Observing an annual pre-Thanksgiving rite, President Trump pardoned two big white fluffy turkeys Tuesday in a photo op at the White House. (Named Drumstick and Wishbone, the birds will end up at an enclosure on the campus of Virginia Tech.) That leaves 46 million other turkeys that won’t get pardoned. Instead, they’ll wind up on someone’s dinner table during this holiday season, a fate that is expected to befall about 245 million gobblers all told this year. And none of them will make the journey from farm to table via the Willard InterContinental Hotel, where Drumstick and Wishbone hung out before Drumstick was ceremoniously presented to Trump.
No animals raised on factory farms are kept and killed under worse conditions than turkeys and chickens, which make up most of the animals raised for food in the U.S. Nearly 9 billion chickens are slaughtered each year for food. And because poultry is exempt from the federal Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture enforces, there are not even minimum federal standards governing how they live or die.
Turkeys and so-called broiler chickens are genetically bred to grow fast (to satisfy our love for breast meat) and, typically, grow so big that they can barely walk by the time they are killed. As a result, they can suffer from painful skeletal disorders and leg deformities. The vast majority spend their short lives (about 47 days for chickens) in artificially lit, windowless, barren warehouse barns. So that turkeys won’t peck one another in these crowded barns, their beaks are painfully trimmed.
When it’s time to slaughter them, the live birds are shackled upside down on a conveyor belt, paralyzed by electrified water and then dragged over mechanical throat-cutting blades. The birds are supposed to be stunned unconscious by the electrified water, but that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes the birds miss the blades and end up tumbling into the tanks of scalding water, where they drown. These methods are so cruel that they would be prohibited by federal welfare laws — if the animals in question were cows or pigs.
These are the grim realities behind Americans’ traditional Thanksgiving meal. But there are ways to make life and death somewhat better for the turkeys that wind up on your table. Of course, we could all just eat less turkey and chicken, which would reduce the demand for these animals. But to make a bigger impact, the major buyers of chicken and turkey meat need to push their suppliers to adopt less grisly practices.
The Humane Society of the U.S. has launched a campaign to get producers to pledge to raise healthier, less bloated birds, to provide them with better living conditions — more space, more stimulating environments and more sunlight — and, perhaps most important, to render the birds unconscious before they are shackled and slaughtered. The campaign also seeks to persuade buyers to obtain meat only from producers that honor this pledge. Meanwhile, Temple Grandin, the animal science professor known for designing more humane procedures for slaughtering beef cattle, has called for “controlled atmosphere stunning,” a process of using gas to make the birds unconscious before they get shackled for slaughter.
Installing new procedures takes time and money. All the buyers and producers that have signed on to the Humane Society campaign have agreed to fully convert to a new system by 2024. Companies should be held to that time frame, and more should be encouraged to take that pledge. If enough consumers demand it, companies will do it. That’s not too much to ask for the sake of the bird you’ll be carving up on Thanksgiving.
*Turkeys – Who Are They?
<https://www.facebook.com/events/185118602045200/>, University of Virginia,
Charlottesville, VA. *
*A presentation by Karen Davis in Brooks Hall Nov. 15 at 6pm. Sponsored by
*Justice Advocates. All are welcome!*
Sanctuary workers such as myself know that turkeys are intelligent,
keenly alert birds with highly developed senses and sensibilities. Turkey
mothers are superb parents who will fight to the death to protect their
The idea that wild turkeys are “smart” and domesticated turkeys are “dumb”
facilitates a view that turkey hunting is a benign collaboration between a
stalker and a “savvy” partner, and that turkeys bred for food are
“adapted” to factory farms.
In my talk, I draw attention to the moral miasma surrounding the
turkey, the ritual taunting by the media each year and ask – what if this
mean-spirited foreplay and blood sacrifice were taken away? What elements of
Thanksgiving remain? Karen Davis, PhD, is president of United Poultry
and the author of *More Than a Meal: The Turkey in History, Myth, Ritual,
*Reality* published by Lantern Books and available from UPC
Thanks to The Intercept for this thorough representation of the links between abusing someone for profit AND ignoring reality for profit AND the revolving door of governmental and industry corruption that profit from ABUSE!
Too many people have been claiming for decades that animal activists are “exaggerating” the horrors animals endure because people choose their taste bud and tradition preferences over civility and decency.
We are now into too many generations of many humans eating animal parts and pieces and secretions several times EVERY day. I am certain there is a provable connection between the eating of the psychological and biological RAGE those animals endure and the rise of violence in this world AND the lack of concern for “others.”
