The 2nd Annual Humane Hoax Online Summit

United Poultry Concerns is proud to sponsor the 2nd Annual Humane Hoax Online Summit 2020.

https://upc-online.org/alerts/191230_the_2nd_annual_humane_hoax_online_summit.html

We have an awesome line-up of speakers this year, and the best part?
You can attend in your PJ’s!

Humane Hoax logo: an outline drawing of a sitting pig

The 2nd Annual Humane Hoax Online Summit
Saturday, January 18, 2020

Faced with growing cultural criticism of large-scale animal agriculture, corporations, manufacturers, and consumers alike are turning towards so-called “humane” methods of animal farming and seeking out alternative labels on their animal products. These falsehoods and myths–the Humane Hoax–range from large farms with thousands of animals to your neighbor’s backyard, yet exploitation and suffering are omnipresent in every method of husbandry. The Humane Hoax Online Summit brings together experts on a wide variety of topics in order to expose the Humane Hoax in all its forms.

For our second conference, we will dig deeper into The Humane Hoax with speakers from a range of different perspectives. We will have activist attorney Kelsey Eberly from the Animal Legal Defense Fund, who has dedicated her practice to pushing for farmed animal justice through false advertising lawsuits. We will have Deborah Blum of Goatlandia, a rescuer who saves male goats destined to die in the goat dairy industry. Regenerative grazing is now the darling of the locavore meat movement, touted as the answer to all the problems of animal agriculture. Dr. Sailesh Rao, Executive Director of Climate Healers, will explore this topic with a critical eye and challenge this supposed environmental cure-all. And much more.

Please join us on January 18, 2020 for this inspiring event as we advance our much needed conversation about The Humane Hoax!

 

Register for Free Today

 

For More Information:

www.HumaneHoax.org

Humane Hoax FaceBook Page

 

Repeal North Carolina’s ‘Be Cruel To Opossums’ Law

 

Change.org
Jim — You may be familiar with the famous New Year’s Eve ball drop in New York City. But every New Year’s Eve, the city of Andrew, North Carolina captures a terrified possum and drops it from a roof while onlookers cheer. Opossums are shy, nocturnal animals. They keep both people and their gardens safe by eating harmful ticks. The North Carolina State House of Representatives has even cosigned this annual “possum drop” by suspending wildlife laws between December 29 and January 2. A group of animal lovers is asking for this law to be repealed. They and the opossums need your help to stop this cruel tradition today.
Animal Help Now started this petition to North Carolina General Assembly Members and it now has 148,711 signatures

End State-Sanctioned Opossum Abuse in North Carolina

Several years ago, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a statute that allows opossums to be abused for five days surrounding the New Year, all for the purpose of entertainment at a New Year’s Eve “Possum Drop.” A majority of General Assembly members approved House Bill 574 (2015) without granting the public the right to comment on it.

North Carolina General Statute § 113-291.13 Application of wildlife laws to opossums reads, “No State or local statutes, rules, regulations, or ordinances related to the capture, captivity, treatment, or release of wildlife shall apply to the Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) between the dates of December 29 of each year and January 2 of each subsequent year.”

The statute goes beyond allowing “possum drops” in the state; it allows anyone in North Carolina to legally abuse opossums. Gaining increasing national attention, the statute is an embarrassment to its residents and jeopardizes the state’s tourism industry.

The entertainment of a few hundred people for a couple of hours is inadequate justification for stripping the benign and beneficial opossum of all protections afforded by state and local laws that have been in place for decades. The potential for cruel treatment of opossums is limitless and unethical. North Carolina must repeal the statute.

Millie, the opossum used in the 2018 Andrews, NC “drop,” was taken from her home in the wild. During her capture, she suffered a serious leg injury that became so infected, it could be smelled from a distance during the New Year’s Eve event. Millie dangled in a plexiglass box above a noisy crowd, band and fireworks. This stress is enough to cause serious illnesses among shy, gentle animals such as opossums. For a few hours of entertainment, Millie was tormented and eventually had to have her leg amputated. The disability is so severe that she can never go home. This can never happen again.

We, the undersigned, call on the otherwise intelligent and compassionate North Carolina General Assembly members to sponsor a bill in the 2019 Session to repeal N.C.G.S. § 113-291.13 (2015).

