Cher turns attention to mall gorilla after freeing ‘world’s loneliest elephant’

Singer calls for release of Bua Noi, who has spent almost all her life at zoo in Bangkok shopping centre

Bua Noi looks through the bars of her cage at Pata zoo, on the top floor of a shopping centre.

Bua Noi looks through the bars of her cage at Pata zoo, on the top floor of a shopping centre. Photograph: Rungroj Yongrit/EPARebecca Ratcliffe South-east Asia correspondentFri 11 Dec 2020 04.26 EST

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/dec/11/cher-mall-gorilla-world-loneliest-elephant-bua-noi-bangkok

After freeing the “world’s loneliest elephant” from a life of misery in a Pakistani zoo, the singer Cher has turned her attention to the plight of another animal: a gorilla who has spent the last three decades at the top of a Bangkok shopping mall.

Bua Noi was brought to Thailand in 1988, and has spent almost all her life in an enclosure at Pata zoo, a private zoo that has long been criticised by animal welfare campaigners.

Cher has joined those calling for the gorilla’s release, and has written to Thailand’s environment minister, Varawut Silpa-archa, to express “deep concern” over Bua Noi’s living conditions, and those of other primates.

Campaigners say the animals have little stimulation and are confined in unnatural enclosures at the zoo, which is on the top floors of a department store. Bua Noi’s mate died more than a decade ago, according to the Bangkok Post.

Free the Wild, a charity co-founded by Cher, has offered to fund the transfer of the gorilla to a sanctuary in the Republic of the Congo that would be “a home of peace and dignity where she could live out her life in a natural environment and companionship with other species”.

Cher interacts with Kaavan, an elephant transported from Pakistan to Cambodia, at the sanctuary in Oddar Meanchey Province earlier this month.
Cher interacts with Kaavan, an elephant transported from Pakistan to Cambodia, at the sanctuary in Oddar Meanchey Province earlier this month. Photograph: Reuters

Other animals at the zoo, including orangutans, bonobo and a gibbon, had been offered a home with the Wildlife Friends Foundation of Thailand, Cher said in her letter to Varawut.Advertisement

Writing on Twitter, she called upon the “good people of Bangkok” to help her “stop the torturing of innocent animals”. “It Is a Sin. Please Help Me Bring Peace to these Animals. &Free Them From Pata Zoo … Shopping Mall,” she said.

The owner of the zoo, Kanit Sermsirimongkol, could not be reached for comment on Friday but has previously rejected claims that the animals are poorly treated.

Last week, Cher travelled to a sanctuary in Cambodia after a successful campaign to relocate Kaavan, described as the “world’s loneliest elephant”, from a zoo in Islamabad, Pakistan. Animal rights groups had expressed alarm at the care and conditions at the zoo.

Kaavan had been found to be severely dehydrated, while his keepers were accused last year of stealing his food. Wild boars had also been found to be breaking into his enclosure and stealing his bread and fruit. Kaavan had no companions, despite elephants being sociable animals.

He is now living in a wildlife sanctuary in Oddar Meanchey province, north-west Cambodia, where he will live with about 600 other elephants.

‘She’s an angel and she was giving thirsty pigs water’ — Hamilton woman killed while protesting outside slaughterhouse

A woman killed during an animal rights protest in front of a Burlington slaughterhouse is being remembered as a compassionate person who just wanted to give water to thirsty pigs on a scorching hot day.

Regan Russell, who was identified as the victim in a release by Animal Justice, was struck by a transport truck that was hauling pigs through the gates of Fearmans Pork meat processing facility at Appleby Line and Harvester Road around 10:20 a.m. on Friday.

The truck with its cargo of squealing pigs remained at the scene for several hours as police blocked off the area and began their investigation.

Halton police are investigating a fatal incident at the Fearmans Pork meat processing facility in Burlington Friday (June 19) after a protester was struck and killed by a transport truck.

