‘There’s a direct relationship’: Brazil meat plants linked to spread of Covid-19

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jul/15/brazil-meat-plants-linked-to-spread-of-covid-19?fbclid=IwAR03AxS12zJCQRAssYGuCgFmOdkWSEZ_HXf4z97VzcAyTVKucKSPuDHmxnQ

Conditions at plants contributed to transmission of virus, experts say, as country remains second only to US for deaths

JBS worker with meat

JBS and BRF, two of the country’s biggest meat companies, are under the spotlight over their handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Photograph: Ueslei Marcelino/ReutersAnimals farmed is supported byAbout this contentDom Phillips in Rio de JaneiroPublished onWed 15 Jul 2020 06.32 EDT

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Brazilian meat plants helped spread Covid-19 in at least three different places across the country as the virus continues to migrate from big cities to the country’s vast interior, experts have said.

At the beginning of this week the country was second only to the US with 1.88 million confirmed Covid-19 cases and 72,833 deaths .

Its powerful agribusiness sector is allied with the country’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, who has dismissed the pandemic as a “little flu”. The beef sector is worth $26bn (£20.7bn), according to the Brazilian Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock (CNA), while its chicken industry is worth another $8bn.

Meat plants have stayed open during the pandemic, and staff work closely together, often in refrigerated areas. Other countries, including the US, Canada, Ireland and Germany, have also seen clusters around slaughterhouses.

An employee at JBS in Passo Fundo has his temperature measured by a coworker.

A JBS employee in Passo Fundo has his temperature checked. China recently suspended imports of meat from plants owned by BRF and JBS. Photograph: Diego Vara/Reuters

The conditions can create perfect Covid-19 breeding centres, said Priscila Schvarcz, a prosecutor from the Public Ministry of Labour (MPT), a branch of the federal prosecution service charged with supervising labour laws.

“We see a lot of workers infected,” said Schvarcz, a member of a national meat plant taskforce based in Rio Grande do Sul state in southern Brazil.Advertisement

Rio Grande do Sul has been hard hit. As of 23 June, 4,957 meat workers had tested positive at 32 plants in the state – a third of the total coronavirus cases in the area, prosecutors said. Five employees and 12 people in contact with them had died.

A study for the MPT showed that Covid-19 cases in central and southern Brazil were clustered around towns where meat plants were located and workers lived. “There is a direct relationship,” said Ernesto Galindo, the researcher who produced the study.‘Either we change or we die’: the radical farming project in the AmazonRead more

China, Brazil’s biggest trading partner, suspended imports of meat from plants owned by two of Brazil’s largest meat companies, BRF and JBS, at the beginning of this month. Brazil’s ministry of agriculture also suspended exports from a JBS plant in Rio Grande do Sul, business daily Valor said.

BRF said it was working with the Brazilian and Chinese authorities to resume deliveries. The company said that 98 of 2,873 workers at its plant in Lajeado, Rio Grande do Sul, tested positive in late May. JBS did not comment on China’s suspension of imports.

‘The focus was cows, not employees’

At a JBS plant in Dourados, in Mato Grosso do Sul state in the centre-west region, more than 4,000 employees were tested and nearly a quarter were positive, prosecutors said. The company suspended 1,600 workers on full pay but did not close the plant. As of 14 July, the town had 3,481 cases, a quarter of the state’s total.

The JBS plant in Dourados “was the initial focus for the outbreak”, said Andyane Tetila, an infectious diseases specialist in Dourados who works for the state health service. The JBS plant has 103 indigenous workers, many of whom live in nearby reserves where more than 150 people were subsequently infected, said Indianara Machado, an indigenous nurse who works in the reserve.

Employees works at JBS in Lapa in March

Employees work at JBS in Lapa in March. Prosecutors have said close working conditions at meat plants make them vulnerable to the spread of Covid-19. Photograph: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters

JBS said it had put all its indigenous workers on paid leave and is supporting initiatives to control and prevent new coronavirus outbreaks in more than 100 municipalities across Brazil. Labour prosecutors said JBS moved quickly to contain the outbreak. “The company collaborated,” said Jeferson Pereira, a labour prosecutor in Dourados. “It contracted nurses and technicians to accompany visits.”Advertisementhttps://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Another 85 people tested positive at a BRF plant in the town. The company said workers in this situation are suspended on pay, given medical attention and monitored by occupational health specialists at the company until they recover.

