NYT ON FARMED ANIMAL PROTECTION ACTIVISM
Among animal rights groups, the 1980s were about grass-roots activism, the 1990s saw court actions and ballot initiatives, and the current decade is about building budgets, influencing policy and cultivating elected officials, explains a sizable New York Times article about farmed animal protection activism. This “maturation and sophistication” is said to be the result of activists realizing that “with less stridency comes more respect and influence in food politics.” In place of “stealing chickens” and “demoniz[ing] meat,” these activists have adopted “softer rhetoric” and “a campaign even committed carnivores can get behind: better conditions for farm animals.”
Consumer concerns have made farmed animal welfare easier to sell. The Internet and video cameras, celebrity support, and political savviness have also helped activists to promote it. While “PETA uses more than half of its $30 million budget to poke the meat and fast-food industry in the eye with shock-based educational campaigns,” the Humane Society of the U.S. “has emerged as the reasonable, wise big brother of the farm animal protection movement.” Since Wayne Pacelle took charge in 2004 as its first vegan president, HSUS’s budget has grown from $75 million to $132 million, and its focus has switched to farmed animals. Pacelle hopes the organization’s “three R’s” approach: refining animal production methods, reducing animal product consumption, and replacing it with vegan foods, will cover everyone.
The article notes welfare reforms instituted via legislation, companies and celebrity chefs. While the latter two are often reluctant to acknowledge the role that activists have played, Temple Grandin (see item #4 and http://www.grandin.com ) remarks: “Activist pressure starts it because heat softens steel…What the activists’ groups have to be careful about is that you want to soften the steel and not vaporize it.” One chef points out that it’s “not animal rights, but it is animal welfare.” Of the gap between those who want to protect animals and those who want to protect and eat them, Farm Sanctuary’s Gene Baur states: “We’re not really in philosophical alignment…But I like to think we’re in strategic alliance.” The on-line article includes a video of the author’s visit to Farm Sanctuary.
Bringing Moos and Oinks Into the Food Debate
The New York Times, Kim Severson, July 25, 2007
WHY VEGETARIANS ARE EATING MEAT
In a Food & Wine article entitled Why Vegetarians are Eating Meat, freelance writer Christine Lennon discusses why “a growing number of vegetarians are starting to eat humanely raised meat.” They include her husband who “has started eating meat again after a seven-year hiatus as an ethically motivated and health-conscious vegetarian.” Lennon notes others -including Mariel Hemingway and Molly Katzen (author of the vegetarian Moosewood Cookbook), who have reverted to eating meat- whom she believes have also decided that “eating meat selectively is better for the planet and our own health.”
Lennon says that, for some, “eating sustainable meat purchased from small farmers is a new form of activism—a way of striking a blow against the factory farming of livestock.” After discussing “the nutritional advantages grass-fed meat has over the factory-fed kind,” she states: “Combine these findings with the questions being raised about meat replacements derived from soy and wheat gluten, and the real thing seems better by the minute.” She quotes Katzen: "For people who are against eating meat because it's wrong or offensive to eat animals, even the cleanest grass-fed beef won't be good enough." Although Lennon omits the reasoning behind it, she remarks: “Convincing those people that eating meat can improve the welfare of the entire livestock population is a tough sell. But we'll keep trying.”
Why Vegetarians Are Eating Meat
Food & Wine, Christine Lennon, August 2007.
ON SLAUGHTER AND SPECIES-SCHIZOPHRENIA
The Steer Who Escaped into our Conscience is the title of a Newsday essay by Ralph R. Acampora, associate professor of philosophy at Hofstra University. Acampora considers the human reaction to “Moo,” a steer who escaped slaughter on Long Island (N.Y.). “Listen to animal advocates' viewpoint, and you'll be forced to confront what we normally prefer to leave hidden and forgotten: the ultimate destiny of farm animals, namely (dis)assembly-line slaughter,” he writes, going on to state: “…none of these unfortunates deserve the treatment their demise typically entails.” Acampora continues: “…realizing that vegetarianism is a healthier option for dietary nutrition, it's a wonder that we don't close the slaughterhouses and wind down the livestock industry in a massive display of collective shame or gustatory grief. And yet we don't. Instead, we usually suppress the knowledge and keep a tight lid on our conscience. This willful ignorance manifests in all sorts of ways…”
Acampora asserts: “…we live in the kind of society made possible economically through the subjugation of nature and other life forms, and yet we are troubled ethically by that very conquest of nonhuman being(s)…Domination breeds alienation in the master, which in turn makes him anxious and ambivalent about his underlings and himself.” He concludes: “There are two main options available: full-speed ahead with our program of biotechnical mastery and the mental pathologies that go with it - or else ease up, tread lightly on or with our fellow earthlings, and maybe the species-schizophrenia will evaporate. Our reaction to Moo is a hint that the second alternative is probably worth a try.”