An officer was observed removing a sign that read, “Animals need protection under the law” and a large yellow and white water bottle could be seen on the ground beside the gate.

Burlington resident Martin Foebel, who was having his breakfast across the street from the plant in the Wendy’s parking lot when the incident happened, described what he saw.

“The truck was there for about four or five minutes. The protesters were there. Then they walked away from the truck when they were done,” said Foebel.

“Then I saw a woman in the front there … I assume the truck driver thought he was clear to go and didn’t see that last protester.”

Around 10 protesters who had been engaged in a regularly scheduled animal rights vigil at the plant remained on the scene following the crash.

Animal Advocates Mourn Tragic Death at Fearmans Pork Slaughterhouse in Burlington

Protester dead in Burlington after being struck by transport truck at pig slaughterhouse

Halton Regional Police are investigating a pedestrian fatality in Burlington Friday after a protester was reportedly struck and killed by a transport truck outside the slaughterhouse.

The incident occurred outside the Fearmans Pork meat processing facility at Appleby Line and Harvester Road.

There are reports the protester — a woman — was trying to feed the pigs inside the transport truck while it was still moving when she was struck and killed.

Animal rights protesters have a long history of protesting at Fearmans.

The events’ declared purpose is to bear witness to the animals arriving for slaughter and reduce the disconnect people have with the food they have on their plate.

“This is so tragic, so heartbreaking,” said Geena Morrison, who has participated in pasts protests outside the plant. “I’m in tears.”

KFC, more Americans want to eat the plant-based ‘Kentucky Fried Miracle’

June 18, 2020 0 Comments

Last year, when KFC launched a new, plant-based chicken at one of its Atlanta locations, it sold out within five hours, with lines wrapped around the block to try it. According to the New York Times, sales of the plant-based boneless wings and nuggets in a single day equaled sales of its popular, animal-based popcorn chicken in an entire week, leading the company to declare it a “Kentucky Fried Miracle.”

KFC went on to test the plant-based chicken at an additional 70 locations in North Carolina and Tennessee in February 2020, again with great success. This is amazing, and it shows the scope of the large market that exists for meatless meat products all over the United States. So we have been hopeful that KFC will offer its meatless chicken at franchises nationwide.

The moment is just right for anyone looking to venture into plant-based foods, including plant-based meats, which are innovative, protein-packed foods that mimic the texture and taste of meat. With growing awareness of the benefits of eating more plant-based foods for animals, the planet and our health, so many people are reducing their reliance on animal products in favor of tasty plant-based alternatives. According to a 2019 Gallop poll, “[f]our in 10 Americans have personally tried plant-based meats.” And a 2020 Yale survey found that, “more than half of Americans (55%) say they are willing to eat more plant-based meat alternatives.”

Plant-based meats are so popular, in fact, that in March 2020, sales of such meats jumpedby an astounding 264%.

Many fast food chains like Burger King, Carl’s Jr., White Castle, Del Taco and Dunkin’ already offer plant-based options, with tremendous success. After launching the Impossible Burger, Jose Cil, who is the CEO of Restaurant Brands (the parent company of Burger King), noted that the offering was “one of the most successful product launchesin Burger King’s history.” After debuting a Beyond Meat breakfast sandwich at more than 9,000 Dunkin’ locations in 2019, Dunkin’ CEO David Hoffman said he was “happy with [Dunkin’s] first venture into” plant-based menu offerings, and said the company is discussing more plant-based options in the future.

KFC already has gotten a taste of this success, not just here in the United States but also globally. In April, the company debuted plant-based chicken nuggets at three locations in China and they were such a hit that they sold out at a Shanghai KFC within an hour of launching. KFC Canada partnered with Lightlife, a plant-based protein company, to make a fried “chicken” sandwich and plant-based “popcorn chicken,” which also sold out. In the United Kingdom, KFC sold one million plant-based chicken sandwiches throughout January 2020, which is the equivalent of one plant-based sandwich sold every three seconds.