Live Reindeer at Santa’s grottos could be banned next year as stress leaves animals with misshapen antlers and high mortality rates

Live Reindeer at Santa's grottos could be banned next year as stress leaves animals with misshapen antlers and high mortality ratesImage: Victor Maschek / Shutterstock.com

Animal rights groups are aiming to ban the use of live reindeer at Christmas grottos due to concerns for the wellbeing of the animals. 

A campaign led by the RSPCA explains that reindeer feel anxious and stressed at Christmas grottos where they are kept in small pens.

The stress experienced by reindeer then leads to health problems such as misshapen antlers, low fertility and high calf mortality, the animal welfare group explained.

The RSPCA is calling for the Government to introduce a ban next year, meaning this year could be the last that reindeer feature at Christmas grottos.

The group estimates that 1,500 reindeer are used at attractions in the UK – often at shopping centres and Christmas markets.

Dr Ros Clubb, senior scientific manager at the RSPCA, said in a statement: “We understand that it must seem magical for people to see a reindeer at Christmas, but the reality is reindeer are not easy to keep well and need specialised care, they get stressed very easily and are very susceptible to many health and welfare problems.

“In the wild they are prey animals so they naturally hide their illnesses, and we’re concerned many owners may not realise their reindeer, which are attending stressful, busy festive events, are poorly or may not be able to spot the problems until it is too late.”

Fellow animal welfare group PETA has backed the campaign.

Director Elisa Allen added: “What could ruin the magic of the season more than seeing stressed animals confined to cramped pens, tied up, or harnessed and forced to pull people around on sleighs?

“Reindeer are intelligent, gentle animals who are meant to roam free over vast ranges – not be carted up and down the country as if they were mere props to be paraded about and gawked at under in busy shopping centres.”

Senator slams ‘fake food fad,’ introduces bill to crack down on fake meat labeling

Washington takes aim at plant-based proteins

As plant-based protein makes it way on to more and more store shelves and restaurant menus, one Republican senator says she wants to end “deceptive” labeling, which she worries could be fooling consumers.

Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) — who is also a cattle rancher — recently introduced the Real MEAT Act. The bill would put new labeling requirements on fake meat products.

“I think we’re seeing a number of fake food fads that are going on and we want to make sure that consumers know what they’re buying,” said Fischer. “When you look at a lot of the plant-based meals that are being put out there, they’re trying to piggyback on really, really good nutritious, safe beef.”

The senator told Yahoo Finance she had “big concerns” about the impact of plant-based protein on the ranching industry in her state.

“Ranching and the production of livestock, to provide safe beef across this country, is an economic engine in the state of Nebraska,” said Fischer. “It produces over a $13 billion economic impact on the state.”

The bill would codify the definition of “beef” as meat derived from cattle and require plant-based products that mimic animal meat to include the word “imitation” on the label. The word “imitation” would have to be in “uniform size and prominence” before or after the food name — along with a statement that the product contains no meat.

"Impossible Foods" burgers made from plant-based substitutes for meat products sit on a shelf for sale on November 15, 2019 in New York City. - Vegetarian alternatives to burgers and sausages, revived by start-ups like Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger, are enjoying a certain enthusiasm that meat giants also want to enjoy. Since this summer, the world leader in the JBS sector has been marketing a soy burger in Brazil that includes beetroot, garlic and onions, with a look similar to a rare minced steak. In the US, the largest meat producer Tyson Foods launched a new line of products in June based on plants or mixing meat and vegetables. Its competitors Hormel Foods, Perdue Farms or Smithfield, have similar initiatives. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP) (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

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“Impossible Foods” burgers made from plant-based substitutes for meat products sit on a shelf for sale on November 15, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP)
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“If it’s imitation, it should be labeled imitation. If it’s real beef, there’s one ingredient — and that’s beef. If it’s an imitation, like Beyond [Meat] burgers or the Impossible burgers, they have over 20 ingredients,” said Fischer in an interview with Yahoo Finance. “It shouldn’t be confused with real beef.”

The plant-based protein industry, which includes companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, argues consumers already know what they’re buying and eating.

Impossible Foods stands for truth and transparency. That’s why our products are clearly labeled ‘made from plants,’” said a spokesperson for Impossible Foods in a statement. “There is no evidence of consumer confusion. In fact, our extraordinary sales growth is due precisely to the fact that consumers are seeking and buying plant-based ingredients at record levels.”

