Category Archives: News of Note

News of Note

 

Animal Rights On The March
Animal rights, circa 2010, is a sophisticated, well organized, mainstream movement — with far-reaching implications for ordinary Americans and American businesses. So far, the movement’s greatest successes have come at the state level, but activists have now firmly trained their sights on Washington.  De minimus rights for the millions of animals on so-called factory farms are but one prong of an ambitious agenda.

 
Plaintiffs With Fins? The Legal Rights of Oil Spill’s Animal Victims
Do the wildlife victims of the current oil spill in the Gulf have any legal rights?  The short answer: not really.  There are no laws that exist simply to protect animal interests. U.S. law protects animals as property. That means laws designed to protect animals exist only to protect the interests of their owners or the public, say animal activists who specialize in animal law. And some animals are entirely exempt from the laws.

 

$100,000 bond set in dairy cruelty case
Gregg appeared in a video released late Tuesday by Mercy For Animals, an animal-rights group based in Chicago that promotes a vegan lifestyle. The group sent an undercover employee into Conklin Dairy Farms on Rt. 42 near Plain City and recorded over the past three weeks what it says is about 20 hours of footage showing Conklin employees – mainly Gregg – viciously beating and abusing what appear to be otherwise healthy cows and calves.
Also see this story

 

 

Otter that survived Exxon Valdez is euthanized
For years, Nuka had struggled with immune-system problems, poor skin and fur, and seemed unable to groom herself properly, which meant she ate more than normal to avoid hypothermia. While no one could say what caused her problems, they were consistent with early exposure to petroleum.  Nuka came to represent the kind of risks BP’s oil spill poses for marine life in the Gulf of Mexico.

 

In E. Coli Fight, Some Strains Are Largely Ignored
Although the federal government and the beef and produce industries have known about the risk posed by these other dangerous bacteria for years, regulators have taken few concrete steps to directly address it or even measure the scope of the problem. For three years, the United States Department of Agriculture has been considering whether to make it illegal to sell ground beef tainted with the six lesser-known E. coli strains, which would give them the same outlaw status as their more famous cousin. The meat industry has resisted the idea, arguing that it takes other steps to keep E. coli out of the beef supply and that no outbreak involving the rarer strains has been definitively tied to beef.

 

Meatless Mondays, a movement that has legs
Batali is one of the movement’s latest and most high-profile supporters. But on the vegetable front, he is hardly a pioneer. Baltimore City Public Schools launched meatless Mondays for its 82,000 students in October. Thirty-two U.S. hospitals have signed on to the Balanced Menu Challenge, a commitment to reduce meat purchases by 20 percent. This spring, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors approved a resolution calling on schools, restaurants and stores to offer meatless options, and the state of Michigan held a one-day “Meatout” during which residents were encouraged not to eat meat.

 

 

 

 

News of Note

Probing the link between slaughterhouses and violent crime
Sinclair’s abattoir labourers get so desensitized to violence that rates of murder, rape and brawls among them rise. The book cemented the link between slaughterhouses and crime for decades to come — long before pig farmer and serial killer Robert Pickton haunted headlines.  More than a hundred years later, a University of Windsor researcher may have proven the literary classic right. Criminology professor Amy Fitzgerald says statistics show the link between slaughterhouses and brutal crime is empirical fact.

Biodiversity in Peril, the U.N. Warns
Among the causes of biodiversity loss are habitat changes like converting land to agricultural use; excess exploitation of resources, like overfishing; pollution from agricultural nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous; the arrival of invasive species; and climate change (shrinking Arctic ice and ocean acidification, for example).

Latin America wants to end ‘lethal research’ on whales
The Buenos Aires Group said that beside the lethal research loophole, they would also bring up at the June meeting of the 88-nation IWC other dangers to whale populations around the world, including “climate change, marine pollution and incidental capture.”  Marquieira, a Chilean, told the Latin American group on Wednesday that whale hunting has not stopped despite the 1986 moratorium and that his plan would save 4,000-5,000 whales over the next ten years.