We applaud KFC for its success with plant-based options and thank the company for its foresight in creating them. And today, we have one friendly request for the company: please launch these delicious meatless options nationwide so customers around the country can enjoy them.

Given the market for meatless meats today, which research shows extends well beyond vegans and vegetarians, this is a decision the company would not be likely to regret. You can lend your voice to continue such positive progress. Please click here to let KFC decision makers know just how much support exists for plant-based offerings.

A bear attacks a woman. She fights it off — with her laptop

(CNN)A Southern California teen had a rude awakening when an outdoor nap turned into a bear attack.

She survived by fighting the bear off with her only weapon — a laptop.
The 19-year old Sierra Madre woman fell asleep in backyard chair Monday evening, Fish and Wildlife Capt. Patrick Foy told CNN.
“She awoke to the sound of a bear approaching her,” Foy said. “It immediately attacked.”
The bear scratched the young woman’s arms and legs, but then it began to bite her leg. Her wounds were not life-threatening.[*And yet the bear life will be ended…]
“The only weapon she had was her laptop. She hit the bear with it and stunned it long enough to escape inside the house,” Foy said.
“She fought back vigorously, which is what you should do with any wildlife in California.”
Local police responded to the incident, followed soon by wildlife officers. Bear tracks nearby and a glimpse of a bear around midnight provided evidence corroborating her story.
“This was an unprovoked, aggressive attack,” Foy said. The woman did not have any food, and did not get between a bear and her cubs.
“It’s likely she was looked at as prey,” Foy speculated.
This is not the first time a sleeping person has been attacked in the area. Last year, a homeless man was attacked by a bear that was never caught.
DNA swabs were taken from the teenager’s wounds and analyzed by a forensics lab. Foy says that analysis provided wildlife officers with a full DNA profile by the next day.
Tuesday night, wildlife officials caught two bears in the immediate vicinity. Their DNA was analyzed, but neither matched the profile of the offending bear.
Both bears will be released in what Foy calls the ‘nearest suitable habitat.’
In this case, they’ll be taken into the Angeles National Forest – typically 25 miles or so away from where they were captured.
[*] The bear that attacked the woman has not yet been found. If or when it is, that bear will be euthanized. 
California is home to only black bears, even though some are brown. There are no wild grizzlies in the state.

Do Animals Think or Feel?

Research shows cows are bright and emotional and pigs are intelligent, emotional, and cognitively complex

“…the question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer? Why should the law refuse its protection to any sensitive being?” —Jeremy Bentham

An email about a report called OFA [Ontario Federation of Agriculture] submission to the Standing Committee on General Government regarding the Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act (Bill 156), which contained a quotation emphatically stating, “We simply do not know if animals are capable of reasoning and cognitive thought,” shocked me. I immediately read through the report and lo and behold, the authors did make this unscientific and ludicrous claim. And, not surprisingly, there isn’t a single citation in the entire in-house report.

Here is the full quotation, because I don’t want people to think I’m fabricating what these thoroughly uninformed people wrote.

“The concept of ‘sentient beings’ refers to beings with the power to reason and think. The term also implies beings with an awareness of their surroundings who respond to sensations, have cognitive thoughts and have the capacity to perceive and experience life subjectively. Feeling is a subjective state, available only to the animal feeling it. As animals and humans are built and function differently, it is unfair to automatically attribute the sensations experienced by humans to be the same as those experienced by animals. Humans have the ability to communicate their experiences, and what they feel. Since animals cannot communicate with us, there’s a huge assumption by animal activists that animals have emotional responses and the ability to reason and think, in the same way that humans do. We simply do not know if animals are capable of reasoning and cognitive thought, therefore we cannot attribute human qualities of reasoning and cognitive thought on animals as the activists would like.” (My emphasis) —OFA [Ontario Federation of Agriculture] submission to the Standing Committee on General Government regarding the Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act (Bill 156)

When I read this, I was shocked. It’s clearly anti-science given what we know about the cognitive and emotional lives of numerous diverse nonhuman animals (animals), including so-called “food animals.”And it’s also extremely misleading because humans shouldn’t be the templates against which nonhumans should be measured. Few people criticize studies of animal cognition and emotions because nonhumans don’t resemble or equal humans. There’s no reason they should.