The plant-based meat market is big – and growing: it’s estimated to be $12.1 billion in 2019 and projected to reach $27.9 billion by 2025, according to one estimate.

What’s on the label?

The Real MEAT Act would also strengthen the government’s ability to take action against mislabeled products.

“Real beef has to go through a very rigorous labeling and inspection process. That’s not true with this product that we’re seeing now in grocery stores,” Fischer said.

The Plant-Based Foods Association blasted the provision as an “unprecedented power grab.” Earlier this month, PBFA released its voluntary labeling guidelines for the industry. The standards allow for references to animal meat (i.e.: hamburger or chicken) with qualifiers like “plant-based,” “vegan,” “veggie,” “made from plants,” etc.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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But Fischer argues that putting the word “imitation” on the label will clarify any confusion.

“A lot of times we’re seeing some false advertising, I think, and really some smear campaigns. You have the plant based products… they look like beef. They have the appearance and beef,” she said.

25 horses seized in Enumclaw after allegations of abuse

25 horses seized in Enumclaw after allegations of abuse

Sharon Hunter, operator of the Redmond-based Hunters Wind Wild Horse Rescue, is accused of animal cruelty after purchasing horses, in an attempt to save them from slaughter. Some of those horses ended up in Enumclaw. Ashley Hiruko/staff photo.
                                The operator of the Redmond-based Hunters Wind Wild Horse Rescue is accused of animal cruelty after purchasing horses, in an attempt to save them from slaughter. Some of those horses ended up in Enumclaw. (Ashley Hiruko / Sound Publishing)Sharon Hunter, operator of the Redmond-based Hunters Wind Wild Horse Rescue, is accused of animal cruelty after purchasing horses, in an attempt to save them from slaughter. Some of those horses ended up in Enumclaw. Ashley Hiruko/staff photo. The operator of the Redmond-based Hunters Wind Wild Horse Rescue is accused of animal cruelty after purchasing horses, in an attempt to save them from slaughter. Some of those horses ended up in Enumclaw. (Ashley Hiruko / Sound Publishing)

The woman who reportedly owned the horses faced animal cruelty charges in Snohomish County in 2018.

The King County Sheriff’s Office recently raided a Plateau home and took custody of 25 horses after receiving tips concerning animal abuse.

According to Sgt. Ryan Abbott, deputies went to the home on the 38300 block of 324rd Place SE on Dec. 7, after the homeowner called SAFE —the Save A Forgotten Equine rescue organization — about the two dozen horses on her land.

The horses reportedly belong to a woman named Sharon Hunter, who is the owner of Hunter’s Wind Wild Horse Rescue, a nonprofit based in Redmond. According to Abbott, Hunter asked the homeowner to house some horses for a few weeks while Hunter found a more permanent home for them.

SAFE has taken custody of the horses, which are now up for adoption.

The Redmond Reporter published an article about Hunter and her nonprofit last September. According to the paper, Hunter’s Wind Wild Horse Rescue started out taking in horses scheduled to be killed, but it was unknown if any of the horses were being put up for adoption. The number of horses Hunter owns is unclear, but at one time was estimated to number more than 100.

In February 2018, the Snohomish County Animal Services received a complaint about some horses much in the same situation as the ones seized in Enumclaw — Hunter reportedly approached the homeowners to board the horses on their land, but allegedly failed to care for them.

According to the Reporter, law officers and veterinarians found one horse lying in his own feces and urine, severely malnourished, as well as other horses that were wounded, underweight, and infected.

Hunter was charged with six counts of second-degree animal cruelty in Snohomish County.

Since then, King County has seized horses from an Auburn herd of 80 in August, where there were more allegations of undernourishment and abandonment.

Additionally, there was an issue in Fall City with a herd of 40 after property owners sent a notice to Hunter they wanted her horses off their land. After the deadline to move the horses passed, SAFE attempted to help adopt out some of the horses, but were told to cease and desist by Hunter, who was then allowed to take the 25 horses to move elsewhere.

It’s been speculated those 25 horses were then moved to Enumclaw.

“The truth is that she’s got groups of horses that she’s just shuffling from one place to another. Either she gets thrown off a property, or law enforcement’s getting too close or what have you,” Bonnie Hammond, executive director of SAFE, said. “She’ll tell stories about saving America’s wild horses and all this really romantic stuff. But in truth, she’s just stockpiling them and they sit and they fight with each other and the stallions breed with the mares.

