China’s top political body approved the decision on Monday to ban the consumption and the illegal trade of wild animals, which some experts believe to be the source of the virus.
The National People’s Congress Standing Committee approved the ban on Monday in a bid to help “safeguard public health and ecological security,” according to Chinese state media.
The move aims to “completely ban the eating of wild animals” while also “cracking down on illegal trade of wildlife,” state media reports.
The use of wild animals for scientific research, medicine and exhibition will now need to go through “strict examination and approval” by the supervising department in accordance with relevant regulations.
This comes after Chinese authorities suspended the trade of wild animals on January 26th in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus.
France has pledged to outlaw the practice of culling unwanted male chicks by the end of 2021, as part of animal welfare reforms.
About seven billion male chicks – not wanted for meat or eggs – are killed around the world each year, usually in shredding machines or by gas.
The government said new methods were emerging that would make it possible to test the sex of embryos inside the egg.
But some campaigners said the reforms did not go far enough.
What are the changes in France?
French Agriculture Minister Didier Guillaume announced the reforms at a press conference in Paris on Tuesday.
“From the end of 2021, nothing will be like it was before,” he said.
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Mr Guillaume said he hoped a method would soon be developed that would allow the gender of a chick to be determined before it had hatched.
Researchers have been working on the issue for years, but are yet to come up with a solution that works on an industrial scale.
The 2021 ban will make France one of the first countries to outlaw the practice of culling male chicks. A ban in Switzerland came into effect earlier this year, while a top court in Germany has ruled that the practice can continue on a temporary basis until an alternative can be found.
France and Germany last year said they would work together to put an end to mass chick culling.
Mr Guillaume also announced on Tuesday that the practice of castrating piglets without anaesthesia would be banned by the end of 2021.
Castration is performed to prevent “boar taint” – a potent smell or taste that can occur in the meat of non-neutered pigs. Several countries have already made the use of anaesthesia obligatory.
How widespread is male chick culling?
The mass-killing of male chicks shortly after birth is common practice in food production around the world.
For the billions of hens used in egg and poultry farming every year, a similar number of male chicks are killed shortly after birth.
Male chicks are viewed in the industry as commercially useless, because they grow more slowly than hens so are deemed unsuitable for meat production.
After sorting, the most common methods of killing involve asphyxiation by gassing or maceration in high-speed grinders.
What has the response been?
Many animal rights activists welcomed the changes in France but said they did not go far enough.
They are “a step in the right direction, but still inadequate”, Anissa Putois of the campaigning group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) told AFP news agency.
French animal protection group L214 said the measures were “not ambitious” and “do not address the basic problems”.
“There is nothing on slaughter conditions, nor on how to exit from intensive animal farming,” it said, according to AFP.
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Minister says no more timber licences will be awarded for the area, also known as the ‘doughnut hole’
The B.C. government has banned logging in an ecologically sensitive area along the U.S. border after Seattle’s mayor and environmental groups called for protection of the watershed.
Forests Minister Doug Donaldson announced Wednesday that B.C. will no longer award timber licences in a 5,800-hectare plot called the Silverdaisy or “doughnut hole” in the Skagit River Valley.
He said the province’s previous Liberal government awarded a timber sale licence for the area in 2015 but that approval has now ended and no future licences will be granted.
“Individuals and groups on both sides of the border have expressed concerns that logging should stop in the Silverdaisy and we’re responding to those concerns,” the minister said on a conference call with reporters. “This is a significant step in addressing a lingering issue.”
B.C.’s forestry industry is in a slump due to timber shortages but Donaldson said his government is working to ensure access to new harvest areas that will replace the portion of the Silverdaisy that had been available for logging.
The doughnut hole is surrounded by the Skagit Valley and Manning provincial parks just east of Hope.
There was one timber sale planned in the area for 67,000 cubic metres, a relatively small volume, and Donaldson said he doesn’t anticipate any immediate impact on jobs.
Imperial Metals Corp., owner of the Mount Polley mine where a tailings dam collapse caused an ecological disaster in 2014, owns copper mineral claims in the Silverdaisy.
Tom Curley of the Skagit Environmental Endowment Commission said it’s working to acquire those rights to ensure preservation of the area.
The commission, which aims to protect wildlife and acquire mineral and timber rights consistent with conservation purposes in the Skagit Valley, was created through the High Ross Treaty, a 1984 agreement between Canada and the U.S.
Imperial Metals did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan wrote to the B.C. government last year urging it to halt logging in the area. She also said the Silverdaisy provides more than 30 per cent of the fresh water flowing into Puget Sound.
