight upon discovering a new technique, and ability to operate a computer game.” Hatkoff has posted a video clip about the book at:  http://www.metacafe.com/watch/2123808/the_inner_world_of_farm_animals

THE INNER WORLD OF FARM ANIMALS
Compassion in World Farming, February 20, 2009
http://www.livesofanimals.org/2009/02/the-inner-world-of-farm-animals-book-review

 

7. THE FACE ON YOUR PLATE

“After reading Pollan, get your arse kicked by Jeffrey Masson’s The Face on Your Plate. You’ll never look at meat again,” exclaims Mika Bareket of Good Egg, an independent food bookshop: http://tinyurl.com/cxkq7o. Washington Post reviewer Jennifer Howard elaborates about the new book: “Masson's message is, Think before you eat. If you believe that eating free-range or organically raised animals and animal products lets you off the ethical hook, think again.” In a lengthy interview with Slate magazine, Masson explains: “.…when I went to these farms -- especially the mega farms, but even the family farms -- I saw that these animals did not live what I would consider a good life. To me, there's no such thing as a good death. That's a kind of a bizarre euphemism. It's one thing to say that about a human who is 90 years old, but how can a 6-week-old chicken have a good death?” He states in the book: "We rationalize her death by claiming that she had a good life and we are therefore guiltless and entitled to eat her."

The publisher, W.W. Norton, concludes: “The Face on Your Plate brings together Masson's intellectual, psychological, and emotional expertise over the last twenty years into the pivotal book of the food revolution”: http://tinyurl.com/djp4yd. “Masson presents arguments that fish are as sentient as any other animals,” notes Booklist’s Mark Knoblauch, “An extensive bibliography and a long list of Web sites that deal with vegetarian and vegan issues are particularly helpful”: http://tinyurl.com/ckktxw. See also: That's Why We Don't Eat Animals: http://tinyurl.com/d7mqmh

MEAT THE DILEMMA
The Washington Post, review by Jennifer Howard, April 5, 2009
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2009/04/03/ST2009040303043.html

 

8. RIGHTEOUS PORKCHOP

"This book is without a doubt the best piece of writing on animal agriculture I have encountered in 25 years of work in animal welfare and agriculture,” professor Bernard E. Rollin (see: item #10) raves about Righteous Porkchop: http://www.righteousporkchop.com. “It’s an incisive exposé of the modern meat, poultry, and dairy industries,” Elizabeth Gettelman writes in Mother Jones, adding that the author, Nicolette Hahn Niman (see: http://tinyurl.com/3assz2 ), “takes on undercover pork lobbyists, tours dozens of manure-infested factories, and eventually sues some of the biggest factory farms in the country for violating the Clean Water Act—and wins.” Publisher William Morrow says: “She organizes a national reform movement to fight these practices and shows again and again that livestock farming can be done in a better way—not only for hogs, but also for poultry, fish, and dairy cows.”

HSUS’s Wayne Pacelle (see item #6) blogs: “Partly because of her extremely unusual background as an environmental attorney, animal welfare advocate, and now a [vegetarian] rancher…Hahn Niman is a formidable figure in contemporary food policy debates, and a staunch advocate of rethinking our relationship with animals reared for food.” The book, he writes, is “a highly readable work, too, offering an excellent brief history of the industrialization of animal agriculture, a spirited account of her fight against giant hog factories…an exploration of the connections between industrial fish farming and animal agriculture, an indictment of the failure of environmental agencies to enforce laws against major polluters from industrial agriculture, and a personal account of the challenges of sourcing and purchasing food from farmers committed to humane husbandry.” See also: http://www.newsreview.com/chico/content?oid=948678 and see: A STREETCAR NAMED DENIAL - The Conscious Carnivore: http://tinyurl.com/cbgqae

BOOKS: RIGHTEOUS PORKCHOP
Mother Jones, Elizabeth Gettelman, March 31, 2009
http://www.motherjones.com/media/2009/03/righteous-porkchop

A RANCHER'S CRITIQUE OF ANIMAL AGRICULTURE
A Humane Nation (blog), Wayne Pacelle, March 30, 2009
http://hsus.typepad.com/wayne/2009/03/righteous-porkchop.html

 

9. PRISONED CHICKENS POISONED EGGS; BLUEPRINT FOR ACTIVISM

After Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs was initially published, in 1996, Dr. Paul Siegel concluded in his review of it for Poultry Science: “[Karen] Davis (see item # 2) has provided a message to all groups working with poultry, including those of us in research, teaching, and extension. The book's 175 pages provide insights that call for reflection as well as argumentation.” Publishers Weekly said: "Karen Davis has taken on the poultry industry in her thoroughly researched analysis of the gruesome, dirty and brutal lives of factory-farmed chickens": http://tinyurl.com/c6dme8. Another review stated: “The original edition of Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs became a blueprint for people seeking a coherent picture of the U.S. poultry industry, as well as a handbook for animal rights activists seeking to develop effective strategies to expose and relieve the plight of chickens”: http://tinyurl.com/c7847l. The original edition can be viewed on-line in its entirety at: (PDF link): http://tinyurl.com/dy9qaw.