Whether or not there IS that provable connection about ‘eating rage,’ then there is the worse realization that too many people continue to CHOOSE to pay someone to brutalize and slaughter someone because they want to eat parts and pieces of their dead tortured bodies. Or how about paying industries to brutalize and slaughter someones because other someones want their oil, their diamonds, their land, their water?
If you eat “other” animals because you get some kind of personal gratification, what sets you apart from those humans/industries that destroy wild animals, water, air, land for personal/corporate financial gratification?
This MUST END! Being vegan is not a diet, it is not about what/who you eat, it is about CHOOSING civility over domination and violence.
Veganism IS the possibility of a world that works for every one and every thing, with no one and nothing left out.
I consider myself an outdoor enthusiast and will gleefully take on any challenge that nature can throw at me: scaling ever higher mountain peaks, hiking across continents or whitewater rafting. Overcoming my fears and pushing the limitations of my body past what I thought was possible—that’s the best feeling of victory that I can imagine. My trophies are the blisters on my feet and the sight of a sunrise from 14,000 feet above sea level captured on my iPhone. I don’t need a head on my wall or to watch an animal needlessly bleed to death in order to feed my ego.
I’m tired of hearing the same defensive arguments from hunters, who actually constitute only 5 percent of U.S. adults. (They’re just really loud.) Look, if killing cornered animals with enough firepower to take out a small nation compensates for the lack of power that you feel in the rest of your life, just say so. But don’t perpetuate myths about hunting that don’t hold up. My favorites of the bunch include the following:
It’s better to eat animals who lived in the wild their entire lives than it is to eat animals from a factory farm.
This argument confounds several issues. First, anyone with a brain knows that the factory-farming system is a problem for the animals, the environment, and our health. Eating almost anything is a better option. But let’s drop the BS: Hunters are not killing animals primarily to feed their families. Meat from a kill is a byproduct, yes, but hunting is a “sport”—and an expensive one at that. And I’m not just talking about the $10,000-a-head safari hunters—big-game hunters actually spent more than $4 billion in 2011 on “special equipment” (items such as dune buggies and snowmobiles) and another half-billion on taxidermy alone. Tell me that’s all in the name of putting good-quality food on the table. A third of all hunters go for small game, as in squirrels and raccoons—and I just don’t believe that grilled ‘possum is being served at 4 million dinner tables.
Hunting is necessary to keep down the population of “pests.”
Let’s not forget that we are encroaching on land that was the home range of those “pests” in the first place by building highways, developments and strip malls. When we take more and more land away from animals, of course they’re going to venture onto “our” roads and farms. A much more humane way of dealing with the problem is through sterilization, which has been proved to work by ecologists. Hunting actually increases the population problem by killing off the oldest male animals for their trophy quality while leaving the females and young to—guess what?—expand the population.
Kids should learn early that nature is harsh.
Yes, animals experience pain and suffering. But they also have complex lives that include time for play, tenderness, and care. Watching dolphins leap into the air from a kayak just a few feet away can teach far more about the natural world than shooting a frightened animal with a high-powered rifle can. I want to teach my kids about respecting all life and not taking what isn’t theirs just as much as I want to teach them about keen observation and physical endurance. Besides, killing animals doesn’t teach kids that nature is cruel—it teaches them that humans are cruel. And sadly, that’s a lesson that kids will learn all too soon anyway.
Nathan Runkle is the founder and president of Mercy For Animals, a foundation that fights for humane treatment of animals. For two decades, Nathan has overseen the organization’s growth into a leading international force in the prevention of cruelty to farmed animals and promotion of compassionate food choices and policies. Here, he demonstrates why we should all care about animal rights.
Most of us care about animal welfare. Whether we empathize most with dogs and cats in shelters, endangered wildlife, or orcas in captivity, the vast majority of us agree that animals matter and animal cruelty is wrong. In fact, a 2015 Gallup study found that a third of Americans believe animals should be given the same rights as people.
What most people don’t realize, however, is that most animal cruelty in America is legal – and that most of us pay for it at least three times a day. The truth is that the factory farming industry now raises and slaughters more than nine billion land animals per year in the U.S. alone. That’s more animals killed every year in America than there are humans on the planet.
The Animal Welfare Act, the main federal animal welfare law, doesn’t provide an ounce of protection for animals raised and killed for food. As a result, factory farmers can legally snap birds’ fragile legs into moving shackles, drag their heads through electrified water, and slit their throats while the animals are conscious. They can castrate pigs without anesthesia, and at most farms, slam piglets’ heads against the floor as the standard method for killing “runts” – all with impunity.
