Farmed Animal Watch: Objective Information for the Thinking Advocate
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OCTOBER 20, 2006 -- Number 37, Volume 6

1. BATTLE BREWING OVER FOOD FROM CLONED ANIMALS

"Meat and milk from cattle clones and their offspring are as safe as that from conventionally bred animals," asserts the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), largely based on substantial new data showing similarity between cloned and uncloned animals. The agency is preparing to release risk assessment and management documents by the end of the year which would allow the marketing of such food after a final 60-day public comment period.

A petition for a moratorium on food made from cloned animals has been filed with the FDA by The Humane Society of the U.S. and various public interest groups. They maintain: "The available science shows that cloning presents serious food safety risks, animal welfare concerns and unresolved ethical issues that require strict oversight." The petition calls for health and environmental reviews, and requests that the agency regulate cloned animals one type at a time, a process which would drastically slow marketing approval. It also requests that a panel be established to review associated ethical issues. The FDA, however, claims it has no authority to base decisions on ethical concerns. It is also not inclined to call for labeling of products from cloned animals, as is being demanded by some.

Cloning proponents say the technology could enable better control over animal reproduction, resulting in better quality and consistency of animal products. However, the International Dairy Foods Association (representing Kraft Foods, Dannon, Nestlé USA and others) opposes FDA approval of it out of fear that public concerns could harm milk’s image of wholesomeness. Surveys show that more than 60% of the U.S. population is uncomfortable with cloning animals for food. The single biggest reason people give is "religious and ethical," with concerns about food safety coming in second, according to the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology. A conference it held this week with Michigan State University considered ethical and religious perspectives on cloning. See: http://tinyurl.com/tvhns. Although the FDA has requested that products from cloned animals be kept out of the food supply, the offspring of cloned animals have reportedly already been slaughtered, sold and eaten.


FDA IS SET TO APPROVE MILK, MEAT FROM CLONES
The Washington Post, Rick Weiss, October 17, 2006
http://tinyurl.com/y774zr

GROUPS SAY FDA SHOULD BAN SALE OF FOOD FROM CLONES
Reuters, Christopher Doering, Oct. 12, 2006
http://tinyurl.com/y4d6ua

FOOD FROM CLONED ANIMALS COULD HIT SUPERMARKET SHELVES
ABC News, Oct. 18, 2006
http://www.abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=2580885&page=1


2. DEADLY SPINACH AND MANURE

0157:H7, the same strain of E. coli that killed three people and sickened nearly 200 nationwide, has been found at a Salinas Valley, California cattle ranch within a mile of the spinach fields implicated in the outbreak. Investigators don’t know if manure from the cattle was used to fertilize the fields. They are considering other ways the spinach might have been contaminated by the bacteria. Presently, vegetable growers and packers are essentially unregulated. Mandatory standards, such as minimum distance and slope between pasture and fields, are now a greater possibility. In Wisconsin, earlier this summer, the DNR proposed more restrictive manure handling requirements for the state's largest 150 farms, which are mostly dairies (see: http://tinyurl.com/yflqna ).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. food supply sickens some 76 million Americans every year, putting more than 300,000 of them in the hospital, and killing 5,000. Food writer Michael Pollan explains that E. coli 0157:H7 is believed to have evolved in feedlots. USDA studies indicate the difference between cattle fed grain and those fed hay could be as much as a millionfold in the number of acid-resistant E. coli (see: http://tinyurl.com/yg2gys ). Pollan states: “Industrial animal agriculture produces more than a billion tons of manure every year, manure that, besides being full of nasty microbes like E. coli 0157:H7…often ends up in places it shouldn't be.” See other viewpoints at: http://tinyurl.com/y3e7mh and: http://tinyurl.com/y3lhd9

Scientists at Evergreen State College say they've come up with a mixture of bacteria-killing viruses that could eliminate almost 100% of E. coli without harming cattle. The viruses could be administered through feed or water. If the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves them, the viruses could be used widely in the U.S. within five years. (In August, the FDA approved the use of viruses against listeriosis by spraying a viral cocktail directly on meat intended for human consumption. See: http://tinyurl.com/y9h3ao ). An experimental vaccine has been shown to reduce the number of animals with E. coli bacteria in their manure by 60-70%. Other control attempts include washing the bodies of animals after they are slaughtered. See: http://tinyurl.com/yjj9gx