In June, a judge closed a JBS plant in the remote Amazon town of São Miguel do Guaporé in the north-west of Brazil for the second time after infections rocketed. As of 25 June, 377 of the plant’s 940 employees were infected – then more than half of the town’s caseload, prosecutors said.

Leandro da Conceição, 33, one of the workers in the plant, said he lost his sense of smell and taste. When he told his supervisor, he was ignored and kept working even though he got sicker and sicker.

“It reached a point I couldn’t stand it any more. I told my superior I was not well,” he told the Guardian. “His focus was the cows, not the employees, it was production.”Meat giants selling to UK linked to Brazil farms in deforested Amazon reserveRead more

Conceição was sent home after he produced his own positive test result. He and another worker later lost their jobs after a WhatsApp audio that featured them and other workers complaining about infections at the plant was published by local media. Both men were told falling production was the motive. “They had no reason to sack us,” he said. “I never missed work.”

Local labour prosecutor Helena Romero said: “We realised that the company was not carrying out containment measures, we observed that often workers kept working even though they had symptoms, and this could have contributed to spreading the illness.” The plant has since reopened.

After the outbreak in Lajeado, BRF signed an extrajudicial deal with labour prosecutors. The company said it had tested 31,000 employees nationwide in the past two months. Four of its plants had closed for testing and all 34 are now operating. Preventative measures included reducing bus capacity by half and suspending workers in Covid-19 risk groups. A permanent committee of specialists monitors its actions.

JBS – the world’s biggest meat company – has not signed any agreements with prosecutors. Court orders have imposed temporary shutdowns and in some cases testing at three of its plants in Rio Grande do Sul. On 23 June, a judge ordered all workers to be tested at a fourth JBS plant in the state. All have since reopened, prosecutors said.Revealed: UK banks and investors’ $2bn backing of meat firms linked to Amazon deforestationRead more

JBS did not explain why it had no agreements with labour prosecutors and declined to comment on outbreaks at individual plants. “JBS does not comment on legal decisions,” it said.

The company said that the health and safety of its team members was its key priority. It had adopted a strict protocol on control, prevention and safety at all processing units, in full compliance with government-mandated rules.

JBS said it followed guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization as well “specialised physicians”. “Each test assessment takes place on a case-by-case basis,” the company said. It disinfected factories daily and takes workers’ temperatures, and has increased its fleet of buses and put those in risk groups and anyone with symptoms on paid leave.

China Fresh Meat Lovers Lament Death of Live Poultry Markets

China Fresh Meat Lovers Lament Death of Live Poultry Markets

Bloomberg NewsBloombergJuly 13, 2020

https://theecologist.org/2020/jul/09/meat-and-pandemics-surprising-link

China Fresh Meat Lovers Lament Death of Live Poultry Markets

(Bloomberg) —

Chen Yu used to walk a short distance to a nearby market to get fresh poultry. Now, to stew a pot of chicken soup or cook a whole duck for family gatherings, she has to take two buses downtown to buy the meat.

“Live poultry cannot be sold in my neighborhood market now,” said Chen, a housewife in her 50s who lives in China’s Jingdezhen city. In the bigger market about 40 minutes away, there’s a special containment room for live birds. “You can see them, point at one of them, then the owner will have it slaughtered. Picking the duck yourself is not what matters. The key is you see them live.”

China will gradually close all live poultry markets to cut public health risks and step up supervision of farmers’ markets amid the Covid-19 outbreaks, Chen Xu, an official with the State Administration for Market Regulation, said this month. Live animal sales are still taking place in markets with containment rooms in some cities, but they will also eventually stop operating.

The pandemic has put China’s farmers’ markets under global scrutiny as the virus is thought to have originated from a wet market in Wuhan where exotic animals were suspected of being sold. In some provinces, fresh seafood and equipment like chopping boards are being tested. Scientists are still probing the origins of the virus.

China consumed more than 19 million tons of poultry in 2018, becoming the largest consumer by volume after the U.S., according to the USDA. The number surged to almost 23 million tons in 2019 following the African swine fever outbreak in the Asian nation, the U.S. agency said, citing China’s farm ministry data.

Bird Flu

China has been temporarily closing live poultry markets because of bird flu outbreaks for years. In 2017, officials in some affected areas ordered the markets to shut, and culled more than 1 million infected or susceptible fowl. Consumers were advised to buy chilled or frozen chicken instead of freshly prepared products from markets, and to thoroughly cook the meat.