Systematic torture, in the form of overcrowded sheds and isolating cages and crates, is also all too common. The worst are battery cages for egg-laying hens, veal crates for baby cows, and gestation and farrowing crates for mother pigs. Trapped in such confinement systems, animals raised for food are deprived of natural conditions and behaviors, and many can’t even turn around or spread their limbs for nearly their entire lives.“…more animals are killed every year in America than there are humans on the planet.”TWEET THIS QUOTE
If all that animal cruelty doesn’t make you lose your lunch, consider this: According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the livestock sector is one of the largest sources of carbon dioxide pollution and the single largest source of potent greenhouse gases methane and nitrous oxide. Translation: Animal agriculture is one of the largest contributors to climate change. We can screw in all the squiggly light bulbs we want and ride our bikes to work, but if we’re eating burgers for lunch, we’re doing more to harm the environment than if we switched from a Prius to a Hummer.
Animal agriculture isn’t just polluting our world; it’s also polluting our bodies. Our country’s largest health crises are all linked to consumption of meat and other animal products. One in three people is obese, one in four will die of heart disease, and nearly forty percent of people will receive a cancer diagnosis. Science irrefutably shows that plant-based diets could prevent and even reverse most cases of these illnesses. In other words, the solution is right under our noses: on our plates.
It may seem hyperbolic to suggest that a single practice – eating animals – is responsible for most animal cruelty, environmental degradation, and global public health threats. But we can’t deny the science. We know animals feel pain and suffer, we know the causes of climate change and pollution, and we know what’s ailing our own bodies.
The good news is that a major shift toward plant-based diets may be as close to a silver-bullet solution to many of the world’s biggest problems as there could be. By simply leaving animal products off our plates, we can prevent animal suffering, lighten our environmental footprint, and even lengthen our own lives. If enough of us made this shift, we could change the world.
Now all we need to do is trust that our own capacity for change is greater than we think.
Source: Xinhua| 2017-09-11 12:28:44|Editor: Song Lifang
HANGZHOU, Sept. 11 (Xinhua) — Five people have been detained on suspicion of dumping 300 tonnes of diseased pigs in a mountainous area of Huzhou city, eastern China’s Zhejiang Province.
The city government issued a circular Monday accusing the Huzhou Industrial and Medical Waste Treatment Company of sending pigs that died of disease to a landfill rather than for cremation between 2013 and 2014.
Police investigation shows that the company, which is responsible for disposing the city’s dead pigs, has a refrigerated storage facility with a capacity of 50 tonnes. For six times, the company dumped diseased carcasses at three sites at Dayin Mountain whenever the facility was full.
Over the last week, the Huzhou government had dug out 224 tonnes of decomposed carcasses and sludge, which will be cremated.
A sample-test report by the municipal agricultural department said that no human-infecting pig diseases, such as H5 and H7 bird flu viruses and foot-and-mouth disease, had been found.
The authorities have ordered that the public security bureau, agriculture and environmental department and the local government to collectively ensure no carcasses are left in the soil. Later, local environmental service center will carry out an environment impact assessment.
The Zhejiang provincial government has sent inspectors to oversee the treatment process.
East China provinces are known for breeding pigs, and there are rules for disposing of carcasses. However, illegal dumping occasionally occurs when dealers try to save on bio-safety costs.
The government’s recent move to encourage bigger cages in order to prevent another avian influenza from spreading on a massive scale like the one which transpired last November is being met with a lukewarm reception and skepticism among critics over the lax nature of the newly introduced rules. (Image: Kobiz Media)
SEOUL, April 17 (Korea Bizwire) – Despite new government measures that require farmers to make use of larger cages, the horrific conditions that poultry live under at typical factory farms in South Korea are unlikely to change soon, which have been identified as one of the major factors behind the recent influenza Type A pandemic that causes illness to people.
The government’s recent move to encourage bigger cages in order to prevent another avian influenza from spreading on a massive scale like the one which transpired last November is being met with a lukewarm reception and skepticism among critics over the lax nature of the newly introduced rules.
Existing poultry farms will have 10 years to update their old cages in accordance with the new standards, but critics say the grace period is too long, and that simply making cages slightly bigger won’t get to the root of the problem.
According to current laws regarding poultry farming, chickens are being raised in a space smaller the size of an A4 sheet of paper (0.05 square meters or 0.5 square feet), which means 1 square meter per 20 chickens. When the new rules take place, poultry farms will be required to have their cages built at least 0.075 square meters in size.
The EU already banned (in 2003) the construction of any more of the so-called battery cages, a term that refers to small wire cages in which hens spend their entire lives with little to no space to move around. Since a total ban on battery cages took place in 2012, an increasing number of farmers have adopted free-range farming.