Environment Minister George Heyman said when the treaty was signed three decades ago, the B.C. and Washington governments signalled clear intent that, once the issue of mineral tenures was resolved, the doughnut hole would be returned to park status.
“Somewhere along the line … there was a lapse in corporate memory,” he said. “We’re restoring that today.”
The B.C. Liberals did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Heyman said the area is a critical wildlife corridor and foraging habitat for grizzly bear, wolverine and other species, and 33 per cent of the area is currently protected to provide a home for spotted owls and other species at risk.
“But today’s action will conserve the entire package,” he said.
Laura Kane, The Canadian
After pressure from animal rights groups, the temples’ management group decided to stop offering elephant rides to tourists.
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.
“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.
Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act reappears in U.S. House of Representatives, is backed by leading animal protection organization
WASHINGTON, Nov. 18, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Born Free USA, an internationally recognized leader in animal protection and wildlife conservation, announced today its strong support of the recent reintroduction of the Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The bill, championed by Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, would prohibit the use or possession of all body-gripping traps within the 150 million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System. These traps include steel-jaw leghold traps, Conibear traps, and strangulation neck snares.
“By their very design, body-gripping traps are cruel, dangerous and indiscriminate,” said Angela Grimes, CEO of Born Free USA. “Their brutality cannot be overstated. As our two undercover investigations have shown, traps inflict severe stress, pain and suffering for any animal who steps into them—including endangered species and beloved pets. Born Free USA applauds Chairwoman Lowey for her strong leadership to end this cruelty throughout the National Wildlife Refuge System.”
The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System is to be an inviolate sanctuary for our native wildlife, yet thousands of animals are trapped in these cruel devises on our refuges every year. Children and family pets are also put at risk every time they visit one of the 177 refuges that currently allows trapping.
“Body-gripping traps should have no place in our National Wildlife Refuges,” Lowey said. “The Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act would ban from public land these violent traps, which endanger wild animals as well as the millions of visitors who enjoy our nation’s 566 refuges each year. It is past time we ensure the entire National Wildlife Refuge System is safe for animals and families alike. We must restore the true meaning of ‘refuge’ to the National Wildlife Refuge System.”
Once in a trap, animals suffer in agony for hours or even days. In addition to the excruciating pain inflicted by the trap, trapped animals are also exposed to extreme stress, environmental elements, dehydration, starvation, and predation, with no chance of relief or escape.
Born Free USA urges other members of Congress to join with Congresswoman Lowey to support this important legislation.
For more information about Born Free USA, visit https://www.bornfreeusa.org.
About Born Free USA
Born Free USA works tirelessly to ensure that all wild animals, whether living in captivity or in the wild, are treated with compassion and respect and are able to live their lives according to their needs. As a leading wildlife charity, Born Free USA opposes the exploitation of wild animals in captivity and campaign to keep them where they belong – in the wild. The organization promotes Compassionate Conservation to enhance the survival of threatened species in the wild and protect natural habitats while respecting the needs and safeguarding the welfare of individual animals.
New York Congresswoman Nita Lowey has reintroduced a bill that would prohibit body-gripping traps in the National Wildlife Refuge system.
Lowey, Democratic chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, reintroduced the Refuge From Cruel Trapping Act Friday, that would ban from public land traps where animal endure hours or even days of pain. Lowey says that, each year, thousands of bobcats, otters, foxes, beavers and other wild animals are trapped in this manner across the nation’s refuges. She says more than 50 percent of the 566 refuges allow trapping. Steel-jaw leghold traps; conibear traps: and neck snares would be banned if the measure is enacted. Lowey says it’s time to restore the true meaning of “refuge” to the National Wildlife Refuge system
SAN FRANCISCO – Fix global warming or cook dinner on a gas stove?
That’s the choice for people in 13 cities and one county in California that have enacted new zoning codes encouraging or requiring all-electric new construction.
The codes, most of them passed since June, are meant to keep builders from running natural gas lines to new homes and apartments, with an eye toward creating fewer legacy gas hookups as the nation shifts to carbon-neutral energy sources.
For proponents, it’s a change that must be made to fight climate change. For natural gas companies, it’s a threat to their existence. And for some cooks who love to prepare food with flame, it’s an unthinkable loss.
Natural gas is a fossil fuel, mostly methane, and produces 33% of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas causing climate change.
“There’s no pathway to stabilizing the climate without phasing gas out of our homes and buildings. This is a must-do for the climate and a livable planet,” said Rachel Golden of the Sierra Club’s building electrification campaign.
These new building codes come as local governments work to speed the transition from natural gas and other fossil fuels and toward the use of electricity from renewables, said Robert Jackson, a professor of energy and the environment at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.
“Every house, every high-rise that’s built with gas, may be in place for decades. We’re establishing infrastructure that may be in place for 50 years,” he said.