FDA: NO SPINACH FARM'OFF THE HOOK'YET
Associated Press, Rachel Konrad with Andrew Bridgesand Lisa Leff, October 13, 2006
http://www.foxnews.com/wires/2006Oct13/0,4670,TaintedSpinach,00.html

THE VEGETABLE-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX
The New York Times, Michael Pollan, October 15, 2006
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/15/magazine/15wwln_lede.html

EVERGREEN RESEARCHERS ATTACK E. COLI AT SOURCE
The Olympian, Heather Woodward, September 30, 2006
http://159.54.227.3/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060930/NEWS/609300303

 

3. PROMOTING ALTERNATIVE SYSTEMS IN BRAZIL AND CHINA

Brazil and China are being encouraged to adopt less inhumane farming practices through a joint project by the Food Animal Initiative and the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA). The groups, both based in the U.K., are working with farmers and industry to set up model farms to demonstrate less inhumane meat, milk and egg production practices. "While the EU slowly legislates to improve conditions for farm animals, intensive factory farming is exploding in the developing world", said WSPA director general Peter Davies, "Animals are caged, chained and forced to grow super-fast in the quest for ever more meat, milk and eggs." Rather than complaining about limited and poorly enforced welfare laws and a general lack of awareness in Brazil and China, campaign manager Ami Firth said the organizations teamed up to develop alternative systems. Disputing that the systems are contrary to feeding a burgeoning human population, she said: "The answer is to cut down on meat consumption and to use more extensive, sustainable production methods."

Per the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization: China has 7 billion chickens intended for use as meat, 2 billion hens for eggs, 622 million pigs and 47 million cattle. Brazil has 5 billion hens for eggs, 38 million pigs, and 37 million cattle. Together they produce 66% of the world's meat.


NGOS PUSH FOR BETTER ANIMAL WELFARE IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
Farmers Weekly, Sept. 27, 2006
http://tinyurl.com/gyyxt

 

4. ONTARIO: VIRTUAL FARM TOURS, ANTI-CRUELTY ENFORCEMENT

Visitors to www.farmissues.com can take virtual tours of eleven Ontario farms, including ones that feature calves raised for veal, cattle raised for meat, cows used for dairy production, deer and elk, goats raised for meat and ones used for dairy production, and pigs. Tours of chicken farms (for eggs and for meat), ratite (emus, ostriches, rheas) farms and turkey farms are planned. Video clips of the animals and farmer interviews are included. The project is funded by Canadian industry groups and government sources.

The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) is charged with enforcing anti-cruelty legislation. According to an article in Eastern Ontario AgriNews, farmers and ranchers often see inspectors’ actions “as arbitrary, high-handed and highly personalized,” and “misunderstandings and dissatisfaction…between producer and inspector are frequent and increasing.” The article, by Jeff Esau, goes on to state: “Many farmers feel SPCA and other enforcement organizations have been ‘infiltrated’ by so-called animal rights activists and interest groups who harbour an underlying moral objection to the production of animals for food.” Esau reports that the OSPCA is opposed to certain practices that are considered standard, such as the debeaking of fowl. He writes: “Egg producers, for example, know that hens, which are cannibalistic by nature, would quickly peck each other to death unless beaks were trimmed after hatching.” [To the contrary, see: http://tinyurl.com/ylvrhv ].

In the interest of improving the working relationship, the OSPCA and the Ontario Farm Animal Council (OFAC), which represents the province’s farmers and ranchers, are jointly advocating a farmed animal protection plan based on the Alberta Livestock Protection System (ALPS). The system is said to involve a partnership between government, industry and animal advocacy organizations that features continuous education and the strict and consistent enforcement of strong laws.