An unusually meaty menu at skid row shelter
On Monday night’s dinner menu at the Union Rescue Mission: tacos made from elk, deer, sheep, wild pig, black bear and antelope. For pescatarians, there were yellow tail, tilapia and tuna tacos. Vegetarians were out of luck. About 250 pounds of fresh game meat was donated for the feast, sponsored by the Sportsman Channel as a part of its national “Hunt. Fish. Feed.” initiative.

The Fight to Save Small-Scale Slaughterhouses
For small meat businesses in America, catastrophic events result from changes high up in the regulatory food chain that make it very difficult for small plants to adapt. The most recent extinction event occurred at the turn of the millennium, when small and very small USDA-inspected slaughter and processing plants were required to adopt the costly Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) food safety plan. It has been estimated that 20 percent of existing small plants, and perhaps more, went out of business at that time. Now, proposed changes to HACCP for small and very small USDA-inspected plants threaten to take down many of the ones that remain, making healthy, local meats a rare commodity.

News of Note

USDA beefs up school meat safety program
Come fall, the ground beef used in school lunches will be as safe as ground beef sold to the nation’s fast food chains — a major improvement, critics say.  The U.S. Agriculture Department announced Friday that it will require all ground beef purchased for the National School Lunch Program to adhere to new safety standards after July 1. The program supplies ground beef, chicken and other food for more than 31 million schoolchildren.

Chicken, turkey may sicken 55K fewer under new USDA rules
Under the new standards, only 7.5% of chicken carcasses at a plant would be allowed to test positive for salmonella, down from 20% allowed since 1996. Salmonella levels in chickens were tested at 7.1% nationally in 2009, says Richard Lobb of the National Chicken Council.

Coral Reefs Threatened by Oil Spill
Marine scientists are concerned about the future of the Gulf’s coral reefs because of the unknown effects of dispersants, mixed with oil gushing from the ragged remnants of British Petroleum’s decimated deepwater offshore oil rig.  “The oil companies are making a judgment call on a trade-off on which ecosystems to sacrifice: the shoreline and surface animals or the water column,” Sandra Brooke, coral conservation director for the Marine Conservation Biology Institute of Bellevue, Wa., said

Animal-rights activist pleads guilty to violating a court order
Miller organized several demonstrations against the efforts of the Johnson County Park and Recreation District to shoot more than 300 deer in Shawnee Mission Park.  Michael Meadors, the district’s director, filed a petition Oct. 30 for the protection order.  In that complaint, Meadors stated that Miller’s web site — BiteclubKC.com — advocated violence in certain circumstances to end the violence against animals.


Vegan Ultramarathoner Scott Jurek Sets New Record At World Championship Race

News of Note

Why I protest animal research
In the name of science, animals are routinely injected with or forced to consume toxins, addicted to drugs, intentionally inflicted with disease, subjected to invasive surgeries and procedures, burned, shocked, starved, deprived of water, isolated and immobilized for hours, weeks, even months on end. How is it that they don’t suffer?

Scientists use pig embryo to create stem cells
So far human embryonic stem cell research has not actually found its way into the human body.  Most of the research is still in mice.  But mice aren’t the best animal models to get more accurate data on how a treatment may affect a person.  For example, mice hearts beat four times faster than a human heart and mice don’t get atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) – but pigs do.  That’s why pigs are much better animal models says Stice. “Physiologically, pigs are much closer to a human,” he says.

Non-lethal solution for troublesome sea lions
The community took a unique stance to solve their sea lion problem – a problem that had also seen a downturn in tourism. Local fishermen, both sport and commercial, developed the Curry County Sportfishing Association and collected donations to support a three-pronged approach that included a comprehensive, seven-day-a-week hazing program.  Todd Confer, an ODFW Fishery Biologist, said the three-pronged deterrent worked. There have been fewer sea lions in the bay during peak periods of the salmon runs. As a result, the local community did not kill one sea lion.