In 2006, China’s State Council announced it will gradually ban the trading and killing of live poultry in big cities, encouraging killing to be undertaken at professional slaughterhouses instead. In Chen’s city, however, changes slowly started taking place in the second half of 2019 and now her neighborhood market has stopped selling them.

A fresh Covid-19 attack in Beijing after it largely controlled the outbreak has again triggered concerns about biosecurity. The capital shuttered its largest fruit and vegetable supply center last month and locked down nearby housing districts as dozens of people associated with the wholesale market tested positive for the coronavirus.

Despite risks related to live animal slaughter, many meat consumers don’t seem to worry about live birds. Generally, customers don’t feel assured when they buy poultry from shelves of a shop, said Wang Xiaoying, a poultry dealer in Jingdezhen city of the Jiangxi province. “They say it’s not fresh.”

Quest for Fresh

Fresh poultry means so much to some Chinese people that Wang uses her WeChat not only as an online messaging tool, but also as a platform to promote fresh poultry delivery. Posting pictures of fresh, clean and feather-plucked birds from time to time, she emphasizes in the caption that the poultry she offers are “freshly killed upon ordering.”

Wang does not worry about the avian flu, saying that she has been in the business for more than two decades. Whenever the city government orders a ban on live poultry trading amid occasional bird flu outbreaks, her family business comes to a halt. The longest halt, Wang said, was as long as six months.

For Wang, however, the full ban initiative is bad news. As of now, she’s still able to operate as the new policy will be implemented in phases. If the birds are to be processed only at centralized slaughterhouses, she fears her business could halve. She also sells processed poultry meat, but their sales have been much lower than that of live birds.

The new Chinese policy may disappoint many customers, like housewife Chen. “We might find it hard at first, but we’ll get used to it,” she said.

(Updates to add USDA data in fifth paragraph)

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

Subscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

Bloomberg NewsBloombergJuly 13, 2020

China Fresh Meat Lovers Lament Death of Live Poultry Markets

(Bloomberg) —

Chen Yu used to walk a short distance to a nearby market to get fresh poultry. Now, to stew a pot of chicken soup or cook a whole duck for family gatherings, she has to take two buses downtown to buy the meat.

“Live poultry cannot be sold in my neighborhood market now,” said Chen, a housewife in her 50s who lives in China’s Jingdezhen city. In the bigger market about 40 minutes away, there’s a special containment room for live birds. “You can see them, point at one of them, then the owner will have it slaughtered. Picking the duck yourself is not what matters. The key is you see them live.”

China will gradually close all live poultry markets to cut public health risks and step up supervision of farmers’ markets amid the Covid-19 outbreaks, Chen Xu, an official with the State Administration for Market Regulation, said this month. Live animal sales are still taking place in markets with containment rooms in some cities, but they will also eventually stop operating.

The pandemic has put China’s farmers’ markets under global scrutiny as the virus is thought to have originated from a wet market in Wuhan where exotic animals were suspected of being sold. In some provinces, fresh seafood and equipment like chopping boards are being tested. Scientists are still probing the origins of the virus.

China consumed more than 19 million tons of poultry in 2018, becoming the largest consumer by volume after the U.S., according to the USDA. The number surged to almost 23 million tons in 2019 following the African swine fever outbreak in the Asian nation, the U.S. agency said, citing China’s farm ministry data.

Bird Flu

China has been temporarily closing live poultry markets because of bird flu outbreaks for years. In 2017, officials in some affected areas ordered the markets to shut, and culled more than 1 million infected or susceptible fowl. Consumers were advised to buy chilled or frozen chicken instead of freshly prepared products from markets, and to thoroughly cook the meat.

In 2006, China’s State Council announced it will gradually ban the trading and killing of live poultry in big cities, encouraging killing to be undertaken at professional slaughterhouses instead. In Chen’s city, however, changes slowly started taking place in the second half of 2019 and now her neighborhood market has stopped selling them.

A fresh Covid-19 attack in Beijing after it largely controlled the outbreak has again triggered concerns about biosecurity. The capital shuttered its largest fruit and vegetable supply center last month and locked down nearby housing districts as dozens of people associated with the wholesale market tested positive for the coronavirus.

Despite risks related to live animal slaughter, many meat consumers don’t seem to worry about live birds. Generally, customers don’t feel assured when they buy poultry from shelves of a shop, said Wang Xiaoying, a poultry dealer in Jingdezhen city of the Jiangxi province. “They say it’s not fresh.”