People who know anything about the field of cognitive ethology (the comparative study of animal minds and what’s in them) pay careful attention to what other animals know and feel, capacities and adaptations that allow them to be card-carrying members of their speciesnot ours (or that of other nonhumans). Intelligence is a slippery concept and should not be used to assess suffering. Asking if chickens suffer less than pigs, or if pigs are as smart as dogs, is meaningless and idle speciesism.

In addition, the way in which people treat or mistreat other animals and how they feel about it isn’t a matter of how smart they are. Rather, nonhumans are sentient beings, and it’s a matter of how they suffer, not if they suffer. So-called dumb animals experience deep and prolonged suffering, and, in fact, they’re not really dumb!

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture claims we don’t know if nonhumans think, so therefore they don’t. Both are anti-science, defy reality, and are inane. Animal sentience and animal emotions matter very much; animal sentience is not science fiction, and the life of every single individual matters because they’re alive and have intrinsic or inherent value. They don’t matter because of what’s called their instrumental value—what they can do for us.

I wanted to know more about what was happening on the ground in Ontario, so I contacted Camille Labchuk, a lawyer and the Executive Director of Animal Justice. Here’s some of what she wrote. The Canadian province of Ontario is currently trying to ram through an ag-gag law in the midst of a pandemic. The bill would outlaw whistleblower exposés on farms and in slaughterhouses, and is fiercely opposed by animal advocacy organizations, consumer protection groups, civil libertarians, and journalists. Instead of acknowledging their own wrongdoing, the response from the powerful farming industry has been to lobby for so-called ag-gag laws that make it illegal to film and expose cruelty in the first place. The legislative hearings on Ontario’s ag-gag bill have given us a rare glimpse of the utter indifference that many farmers still have for animal suffering, and indeed their denial of basic science about the emotional and cognitive abilities of animals.

Canada unfortunately has some of the worst animal protection laws in the Western world, and Ontario’s ag-gag bill is about to make a bad situation far worse. Governments do not regulate animal welfare conditions on farms, and farmers are typically exempt from general animal cruelty laws. Farmers engage in a variety of standard yet painful practices with impunity, such as slicing off chicken beaks and piglet tails without anesthesia. To make matters worse, there is no public inspection of animal facilities. With no legal standards to enforce, what would be the point? Instead, the farm industry is left to make up its own rules.

Most people have compassion for animals but are often unaware of how badly animals suffer on farms. When they learn the truth, their trust in the farming industry plummets, and they consider dietary changes to avoid contributing to suffering.

Where have all the science and scientists gone? 

As a scientist, I often wonder: Where have all the science and scientists gone, and why hasn’t every scientist spoken out against such trash. Why aren’t they outraged by OFA’s utter nonsense? And the OFA isn’t alone in putting forth such junk. In the United States, laboratory rats and mice and other fully sentient animals aren’t considered to be animals under the guidelines of the Federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA). No joke. The science that clearly shows these rodents are sentient beings continues to be totally ignored.1,2

To summarize, who (not what) we eat is a moral question and scientists must speak out. Concerning the notion of who we eat, Ms. Labchuk writes, “Of course, considering the ‘who’ is a massive public relations problem for farmers. The meat industry’s business model depends on ignoring their suffering by crowding chickens raised for meat into dark, windowless warehouses; stuffing egg-laying hens into tiny battery cages; and confining mother pigs in gestation crates so small that they can’t even turn around or play with their babies. Animals are trucked to slaughter when their short lives are over. The victims of the meat industry have few opportunities to experience positive emotional states, and experience significant pain and suffering.”