Solutions to sea lion problem debated during town hall
A town hall in Oregon City hosted by House Speaker Dave Hunt was billed as a way to come up with solutions, but many said they don’t think the recent hazing is enough.  “The only thing that works is killing them,” said Art Israelson with the The Association of Northwest Steelheaders.

Ringmaster Kenneth Feld runs the show, and more
But the last few years have been especially challenging, with the closing of Feld’s long-running Las Vegas magic/exotic animal act Siegfried & Roy and the death of Ringling’s star talent scout. The economic downturn has put a pinch on people’s entertainment dollar. His circus is under regular assault from animal-rights activists.

American Family ‘Vegan Style’ or, Our Vegan Month
It started out as a birthday gift to our turning 16 year old daughter Nicole. She has been vegan since August, immediately after having returned from our ‘Month of Meat’ in Africa. Not the easiest place to be a vegetarian, where game is served with every meal. A few books and films on the food production industry later, she became a confirmed and committed Vegan.

News of Note

Got milk? Only if it comes from a cow, group argues
Got milk? The National Milk Producers Federation says you don’t, not if what you grab from the dairy case today is soy, rice or almond milk.  For the second time in 10 years, the federation has written to the Food and Drug Administration asking that the term “milk” be reserved for cow’s milk, although it’s OK with also using the word for goat, sheep or water buffalo milk — any of the various “mammalian lacteal secretions.”

Fur back in business and in trouble
In a drab conference room in a nondescript Renton warehouse last spring, an auctioneer took a podium beneath huge photos of supermodels in mink coats and fur lingerie. He turned on his microphone and began soliciting bids.  This is the American Legend auction, the largest remaining fur market in the United States, where $100 million in business is transacted in a few days.  Much as they have for more than a century, merchants from all over the world come to Western Washington to pick over silky skins of North American mammals on behalf of garment manufacturers.

Whitfield asks for update on racing safety, medication
Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Hopkinsville, has joined Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., in calling for an update on the horse racing industry’s progress in addressing safety and medication concerns raised at a congressional hearing two years ago.  In letters to the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, The Jockey Club and the Association of Racing Commissioners International released on Friday, Whitfield and Udall asked nine questions related to animal welfare, jockey safety and the sport’s integrity, including whether current state regulation is sufficient.

Gamble Sours for Many Kentucky Horse Breeders
The for-sale signs on horse farms are as common as the bluegrass and the limestone fences here, and breeders have grown accustomed to sending horses through the auction ring and feeling fortunate when they fetch half of their asking price — or anything at all. The run-up to the Kentucky Derby is normally an exciting time for lawyers playing matchmaker between deep-pocketed clients and owners of can’t-miss stallion prospects.  No more.


The Problem with Factory Farms
If you eat meat, the odds are high that you’ve enjoyed a meal made from an animal raised on a factory farm (also known as a CAFO). According to the USDA, 2% of U.S. livestock facilities raise an estimated 40% of all farm animals. This means that pigs, chickens and cows are concentrated in a small number of very large farms. But even if you’re a vegetarian, the health and environmental repercussions of these facilities may affect you.

Global bake sale is ‘sweet’ vegan activism
The second annual Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale. More than 120 groups across six continents are holding vegan bake sales from April 24 through May 2.Each group decides where to direct the proceeds of its own bake sale. While the money is not required to go to any specific type of organization, many opt to donate to nonprofit groups.  Two events in Seattle, Washington, last week raised $1,770 for Pigs Peace Sanctuary, where Edgar, a potbellied pig, is being treated for a broken leg.

News of Note

Supreme Court animal cruelty ruling: All sides find positives
Free speech advocates praised Tuesday’s US Supreme Court decision striking down a federal law banning depictions of animal cruelty.  At the same time, animal rights groups are calling on Congress to enact a new, more targeted law, to prevent trafficking in photos and videos depicting acts of severe animal cruelty, including so-called “crush” videos.