The Steer Who Escaped Into Our Conscience
Newsday, Ralph R. Acampora, July 22, 2007
CURTIS, GRANDIN & MCGLONE ON “CRITICAL” WELFARE MATTERS
Stanley Curtis, Temple Grandin (see first item) and John McGlone, “three leading animal welfare experts,” are in the animal science departments of the University of Illinois, Colorado State University, and Texas Tech University, respectively. In a joint article in the agribusiness trade journal Feedstuffs, they explain: “The three of us do not always agree on matters of farm animal welfare. However, we thought it important to state in clear terms what our mutual position is on certain critical current issues in farm animal welfare.” Specifically, they address gestation stalls, controlled atmosphere stunning/killing (CAS), and the National Pork Board’s Pork Quality Assurance Plus (PQA-Plus) program. On the latter, they encourage its adoption “[I]n the present absence of a more comprehensive animal welfare assurance program,” but note their expectation that it be improved over time.
On gestation stalls, they state: “The scientific evidence shows that sow physiology and behavior are essentially equivalent in well-managed stalls and group pens.” Expressing concern “that, as pregnant sows are moved from stalls to pens, some sows may have a reduced state of being due to social stress,” they “urge caution and a systematic, thorough, ongoing evaluation of effective group housing systems of pregnant sows bred and adapted for group housing.” On CAS, they state: “The main animal welfare issues with euthanasia of poultry are the pre-stun handling and the ability to induce instantaneous insensibility. Current methods of CAS can solve some handling issues if properly implemented, but they may create new welfare issues. As such, CAS and electric stun systems, in their present forms, are in need of improvement.”
The three go on to state: “Until we know much more about the causation and function of the behaviors an animal exhibits and the correlated physiological responses in challenging settings, we should not change production systems willy-nilly. On the issues of sow stalls and poultry stunning, among others, the entire food chain should actively work on developing viable alternatives. We believe that scientific investigation, engineering development and common sense can provide solutions to these and other animal welfare concerns.”
Time for United Position on Animal Welfare
Feedstuffs; Stanley Curtis, Temple Grandin and John McGlone; July 20, 2007
HORSE SLAUGHTERPLANT ALLOWED TO REOPEN
The Cavel plant in DeKalb, Illinois, the last horse-slaughterplant in the U.S., has been allowed to reopen. On July 18th, a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted the company’s request for an injunction against the new state law banning the slaughter of horses for human consumption (see: http://tinyurl.com/3exq3o ). The court declared that “irreparable harm” would be done to the slaughterplant if it was not allowed to operate pending final decision of its appeal. A company spokesperson said the plant "will be up and running soon," after it rehires workers. Horse meat from it is sold to U.S. zoos and overseas for human consumption.
Horse Slaughterhouse can Reopen, Court Rules
Associated Press, July 20, 2007
EPA’S “SWEET DEAL” FOR ANIMAL FEEDING OPERATIONS
In a “sweet deal” from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), some 2,600 farmed animal production entities, mostly pig farms, will be essentially exempt from Clean Air Act requirements for 30 months in exchange for a minimal fee and agreement to participate in an air-quality study. Environmental groups sued the EPA after the program was announced in early 2005, claiming the agency had failed to follow rulemaking procedures. They also charged that animal feeding facilities pollute the air, are malodorous, and attract hordes of flies. On July 17th, a federal appeals court found in favor of the EPA, “in effect allowing factory farms participating in the program to pollute and stink as much as they like without fear of litigation” states The Daily Grist, an environmental news digest. It notes that “of the 14,000 farms signed on to the compliance agreement, only 24 [sites in 9 states] will actually be studied.” Researchers from eight universities began the 30-month study this summer. Upon its completion, the EPA is expected to draft air emissions standards for such operations.