“I would like her to stop acquiring horses,” she continued. “She needs to stop doing this and the scary thing is, there’s still plenty of horses out there. She could get them from the auctions by the truckload.”

A GoFundMe page for Hunter was created in August to raise money for emergency hay for the horses; only about $300 was raised.

Contact information for Hunter could not be found before deadline; it appears the nonprofit’s Facebook page has been disabled.

 

Cruel secret about BC’s wolf kill program revealed

The BC Government lied about how they use wolves to betray their family packs

(GOLDEN, BC – Dec. 11, 2019) A gruesome detail about BC’s wolf-killing program has been revealed in a new government report titled South Peace Caribou Recovery following Five Years of Experimental Wolf Reduction.  Although previously denied by government staff, individual wolves are exposed to repeated trauma in a highly disturbing practice…over and over again.  Despite being denied by government in previous media enquiries, the Methods section of the 2019 experimental report describes how the collared wolf is left to watch as it’s entire family is gunned down from the air, and kept alive year after year, being forced to repeatedly witness the death of any wolf that befriends it.

In 2016 the province reluctantly admitted that it net-guns individual wolves from helicopters to fit them with radio collars so that gunmen can be flown in at a later date to relocate the collared wolf with its family and kill them all.  The animals collared in the practice described above are often referred to as “Judas Wolves” to portray a sense of ultimate betrayal; yet Judas made a deliberate choice.

“Knowing that wolves are highly sentient and dependent on each other for survival makes this practice unbearable to think about, yet we must.  Imagine what these collared wolves experience. How many times do they have to suffer?” questions Sadie Parr, executive director of Wolf Awareness.

The South Peace wolf-kill program, which encompasses an area larger than half of Vancouver Island, has killed more than 550 wolves and is proposed to continue for an indefinite period; until the landscape can no longer support prey such as elk, moose and deer to feed wolves.  Conservation group Wolf Awareness maintains that wolves are being scapegoated for industrial and recreational interests, and that wolves, wildlife and ecosystems deserve better.

A secretive letter from the ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development this past August 2019 got leaked which exposed plans to expand the aerial gunning of wolves to three 3 additional caribou herd ranges, adding to the tax-funded killing already underway in the South Peace and areas around Revelstoke and Nelson.

The province recommitted to transparent and fulsome consultation about caribou recovery planning after several heated community meetings elicited outrage in BC’s interior. However, the ministry then conducted a closed consultation in its proposal to expand the wolf kill program underway to three additional areas (Tweedsmuir-Entiako, Hart Ranges, and Itcha-Ilgachuz caribou herd ranges) and pay hunters to kill cougars in the Itcha-Ilgachuz caribou range. The consultation document was finally leaked to conservation groups, who immediately opposed the plans.

Says Parr.  “The tax-funded unethical and inhumane wolf kill program coupled with secrecy and pitifully inadequate caribou habitat protection is a stain on the entire country.  Ethical and ecological considerations are being ignored.”

— 30 –

MEDIA CONTACT: Sadie Parr  sadie@wolfawareness.org    250-272-4695

WOLF AWARENESS is a conservation organization dedicated to promoting positive attitudes towards carnivores in general, the wolf in particular, and to fostering an appreciation for the environment of which we are all a part.

The South Peace wolf-kill program, which encompasses an area larger than half of Vancouver Island, has killed more than 550 wolves and is proposed to continue for an indefinite period; until the landscape can no longer support prey such as elk, moose and deer to feed wolves.  Conservation group Wolf Awareness maintains that wolves are being scapegoated for industrial and recreational interests, and that wolves, wildlife and ecosystems deserve better.

A secretive letter from the ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development this past August 2019 got leaked which exposed plans to expand the aerial gunning of wolves to three 3 additional caribou herd ranges, adding to the tax-funded killing already underway in the South Peace and areas around Revelstoke and Nelson.

The province recommitted to transparent and fulsome consultation about caribou recovery planning after several heated community meetings elicited outrage in BC’s interior. However, the ministry then conducted a closed consultation in its proposal to expand the wolf kill program underway to three additional areas (Tweedsmuir-Entiako, Hart Ranges, and Itcha-Ilgachuz caribou herd ranges) and pay hunters to kill cougars in the Itcha-Ilgachuz caribou range. The consultation document was finally leaked to conservation groups, who immediately opposed the plans.