South Korean poultry farms however, have been bucking the trend and engaging in activities that border on animal cruelty, such as keeping the lights on during the night to maximize egg production, exploiting a physiological phenomenon in which a drastic environmental change suddenly increases the egg production of hens.
Despite opposition from animal rights groups, little has been done to secure the wellbeing of farm animals in South Korea.
A representative from the Korea Association for Animal Protection (KAAP), Lee Won-bok, was critical of the government’s move to tackle avian influenza, calling it a ‘makeshift plan’ that will bring little to no change.
“AI pandemics occur almost every year due to the poor living conditions of farm animals, not because of the size of cages,” Lee said.
As major exponents of greenhouse gases that warm the Earth, what cows consume is increasingly gaining attention from scientists trying to apply the brakes to global methane emissions. The latest promising discovery in this area comes from an international team of researchers, who have found that livestock plant food grown in warmer climates leads to higher methane releases, and could potentially be inhibiting milk and meat production at the same time.
Methane emitted by cows, or from any source for that matter, is a problem because it is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, due to its superior heat-trapping abilities. Meanwhile, global meat production is on the rise, from 71 million tons in 1961 to 318 million tons in 2014.
So scientists have been looking at the effects of livestock diets, and how they might be tweaked to reduce the amount of methane produced by the world’s growing bovine population. Last year, Australian scientists identified a strain of seaweed that can reduce methane emissions by 99 percent, while earlier this year another research team discovered that feeding cows tropical leaves in addition to regular food could cause also cause sharp decline.
The latest research doesn’t unearth new dietary supplements, rather it reveals an already existing culprit. Scientists from Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Scotland’s Rural College, and the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre in Frankfurt studied published data on forage quality, and found that nutritional value of grass was reduced at higher temperatures.
This is turn makes it harder for grazing livestock to digest the plants, and the scientists say there are a few reasons that might be. The extra heat causes plants to adapt and they may flower earlier, produce thicker leaves or possibly allow tougher invasive plants to spread into new areas and replace more nutritious species. With the plants tougher to digest, they spend longer inside the animal and produce more gas, and the scientists say this is setting in motion a vicious cycle.
“The vicious cycle we are seeing now is that ruminant livestock such as cattle produce methane which warms our planet,” says Dr. Mark Lee, a research fellow at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. “This warmer environment alters plants so they are tougher to digest, and so each mouthful spends more time in the animals’ stomach, producing more methane, further warming the planet, and the cycle continues. We need to make changes to livestock diets to make them more environmentally sustainable.”
With an eye to the future, the scientists used published empirical models to estimate how changes to the climate will impact global methane production. They found that methane production increased by 0.9 percent with a 1 °C temperature rise (1.8 °F), and by 4.5 percent with a 5 °C rise (9 °F). They expect this to be a worldwide trend, but did identify hotspots in North America, Central/Eastern Europe and Asia, places where livestock farming is increasing and climate change is expected to hit hardest.
“Now is the time to act, because the demand for meat-rich diets is increasing around the world,” says Lee. “Our research has shown that cultivating more nutritious plants may help us to combat the challenges of warmer temperatures.”
A vicious cycle of climate change, cattle diet and rising methane has been revealed in a new scientific study: as temperatures rise, forage plants get tougher and harder to digest, and cause more methane to be produced in bovine stomachs. And with cattle numbers rising and methane 85 times more powerful a greenhouse gas over 20 years, that spells trouble.
This warmer environment alters plants so they are tougher to digest, and so each mouthful spends more time in the animals’ stomach, producing more methane, further warming the planet, and the cycle continues.
Plants growing in warmer conditions are tougher and have lower nutritional value to grazing livestock, inhibiting milk and meat yields and raising the amount of methane released by the animals.
That’s because more methane is produced when plants are tougher to digest – an effect of a warmer environment.
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, around 25 times better at trapping heat than carbon dioxide over a century, and 85 times stronger over 20 years.
More than 95% of the methane produced by cows comes from their breath through eructation (belching) as they chew the cud.
The findings come in a published a paper today in the journal Biogeosciences by scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, Frankfurt.
The key finding is a near doubling of ruminant emissions of methane: “Upscaling the GHG footprint of the current livestock inventory to the 2050 projected inventory increases annual GHG emissions from enteric sources from 2.8 to 4.7 GT CO2eq.”
Dr Mark Lee, a research fellow at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew who led the research says; “The vicious cycle we are seeing now is that ruminant livestock such as cattle produce methane which warms our planet.