A 2nd edition of the book is now available, and the publisher writes: “Karen Davis again looks at the horrific conditions these animals face - in spite of free-range and cage-free claims - and at the heightened risks consumers face living in a world in which avian influenza, food poisoning, global warming, and genetic engineering interface with the expansion of poultry production and consumption”: http://tinyurl.com/cv8rnm. See also BEAK TO BEAK: http://www.artsandopinion.com/2009_v8_n2/goldfarb-4.htm.

****************************************

THE ANIMAL ACTIVISTS' HANDBOOK
“With only five chapters, a reference section, and three appendices that tackle some philosophical issues surrounding animal welfare, The Animal Activists' Handbook [by Matt Ball and Bruce Friedrich] is a quick one- to two-sitting read that could inspire its readers to a lifetime of activism in behalf of human and nonhuman animals. And while the majority of the book focuses on animal rights, the basic tenets can be applied to any kind of social change,” writes Donna Albergotti on The Huffington Post site: http://tinyurl.com/c56pun. “The authors build a ground-up case for reasoned, impassioned, and joyous activism that makes the most difference possible, and suggest a variety of ways to live a meaningful life through effective and efficient advocacy,” states the publisher, Lantern Books: http://www.lanternbooks.org/detail.html?id=9781590561201.

BOOK REVIEWS
Poultry Science, P. B. Siegel, February 1998
http://www.poultryscience.org/ps/abs/98/Feb98ab373.html

 

10. FEEDSTUFFS: DEBATING ANIMAL WELFARE

Feedstuffs, a prominent industry publication, recently featured contrasting essays on animal welfare by professor Bernard Rollin (see: item #8) and industry lobbyist Steve Kopperud.

“[T]he animal agriculture community has behaved like the foolish athlete in a manner disdainful of its adversaries” and “is satisfied with simply dismissing the opposition or stereotyping and lampooning them,” Rollins contends. He discusses how the “community has egregiously misunderstood social concerns with farm animal welfare.” In his substantial essay, Rollins explains his assertions that: “The industry grossly misunderstands the concept of animal welfare” and “The industry refuses to act until legislatively forced to do so…behav[ing] like a kamikaze when it turns a blind eye to negotiation.” Rollins concludes: “One additional mantra: `We have to show folks where their food comes from.’ Doing this is hardly likely to make consumers more congenial to the industry given issues of animal welfare, environment and food safety identified with confinement operations. Indeed, taking a Manhattan, N.Y., housewife on a tour of a confinement pig operation and a slaughterhouse is likelier to make her a vegetarian than anything activists say. In summary, if the industry wishes to preserve its freedom as much as possible, it should respond to societal ethical concerns, not continue to misunderstand, ridicule and/or ignore them.”

Kopperud counters: “To disdain the animal rights movement…is the manifestation of farmer/rancher distrust of and frustration with a political movement that demonstrates daily that it does not care to understand the implications of its philosophy and/or its actions…”  He continues: “[O]nce the veneer of `humane treatment’ rhetoric is cut away, what's left is an animal rights political agenda every bit as one-sided and dedicated to the elimination of animal agriculture as it has ever been,” further elaborating: “[A]pply the animal rights mantra that `if you can't legislate them out of business and you can't regulate them out of business, then cost them out of business,’ and you understand the step-wise strategy of the animal rights movement.” Kopperud refers to “emotive, exaggerated images of abuse and neglect… coupled with the serious assertion that returning to 1930s farming and ranching is the solution” as “the `big lie’ strategy of the animal rights movement.” He contends: “the derision with which productivity is described by animal activists is misleading and intellectually dishonest…The problem is that technology has been demonized, and the public has been misled as to exactly what constitutes good animal welfare.” Kopperud concludes: “The consumer esteems the rural lifestyle and values and holds the farm family in generally high regard…We must leverage the respect and trust we've earned and re-establish an emotional connection with the customer.”

See also OHIO PONDERS CHANCES OF BALLOT INITIATIVE: http://tinyurl.com/c5dst6
and AT THE TABLE WITH AGRICULTURE: http://hsus.typepad.com/wayne/2009/04/agriculture.html

And see ANIMAL ACTIVISTS ENCOURAGE DISCUSSION: http://tinyurl.com/ca7wby
and CIVIL DISCOURSE MUST BE BASED IN SCIENCE: http://www.statenews.com/index.php/article/2009/04/civil_discourse_must_be_based_in_science

And HAVING THEIR PORK CHOPS AND EATING THEM, TOO: http://tinyurl.com/d78jte
and FILM PROMPTS LOOK BACK AT HOG FARM TRIAL: http://tinyurl.com/db8grr

TWO SIDES OF THE ANIMAL WELFARE DEBATE
Feedstuffs Foodlink, April 20, 2009
http://tinyurl.com/dbm58x

 

11. VISUAL VIRTUALS

Animal Visuals presents a visual representation of the rate of slaughter of the billions of chickens, cows and pigs killed in the U.S. during 2008. A virtual battery cage can also be experienced on the site: http://www.animalvisuals.org

Farm Sanctuary is making available a 14-level “Virtual Experience” of industry’s use of farmed animals, based on the organization’s “more than two decades worth of experience uncovering and documenting agribusiness abuses.” Another section introduces some of the “rescued” residents of the sanctuary who now serve as “animal ambassadors”:  http://action.farmsanctuary.org/site/PageServer?pagename=VirtualExperience

 




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Compiled and edited by 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.