Says Parr.  “The tax-funded unethical and inhumane wolf kill program coupled with secrecy and pitifully inadequate caribou habitat protection is a stain on the entire country.  Ethical and ecological considerations are being ignored.”

— 30 –

MEDIA CONTACT: Sadie Parr  sadie@wolfawareness.org    250-272-4695

WOLF AWARENESS is a conservation organization dedicated to promoting positive attitudes towards carnivores in general, the wolf in particular, and to fostering an appreciation for the environment of which we are all a part.

Factory Farm Conditions Are Unhealthy for Animals and Bad for People, Too

In 2014, the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, commissioned by the U.K. government and Wellcome Trust, estimated that 700,000 people around the world die each year due to drug-resistant infections. A follow-up report two years later showed no change in this estimate of casualties. Without action, that number could grow to 10 million per year by 2050. A leading cause of antibiotic resistance? The misuse and overuse of antibiotics on factory farms.

Flourishing antibiotic resistance is just one of the many public health crises produced by factory farming. Other problems include foodborne illness, flu epidemics, the fallout from poor air and water quality, and chronic disease. All of it can be traced to the current industrial approach to raising animals for food, which puts a premium on “high stocking density,” wherein productivity is measured by how many animals are crammed into a feeding facility.

Oversight for the way factory farms operate and manage waste is minimal at best. No federal agency collects consistent and reliable information on the number, size and location of large-scale agricultural operations, nor the pollution they’re emitting. There are also no federal laws governing the conditions in which farm animals are raised, and most state anti-cruelty laws do not apply to farm animals.

For example, Texas, Iowa and Nebraska have excluded livestock from their animal cruelty statute and instead created specific legislation aimed at farm animal abuse that makes accepted or customary husbandry practices the animal welfare standard.

After New Jersey created similar legislation, the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals sued the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, claiming that “routine husbandry practices” was too vague. The New Jersey Society won, and as a result, the state’s Department of Agriculture has created more specific regulations.

In North Carolina, any person or organization can file a lawsuit if they suspect animal cruelty, even if that person does not have “possessory or ownership rights in an animal.” In this way, the state has “a civil remedy” for farm animal cruelty.

Still, the general lack of governmental oversight of factory farms results in cramped and filthy conditions, stressed-out animals and workers, and an ideal setup for the rampant spread of disease among animals, between animals and workers, and into the surrounding environment through animal waste.

Antibiotic Resistance

The problem: In 2017, nearly 11 million kilograms of antibiotics — including 5.6 million kilograms of medically important antibiotics — were sold in the U.S. for factory-farmed animals. Factory farms use antibiotics to make livestock grow faster and control the spread of disease in cramped and unhealthy living conditions. While antibiotics do kill some bacteria in animals, resistant bacteria can, and often do, survive and multiply, contaminating meat and animal products during slaughter and processing.

What it means for you: People can be exposed to antibiotic-resistant bacteria by handling or eating contaminated animal products, coming into contact with contaminated water or touching farm animals, which of course makes a farmworker’s job especially hazardous. Even if you don’t eat much meat or dairy, you’re vulnerable: Resistant pathogens can enter water streams through animal manure and contaminate irrigated produce.

Developments: The European Union has been much more aggressive than the U.S. in regulating antibiotic use on factory farms, banning the use of all antibiotics for growth promotion in 2006. But the U.S. is making some progress, too. Under new rules issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which went into effect in January 2017, antibiotics that are important for human medicine can no longer be used for growth promotion or feed efficiency in cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys and other animals raised for food.

Additionally, 95 percent of medically important antibiotics used in animal water and feed for therapeutic purposes were reclassified so they can no longer be purchased over the counter, and a veterinarian would have to sign off for their use in animals. As a result, domestic sales and distribution of medically important antimicrobials approved for use in factory farmed animals decreased by 43 percent from 2015 (the year of peak sales) through 2017, reports the FDA.

However, the agency still allows routine antibiotic use in factory farms for disease prevention in crowded and stressed animals, so these new rules aren’t nearly enough, says Matthew Wellington, antibiotics program director for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund.