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture’s conceptualization of the cognitive and emotional lives of clearly sentient beings is pure fiction and should be read as such. Their misguided views support and will continue to perpetuate the extremely cruel and brutal treatment of “food animals” and ignore a wealth of scientific data. It’s high time to bridge the “knowledge translation gap” and use what we know to truly help other animals. The “knowledge translation gap” refers to the practice of ignoring tons of science showing that nonhumans are sentient beings and going ahead and causing intentional harm in human-oriented arenas.

How we treat these and other clearly sentient nonhumans isn’t necessarily a matter of rights. Rather, it’s a matter of decency and depends on using what we know—and have known for a long time—on the animals’ behalf. Indeed, we are obligated to do so.

References

Notes:

1) Here are some essays on the emotional lives of so-called “food animals.”

On World Day for Farmed Animals, Let’s Honor Who They Are.

Going “Cold Tofu” to End Factory Farming.

What Would a Mother “Food” Cow Tell Us About Her Children?

Cows: Science Shows They’re Bright and Emotional Individuals. (A new essay reviews the detailed science that demonstrates bovine sentience.)

Is an Unnamed Cow Less Sentient Than a Named Cow?

The Cow’s Nose Shows How They’re Feeling About Life.

Do Cows Moo “Get me the Hell out of Here” on Factory Farms?

The Emotional Lives of Cows: Ears Tell Us They’re Feeling OK.

Dead Cow Walking: The Case Against Born-Again Carnivorism.

Happy Cows: A Heart-Warming Video Offers an Important Lesson. (Watch rescued cows free to run gallop around with unmistakable joy and glee.)

Babe, Lettuce, and Tomato: Dead Pig Walking.

Pigs Are Intelligent, Emotional, and Cognitively Complex.

Are Pigs as Smart as Dogs and Does It Really Matter? (Intelligence is a slippery concept and should not be used to assess suffering.)

Why Sheep Matter: They’re Intelligent, Emotional, and Unique.

Sheep Discriminate Faces, So What’s In It For the Sheep?

The Rich Emotional Lives of Chimpanzees and Goats.

The World According to Intelligent and Emotional Chickens.

The Thanksgiving Day Massacre: A House of Horrors.

2) In the 2002 iteration of the United States Federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) we read, “Enacted January 23, 2002, Title X, Subtitle D of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act, changed the definition of ‘animal’ in the Animal Welfare Act, specifically excluding birds, rats of the genus Rattus, and mice of the genus Mus, bred for use in research.

HOW TO BEAT A VEGAN IN ANY ARGUMENT

: Your step-by-step guide to justify killing animals and destroying the planet.
Step 1: REMIND THEM THAT OUR ANCESTORS ATE MEAT- No vegan is aware of this, but one thing they are aware of is that if humans have been doing something for thousands of years, it must be acceptable. After all, there’s nothing worse than moral progress!

Step 2: BECOME A PLANT RIGHTS ACTIVIST- Everyone knows that cutting the throat of live animals and cutting vegetables is the same thing. Vegans aren’t aware of the fact that plants feel pain too, and make sure to raise your voice whenever a vegan cuts a carrot.

Step 3: ASK THEM WHAT THEY’D DO IF THEY WERE STRANDED ON A DESERT ISLAND- Vegans routinely get stuck on desert islands and have to eat animals of desert for survival.

Step 4: REMIND THEM THAT EATING MEAT ISN’T ILLEGAL – If politicians think killing animals is okay, then it must be!

Step 5: SHOUT “UMM CHICKEN” REPEATEDLY- Vegans have never heard of this product. This will disorientate the vegan.

Step 6: POINT AT YOUR CANINE TEETH-
we know that if you have a body part capable of doing something, that means it’s okay to do whatever it/they can be used for. For consistency, make sure to sexually assault someone and then point at your penis when the police questions you why you did it.