Officials seek cause of Snohomish dairy-manure spill
Regulators are still trying to figure out what caused a dairy-farm lagoon to fail earlier this week, spilling millions of gallons of manure that wound up in the Snohomish River.  A breach sometime Sunday or early Monday at Bartelheimer Brothers’ waste lagoon near Snohomish is the worst such incident in regulators’ memories. As much as 15 million gallons of manure, water and other organic matter may have flowed into a slough that drains to the river.

Kinder, gentler chickens to be bred to rule future free-range roosts
As those bans go into effect and more birds move to open pens, a solution may lie in the work of an influential Purdue University scientist whose breeding method produces more congenial, peaceful chickens by focusing on the birds best suited for life in groups. The white leghorns bred by William Muir stand sedately wing to wing, staring back timidly from their cages at a Purdue research farm in northern Indiana.

KFC’s Double Down, Their Latest Double Cross
One minute they are teaming up with the money whores at Susan G. Komen to help cure breast cancer by donating money from pink buckets of chicken (what a joke), and the next, they are introducing a sandwich so unhealthy that it could worsen heart disease and obesity statistics all on its own!

World Bank chief urges action to save wild tigers
World Bank President Robert Zoellick called on Wednesday for joint action among countries and organizations to save the dwindling numbers of wild tigers from extinction.  There are barely 3,500 tigers left in the wild. Their declining numbers are blamed largely on poaching and the slow destruction of their natural habitat by deforestation.

Watahala Farms: Last commercial dairy standing in Alleghany County
Troubles have pecked away at Bennett and his neighbors over the years. About 30 dairies in the county closed in the last 60 years, indicative of struggles in the industry.   Older farmers had no kin to carry on their businesses, or milk prices plummeted and costs grew too much.   Still, nearby Rockingham and Franklin counties are the two top-producing areas for dairy in Virginia, according to the Department of Agriculture’s 2007 census.

Eating Vegan: The Elusive Vitamin B12
A long-standing myth about veganism is that animal products are the only dietary sources of vitamin B12. Here’s a little information about this critical vitamin as well as some easy ways to work it into your diet.

News of Note

 

Food Inc to premier on PBS April 21st
In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation’s food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that’s been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government’s regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA.

 

Tribes help haze sea lions to save salmon on Columbia
Local tribes are hazing sea lions on the Columbia River as part of an alliance with Washington, Oregon and the Army Corps of Engineers to get rid of sea lions that are endangering salmon and steelhead runs….Eight California sea lions have been trapped and killed this year, as no zoos or aquariums have expressed an interest in giving them homes.

 
Humane Society finds abuse by U.S. egg producers
An undercover investigation by the Humane Society of the United States of major U.S. egg producers showed “rampant abuse” of hens, which the animal rights group said on Wednesday could prompt more consumers to embrace “cage-free” methods of production.
‘Growing concern’ over marketing tainted beef
Beef containing harmful pesticides, veterinary antibiotics and heavy metals is being sold to the public because federal agencies have failed to set limits for the contaminants or adequately test for them, a federal audit finds.

 
New Documents Boost Egg-Price Fixing Lawsuit Claim
The lawsuit alleges that as egg prices climbed between 2004 and 2008, industry officials who blamed rising feed costs were covering up an orchestrated hen kill-off to reduce supplies…The United Egg Producers had called the stock reduction an animal welfare effort to give caged chickens more room. The suit maintains it was a ruse to reduce the number of egg-laying hens and increase prices.

 

India Develops Transgenic Chicken
India has developed a transgenic chicken variety that is not only fleshier than normal breeds sold in poultry shops, but can also be used in the treatment of diseases. The breakthrough research could help boost production in a country that ranks among the world’s top three egg producers and among the 20 biggest poultry producers…Transgenic chickens have already been developed in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and China.

 

A regional view of animal control and sheltering

Elephant kicks trainer at Pa. circus, killing him
Police say an elephant at a northeastern Pennsylvania circus startled and kicked its animal trainer, killing him.