“The FDA should implement ambitious reduction targets for antibiotic use in the meat industry, and ensure that these medicines are used to treat sick animals or control a verified disease outbreak, not for routine disease prevention,” Wellington said in a statement, according to the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy.

National Resources Defense Council Senior Attorney Avinash Kar agrees. “Far more antibiotics important to humans still go to cows and pigs — usually when they’re not sick — than to people, putting the health of every single one of us in jeopardy.”

Water and Pollution

The problem: Livestock in this country produce between 3 and 20 times more waste than people in the U.S. produce, according to a 2005 report issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). That’s as much as 1.2-1.37 billion tons of manure a year. Some estimates are even higher.

Manure can contain “pathogens such as E. coli, growth hormones, antibiotics, chemicals used as additives to the manure or to clean equipment, animal blood, silage leachate from corn feed, or copper sulfate used in footbaths for cows,” according to a 2010 report by the National Association of Local Boards of Health. Though sewage treatment plants are required for human waste, no such treatment facility exists for livestock waste.

Since this amount far exceeds what can be used as fertilizer, animal waste from factory farms typically enters massive, open-air waste lagoons, which spread airborne pathogens to people who live nearby. If animal waste is applied as fertilizer and exceeds the soil’s capacity for absorption, or if there is a leak or break in the manure storage or containment unit, the animal waste runs off into oceans, lakes, rivers, streams and groundwater.

Extreme weather increases the possibility of such breaks. Hurricane Florence, for example, flooded at least 50 hog lagoons when it struck the Carolinas last year, and satellite photos captured the damage.

Whether or not the manure is contained or spread as fertilizer, it can release many different types of harmful gases, including ammonia and hydrogen sulfide, as well as particulate matter comprised of fecal matter, feed materials, pollen, bacteria, fungi, skin cells and silicates, into the air.

What it means for you: Pathogens can cause diarrhea and severe illness or even death for those with weakened immune systems, and nitrates in drinking water have been connected to neural tube defects and limb deficiencies in newborns (among other things), as well as miscarriages and poor general health. For infants, it can mean blue baby syndrome and even death.

Gases like ammonia and hydrogen sulfide can cause dizziness, eye irritation, respiratory illness, nausea, sore throats, seizures, comas and death. Particulate matter in the air can lead to chronic bronchitis, chronic respiratory symptoms, declines in lung function and organic dust toxic syndrome. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that children raised in communities near factory farms are more likely to develop asthma or bronchitis, and that people who live near factory farms may experience mental health deterioration and increased sensitization to smells.

Developments: It is difficult to hold factory farms accountable for polluting surrounding air and water, largely for political reasons. The GOP-controlled Congress and the Trump administration excused big livestock farms from reporting air emissions, for instance, following a decade-long push for special treatment by the livestock industry.

The exemption indicates “further denial of the impact that these [emissions] are having, whether it’s on climate or whether it’s on public health,” says Carrie Apfel, an attorney for Earthjustice. In a 2017 report from the EPA’s Office of the Inspector General, the agency admitted it has not found a good way to track emissions from factory farms and know whether the farms are complying with the Clean Air Act.

No federal agency even has reliable information on the number and locations of factory farms, which of course makes accountability even harder to establish.

Foodborne Illness

The problem: The United States has “shockingly high levels of foodborne illness,” according to an investigation jointly conducted by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and The Guardian, and unsanitary conditions at factory farms are a leading contributor.

Studying 47 meat plants across the U.S., investigators found that hygiene incidents occur at rates experts described as “deeply worrying.” One dataset covered 13 large red meat and poultry plants between 2015 and 2017 and found an average of more than 150 violations a week, and 15,000 violations over the entire period. Violations included unsanitary factory conditions and meat contaminated with blood, septicemic disease and feces.

“The rates at which outbreaks of infectious food poisoning occur in the U.S. are significantly higher than in the UK, or the EU,” Erik Millstone, a food safety expert at Sussex University told the Guardian.

Poor sanitary practices allow bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella, which live in the intestinal tracts of infected livestock, to contaminate meat or animal products during slaughter or processing. Contamination occurs at higher rates on factory farms because crowded and unclean living conditions increase the likelihood of transmission between animals.

It also stresses out animals, which suppresses their immune response, making them more susceptible to disease. The grain-based diets used to fatten cattle can also quickly increase the risk of E. coli infection. In poultry, the practice of processing dead hens into “spent hen meal” to be fed to live hens has increased the spread of Salmonella.