LIVESTOCK CRUELTY LAWS: ONTARIO MOVES FORWARD
Eastern Ontario AgriNews, Jeff Esau, October 2006
http://www.agrinewsinteractive.com/fullstory.htm?ArticleID=7885&ShowSection=News

 

5. CAPTIVE, ORGANIC(?), SUFFERING FISH

There is as much evidence that fish can suffer as there is that chickens can suffer. So says behavioral biologist Victoria Braithwaite of Edinburgh University, who has been studying the capacity of fish to feel pain. She notes that fish have nociceptors, specialized nerve endings that alert animals to pain. When noxious stimulants are injected into fish they exhibit behavior indicative of pain. After receiving painkillers, they begin acting normally again. She also explains that fish share similarities to us in regard to the parts of our brain structures associated with emotion, learning and memory. Fish are “remarkably clever,” Braithwaite says, pointing out that they can learn geometrical relationships and landmarks which they can then use to generate a mental map of escape routes to evade predators. She asserts that, in absence of evidence to the contrary, we should assume that fish do indeed suffer. See also: http://www.FishingHurts.com

National Academy of Sciences researchers are urging U.S. federal agencies to do a better job of telling the public about health benefits of eating fish while simultaneously warning women and children about species with high levels of contaminants: http://tinyurl.com/ykrnaf . Sales of U.S. aquaculture products have grown 12% in seven years to $1.1 billion. Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana together account for a third of all U.S. aquaculture sales. Catfish, perch, salmon, hybrid striped bass, tilapia and trout constitute 62% of U.S. aquaculture sales, with another 19% coming from mollusks such as abalone, clams, mussels and oysters. The newly released results of the USDA’s 2005 Census of Aquaculture includes information on production methods, water sources, sales, distribution and farm labor, covering everything from alligator, caviar, eel, frog and snail farms to the one U.S. sea urchin farm (in New Hampshire): http://tinyurl.com/ymbad7

The USDA is considering whether to allow the use of the “organic” label for farmed fish from operations that use organic feed; largely avoid hormones, pesticides and chemicals; and put practices in place to prevent fish from escaping into the ocean. The department's National Organic Standards Board is expected to issue its recommendations to the agency on the matter this week. A coalition of environmental groups and chefs has initiated a campaign to scrutinize proposed organic standards for captive-raised fish. The coalition questions how captive-raised salmon can possibly be considered "organic" since the fish are not allowed to migrate naturally and since they eat fish meal that partly comes from wild-caught fish, which can deplete ocean populations and increase the concentration of carcinogenic substances in the salmon.

THAT FISH YOU CAUGHT WAS IN PAIN
The Los Angeles Times, Victoria Braithwaite, October 8, 2006
http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-braithwaite8oct08,0,7423086.story

AQUACULTURE BECOMES BILLION-DOLLAR INDUSTRY
Pacific Business News, Howard Dicus
http://pacific.bizjournals.com/pacific/stories/2006/10/02/daily9.html

LABELS: FARMED FISH
The Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin, October 18, 2006; F03
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/17/AR2006101700295.html

6. ANIMALS KILLED IN BARN FIRES

Haunted by the moans of cows he had killed, Roddy M. Rudkin Jr., 22, turned himself into Ohio authorities early this month. Rudkin had intentionally set fire to a large dairy in June 2005, killing 52 cows and destroying two barns. A May 2005 fire he started killed 12 horses and a donkey. He also pled guilty to setting four occupied-house fires and three vacant-house fires. In a victim impact statement, the dairy owner told the judge that the cows were "tortured," some exploding from the heat. Others, who had been tied, ended up hanging. "They died a slow death," he explained. Charged with 24 counts including aggravated arson, breaking and entering, burglary, injuring animals, and vandalism, Rudkin has been sentenced to 12 years in prison.

On October 2nd, 204 calves being raised for veal at an Amish farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania were killed when a fire began in a coal-fired water boiler at 2 a.m. The animals, worth an estimated $200,000, were being raised under contract and were insured.

HAUNTED BY COWS' MOANS, ARSONIST PLEADS GUILTY
The Vindicator, Tim Yovich, October 6, 2006
http://www.vindy.com/content/local_regional/297584897118003.php

FIRE IN AMISH BARN KILLS 204 VEAL CALVES
Associated Press, Oct. 3, 2006
http://www.centredaily.com/mld/centredaily/news/15667545.htm






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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.