“This warmer environment alters plants so they are tougher to digest, and so each mouthful spends more time in the animals’ stomach, producing more methane, further warming the planet, and the cycle continues. We need to make changes to livestock diets to make them more environmentally sustainable.”
Harsher climate makes tougher plants
There are several reasons why rising temperatures may make plants tougher for grazing livestock to digest. Plants have adaptations to prevent heat damage, they can flower earlier, have thicker leaves or in some cases, tougher plants can invade into new areas replacing more nutritious species – all of which makes grazing more difficult.
This is a pressing concern, because climate change is likely to make plants tougher for grazing cattle, increasing the amount of methane that the animals breathe out into the atmosphere.
The researchers mapped the regions where methane produced by cattle will increase to the greatest extent as the result of reductions in plant nutritional quality. Methane production is generally expected to increase all around the world, with hotspots identified in North America, Central and Eastern Europe, and Asia, where the effects of climate change may be the most severe.
Many of these regions are where livestock farming is growing most rapidly. For example, meat production has increased annually by around 3.4% across Asia, compared with a more modest 1% increase across Europe.
The calculations, write the scientists, “suggested a previously undescribed positive climate change feedback, where elevated temperatures reduce grass nutritive value and correspondingly may increase methane production by 0.9% with a 1C temperature rise and 4.5% with a 5C rise (model average), thus creating an additional climate forcing effect.
“Future methane production increases are expected to be largest in parts of North America, central and eastern Europe and Asia, with the geographical extent of hotspots increasing under a high emissions scenario.”
Act now to limit the damage!
Global meat production has increased rapidly in recent years to meet demand, from 71 million tonnes in 1961 to 318 million tonnes in 2014, a 78% increase in 53 years (FAOSTAT, 2016). Grazing lands have expanded to support this production, particularly across Asia and South America, and now cover 35 million km2; 30% of the Earth’s ice-free surface.
However, livestock are valuable. They are worth in excess of $1.4 trillion to the global economy and livestock farming sustains or employs 1.3 billion people around the world (Thornton, 2010). The upward trend in livestock production and associated GHG emissions are projected to continue in the future and global stocks of cattle, goats and sheep are expected to reach 6.3 billion by 2050 (Steinfeld et al. 2006).
If these rises are to continue then the researchers say it will be necessary to limit the growth of livestock farming in the most rapidly warming regions, and, to avoid significant losses in livestock production efficiency and increases in methane emissions. Other measures, including eating less meat and farming more sustainably, are also essential:
“A global switch in human diets and a transition to more sustainable agricultural practices, as well as a greater prevalence of organic and silvopastoral farming, may reduce our reliance on intensively farmed cattle and other ruminants.
“In countries with high or increasing meat consumption, these measures could reduce the environmental impacts of agriculture and contribute to GHG emissions cuts with an associated improvement in human health.”
And the authors emphasise that we need to start implementing policy measures as soon as possible. “Now is the time to act,” said Dr Lee, “because the demand for meat-rich diets is increasing around the world. Our research has shown that cultivating more nutritious plants may help us to combat the challenges of warmer temperatures.
We are undertaking work at Kew to identify the native forage plants that are associated with high meat and milk production and less methane, attempting to increase their presence on the grazing landscape. We are also developing our models to identify regions where livestock are going to be exposed to reductions in forage quality with greater precision.
It is going to be important to put plans in place to help those countries exposed to the most severe challenges from climate change to adapt to a changing world.”
Oliver Tickell is contributing editor at The Ecologist.
Amid rising reports of animal abuses at meat processing facilities, France’s parliament has voted that slaughterhouses be required to install surveillance cameras to monitor workers’ interactions with live animals.
The proposed legislation, which was approved by 28 members on Jan. 12, would give the country’s nearly 1,000 slaughterhouses until Jan. 1, 2018 to install CCTV cameras everywhere live animals are handled, including monitoring the transport process and while they’re being held in stables, reports Politico.
According to the bill, the footage from each slaughterhouse would only be viewable to veterinarians, approved government officials or animal-welfare inspectors and would be kept on government file for a month. The bill also proposes the creations of a national Committee on the Ethics of Slaughterhouses, which would oversee and mete out harsher penalties to facilities caught violating the law.
The move comes amid heightened scrutiny of the country’s meat industry. In 2016, animal rights activist group L214 released troubling footage showing numerous animal abuses at several French meat-processing facilities inclduing workers killing animals without stunning them first, throwing lambs into walls, and hitting live animals.
Though the bill passed in parliament—where just four MPs opposed the legislation—it must still be approved by France’s senate. According to Reuters, the vote could happen as early as February.