Step 7: TELL THEM THAT WE NEED TO EAT ANIMAL PRODUCTS TO SURVIVE- Many vegans are unaware of the fact that they are actually dead, much like Bruce Willis’ character in ‘The Sixth Sense’.

Step 8: TELL THEM THAT MEAT IS TASTY- vegans aren’t aware of this, since none of them have ever eaten meat in their entire lives. Just tell them meat is yummy,they will definitely start killing animals for meat.

Step 9: TELL THEM VEGAN FOOD TASTES LIKE SHIT- It’s a well known fact that not a single one of the 20,000 edible plant species on earth or the spices and other products derived from them are even slightly appetising.

Step 10: REMIND THEM THAT THEY USE ELECTRICITY AND MOBILE PHONES- Being involved in a justice movement is hypocritical if you use electricity or mobile phones. Be sure to also tell racial equality campaigners, women rights and gay rights activists and anti child abuse campaigners that their cause is pointless for the same reason.

Step 11: CALL THEM PUSSY AND WEAK- we all know the one who cares for the weak and voiceless is pussy and weak by heart, tell them that killing the weakest animals remorselessly is what makes us strong.

Step 12: REMIND THEM THAT YOUR SITUATION IS JUST LIKE A LION’S – tell them you eat meat because you wanna be a lion! Let them know about that one time you stalked your prey down in a jungle with your canine teeth and flawless strength of your jaws and limbs to feed your family who was dying of hunger.

Step 13: MAKE THEM AWARE OF HOW YOU EATING MEAT AND ANIMAL PRODUCTS ACTUALLY BENEFITS THINGS- Finally, make the vegan aware of all the good eating meat, cheese, milk, eggs, fish, etc. does for animals, the environment, and other humans. Seeing as veganism helps none of those things, this will make the vegan realise which is the cause REALLY worth fighting for.

Step 14:- MAKE THEM AWARE THAT WE ARE OMNIVORES BECAUSE WE CAN MAKE WEAPONS TO HUNT ANIMALS- many vegans aren’t aware that even if we are not biologically and naturally capable of hunting animals, we can use weapons to kill them,so that makes us omnivores, for consistency make sure to kill your neighbour’s dog with a weapon and tell them that you did it because you are an omnivore.

STEP 15- LET THEM KNOW THE FARM ANIMALS ARE RAISED BY US SO ITS OK TO TAKE THEIR LIVES AWAY- for consistency kill your own children and tell the police that you did it because you brought them into existence, police will definitely understand you.

Step 16- TELL THEM ITS YOUR PERSONAL CHOICE – it’s a well known fact that its a personal choice to cut the throats of the animals just to eat them.

Step 17- TELL THEM VEGANS ARE ANNOYING AND THEY SHOULDN’T ACT AS IF THEY ARE SUPERIOR TO EVERYONE ELSE- Despite the fact that they do live by a higher ethical standard, they shouldn’t feel superior just because they don’t take lives of the animals. Let them know killing animals is what makes us superior.

Step 18- TELL THEM ITS THE SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST- Its a well known fact that the strong prey on the weak and nature is cruel, for consistency make sure to kill little kids and then tell the police “its survival of the fittest,the strong prey on the weak and tell them nature is cruel”.

Step 19- FINALLY SHUT THEM UP AND TELL THEM TO STOP FORCING THEIR BELIEFS DOWN YOUR THROAT- we all know that forcing knives against the Throats of animals is better than forcing our beliefs down someone’s throat who isn’t comfortable with hearing the truths.

Paul McCartney wishes you ditch meat for his 78th birthday

Paul McCartney wishes you ditch meat for his 78th birthdayImage: Paul McCartney

‘I want justice for all those who have died and suffered’

Sir Paul McCartney turns 78 on June 18 and before he blows the candles, he wants a birthday present.