 

Food writer credits his doctor with beneficial shift toward veganism
Still largely an omnivore as he completed his vegetarian cookbook, Bittman says he didn’t make the big change in his diet until he (a) saw statistics about the environmental impact of large-scale livestock production; and (b) recognized, as he turned 57, that he had high cholesterol, high blood sugar, sleep apnea, bad knees and 35 extra pounds. “My doctor said, ‘I think you should become a vegan,’ ” Bittman says, referring to a diet that includes no animal products

News of Note

Animal rights group seeks a ‘basic level of decency’
Animal rights advocates are strengthening their call to end animal abuse across the state, urging legislators to pass legislation in 2010 that would crack down on animal fights, puppy mills and the intense confinement of farm animals.

Blue Monkey Building
Why would these businesses locate here? I suspect the reason has to do with the purpose of the blue building next door – it’s a UW primate research laboratory, home to the Washington National Primate Research Center. Only once have I heard a monkey type noise from there; it was probably being transported from a truck into the facility.

Animal-Rights Advocates Bare Teeth in a Novel Way
Animal-rights groups are aggressively stepping up legal tactics in an approach that is picking up steam nationally.  The latest such instance was heard in a Wisconsin court on Thursday involving sheep that died of decompression sickness.  In Madison, prosecutors declined to pursue University of Wisconsin officials and researchers whose test subjects, three sheep, inadvertently died of an illness that befalls deep-sea divers, decompression sickness or the bends, during U.S. Navy-financed experiments aimed at helping submariners.  But two animal-rights groups, Alliance for Animals and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, seized on a little-invoked state law to aid their case.

Tiger Abuse in China Sparks Calls for Animal Rights
It is an irony not lost on the Chinese public that the Year of the Tiger has not been good for the big cats… The Chinese government has come under increasing pressure from owners of tiger farms to relax the ban on trading tiger parts. So far the government has resisted those efforts, a move that seems to be in keeping with shifting public sentiment. The back-to-back tiger tragedies have been followed closely in China, spurring calls for greater legal protections for animals.


An experiment with vegan living leads to new way of eating

On Feb. 1, I flipped a culinary switch and became a vegan overnight. For a month, I planned to shop, cook and eat without any animal products. No meat, eggs or dairy, period.  The intent was mostly earnest. Portland has a large and quickly growing vegan community. And after seeing documentaries like “Food, Inc.” and reading works by Michael Pollan, I’d become increasingly convinced that eating less meat — perhaps even eliminating it altogether — was the greenest, most-humane thing I could do.

Study: Bacon, cheese, fatty foods are physically addictive, like cocaine
Scientists have finally confirmed what the rest of us have suspected for years: Bacon, cheesecake, and other delicious yet fattening foods may be addictive.  A new study in rats suggests that high-fat, high-calorie foods affect the brain in much the same way as cocaine and heroin.

News of Note

Ethical Food Report

Vegetarian activists try in-your-face tactics
Not content to sit quietly at home eating their tofu cutlets, more and more vegetarians, it seems, are taking action, trying to get the carnivorous masses to change their ways.  Of course, the meat-free have been trying to win people over to their cause since the time of Pythagoras. But lately, activists are trying more in-your-face tactics.

Pressure Is On to Ban a Hazardous but Profitable Feed Additive
Food saftey concerns arose after a 2004 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) study revealed that more arsenic is retained in chicken meat than previously thought. According to Tyson, the average U.S. consumer eats about 89 pounds of chicken a year (compared to 28 pounds per person in 1960). The FDA’s tolerance level for arsenic in chicken, set decades ago, has never been revised.
See Also:
Bill set to ban arsenic in chicken feed

FBI searches Salt Lake City home of animal rights supporter
The FBI served a search warrant Monday on a Salt Lake City home occupied by a supporter of the Animal Liberation Front.  Peter D. Young, 32, said at least eight FBI agents arrived about 11:30 a.m. The agents took computers, papers and other items it thought to be related to “animal enterprise terrorism,” Young said, reciting language from the warrant. “It’s important to highlight the fact that I am being targeted just because I am a public figure on the subject” of animal rights, Young said in an interview Tuesday.