What it means for you: According to the CDC, roughly 48 million people in the U.S. suffer from foodborne illnesses annually, with 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths each year. Salmonella accounts for approximately 11 percent of infections, and kills more people every year than any other bacterial foodborne illness.

Developments: In January 2011, President Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the first major piece of federal legislation addressing food safety since 1938. FSMA grants the FDA new authority to regulate the way food is grown, harvested and processed, and new powers such as mandatory recall authority.

The FSMA “basically codified this principle that everybody responsible for producing food should be doing what the best science says is appropriate to prevent hazards and reduce the risk of illness,” according to Mike Taylor, co-chairman of Stop Foodborne Illness and a former deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine at the FDA. “So we’re moving in the right direction.”

However, almost a decade later, the FSMA is still being phased in, due to a shortage of trained food-inspectors and a lack of funding. “Congress has gotten about halfway to what it said was needed to successfully implement” the Act, Taylor said.

The Flu

The problem: Both the number and density of animals on factory farms increase the risk of new virulent pathogens, according to the U.S. Council for Agriculture, Science and Technology. In addition, transporting animals over long distances to processing facilities brings different influenza strains into contact with each other so they combine and spread quickly.

Pigs — susceptible to both avian and human flu viruses — can serve as ground zero for all sorts of new strains. Because of intensive pig farming practices, “the North American swine flu virus has jumped onto an evolutionary fast track, churning out variants every year,” according to a report published in the journal Science.

What it means for you: These viruses can become pandemics. In fact, viral geneticists link the genetic lineage of H1N1, a kind of swine flu, to a strain that emerged in 1998 in U.S. factory pig farms. The CDC has estimated that between 151,700 and 575,400 people worldwide died from the 2009 H1N1 virus infection during the first year the virus circulated.

Breast, Prostate and Colon Cancer

The problem: Factory farms in the U.S. use hormones to stimulate growth in an estimated two-thirds of beef cattle. On dairy farms, around 54 percent of cows are injected with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), a growth hormone that increases milk production.

What it means for you: The health effects of consuming animal products treated with these growth hormones is an ongoing international debate. Some studies have linked growth hormone residues in meat to reproductive issues and breast, prostate and colon cancer, and IGF-1, an insulin-like growth hormone, has been linked to colon and breast cancer. However, the FDA, the National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization have independently found that dairy products and meat from cows treated with rBGH are safe for human consumption.

Because risk assessments vary, the EU, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Israel and Argentina have banned the use of rBGH as a precautionary measure. The EU has also banned the use of six hormones in cattle and imported beef.

Developments: U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines allow beef products to be labeled with “no hormones administered” and dairy products to be labeled “from cows not treated with rBST/rBGH” if the producer provides sufficient documentation that this is true. Consumers can use this information to make their own decisions about the risks associated with hormone-treated animal products.

What You Can Do

You can vote for local initiatives that establish health and welfare regulations for factory farms, but only a tiny number of states, including California and Massachusetts, are even putting relevant propositions on the ballot.

Another option is to support any of the nonprofits that are, in lieu of effective government action, taking these factory farms to task. The Environmental Working GroupEarthjustice and the Animal Legal Defense Fund are among those working hard to check the worst practices of these factory farms. Another good organization is the Socially Responsible Agricultural Project, which works with local residents to fight the development of factory farms in their own backyards.

Buying humanely raised animal products from farms and farmers you trust is another way to push back against factory farming. Sadly, products from these smaller farms make up only a fraction of the total. In the U.S., roughly 99 percent of chickens, turkeys, eggs and pork, and 70 percent of cows, are raised on factory farms.

You can support lab-grown “clean” burgers, chicken and pork by buying it once it becomes widely available. Made from animal cells, the process completely spares the animal and eliminates the factory farm. “The resulting product is 100 percent real meat, but without the antibiotics, E. coliSalmonella, or waste contamination,” writes the Good Food Institute.

In the meantime, you can register your objection to factory farming by doing your bit to reduce demand for their products. In short, eat less meat and dairy, and more plant-based proteins.

More than $13 billion has been invested in plant-based meat, egg and dairy companies in 2017 and 2018 alone, according to the Good Food Institute, and Beyond Meat’s initial public offering debut in May marked the most successful one since the year 2000.