Quest for Fresh

Fresh poultry means so much to some Chinese people that Wang uses her WeChat not only as an online messaging tool, but also as a platform to promote fresh poultry delivery. Posting pictures of fresh, clean and feather-plucked birds from time to time, she emphasizes in the caption that the poultry she offers are “freshly killed upon ordering.”

Wang does not worry about the avian flu, saying that she has been in the business for more than two decades. Whenever the city government orders a ban on live poultry trading amid occasional bird flu outbreaks, her family business comes to a halt. The longest halt, Wang said, was as long as six months.

For Wang, however, the full ban initiative is bad news. As of now, she’s still able to operate as the new policy will be implemented in phases. If the birds are to be processed only at centralized slaughterhouses, she fears her business could halve. She also sells processed poultry meat, but their sales have been much lower than that of live birds.

The new Chinese policy may disappoint many customers, like housewife Chen. “We might find it hard at first, but we’ll get used to it,” she said.

(Updates to add USDA data in fifth paragraph)

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

Subscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

Why these meatpacking workers fear for their health and safety amid COVID-19

Jun 24, 2020 6:40 PM EDTBy —

Fred de Sam Lazaro53commentsShareShare on FacebookShare on TwitterTranscriptAudio

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/why-these-meatpacking-workers-fear-for-their-health-and-safety-amid-covid-19

Many U.S. meatpacking plants shut down this spring due to coronavirus outbreaks. Nationwide, more than 27,000 workers have become infected, and nearly 100 have died. But in late April, President Trump ordered the facilities to stay open, deeming them critical to preserving the nation’s meat supply. Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports on the experiences of some of these workers.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:It has been nearly six weeks since production resumed in most meatpacking plants across the country. Many were shut down amid coronavirus outbreaks. More than 27,000 workers have become infected, and 99 have died.In late April, President Trump ordered plants to reopen or remain open, calling them critical infrastructure to preserve the nation’s meat supply.Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro returns to one community in Minnesota where a pork processing plant is back online.
  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:Here in the Fabled Valley, the Jolly Green Giant stands tall and now even masked, but it’s actually pork, not peas, that reigns.The huge meat processing plants are now nearly back at full capacity. But things are not exactly jolly.
  • Woman (through translator):We’re still going to have to keep working in fear, but we know that we need to continue working. We have no option.
  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:In Worthington, Minnesota, population 13,000, the JBS factory was shuttered by a COVID outbreak that sickened hundreds of its 2,100 employees.The effect was felt across this region, mostly at first among hog farmers in late April. Hundreds of thousands of their animals had to be euthanized.
  • David Bullerman:It’s devastating. I’d like President Trump to invoke the Defense Production Act of 1950. We need to get these plants open today.
  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:Echoing farmer Dave Bullerman’s plea, industry executives warned, the nation’s meat supply was threatened, a claim some analysts now say was exaggerated, noting that, in April, there were record pork exports to China.
  • President Donald Trump:I should be signing that over the next hour or so.
  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:But, on April 28, President Trump did order meatpacking plants to reopen and remain open, declaring them critical infrastructure.
  • President Donald Trump:Taking the liability, which frees up the entire system.
  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:The president said his move shielded companies from liability if their workers got sick.Back in Worthington, community organizer Jessica Velasco says the plight of workers never seemed a priority.
  • Jessica Velasco:Folks started talking about the hog farms that were losing money. The bigger issue than was them euthanizing all those poor hogs.The conversation should have been, how can we support both the JBS employees and the hog producers?
  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:She says the employees, predominantly refugees and immigrants, remain largely invisible and fearful. She says many lost trust in the company because of the way it acted as more and more workers fell ill, leading the plant to shut down.Rafael, like all workers we spoke with, asked to remain ANONYMOUS.
  • Rafael (through translator):They told the workers not to worry, everything was OK. To be honest, they were not prepared at all. Nothing was OK. That’s where many became scared, and it was kind of you either work or you don’t eat situation.
  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:Rafael says he decided to quit because of a health condition that leaves them vulnerable to COVID. These three workers returned.
  • Man (through translator):Everyone feels scared. Everyone feels like we do here.
  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:JBS declined our request for an on-camera interview. It did send a video — parts of it time-lapsed — of improvements made at another plant in Greeley, Colorado, where several workers died.JBS has put some older COVID-vulnerable workers on paid furlough, and, among other steps, now requires employees to wear masks and face shields. And it installed barriers between workstations. Workers told us it feels safer, but not safe.
  • Steven:Personally, I think that they should make it mandatory for employees to get tested, so that we know who has it and who does not.
  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:The company says it tests employees who show symptoms and takes employees’ temperature when they arrive.That’s no comfort to Anna, who survived a painful COVID infection just before the plant closed.
  • Anna (through translator):They took mine, but it never showed a temperature. But I was already very sick. I didn’t show the symptoms.
  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:Most people like her have no choice but to return to work, she says.
  • Anna (through translator):We have family that we need to raise. We don’t have savings so we could just stay home.
  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:Meatpacking has long attracted new immigrants who have few options. It is an intensely tough environment, as even this JBS job posting seems to warn, standing 10 hours a day, doing repetitive tasks in very high temperatures or very low temperatures, with unpleasant odors.It’s something labor historian Peter Rachleff says most Americans avoid.
  • Peter Rachleff:The work force in meatpacking has almost always been people who are within one generation of having lived in agriculture, people who are able to work in that kind of blood and guts kind of environment.
  • Rev. James Callahan:If it was not for the immigrant community, this community would just fold up and die.
  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:Father James Callahan says immigrants sustain much of Worthington’s economy today, but he says this small town is not immune to the rancorous immigration debate, recalling comments he’s heard since the pandemic began.
  • Rev. James Callahan:Blaming the immigrant community for the spread of the virus, blaming people from the Asian communities for carrying it, I mean, a woman who said to me she was never going to eat in a Chinese restaurant again. I mean, how absurd is that?
  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:Are you finding a lot of that?
  • Rev. James Callahan:Not a lot, but enough where it becomes disturbing.
  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:He worries that meatpacking plants in Minnesota and elsewhere continue to see coronavirus spikes. So far, Father Callahan has presided over funerals in three-COVID related deaths of JBS workers, two of them since the plant reopened.For the “PBS NewsHour,” this is Fred de Sam Lazaro in Worthington, Minnesota.

