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.
Help Save Chimpanzees: Support the Great Ape Protection Act (GAPA)
Please take a moment to help the more than 1,000 chimpanzees forced to live in laboratory research settings in the United States. Recently, ABC’s Nightline exposed the abuse of hundreds of chimpanzees and other nonhuman primates at the New Iberia Research Center in Louisiana. Unfortunately, these individuals are not alone in their suffering.
The Great Ape Protection Act (H.R. 1326) has just been reintroduced in Congress. This legislation would end invasive research on the chimpanzees remaining in laboratories, release federally owned chimpanzees to permanent sanctuaries, and end federal funding for the breeding of federally owned chimpanzees.
Make a brief, polite phone call to urge your U.S. representative to co-sponsor The Great Ape Protection Act.
Then, send an e-mail to your representative to follow up.
Help Get Elephants to Sanctuary
The fate of Tina, Jewel and Queenie, three elephants confiscated from the abusive Davenport Circus, was finally decided. Rather than being sent to a sanctuary to live out their lives in peace after years of being forced to perform for the amusement of humans, they were sent to zoos. Queenie was sent to the inhumane San Antonio Zoo – rated the worst US zoo in 2009 by IDA (In Defense of Animals)!
The Senate Agricultural Committee is considering holding a hearing to review how the USDA and the AZA (Association of Zoos & Aquariums) may have colluded so that confiscated elephants stay in the entertainment industry by going to zoos instead of a sanctuary.
Please call or email to ask that the USDA be required to do what’s best for the elephants – let them be retired to a sanctuary:
Chairwoman Blanche Lincoln (AR) Chairman:
EMAIL: http://lincoln.senate.gov/contact/email.cfm (use topic Agriculture)
Saxby Chambliss, (GA), Ranking committee member:
http://www.chambliss.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=Email (use topic Agriculture)
Ask your Representative to Make Sale of Crush Videos Illegal Again
On April 20, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in U.S. v. Stevens that the “Crush Act,” a 1999 federal law banning the creation, sale and possession of materials depicting genuine acts of animal cruelty, is unconstitutional and overbroad in its scope.
“Crush” fetish videos (also called “squish” videos) generally depict a woman’s feet as they crush to death small animals such as rodents and kittens. The Crush Act was intended to stop the creation and sale of these horrific videos depicting live animals being intentionally maimed, mutilated, tortured, wounded or killed.
The day after the Supreme Court’s ruling, Representative Gallegly (R-CA) introduced H.R. 5092, a new bill designed to overcome the Court’s decision to strike down the Crush Act. The new bill amends the Crush Act to give it a much narrower focus, but would still prohibit selling or offering to sell any depictions of animals being crushed, drowned, impaled or burned where such actions are illegal.
H.R. 5092 will help ensure that the crush video industry is not revitalized in the absence of any enforceable federal law. The original Crush Act was passed with little opposition—help us get this revision passed quickly, too.
Please email your representative to urge him or her to support H.R. 5092.
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.
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.
Support H.R. 5092 – Crush Act Amendment
Tell your Congressional Representative to support H.R. 5092. This new bill amends the Crush Act to give it a much narrower focus that would still prohibit selling or offering to sell any depictions of animals being crushed, drowned, impaled or burned where such acts are illegal.
Find your US Representative here
Tell USDA: Get Queenie out of San Antonio Zoo and send her to PAWS Sanctuary
Despite widespread public opposition to her transfer, Queenie was moved to the San Antonio Zoo. The move was part of a settlement agreement with circus handler Will Davenport for federal animal welfare charges against him. This action is particularly egregious since the PAWS Sanctuary had made a formal offer to give Queenie a home that would provide the highest possible quality of life including 50 acres to roam, high quality care, her choice of social companions, and some peace and quiet.
What you can do:
Please call USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack today at (202) 720-3631, and send the fax at the bottom of this page to Secretary Vilsack and new USDA/White House Liaison Kevin Washoe.
Boycott PETCO and PetSmart
Video footage obtained in a new PETA undercover investigation reveals
disturbing living and dying conditions for animals at Sun Pet Ltd., a
wholesale animal dealer that supplies animals to numerous PETCO and
PetSmart locations. PETA’s investigator documented cruel, extremely crowded, and filthy conditions that forced animals to eat, sleep, urinate, and defecate all in the same tiny space as well as the violent killing and rough handling of birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, gerbils, mice, and rats.
Tell both companies to stop selling animals altogether, and let these companies know that you, your friends, and your family will not be giving them any business until animals are no longer part of their “inventory.”
Pass the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act
Tell U.S. Congress to support H.R. 4733, and end the use of gestation crates, veal crates, and battery cages in America.
The U.S. government spends upwards of 1 billion dollars per year on animal products that feed government programs and agencies, like the National School Lunch Program, the federal Bureau of Prisons, and the Armed Services.
The Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, H.R. 4733, would require the government to purchase food for these programs only from farms where animals can move freely and extend their limbs in their confinement– that means no gestation crates, veal crates, or battery cages. Since it’s essentially impossible for every packer to trace each piece of meat back to it’s farm of origin, they would need all of their suppliers to comply with these standards; so the law would apply to virtually every farm in the country.
Contact your Senators and US Representatives, and ask them to support The Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, H.R. 4733
Find your U.S. Representative here
Find your U.S. Senators here
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.