Lest you think that what you do on your own can’t possibly make a difference, consider one of the major drivers behind all this new investment: consumers are demanding change.

“Shifting consumer values have created a favorable market for alternatives to animal-based foods, and we have already seen fast-paced growth in this space across retail and foodservice markets,” says Bruce Friedrich, executive director of the Good Food Institute.

This article was produced as part of a partnership between Stone Pier Press and Earth | Food | Life, a project of the Independent Media Institute. An earlier version appeared on Stone Pier Press.

Elephant Rides Are Now Banned at Cambodia’s Angkor Wat

After pressure from animal rights groups, the temples’ management group decided to stop offering elephant rides to tourists.

https://www.travelandleisure.com/animals/angkor-wat-cambodia-elephants

BY CAILEY RIZZO

NOVEMBER 18, 2019

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Cambodia’s most famous tourist attraction, Angkor Wat, will ban elephant rides around the ancient temples, beginning next year.

After pressure from animal rights groups, the temples’ management group decided to stop offering elephant rides to tourists.

To start the initiative, two of the 14 elephants that lived and worked at Angkor Archaeological Park were moved to the nearby Bos Tham forest last week, according to the Khmer Times.

The rest of the elephants that are in Angkor Wat will be transferred to the forest by early 2020. Visitors will be able to see the animals there but they will not be permitted to ride as the elephants will continue to be under the care of the company that currently owns them.

Tourists riding elephants in Angkor Wat
GETTY IMAGES

“The elephant is a big animal, but it is also gentle and we don’t want to see the animals being used for tourism activities anymore,” Long Kosal, a spokesperson for the park’s management company, told Khmer Times. “We want them to live in their natural surroundings.”

Elephants have been at Angkor Wat since the practice of ferrying tourists around started in 2001.

In 2016, an elephant named Sambo died at the park, due to a heart attack triggered by heatstroke and exhaustion. Her death prompted an online petition to end elephant riding at Angkor Wat, which earned more than 185,000 signatures.

The World Wildlife Fund published a report last year, stating that the number of Asian elephants has decreased 50 percent in the last three generations. There are less than 50,000 that live in the wild and they are officially listed as an endangered species.

If you visit Angkor Wat, check out Travel + Leisure’s tips for seeing the popular site without battling other tourists for a view.

Burger King Sued by Vegans for Impossible Burger Contamination

BURGER KINGSUED BY VEGANS FOR IMPOSSIBLE BURGER CONTAMINATIONWe Want Burger Our Way!!!

Whoopi Goldberg Slammed For Having ‘Triggered Fit’ Over Plant-Based Meat

‘It’s so easy to make choices that don’t support suffering and death. We urge you to consider that’
'Go eat a couch if you want' (Photo: Instagram / Whoopi Goldberg)

‘Go eat a couch if you want’ (Photo: Instagram / Whoopi Goldberg)

American actor and TV personality Whoopi Goldberg has been slammed for having a ‘triggered fit’ over plant-based meat.

The celebrity featured on talk show The View earlier this month, where she defended her right to consume bacon.

“What I don’t want is no choice…,” the star said. “I like the bacon, I want the bacon, you don’t have to eat it… No one should tell you that you can’t have something.”

The comment received backlash from animal-rights charity PETA, who said it couldn’t help but ‘call-out’ Goldberg for her ‘rant on The View’.

‘Enormous suffering’

“Really, Whoopi? Eating bacon is your Friday cause? Your ‘choice’ really hurts. Be kind,” PETA said. “Animals should have a choice though. Eating bacon causes enormous suffering and ends a pig’s life.

“It’s so easy to make choices that don’t support suffering and death. We urge you to consider that.”

‘Making a fuss’

“Hey I understand PETA is making a fuss because I like bacon,” Goldberg tweeted to her 1.5 million followers.

“I never said I was a vegan, and just like I want choice over my body, I want the same for what goes into my body. I would NEVER suggest that ANYONE pressure any one of YOU to change your vegan habits. Go eat a couch if you want.”

‘Animals are not property’

The star’s response added to the controversy, with a plethora of vegans highlighting the cruelty of bacon.

“You spoke a truth in you that you didn’t realize you had, Whoopi,” one user tweeted.

“Animals are not property just as human beings are not property. They don’t belong to us. They deserve to have control over what happens to their bodies just as we do.”