These “reach” or “stretch” building codes, as they are known, have so far all been passed in California. The first was in Berkeley in July, then more in Northern California and recently Santa Monica in Southern California. Other cities in Massachusetts, Oregon and Washington state are contemplating them, according to the Sierra Club.
Some of the cities ban natural gas hookups to new construction. Others offer builders incentives if they go all-electric, much the same as they might get to take up more space on a lot if a house is extra energy-efficient. In April, Sunnyvale, a town in Silicon Valley, changed its building code to offer a density bonus to all-electric developments.
No more gas stoves?
The building codes apply only to new construction beginning in 2020, so they aren’t an issue for anyone in an already-built home.
Probably the biggest stumbling block for most pondering an all-electric home is the prospect of not having a gas stove.
“It’s the only thing that people ever ask about,” said Bruce Nilles, who directs the building electrification program of the Rocky Mountain Institute, a Colorado-based think tank that focuses on energy and resource efficiency.
Roughly 35% of U.S. households have a gas stove, while 55%have electric, according to a 2017 kitchen audit by the NPD Group, a global information company based in Port Washington, New York.
For at least a quarter of Americans, it doesn’t matter either way. They already live in houses that are all-electric, and their numbers are rising, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That’s especially true in the Southeast, where close to 45% of homes are all-electric.
For the rest of the nation, natural gas is used to heat buildings and water, dry clothes and cook food, according to the EIA. That represents 17% of national natural gas usage.
But the number of natural gas customers is also rising. The American Gas Association, which represents more than 200 local energy companies, says an average of one new customer is added every minute.
“That’s exactly the wrong direction,” Nilles said.
States weigh climate change solutions
The nudge toward all-electric buildings is the type of shift Americans will begin to experience more and more in coming years. Last year, California’s governor signed an executive order directing state agencies to work toward making the entire state economy carbon-neutral by 2045.
California is not alone. New York, Hawaii, Colorado and Maine have economywide carbon-neutrality goals, and several more are debating them. More than 140 U.S. cities have committed to transitioning to carbon-neutral energy.
The natural gas industry rejects the notion that it should not be part of the nation’s energy future.
“The idea that denying access to natural gas in new homes is necessary to meet emissions reduction goals is false. In fact, denying access to natural gas could make meeting emissions goals harder and more expensive,” said American Gas Association President and CEO Karen Harbert.
The association calls the new zoning codes for new construction burdensome to consumers and to the economy. They also say it’s more expensive to run an all-electric home. A study by AGA released last year suggested that all-electric homes would pay $750 to $910 a year more for energy-related costs, as well as amortized appliance and upgrade costs.
But critics question AGA’s conclusions.
Amanda Myers, a policy analyst at Energy Innovation, a research nonprofit group focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, said AGA presumed high electricity rates because of unrealistically large increases in expected electricity use and made unusual assumptions for how any anticipated electric load growth might be met.
An analysis last year by the Rocky Mountain Institute found that in locations as diverse as Chicago, Houston and Providence, Rhode Island, all-electric new homes over a 15-year time frame could save residents as much as $260 a year compared with new homes with air conditioners powered by electricity and natural gas.
You’ll pry my cold, dead hands off my gas range
The selling point for getting away from natural gas may come from a type of electric range that, according to chefs, is just as good if not better than gas. As fundamentally attached as people might be to cooking with fire, induction stoves are making headway.
Long popular in Europe and increasingly trendy in the United States, induction cooktops are different from the kind of traditional electric range where coils become red-hot. Induction ranges use electromagnetic energy to directly heat pots and pans.
They are fast, energy-efficient and safe because there’s no open flame, and they are cool to the touch unless you’re a piece of metal.
As Reviewed.com puts it, they’re “gentle enough to melt butter and chocolate, but powerful enough to bring 48 ounces of water to a boil in under three minutes.”
The downsides are that induction cooktops are more expensive than traditional electric stoves, generally a third to half more. They also work only with pans with steel or iron bottoms.
Professional chefs say modern induction ranges are comparable to gas. The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, America’s preeminent cooking school, trains its chefs on both induction and gas stoves because they will encounter both types and must know how to use them.
“Some of the finest restaurants in Europe are often out in mountainous areas or places where there isn’t gas. They cook on induction and that works just fine,” said Mark Erickson, a certified master chef at the institute.
Regular electric stoves aren’t a deal-breaker either, said Erickson, who lives in a townhouse with one and cooks on it every night.
“If I were given the chance and if it were a choice of gas or electric, I would choose gas because it’s what I’m used to,” he said. “But in all honesty, it’s not the end of the world.”