He wants his fans to ditch meat.

Banner

In a guest blog post for animal rights group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), the Beatles legend wrote: “All I’ve ever wanted for my birthday is peace on Earth – including for animals.

“That’s why this year, I’m urging fans to watch a video I hosted for PETA, titled ‘Glass Walls’. We called it that because if slaughterhouses had glass walls, who would want to eat meat?”

The 12-minute clip starring McCartney was shot 10 years ago to expose the extent of animal suffering within slaughterhouses. It contains real-life footage of cows, chickens, sheep and other animals who are abused on factory farms across Europe and around the world.

“The video debuted exactly 10 years ago. Since then, the public has finally got a peek at what happens inside the meat trade, and the demand for vegan food is sky high,” he continued in his blog.

The ongoing pandemic has brought the spotlight back on the perilous nature of the meat industry and the dangers associated with it. Crowded and filthy factory farms, abattoirs, and meat markets put each human being on the planet at risk by providing a breeding ground for deadly pathogens like the ones behind COVID-19, SARS, bird flu, and more.

Public Health England states: “Many (60 to 80% [of]) emerging infections are derived from an animal source.”

According to experts, the COVID-19 outbreak originated in a wet market in Wuhan, China, where humans had direct contact with live animals and dead animal flesh.

“Whether you’re worried about diseases that spring from slaughterhouses, the animals who suffer terribly and needlessly, or the catastrophic impact of the meat industry on our environment, please watch this short video and share it with your friends. Thank you,” McCartney added in his post.

‘You’ve got to change things at some point’

McCartney is a passionate animal activist and has advocated vegetarianism for 45 years after ditching meat along with his partner the late Linda McCartney more than 40 years ago.

In  April, on a call with US radio host Howard Stern on Sirius XM, McCartney said it was high time wet markets were banned: “I think it makes a lot of sense…when you’ve got the obscenity of some of the stuff that’s going on there and what comes out of it, they might as well be letting off atomic bombs. It’s affecting the whole world.”

Comparing the markets to slavery he said: “I understand that part of it is going to be, ‘People have done it forever. This is the way we do things.’ But they did slavery forever, too. You’ve got to change things at some point.”

‘Saying nothing is not an option’

Standing for equal rights & justice, the former Beatles star has also spoken out against racism following the death of George Floyd.

Sharing a post on Instagram, he said: “I know many of us want to know just what we can be doing to help. None of us have all the answers and there is no quick fix but we need change.

“We all need to work together to overcome racism in any form. We need to learn more, listen more, talk more, educate ourselves and, above all, take action.”

Banner

Recalling how The Beatles stood up against racism during the band’s 1964 U.S. tour, he said: “I feel sick and angry that here we are almost 60 years later and the world is in shock at the horrific scenes of the senseless murder of George Floyd at the hands of police racism, along with the countless others that came before.“All of us here support and stand alongside all those who are protesting and raising their voices at this time. I want justice for George Floyd’s family, I want justice for all those who have died and suffered. Saying nothing is not an option.”

It’s time to shut down industrial animal farming

It's time to shut down industrial animal farming
© Getty Images

While governments act aggressively to save lives, stop any further spread of COVID-19, and reopen their economies, let’s not wait to prevent the next virus. More will come. Pandemics are picking up their pace. Thankfully, prevention is entirely possible — especially now that behavior change is on the table.

All it takes is a willingness to reconsider how we consume, trade, and treat animals. Big ask? Maybe. But everything should be on the table when hundreds of thousands of lives are at stake.

Here’s the opportunity: If we stop packing animals into crowded, confined areas — to be slaughtered for protein or parts — and if we stop cutting down and endangering their habitat, we can avoid infectious, animal-borne diseases like COVID-19, SARS, the swine flu, and more. (For these reasons, and more, Goldman Sachs now says livestock commodities are looking as ‘precarious as oil’ and U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker are calling for a ban on factory farms.)