Watch the Full EpisodePBS NewsHour from Jun 24, 2020By —

Fred de Sam Lazaro

Fred de Sam Lazaro is director of the Under-Told Stories Project at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, a program that combines international journalism and teaching. He has served with the PBS NewsHour since 1985 and is a regular contributor and substitute anchor for PBS’ Religion and Ethics Newsweekly.

UK Meat-Processing Plants Are COVID-19 Hotspots

Posted by Saskia on June 24, 2020 | Permalink

Across the UK, hundreds of workers at meat-processing plants and abattoirs have tested positive for COVID-19.

One such place – a chicken-processing plant on Anglesey – has seen over 175 cases among workers.

The UK isn’t alone: there have been similar outbreaks across Europe and in the US. Germany’s coronavirus reproduction number (R rate) jumped to 2.88 after a COVID-19 outbreak in a meat-processing plant in North Rhine-Westphalia, which has led to 1,500 new cases.

Because of their frigid temperatures and cramped conditions, meat-processing plants around the globe have become COVID-19 hotspots.

Eating Meat Has Deadly Consequences

Experts say that the COVID-19 outbreak originated in a “wet market” in Wuhan, China, where humans had direct contact with live animals and dead animal flesh.

Now, this deadly disease is sweeping through blood-soaked, offal-strewn meat-processing plants and endangering workers, their families, and the whole community. And like wet markets, squalid abattoirs and meat factories are known to be hotbeds for disease.

According to Public Health England, “Many (60 to 80% [of]) emerging infections are derived from an animal source.” Filthy factory farms, abattoirs, and meat markets threaten the health of every human being on the planet by providing a breeding ground for deadly pathogens like the ones behind COVID-19, SARS, bird flu, and more.

Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

As COVID-19 spreads like wildfire from worker to worker, PETA is calling for abattoirs and meat-processing plants to shut down and stay closed, for everyone’s protection.

What You Can Do

Not only is animal agriculture responsible for deadly pandemics and putting human lives at risk, it also causes other animals immense suffering and is destroying the planet.

Humans’ mistreatment of other animals is harming not only them but also us, and now is the time for each and every person to take responsibility for our part.

The link between outbreaks of diseases like COVID-19 and eating meat is undeniable – and the solution is clear: to prevent future pandemics, humans must stop abusing other animals and go vegan.

Meat prices are surging. Good news: Fake meat is getting cheaper

https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/17/business/meat-prices-beyond-patties/index.html

 (CNN Business)With meat prices on the rise, a plant-based protein purveyor is making a play for consumers’ pocketbooks.

Beyond Meat (BYND)next week plans to launch a value pack of its plant-based burger patties for sale in retailers’ frozen food sections. The Cookout Classic 10-pack, which Beyond Meat is positioning as a limited-edition product, was developed as a way to sell patties that otherwise would have been produced for restaurants, which have been devastated by the pandemic and stay-at-home measures.
The company wants to narrow the price gap between plant-based and animal meat, Chuck Muth, Beyond Meat’s chief growth officer, said via email to CNN Business. The 10-pack has a suggested retail price of $15.99, or $1.60 per quarter-pound patty. By comparison, Beyond Meat’s two-patty pack sells for $5.99, just shy of $3 per patty.
The product launch comes at a time when meat has been getting a lot more expensive. Prices for meat, fish, poultry and eggs rose 3.7% in May from April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Beef and veal prices were up 11%, the largest ever monthly increase.
“We know that to be successful we have to win on taste, win on nutrition, and ultimately win on price,” he wrote. “If we can do those three things, we see tremendous opportunity to transition consumers from animal-based to plant-based meat.”
The cheaper plant-based products are still expected to be sold at a premium to animal beef — even though the traditional meat is pricier than this time last year.
Beef patties averaged $5.26 per pound as of June 12, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Those prices are up 5.26% from the week before and 17.7% from the comparable year-ago period.
The value-pack launch is one of several efforts to garner new customers. Beyond Meat plans to launch a direct-to-consumer website this summer and also is offering some of its current lineup at a discount.
The value pack concept could offer an attractive entry point for new and more price-sensitive customers, wrote Jon Andersen, a William Blair analyst, in a June 10 note.
Additionally, the move serves as an operational solution for lost sales at restaurants and other foodservice locations negatively affected by shutdowns, Andersen noted.

Trump Launches ‘Biggest Attack On Meat Giants In Centuries’

The Department of Justice is opening a probe into beef prices which recently doubled in a month
The Trump Administration is launching a probe into U.S. meat giants (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

The Trump Administration is launching a probe into U.S. meat giants (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Donald Trump is launching what reports have branded the ‘biggest attack in centuries‘ on the giants of the U.S. meat industry.

The Department of Justice is launching a probe into beef companies, following beef prices almost doubling earlier this year, after more than 20 slaughterhouses across the U.S. were forced to shutter due to COVID-19 outbreaks.

Bloomberg reports that ‘regulators are also scrutinizing potential price manipulation, and on Capitol Hill, lawmakers are clamoring for a crackdown’, adding that ‘farmers have long complained about the dominance of just a handful of companies in beef and poultry markets, but antitrust enforcers haven’t before taken significant action against the companies’.

Antitrust laws

The probe follows reports that while consumers were paying these staggeringly high prices for meat, meat packing giants were extremely low prices to ranchers and farmers.

The probe will investigate whether these meatpacking companies are manipulating prices. If so, they could be violating antitrust laws – aka competition laws – statutes developed by the U.S. government. They were put in place to protect consumers by ensuring that fair competition exists in an open-market economy

‘Broken’

Ben Gotschall is interim executive director for the Organization for Competitive Markets, which advocates against consolidation in agriculture.

He told Bloomberg: “The market’s been broken for a long time, and the pandemic has just made it worse. Meatpackers are making record profits, and the ranchers are going out of business.

“Whatever Trump’s motivation might be, if he does the right thing you have to take it. I hope it’s more than just lip service.”

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.

It’s Time to Rethink Our Food Choices

United Poultry Concerns <http://www.UPC-online.org>
June 7, 2020

JUNE 6, 2020

UPC President Karen Davis’s Letter to the Editor appears in the printed and
screen versions of Virginia’s *Eastern Shore Post* this week.

Dear Editor:

The coronavirus pandemic focuses our attention on the link between
cleanliness
and avoidance of disease. As much as possible, people are sanitizing their
hands, social distancing, and covering their faces to prevent the virus from
spreading. Yet most people consume products from chickens and other animals
who
have spent their life in polluted, overcrowded facilities.

Infectious microbes are drawn to population density, dirt, and weakened
immune
systems – the perfect conditions in which to spread in animals and humans
alike.

One of the worst things we do to animals in industrial farming is to prevent
them from practicing hygiene.

When chickens come to our sanctuary from a confinement facility, their
first act
in being placed on the ground is to take a dustbath. They instinctively
want to
clean their skin and feathers with particles of earth. This, for them, is
comparable to a waterbath for us.

Forcing animals to live in filth and breathe air rife with pathogens is an
experience they would not choose on their own.

Recognizing the importance of hygiene and staying healthy, we need to
remember
that the same link between health and hygiene applies to other species.
Animals
in nature would never survive if they carried the load of diseases and
immunological weaknesses that characterize modern farmed animals.

Let us think carefully about our food choices. A plant-based diet free of
animal
products is increasingly desirable and obtainable in today’s society. While
providing an opportunity for a more peaceful world, it is also an
intelligent
food safety choice.

A plant-based diet will not sacrifice jobs or hurt the economy. As long as
people exist, the same amount of food will be produced and consumed. Just
because we stop eating animal products doesn’t mean we stop eating.

Karen Davis, President
United Poultry Concerns, Machipongo

*Eastern Shore Post:*
It’s Time to Rethink Our Food Choices
<https://www.easternshorepost.com/2020/06/06/its-time-to-rethink-our-food-choices/

Rethinking meat — from farm to table

https://www.adirondackdailyenterprise.com/opinion/columns/field-and-forest-by-richard-gast/2020/06/rethinking-meat-from-farm-to-table/?fbclid=IwAR06tYGCKzST3OCU2s2nfzZ3mVFhJof3oPGUzDYGxu0fGOcY82ZOIYyWn74

Kate Mountain Farm is one of many Adirondack Harvest-associated local farms offering CSA meats and vegetables. Find local producers at adirondackharvest.com/browse. (Photo provided)

The food supply chain system is vulnerable. America’s meatpacking plants endure some of the highest rates of workplace injury of any U.S. job sector, and COVID-19 has introduced yet another occupational hazard. These crowded facilities have become frighteningly successful vectors for COVID-19 contagion.

On Sunday April 26, a news release entitled, “A Delicate Balance: Feeding the Nation and Keeping Our Employees Healthy” appeared as a full-page ad in The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. It was also widely posted on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Written by John H. Tyson, chairman of the Board of Tyson Foods, the statement declared, “In small communities around the country, where we employ over 100,000 hard-working men and women, we’re being forced to shutter our doors. This means one thing — the food supply chain is vulnerable. As pork, beef, and chicken plants are being forced to close, even for short periods of time, millions of pounds of meat will disappear from the supply chain. … Farmers across the nation simply will not have anywhere to sell their livestock to be processed, when they could have fed the nation. Millions of animals — chickens, pigs and cattle — will be depopulated because of the closure of our processing facilities. The food supply chain is breaking.”

And with that, Southern and Midwestern farmers began euthanizing livestock.

Two days after the publication of Tyson’s letter, President Trump declared that meatpacking plants were “critical infrastructure” under the Defense Production Act of 1950 and prohibited their closure.

While this was happening, vegetable farmers were forced to let their crops rot in the fields or plow otherwise harvestable food into the ground. Dairy farmers, already grappling with low prices, found themselves dumping more than 3.5 million gallons of milk every day (estimate from Dairy Farmers of America). And everywhere, food pantries, facing unprecedented demand, were running out of food. This clearly reveals just how vulnerable, and how unjust, our food supply system can be. It also emphasizes the need to fix it.

Zoonosis: diseases transmitted to humans from animals

Lots of diseases, including most pandemics (e.g. H1N1 [swine flu], H5N1 [bird flu], Ebola, Lyme disease, malaria, rabies, ringworm, West Nile virus, severe acute respiratory syndrome [SARS], HIV/AIDS), originated in animals.

The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, which infected roughly one-third of the world’s population of 500 million people, killing an estimated 50 million including 675,000 Americans, is believed to have originated on a pig farm. That was long before CAFO factory farms existed.

CAFOs: confined animal feeding operations

CAFO farms can generate a myriad of environmental and public health problems. CAFO manure contains potential contaminants including plant nutrients (e.g. nitrogen, phosphorus) and pathogens (e.g., E. coli, growth hormones, antibiotics, animal blood, silage leachate). The volume of waste produced depends on the type and number of animals farmed. A feeding operation with 800,000 pigs can produce over 1.6 million tons of waste a year. That amount is one-and-a-half times more than the annual sanitary waste produced by the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (GAO, 2008).

The Environmental Protection Agency’s 2000 National Water Quality Inventory found that 29 states specifically identified animal feeding operations (AFOs), not just CAFOs, as contributing to water quality impairment (Congressional Research Service, 2008).

In order to protect their livestock from diseases that might kill entire populations, resulting in huge profit losses, CAFO farmers commonly treat their animals with antibiotics. And poultry fed antibiotic feed show significantly higher weight gain than those fed non-antibiotic feed (Settle et al. 2014). Animals growing at a greater rate than they would otherwise reduces operating costs and increases profit.

But use of antibiotic feed is threatening human health. Every year 2 million people experience serious illness due to untreatable bacterial infection and 23,000 die because the bacteria that made them sick is antibiotic-resistant (Young 2013). When antibiotic-resistant bacteria spreads to a large group of people and cannot be treated, we have what is known as a superbug. And many scientists believe that superbugs are the inevitable consequence we will face if CAFOs continue to use antibiotics indiscriminately in the feed of the nation’s largest source of meats.

Then there’s the animal cruelty issue, which I won’t get into here, other than to say that 9 billion animals, including 8.8 billion chickens, are raised and killed on large, overcrowded U.S. CAFO farms every year (source: Humane Society of the United States).

 

Locally sourced meat: a better alternative

There’s a better way to keep your freezer full: meat CSAs. Community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm programs directly connect farmers to consumers. You know right where your food is coming from. You’re supporting local farming families that raise top-quality pastured and grass-fed livestock — working with nature rather than against it. Pasture-based farming improves animal health, maximizes cost-efficiency and minimizes farm pollution. You reap the rewards by purchasing affordable, quality meats (and eggs) produced using sustainable farming practices.

You buy a share, and you pick it up when it’s ready. It’s that simple. And most farms offer share sizes to fit everyone’s needs. You can receive meat on a regularly scheduled timetable or one time only.

To learn more or find pretty much every type of locally grown and/or prepared food imaginable (and more), visit adirondackharvest.com/browse or contact your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office.

Humans and Neanderthals: Less different than polar and brown bears

https://phys.org/news/2020-06-humans-neanderthals-polar-brown.html

Humans and Neanderthals: less different than polar and brown bears
Credit: Kennis & Kennis Reconstructions

Ancient humans, Neanderthals and Denisovans were genetically closer than polar bears and brown bears, and so, like the bears, were able to easily produce healthy, fertile hybrids according to a study, led by the University of Oxford’s School of Archaeology.

The study, published 3 June in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, shows that the genetic distance values between humans and our ancient relatives were smaller than the distance between pairs of species which are known to easily hybridize and have fertile young.

Professor Greger Larson, Director of the Palaeogenomics & Bio-Archaeology Research Network (PalaeoBARN) at Oxford and senior author of the study says, “Our desire to categorize the world into discrete boxes has led us to think of species as completely separate units. Biology does not care about these rigid definitions, and lots of species, even those that are far apart evolutionarily, swap genes all the time. Our predictive metric allows for a quick and easy determination of how likely it is for any two species to produce fertile  offspring. This comparative measure suggests that humans and Neanderthals and Denisovans were able to produce live fertile young with ease.”

The long history of matings between Neanderthals, humans, and Denisovans has only recently been demonstrated through the analysis of ancient genomes. The ability of mammalian species, including , to produce fertile hybrid offspring has been hard to predict, and the relative fertility of the hybrids remains an open question. Some geneticists have even said that Neanderthals and humans were at the “edge of biological compatibility.”

So the team developed a metric using genetic distances to predict the relative fertility of the first generation of hybrids between any two mammalian species. They did this by analyzing genetic sequence data from different species that had previously been shown to produce hybrid offspring. By correlating the genetic distance with the relative fertility of the hybrid offspring, it was possible to show that the greater the evolutionary distance between any two species, the less likely it is that the  between them would be fertile. In addition, the team used the distance values to determine a threshold of fertility.

When the distance values between humans, Neanderthals and Denisovans were calculated, they were even smaller than the values between several pairs of species which are known readily and easily to hybridize—including  and , and coyotes and wolves. This suggests we could have predicted the existence of Neanderthals and Denisovans in our genomes as soon as the first genetic sequences were generated.

This proxy can also be used to predict the likelihood that any two mammal species can give birth to live hybrids, a useful tool that can be used in decisions about whether to place animals together in zoos.

Richard Benjamin Allen, joint first author of the study says, “Many decisions in  have been made on the basis that related organisms that produce hybrids in captivity should be prevented from doing so. Such an approach has not considered the significant role that hybridisation has played in evolution in the wild, especially in populations under the threat of extinction. Our study can be used to inform future conservation efforts of related  where hybridization or surrogacy programs could be viable alternatives.”