The Economic Case for Taxing Meat

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http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-03-31/the-economic-case-for-taxing-meat

By Charles Kenny March 31, 2014

As tax season ramps up, we’re bound to hear proposals aimed at making the revenue system simpler and more efficient. A perennial is the “sin tax.” Rather than tax earnings—when we really want people to earn money—why not tax things we don’t want people to do? Add duties to cigarettes, alcohol, and carbon dioxide to slow people’s smoking, drinking, and polluting, and you’ll do them and the world a favor while raising revenue for schools, hospitals, and roads. But why stop there? It’s time to add one more sin to the list of habits that should be taxed: excessive meat consumption.

Meat has always been part of the human diet. Few dishes are as wonderful as a bolognese sauce made with a combination of pork, lamb, and beef. But taxing pigs, sheep, and cows is essential to contain the spiraling costs associated with massive meat eating.

When it comes to gorging on meat, Americans remain at the top of the global league tables. U.S. consumption of beef per person has actually declined over the past few decades, from 52 kilograms a year in 1970 to 41 kilograms in 2008. But chicken consumption approximately tripled over that period, to 44 kilograms per person, and overall meat consumption climbed from 105 to 122 kilograms a year—considerably more than the average personal weight (although some of that meat is thrown away or eaten by pets). By comparison, Indians consume less than 5 kilograms of meat per person.

Story: Keeping the Mystery Out of China’s Meat

But as the rest of the world gets richer, it’s closing the gap with the U.S. The Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reports that in 2012, 966 million pigs, 1.5 billion cattle, and 22 billion chickens were roaming (actually, mostly not roaming) the world’s farms. For cattle, that’s five times the number in 1890 and for pigs about a tenfold increase, according to Clive Ponting’s Green History of the World. That’s one factor behind the growing global obesity epidemic: a British study comparing meat eaters and vegetarians found average differences in weight between meat eaters and vegans of 5.9 kilograms in men and 4.7 kilograms in women—and a recent U.S. study also suggested that meat consumption was positively linked to obesity.

At the other end of the consumption scale, all that meat production also makes for more expensive staple foods for the world’s undernourished. About one-third of the world’s cropland is given over to growing feed for animals. Including pastureland, livestock production occupies 30 percent of the land surface of the planet. Some of that land could be used instead to cultivate crops for human consumption. If you are concerned that growing corn for ethanol is raising food prices, you should be even more concerned by the larger impact of factory livestock farming.

Beyond meat’s impact on malnutrition, the livestock industry presents a growing global threat in its relationship with infectious disease. Domesticated animals have been the incubators of many of the world’s greatest killer diseases, from smallpox through measles to tuberculosis. The recent emergence of swine and bird flu suggests an increasing risk of pathogens jumping from the planet’s burgeoning domestic animal population to humans. We’ve added to that risk by regularly feeding factory animals antibiotics. Eighty percent of all antibiotics consumed in the U.S. are used on animals. This widespread use has been linked to the rapid emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which kills 18,000 people a year in the U.S.

Story: Farm Bill Stinks for the Meat Industry, and That’s Not Entirely Bad

Greater meat production also has negative environmental effects. Livestock accounts for about 8 percent of global human water use (the proportion is a little higher in the U.S.) Wheat takes about 1,000 to 2,000 cubic meters of water per ton of crop; rice takes approximately double that. Taking into account the water demands of feedstock, cattle take between 13,000 and 20,000 cubic meters per ton of beef (although chicken does considerably better at around 4,000 cubic meters per ton). Land-based meat production is also a big factor behind declining fisheries worldwide. Millions of tons of fish each year are crushed into fish oil and dry feed to be fed to farmed fish as well as to pigs and chickens. And the effluence those animals produce creates “dead zones” in rivers and coastal areas.

Action Alert: Don’t Let Abusers Cover Up Cruelty!

https://secure.humanesociety.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=6478

Kentucky: Don’t Let Abusers Cover Up Cruelty!

Just a few weeks ago, The Humane Society of the United States exposed horrific cruelty at a major Kentucky pig factory; including pigs locked into cages so small they couldn’t turn around and mother pigs being fed the remains of their diseased piglets. But instead of cleaning up their act, the state’s big meat producers are now trying to silence whistleblowers. The industry and its backers in the legislature are trying to sneak through an “ag-gag” law aimed at criminalizing anyone who exposes food safety violations or animal abuse on factory farms. Even worse, they have attached this poisonous provision to a formerly pro-animal bill.

TAKE ACTION
Please call your legislators right away and ask them to oppose this undemocratic effort. Look up your legislator’s phone number here. You can simply say: “I am outraged that an ag-gag provision was sneakily attached to HB222. I urge you to stop the ag-gag provision, which would threaten animals and consumer safety.”

After making your phone call (please do not skip that crucial step!), personalize and submit the letter in the form below to automatically send a follow-up message to your legislators and Gov. Steve Beshear.

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If You Eat Meat

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If you eat chicken or pork, you’re supporting extreme animal abuse on factory farms;

If you eat beef, you’re supporting the livestock industry that kills bison, elk and wolves;

If you eat fish, you’re supporting the demise of our living oceans;

If you hunt, your selfish food choice robs a life and cheats a natural predator;

If you eat meat, you’re part of the problem instead of the solution;

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“Humane Slaughter,” “Ethical Hunting” Both Oxymoronic

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After forty-some years in the business, fourth generation Montana cattle rancher Howard Lyman finally saw the light. Now, the author of the bestselling books, Mad Cowboy: Plain Truth from the Cattle Rancher Who Won’t Eat Meat and No More Bull: The Mad Cowboy Targets America’s Worst Enemy: Our Diet, spends his days promoting veganism.

For the sake of our health and humaneness, for the planet and for the wolves, adopting a cruelty-free vegan lifestyle is a challenge we all must face together. As Mr. Lyman tells us: ”The question we must ask ourselves as a culture is whether we want to embrace the change that must come, or resist it. Are we so attached to the dietary fallacies with which we were raised, so afraid to counter the arbitrary laws of eating taught to us in childhood by our misinformed parents, that we cannot alter the course they set us on, even if it leads to our own ruin? Does the prospect of standing apart or encountering ridicule scare us even from saving ourselves?”

Read More here: http://exposingthebiggame.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/fourth-generation-montana-cattle-rancher-now-promotes-veganism/

Deadly bird flu surges in China as millions travel

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2014/01/22/china-bird-flu-deadly-h7n9-chinese-new-year-travel/4779149/

Four more cases of deadly bird flu were reported in China on Wednesday, bringing the season’s total in that country to 221. Fifty-seven people have died.

The surge in cases has health officials worldwide watching closely as hundreds of millions of Chinese begin to travel for Chinese New Year.

The H7N9 strain of influenza jumped from birds to humans only last year. It is extremely dangerous, causing severe illness in more than three quarters of people infected and death in more than one quarter, according to Chinese researchers.

It is called bird flu because the virus originated in birds and so far is transmitted to humans only by live poultry. Cooked meat is no risk.

All of this year’s cases have been in China.

The surge in cases comes as China gets ready for what is called Spring Festival in Chinese. Known as Chinese New Year in the West, it begins Jan 31. People customarily travel to spend the holiday with family.

China estimates that 3.6 billion trips will be taken during the two-week holiday — and many of those traveling will be taking or buying live chickens and ducks as gifts.

Humans can be infected by being in close contact with “infected live poultry, mostly in live bird markets or when slaughtering birds at home,” the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization said in a warning issued Tuesday.

So far, no sustained human-to-human transmission has occurred, according to the World Health Organization.

“Nothing can be predicted with certainty, but on present evidence, none of these viruses shows a potential to spread widely or cause an explosive outbreak,” Margaret Chen, director-general of the World Health Organization, said Tuesday in Geneva.

Flu viruses are notorious for quickly mutating into new forms, but so far genetic analysis by the FAO shows that the H7N9 virus has not changed significantly since its emergence last year.

“We are watching closely the increasing number of confirmed cases that are being reported from China during the past few weeks,” said Joseph Breese, an influenza expert with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. “Fortunately, Chinese health officials have not reported changes in the epidemiology of the virus that would lead us to believe it can easily spread between humans.”

The fear is that it could all too easily do so, said Mike Osterholm, director of the Centers of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul. “The clock is ticking but we just don’t know what time it is.”

Several things about H7N9 worry health officials. A major concern is that unlike other flu strains, it doesn’t make infected birds sick, so farmers don’t know their flocks are infected.

Humans are the proverbial canary in the coal mine in this outbreak. “The way we know that we have H7N9 in poultry is that humans start to get sick,” Osterholm said.

When testing shows a flock is ill, farmers have been reluctant to cull their birds because the animals seem healthy.

The birds breathe out the virus. That’s different from other flu strains, which are excreted in feces.

“We don’t know yet if there’s an infectious cloud that comes off the bird markets that can infect nearby humans,” Osterholm said. There have been cases in which people who lived close to a live bird market but didn’t go in still got infected, he said.

The concern is that with so many cases appearing in eastern and southern China, and hundreds of millions of people traveling long distances to get home for the holidays, the virus could find a way to mutate into something that can easily pass between humans.

“We’re in a ‘stay tuned’ moment right now,” Osterholm said. “If that happens, then bets are off. It’s potential pandemic time.”

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Connections of animal and human suffering

http://www.stltoday.com/lifestyles/pets/dr-fox/connections-of-animal-and-human-suffering/article_0d7de883-b56e-587a-bc67-516db2cddce1.html

by Dr. Michael Fox

Dear Readers • Humans, like other animals, have so-called mirror neurons in their brains that instantly process the emotional state of another deciphered through their facial expressions, vocalizations and body language. This happens to facilitate communication and appropriate action/reaction.

When signals of distress and suffering are processed, empathetic concern is evoked, as is fear. Sociopaths and psychopaths may respectively feel nothing or some perverse pleasure. Empathetic concern, which can include sympathy, outrage, remorse, anger, guilt and disbelief, can lead to denial or appropriate action to help, save, protect and defend by direct action.

While the print and TV media increasingly limit public exposure to extreme human suffering, there are even greater limits imposed, at least in America, on showing documented cruelties and suffering of animals. Ironically, some newspapers —1474693_10202436592133870_578596781_n including my local edition — have no qualms publishing photographs of a 12-year-old girl with a deer she had shot and a wildlife biology student grinning with a wolf he had shot draped around his shoulders. This establishes a culturally accepted norm, but images of animal suffering and cruelty — of animals in traps, in factory livestock and fur farms, puppy mills and slaughterhouses — are rarely shown by the mass media. We should ask why, and who is protecting whom.

Censorship of animal cruelty and suffering by the mass media parallels the atrocious record of state and federal law enforcement agencies of anti-cruelty laws. Janelle Dixon, president and CEO of the Minneapolis Animal Humane Society, recently reported how her organization spent $225,000 caring for dogs from a puppy mill, while the operator of this commercial dog breeding operation received a charge of a year’s probation, a 90-day suspended jail sentence and a $50 fine.

Clearly, America must wipe its mirror clean when it comes to animal and human suffering caused by how, as a culture, we choose to do our business. And the media must begin to act responsibly rather than entertain, distract and continue to promote consumerism and biased information.

2013: The Year of the Big Backslide?

The year of our lord, 2013, could be known as the year of the big backslide, at least in terms of attitudes toward animals and the environment, as well as the general acceptance of scientific fact.

For example, CBS News reports that the number of Republicans who believe in evolution today has plummeted compared to what it was in 2009, according to new analysis from the Pew Research Center. A poll out Monday shows that less than half – 43 percent – of those who identify with the Republican Party say they believe humans have evolved over time, plunging from 54 percent four years ago. Forty-eight percent say they believe “humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time,” up from 39 percent in 2009.

I can’t help but think this is because many people still aren’t comfortable admitting they’re animals. And this supremacist attitude is reflected in everything they do in regard to our fellow species.

Anyone who has been following the wolf issue since gray wolves were removed from the Endangered Species List in a handful of backward states has certainly noticed a rapid backslide pertaining to how wolves are perceived, treated and “managed” by those bent on dragging us back to the dark ages for animals—the Nineteenth Century—when concepts like bounties, culls and contest hunts were commonplace. Hunters and ranchers in the tri-state area surrounding Yellowstone National Park, as well as in the Great Lakes region, are doing everything they can to resurrect the gory glory days of the 1800s, and wolves are paying the ultimate price.

Meanwhile, in spite of great efforts to educate people about the myriad of problems associated with factory farming and the dependence on meat consumption in an ever more crowded human world, the number of ruminants raised for food on the planet today is at an all-time high of 3.6 billion, double what is was 50 years ago. Regardless of or our burgeoning human population, not only do we have a chicken in every pot in this country, we now have cow and sheep parts in every freezer and pig parts in practically every poke. This, of course, is all thanks to ever-worsening living conditions for farmed animals.

Professor William Ripple and co-authors of a research paper, “Ruminants, Climate Change, and Climate Policy,” prepared in Scotland, Austria, Australia and the United States, noted that about 25 percent of the earth’s land area is dedicated to grazing, and a third of all arable land is used to grow food for livestock, according to the report. Reducing the number of cattle and sheep on the planet, and thereby reducing the methane gas emissions they produce, is a faster way to impact climate change than reducing carbon dioxide alone, the report concluded. The researchers concluded that greenhouse gas emissions from cattle and sheep are 19 to 48 times higher per pounds of food produced than the gas emitted in the production of plant protein foods such as beans, grains or soy.

To get an idea of how unnatural and unsustainable 3.6 billion large ruminants is, think back to when vast bison herds blackened the plains. At that time there were only 50 million bison in all of North America. There are over 300 million human beef-eaters in the United States, every one of them expecting to see a fully stocked steak house, Subway or McDonald’s on every street corner.

Meanwhile, the media’s busily cooking up a spin to answer to meat’s culpability in this planet’s climate crisis. Articles on how methane from grass-eaters is a primary greenhouse gas are often accompanied by the suggestion that pigs and chickens don’t produce as much. In other words, don’t worry your little meat-addicted heads if this beef-cow-causing-global-warming thing becomes a recognized issue, you can just switch over to other non-ruminants’ carcasses—no one really expects you to become a vegetarian, after all.

One of the most outrageous spins ever concocted aired on a “Ted Talk” just last March. Allan Savory, a former Rhodesian provincial Game Officer, has been spreading the counterintuitive notion that to control desertification and stop global warming we need to turn even more cattle out onto arid land. This notion comes from a man who, as late as 1969 advocated for the culling of large populations of elephants and hippos because he felt they were destroying their habitat. Savory participated in the culling of 40,000 elephants in the 1950s, but he later concluded it did not reverse the degradation of the land and called the culling project “the saddest and greatest blunder of my life.” Now he’s trying to sell us on another blunder with even more destructive consequences. What will this guy do for an encore? Never mind, I don’t want to know.

Speaking of Africa, 2013 saw the fastest growing and second most populous continent on its way to adding another billion people to the planet. By the end of this century, 3/4 of the world’s growth is expected to come from Africa, and projections put its population at four billion—one billion in Nigeria alone. Most African countries will at least triple in population, as there are very high fertility rates and very little family planning in most regions. No one is quite sure how the continent will provide for that many hungry humans; only time will tell.

And even though China’s overwhelming population is already well past a billion, in 2013 they abandoned their one child policy and affectively doubled it by implementing a two child policy at the stroke of a pen.

Sorry, but this shit is scary, at least if you care about the plight of non-human species on this planet. Sure, cultural diversity is important—to people. But it sure as hell doesn’t trump biological diversity in the scheme of things. Regardless of what you may or may not believe about whether we were created in the image of a god, life on Earth as we know it will not go on if we humans are one of the only species left around.

The coming decades are going to test just what Homo sapiens are made of. Are we progressive and adaptable enough to learn to share the planet with others and become plant eaters, as some people have? Or is our incessant breeding and meat consumption going to put us into an all new classification—planet eater?

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November Is World Vegan Month…or Go Stuff It

We interrupt our regularly scheduled, impassioned, pro-wildlife/anti-hunting rant and steady flow of mainstream media articles about shocking situations, reported on in droll, middle-of-the-road-forget-about-everything-and-just-go-shopping fashion, to bring you the following important announcement: It’s my birthday!

That may not seem so important to you, but it’s kind of monumentous to me. It means I’m a day older (I know they say a year older, but technically today I’m really just a day older).
In any case, starting today, I’m going to do things a little differently around here. My original writings, as well as posts and action alerts from pro-animal groups, will still be seen in full. But lengthy articles from the mainstream will, from now on, be posted with just their title, possibly a line or two of lead-in and the link to the publication where you can find them.

More and more news sources are surrounding their text with so many ads that it’s nearly impossible to copy and paste readable portions of a given story; for some reason it seems they don’t want you to read the story without commercial interruptions.
That way, not only will you be linked to any of their related articles, but you’ll also get a chance to window-shop all the material goods and services they’re trying to sell you on. This will also free up some of my time for other writing projects I’m working on. Of course, anyone hungry for more pro-wildlife/anti-front-cover-low-res6hunting material can always get a copy of my book, Exposing the Big Game; Living Targets of a Dying Sport.

Having my birthday fall so close to Thanksgiving is interesting. Most years the 26th of November comes after that celebration, sometimes they both land on the same day and occasionally there’s a year like this one when it’s before. This gives me time a special opportunity to ask you for a gift. Well, it’s not so much a gift as a simple request for the upcoming holiday: this year, instead of feasting on the traditional turkey, how about just stickin’ to the fixin’s. Or you can substitute Tofurkey or Field Roast for the animal flesh entrée; but either way, if you use your imagination, I guarantee you’ll be sated.

And a side note to those of you who refuse to forego the sacrificial bird–Go stuff it!

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Animal Agriculture: The Real Inconvenient Truth

http://www.mfablog.org/2013/11/animal-agriculture-the-real-inconvenient-truth.html

By Ari Solomon
1461780_624520054271903_1498249114_n.jpgLast week, one of the largest storms in recorded history made landfall in the Philippines. Super Typhoon Haiyan spanned 300 miles and had winds that topped 200 miles per hour. With thousands dead and entire towns destroyed, this was an unmitigated tragedy.
Naderev Sano, commissioner for the Philippines climate change commission and head of the Philippines delegation to the UN climate, recently made an appeal in Warsaw urging the world to take action on climate change, which scientists believe is to blame for fueling these super storms.
Since 2006, when the UN released its groundbreaking report Livestock’s Long Shadow, the world has been made aware of the fact that there is no greater contributor to climate change than animal agriculture. In fact, it was discovered that raising animals for food creates more greenhouse gases than all the transportation in the world combined.
Whether you’re looking to improve your health, safeguard animals from unnecessary cruelty or help halt the horrific effects of climate change, there is no better choice than adopting a delicious vegan diet. To get started, visit ChooseVeg.com.

A Bit of Animal Trivia

Everyone likes a bit of trivia. Well, maybe not everyone; you may be the one person who doesn’t. Come to think of it, I don’t really enjoy trivia all that much myself. But anyway, like it or not, here’s some trivia for you…

1) What is the fastest growing bone tissue on Earth?
Answer:  Deer antlers

2) Which wild animal carries a dominant gene affecting their appearance that was acquired from their domesticated cousins?
Answer: Wolves. The wolf got their gene for black fur (found nearly exclusively in North American wolves) from dogs brought over with the earliest people to inhabit this continent.

3) What animal can detect odors up to 5 miles away; can hear both low and high frequency sounds beyond human capabilities and has 360 degree panoramic vision?
Answer: Cows. They also form friendships and are devoted mothers and will walk upwards of five miles in search of their calves.

4) A few centuries ago, this animals’ droppings were considered the best available fertilizer and therefore were protected by armed guards?
Answer: Pigeons

5) Which marine animal can live up to 100 years, uses complicated signals to establish social relationships, and sometimes travels hand in hand, the old leading the young?
Answer: Lobsters

6) When this animal gets injured or sick, his or her mate, and sometimes a comrade or two, will stay by their side until they are able to recover or pass on.
Answer: Canada goose

7) Which animal has the ability to learn the precise details of an area of over 1000 acres?
Answer: The turkey

8) Which dog breed was an American favorite in the early 20th century, featured as a child’s best friend and constant companion on TV and in movies, and can now be found in hospitals and nursing homes as a registered therapy animal?
Answer: The Pit Bull Terrier

9) What creature has some so paranoid that they’ve had protective enclosures—modeled after shark cages—built at school bus stops?
Answer: The Mexican Wolf in Catron County, New Mexico

10) Which animal species secretly communicates with one another through their flatulence?
Answer: Herring. Many species of fish have devised creative forms of communication and recent research has shown fish have a more complex nervous system than was previously accepted.

Bonus Question) While so many others dwindle, which group of animals has been steadily on the increase over  the years, now surpassing 150 billion?
Answer: Those consumed by humans each year.

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