That’s right. No more lockdowns. No more makeshift morgues. No more market crashes.

It’s that simple. If we want to save human lives and prevent mass casualties from COVID-like catastrophes, all we have to do is rethink and reconfigure our relationship with the animal world.

Now that social distancing is a common practice among most populations, to prevent the transmission of the virus, that’s now what animals need to be able to do, too. But in nature. We’ve already altered 75 percent of their land habitat and two-thirds of their marine habitat. That has to stop, now.

A failure to do so — or worse, by locking them up in factory farms in Waco, Texas, and wet markets in Wuhan, China — makes it all the more likely that another deadly pathogen, which should’ve stayed in nature, gets passed to humans.

While presidents and governors will prefer to emphasize that the next deadly virus is controllable primarily through better detection, monitoring and quick response — which is, of course, essential, too — the only real way to truly safeguard society is to stop the industrial and factory farming of animals.

Here’s how bad it’s become: globally, concentrated animal feeding operations — or CAFOs — account for 72 percent of the poultry we consume, 42 percent of eggs, and 55 percent of pork production. In the United States, over 50,000 facilities classify as CAFOs, with another 250,000 industrial-scale facilities just below that classification.

How many animals are confined in these crowded and virus-friendly conditions? In the U.S., that’s 9 billion chickens, 250 million turkeys, 113 million pigs, and 33 million cows — annually.

That’s almost 10 billion ways to start a virus — in just one year in the U.S. alone. And we know that America’s pigs, as just one example, here — most of which are farmed in industrial facilities without fresh air or sunlight — can kill thousands of Americans with a simple swine-flu virus. Over 12,000 Americans died from H1N1 in 2009 — and remember that was from factory farms in the United States.

Seemingly, no federal guidelines are governing how these animals are used and abused. And many U.S. states are trying to punish those who speak out against these cruel factory farms, which is why Animal Legal Defense Fund, and others, are providing these animals fair representation in court. It’s good someone is. A failure to protect these animals results in a failure to protect our health.

Compounding these health concerns, of course, is industrial animal farming’s heavy use of antibiotics, which ends up leaving humans — who consumed antibiotic-laden animal products — all the more vulnerable to bacteria during a pandemic. The result of all of this? People are more susceptible to attack from a diseased, factory-farmed animal.

And if health reasons weren’t sufficient to win the hearts and minds, perhaps economics will. Industrial animal farming is the least efficient and most expensive way to provide protein to humans. It’s two-three times as valuable as plant-based proteins and incredibly inefficient use of cropland, grains, and water for animal consumption (akin to have multiple middle-managers in a supply chain). Turn those crops into direct plant-protein providers for humans — a much more efficient plant-to-mouth supply chain — and we could easily, and nutritiously feed our growing population — as many as 10 billion by 2050.

That’s the opportunity here. And sure, we could also talk about all of the environmental problems associated with industrial animal farming, which include toxic waste, dangerous and deadly pesticide use, and excessive and exorbitant greenhouse gas emissions that come from animal products. Beef protein’s carbon footprint, for example, is 150 times as high as the same amount of plant protein. But if that hasn’t yet motivated people to switch off their factory-farmed animal food, perhaps the prospect of another pandemic will.

All of this seems way too risky to continue. And until we leave this practice behind, putting animals in unhealthy, crowded and immune-compromised positions — as we are doing globally with our factory farms, wet markets, and more — will continue to put us in similarly immune-compromised positions and kill tens of thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of people, each time these pandemics pop up. It’s time to do better. It’s time to save human lives. It’s time to shut down industrial animal farming.

Michael Honda is a former Member of Congress Honda now serves on the board of local Silicon Valley startups and is working on the legislative campaign to repeal the Alien Enemy Act of 1798. Michael Shank is a former congressional staffer and adjunct faculty at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs.