Thanks to our friends at Ánima for providing this document in Spanish on their web site.
- Activists Promote Wool as “Compassion-Aware”
- Australian Vegetarian Society Confronts TV Flesh Peddling
- From Greenwashing to Hogwashing
- A Familiar Tactic
- “Humane” Foie Gras Lets the Pâté Continue
- Egg Fetishes
- Canadian Rodeo Gets a Facelift
- Post Cards From Europe
- Happy Labs?
- Rescue Chic
- Choosing Their Poison
Activists against mulesing -- the cutting of hindquarters of Merino sheep to rid the animals of parasites -- are promoting alternative wools for “the increasingly popular ‘compassion-aware’ marketplace”; one group wants wool industry to report to activists on the development of genetic alternatives to mulesing. Using celebrity endorsements, the campaign has persuaded Liz Claiborne, Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle, Timberland, Limited Brands, Nordstrom, Ann Taylor, New Look and George to prefer the alternative (generally non-Australian) wool.
Activists should urge consumers and corporate buyers to boycott all wool, and opt for organic cotton or hemp instead, explaining that other animals are not ours to use. This would also be ecologically sane. And the environment, of course, is home to all animals.
The Australian Vegetarian Society has formally complained about commercials from Meat and Livestock Australia. “ Hunting forced us to think,” claims one, to “shape tools, communicate and work together -- we were turning into human beings.” We might say the same of war; the question, however, is what kind of human beings we decide to be.
The agribusiness group pulled in Lionel Tiger, Charles Darwin Professor of Anthropology at Rutgers University, who proclaimed that eating flesh shows our “ancient instincts” at work. Dr. Tiger oversaw the cooking of a roast for the promotion. No wonder a recent poll showed Australian vegetarians feeling like social outcasts.
On a brighter note, the Vegan Organic Network and Vegan Society hope to advise on animal-free growing in the world’s less industrialized regions, to counter charities -- such as Heifer International and Send a Cow -- that promote animal agribusiness to financially struggling people. And this year’s London Vegan Festival featured a talk on th e Regenerative Health and Nutrition Project, which brought the health aspect of veganism to Ghana and Benin. Ghana’s health ministry has formed a partnership with the Hebrew Israelite Community of Jerusalem, under the theme “healthy nation.”
Earlier this year agribusiness giant Cargill Inc. said it will phase out the use of the small, metal crates that house pregnant pigs. Or did it?
Cargill was praised for following Smithfield Foods Inc., the world’s largest pigflesh processor, which announced in January it was phasing out the smaller crates. But it seems Cargill didn’t actually agree. "We aren't phasing them out,” a representative for Cargill Meat Solutions said. “The article was HSUS's interpretation of our letter."
The advocates had something else, though: In the spring, the Oregon State Senate voted for targeting the size of pigs’ enclosures. Given the havoc wreaked by any kind of pig farming on the ecology and our health, and given that the pigs all end up at the slaughterhouse, we’d suggest the lawmakers simply eat something else.
Georgetown ’s law school recently announced an alliance with the Humane Society of the U.S. Will this change the face of law school? Let’s just say the property professors at Georgetown need not worry about re-writing those yellowed notes any time soon.
At the annual meeting of the North American Agricultural Journalists in August, John Balzar, senior VP of communications for the Humane Society, was asked if the group wanted more than simple husbandry adjustments in animal agribusiness. Balzar shot back that the group does not have a secret agenda. “This is a big lie and a familiar tactic,” said Balzar, stating the society’s position: “Raising animals for food is acceptable.”
It was surely one of the most crudely ironic headlines of the past year. “‘Ethical’ Foie Gras,” London’s Sunday Telegraph announced -- “From Naturally Greedy Geese.”
Traditionally, pâté de foie gras involves force-feeding birds to expand their livers. Now, Britons will have an alternative, said the Telegraph, that lets them consume it “with a clear conscience.” The new pâté , from Spain’s Pateria de Sousa, claims to avoid gavage -- stuffing birds with grain via metal tubes -- by allowing birds to eat extra food naturally.
Touted as a prize-winning delicacy that’s “ecologically produced,” it costs over 50 percent more than regular foie gras -- so it’s a niche product amidst niche products. Yet the famous department store Harrods has expressed interest. Notably, Britain is a major importer of foie gras even though the country has banned production of the pâté .
The bottom line? Geese are still killed once they’ve bulked up for their expected flight south.
In yet another promotion of animal agribusiness, Boulder Ice Cream was commended for joining the “burgeoning movement away from one of factory farming's worst abuses.” Yes, animal advocates were actually calling an ice cream company part of a “movement.” The Colorado company will buy so-called cage-free eggs for its frozen desserts. “Cage-free” has no standard definition, but the label typically means a pricier product.
“ Boulder Ice Cream,” an HSUS release stated, “is also becoming known for its sustainability philosophy and green manufacturing practices.” This promotion ignores the obvious: Animal agribusiness -- which wreaks unnecessary havoc on the environment and takes space in which free animals could otherwise live -- need not be promoted at all.
Harvard University also announced a switch to “cage-free” (for dishes not using eggs in packaged form), as the “next step in our continuing effort to provide great local products that offer the quality and freshness that are so vital to us.” Egg production -- including cage-free and free-range -- involves the death of millions of male chicks each year. These chicks are discarded or ground up alive, mixed with the chicken feed, and fed to their mothers. Most people don’t know. And activists, for the most part, aren’t telling them.
The Cloverdale Rodeo is moving to ban roping contests, after a calf’s leg was broken in this year’s tie-down roping competition and the calf had to be killed. This rodeo, one of Canada’s five largest, will discontinue tie-down roping of calves; roping and wrestling of steers; “wild cow milking,” in which a cow is roped and riders dismount and grab the cow’s head while one attempts to squeeze milk from the cow's udder into a bottle.
One member of the rodeo board praised the change, saying: "I think it's time things were brought into the 21st century.”
The annual contract with the rodeo association to run the events was up for renegotiation in 2008. Advocates could have asked to have the whole thing called off then. A council member said if the calf-roping weren’t discontinued, the community would likely have objected to the rodeo’s continued presence; thus these so-called bans of certain activities may have actually saved the rodeo. Most instructive to those who wonder if steps that can be called “bans” are really adjustments that sustain a form of exploitation.
An activist identified as a member of the British Columbia SPCA said, "I think the rodeo that will be built from today forward will be very exciting.” A rodeo fan agreed, praising the advocates’ increasingly familiarity with “the care and the effort that goes into raising rodeo animals." Vancouver Humane Society executive director Debra Probert doesn’t condone the rodeo, yet was "ecstatic" about the discontinuation of the “explicitly cruel” events as “there's no place for them in a progressive society." The show will still include barrel racing and bull riding, described by Probert as “not as explicitly cruel.”
All rodeo relies on breeding and using other animals for entertainment, and a key point of rodeo is its show of human control. To paraphrase Bob Dylan, perhaps advocates have still not understood that it ain’t no good to let other conscious beings get our kicks for us.
The European Union’s executive commission rejected a proposal to ban Canadian seal fur imports, and vowed to examine whether Canada’s annual kill is humane. Yet the EU did approve a ban on dog and cat fur. Vegans -- who as a matter of principle do not buy any fur -- are best positioned to address society’s dissonance on the fur matter, and to convince society that fur is not a fabric.
In Vienna in May, representatives from the Dutch Animal Rights Party and the Austrian Green Party debated on animal issues. Dutch animal advocates formed their own party in 2002, later becoming the first such party worldwide to achieve seats in Parliament. During the debate, the Green Party was urged to raise the profile of animal issues. In Ireland, Green candidates have denounced blood sports, dog racing and horse racing.
Spain plans to establish basic regulations for handling and slaughter of farm animals, and to address animals used in experiments. “Unnecessary harm” to animals could incur substantial fines. As it accepts animal use in the first place, its impact will probably be minimal. Yet the law will forbid the killing of nonhuman animals for films and commercials. Will people notice that putting an animal on a dinner table is no more necessary than killing animals for commercials?
In a recent article, Ann Baldwin and Marc Bekoff say stressful lab conditions muddy the effects of animal tests, and suggest reducing noise levels and providing “a couple of simple diversions,” such as tubes and shelves, to prevent chronic inflammations that add “uncontrolled variables to experiments on these animals, confounding the data.”
They add, “More work is needed, of course, and you could argue that in some cases
studies on animals with different levels of stress might be necessary to tease out the subtle effects of particular [genetic] mutations.” Even so, Baldwin and Bekoff say, the overall message is clear. They conclude: “If we are going to use rodents as models to test drugs or provide us with reliable scientific data, we must give the emotional state of these animals serious consideration.”
The Jersey Shore Animal Center has urged the town of Brick, New Jersey to join other municipalities with ordinances outlawing the sale of dogs and cats in pet shops. Notably, some private breeders backed the proposal. Surely some do believe the proposal is best for dogs and cats, but it’s also obvious that private breeders stand to gain if retail outlets are brought to heel.
Pet shops would be licensed to sell pet supplies and animals such as fish, rabbits or lizards, making the proposal inconsistent. Still, it could end some impulse retail sales, and at least someone’s noticing breeding’s a problem -- even if this isn’t the ideal solution.
But a New Jersey fosterer who works with Friends of Animals offers this caveat: “ The movement has started operating like a satellite of so many industries. I'm hearing proud adopters talk about the puppy they just ‘rescued’ from Amish puppy mills...As with anything that has a money trail, a lucrative way around the retail store is being found.”
Indeed, rescue sites now show designer dogs at bargain prices. When one New Jersey advocate tried to ascertain the sources for some of these rescue groups, the information was withheld by rescuers who don't want their supply cut off.
L awyers from the firm Schiff Hardin, working with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, sued and claimed a “complete victory” for what they called “an action to halt the illegal means used to euthanize dogs and cats in the State of Georgia.” From an animal-rights perspective, that description errs twice: First, the killing of humans for institutional reasons is not properly called euthanasia, and the word doesn’t become any more proper when describing the institutional killings of cats and dogs. Second, supporting killing by injection over gas, although perhaps reducing the stress and suffering in pounds, is hardly a cause for advocates to celebrate. Lesser evils? Arguably so. Complete victory? No one who cares for a cat or dog would really believe that.
- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals press release: “Crushing Blow to Australian Wool Industry: AWI Drops Lawsuit; PETA's Call for Boycott of Australian Wool Continues” (29 Jun. 2007).
- Clair Weaver, “Vegies Can't Meat Friends” - The [ Sydney] Daily Telegraph (29 Apr. 2007).
- “ MLA Enlists Anthropologist in Red Meat Campaign,” Hospitality Magazine ( 10 Jul. 2006).
- Cargill, based in Wayzata, Minn., made the announcement in a recent letter, obtained by The Associated Press, to the Humane Society of the United States.
- Cattle Network: “Cargill Refutes 'HSUS's Interpretation' That It's Phasing Out Gestation Stalls” (quoting Cargill spokesperson Mark Klein). The original source for this revelation was Tom Johnston for Meatingplace.com (13 Apr. 2007).
- Mitch Lies, “Panel Airs Disparate Views on Animal Agriculture” - Capital Press (19 Apr. 2007).
- Jasper Copping and Graham Keeley, “'Ethical' Foie Gras From Naturally Greedy Geese” - Sunday Telegraph (19 Feb. 2007).
- HSUS press release, “ Boulder Ice Cream Hatches a Cage-Free Egg Policy” ( May 7, 2007).
- Margot E. Edelman, “ In Shift, HUDS Will Hatch Cage-Free Eggs” – Harvard Crimson (2 May 2007), q uoting the director of Harvard’s dining services.
- Jennifer Dillard, “ Harvard Shifts to Cage-Free Eggs; Chickens Still Unhappy” - Animal Blawg (2 May 2007).
- Nicholas Read, “Ban on Roping Events is a Rodeo First” - Vancouver Sun (23 May 2007). The move means the rodeo may break from the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association (CPRA), which defines rodeos as including roping events.
- Helpful references provided by Rights for Animals and the online magazine Arkangel.
- Ann Baldwin & Marc Bekoff, “Ignoring stress in lab animals could mar research” - New Scientist (2 Jun. 2007).
- John Donnelly, “ Lab Chimps, Uncle Sam May Want You” – Boston Globe (24 Dec. 2006).
- There are now some 1,200 chimpanzees in nine laboratories throughout the U.S., counting those privately maintained.
- For factual references, see Jon See Cohen, “NIH to End Chimp Breeding for Research” - Science (1 Jun. 2007); “NIH Stops Chimp Breeding”- The Scientist.com (5 Jun. 2007); Benjamin Leger, “The Monkey Business” - The [Acadiana] Times (6 Jun. 2007).
- NIH Chimpanzee Management Plan Working Group’s recommendations, ChimP05-22-2007, accessed electronically in July 2007.
- Catherine Snipe, “Town May Bar Sales of Dogs and Cats at Pet Shops” – TheBrick Times (24 May 2007).
- Press release, “Schiff Hardin Attorneys Obtain Injunction Against the Georgia Department of Agriculture's Failure to Enforce Prohibitions on the Gassing of Dogs and Cats” (23 Mar. 2007) Plaintiffs were a former politician who introduced Georgia's Humane Euthanasia Act in 1990, and a person whose dog was gassed. Chesley Morton v. GA Dept. of Agriculture -- 34512-0001.