Court Rules Against Green Groups, Lets Factory Farms Off the Hook
Grist, July 19, 2007
Challenge to Emissions Rules Rejected
Forbes/The Associated Press, July 18, 2007
VEGETARIANISM: CHEAPER, HEALTHIER
“Meat may be murder on your wallet” is the subtitle of an MSN (Microsoft) Money article entitled: Is it Cheaper to be a Vegetarian? In it, health and science writer Scott McCredie notes: “In a world of $1 double cheeseburgers, it's no wonder that many people suspect that a vegetarian diet is more expensive than one that includes meat. But that's generally not true. And though it's difficult to tally the savings of illnesses or diseases avoided with a plant-based diet, the financial worth of good health is unquestionable. Vegetarianism could extend your life by several years, as well as lower your risk of heart disease, cancer and dementia. It's better for the planet, reducing water usage and global-warming gases. And it certainly improves the health of the cow or pig you would have devoured.” He notes: “…most of the world's people eat a mostly vegetarian diet made up of inexpensive commodities such as beans, rice and corn.” McCredie also shows that plant proteins are generally less expensive than an equivalent amount of animal protein. See also: http://tinyurl.com/3dyp6m
“Dollars and cents aside, how much is it worth to live without heart disease, cancer or diabetes for the last decades of your life? How much is it worth to lower your risk of dying?” McCredie asks. He elaborates on this in a companion article entitled: Is a Vegetarian Diet Really Healthier? Sarah Trist, a clinical dietitian at Children’s Hospital in Seattle is quoted: “Vegetarians are at lower risk [than those who consume a lot of animal protein] of developing cardiovascular disease and dying of ischemic heart disease…They have lower blood pressure, and lower cholesterol levels of LDL or ‘bad cholesterol.’ They are less likely to be overweight or obese and have lower rates of type-2 diabetes, diverticular disease, gallstones, as well as some cancers including prostate and colorectal cancer. It may also be beneficial in the early stages of renal disease, protect against dementia, and slow the rate of bone loss women experience after menopause.” McCredie adds: “And we’re not talking a few percentage point differences, but 25 percent to 35 percent less risk.” He also notes that calcium from sources such as bok choy, broccoli, collards, and kale are absorbed by the body twice as readily as is calcium from cow’s milk. McCredie also explains how it is possible to save thousands of dollars in insurance costs with a vegetarian diet. The series also includes a video of vegetarian nutrition tips. A third article entitled What’s Actually in a Veggie Burger? is on-line at:
http://liveearth.msn.com/?GT1=10227 See also:
Go Vegetarian to Save Money
MSN Money, Scott McCredie, July 26, 2007
Is a Vegetarian Diet Really Healthier?
MSN Money, Scott McCredie, July 26, 2007
DYING BIRDS ISN’T THE PROBLEM, DISPOSAL IS
“The California Poultry Federation says every year it expects to lose birds because of extreme heat and other natural causes, however, the problem isn't birds dying, it's the lack of available rendering plants to dispose of the birds that has the Ag industry concerned,” reports ABC affiliate KFSN. Some 150,000 turkeys perished in three California counties during an early July heat wave that reached 107 degrees (F), including 50,000 at Zacky Farms. "Obviously, when you lose birds, you lose money, so it's serious in that venue," states California Poultry Federation (CPF)’s Bill Mattos.
Turkey operations typically don’t have air conditioning, explains Don Bell, a University of California Cooperative poultry specialist. The birds’ bodies needed to be disposed of quickly as they would attract insects and could spread disease. Area rendering plants were unable to deal with the hundreds of tons of them. An emergency was declared in one county, and landfills that typically don’t accept dead birds were opened to dispose of them. Last year, at least 750,000 chickens and 250,000 turkeys died in the California from summer heat. More than 30,000 cows and calves there also died. Expanded poultry production will require more rendering plants or for existing plants to find a way to handle such high mortality numbers, said CPF.
High Heat Takes Out 150,000 Turkeys
The Fresno Bee, Christina Salerno & Tim Eberly, July 12, 2007
Local Ranchers Troubled With Heat Deaths of Turkeys
KFSN (ABC), John-Thomas Kobos, July 11, 2007
REPORTS ON THE FIRE DEATH OF 40,000 CHICKENS
“ Fire Destroys Thousands of Chicken Eggs” is the headline of a World Poultry article about an Ontario blaze that killed 40,000 chickens. The article goes on to note that: “An estimated 30-40,000 chickens perished in the furnace.” A Toronto Star article begins by mentioning the 40,000 dead chickens, continuing on to state that “no one was injured.” It notes that the birds’ remains were to be “dumped” at a landfill.
Fire Destroys Thousands of Chicken Eggs
World Poultry, July 25, 2007
Barn Blaze Kills 40,000 Chickens
Toronto Star, July 25, 2007