Set the Killers Free – A Whale Expert Argues Against Orcas in Captivity
Deborah Giles, a marine biogeographer at the University of California, Davis, with 20 years‘ experience observing wild killer whales, explains why there is little scientific and no conservation value in keeping these ocean giants (Orcinus orca) in captivity.

Men leave their own mark on veganism
When McCain reached his mid-40s the party ended. Topping the scales at 257 pounds and bulging out of his clothes, the stout father of three was fat, unhappy, and “terribly uncomfortable.’’ On the advice of his childhood friend Brian Rothwell, a yoga instructor and lifelong vegan, McCain cut meat, dairy, eggs, chicken, and fish from his diet and added power vinyasa yoga, which helped him shed 60 pounds in eight months. “I feel like a million bucks. And if anything, I don’t look like a slob anymore,’’ says McCain.

Moby in tune with vegan diet
His new book is “Gristle: From Factory Farms to Food Safety (Thinking Twice About the Meat We Eat).”  The book is a collection of essays about food written by contributors including Whole Foods founder John Mackey, Small Planet Institute founder Frances Moore Lappé and triathlete and vegan Brendan Brazier.
We caught up with him in an e-mail interview just before the book’s release.

News of Note

Woodland Park artificially inseminates elephant again
A 31-year-old Asian elephant at the Woodland Park Zoo was artificially inseminated this week in hopes of creating a “multigenerational herd,” zoo officials said Thursday.  Chai — whose popular 6-year-old calf, Hansa, died in 2007 from an elephant herpes virus — was inseminated first on Wednesday and again on Thursday, after she showed signs of ovulating, said Nancy Hawkes, the zoo’s general curator.

USDA fails to stop anal shocking and other abuses of slaughterhouse animals
The federal agency responsible for ensuring humane handling of animals in slaughterhouses does so inconsistently, resulting in continued “egregious” abuses, charges a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).  Testifying before congress this month, a GAO official described flawed enforcement of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act of 1978 (HMSA), which “prohibits the inhumane treatment of livestock in slaughter plants.”

USDA veterinarian testifies agency endangers public health
In testimony before the US House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Dr. Dean Wyatt testified as to how the agency supports unhealthy practices at the national slaughterhouses and endangers the nation’s meat food supply…Dr. Wyatt also testified that he was directed by his superiors to “drastically cut back” the time spent on ensuring that animals destined for food were treated humanely. In fact, according to Dr. Wyatt, he and other inspectors were chastised, reprimanded, and demoted for reporting violations. Dr. Wyatt was also threatened with termination.

Talks to Address Trade in Tuna and Ivory
About 40 proposals are on the agenda for the 12-day meeting of the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which could help determine the fate of species from rhinoceroses to polar bears, from hammerhead sharks to red coral.  A pronounced focus on marine creatures is evident in this year’s proposals, reflecting a growing awareness of the decimation of the seas, negotiators and conservation experts say.

Mega-dairies: Farming solution or big problem?
The plan for Britain’s first “factory farm” for cows has stirred up the debate on the future of farming in Europe.  Similar “feedlot” dairies are commonplace in the U.S., but plans for a complex housing up to 8,100 cows in England is the first proposal on such a large scale in Western Europe. It is still far from clear whether they will be accepted on a continent increasingly obsessed with where its food comes from.

Feds charge trendy sushi restaurant for serving whale meat
Federal authorities have charged a trendy Santa Monica sushi restaurant with serving whale meat — an investigation that was spurred by the team behind the Oscar-winning documentary, “The Cove.”

Vegan place coming to Broadway courtesy of the Squid and Ink folks
Howard Clark and Jarrod Ducat, the duo behind Georgetown’s famous vegan restaurant Squid and Ink, are bringing their vegan goodness to Broadway.  Highline will occupy the former Club Lagoon space at 210 Broadway East.  They are hoping to open by the beginning of May.