Celebrate World Vegan Day - November 1
In this edition...
| ||Mercury in fish may contribute to premature birth|
| ||Link probed between eating meat and dangerous C. difficile bacterium|
| ||Denmark reports first case of lethal scrapie animal disease|
| ||The truth behind the spinach scare: Cheap beef|
| ||Call for ban to destructive fishing practice gains celebrity attention|
| ||Anti-factory farm movement comes from neighbors|
| ||World hits annual sustainable resource 'overshoot'|
Lifestyles and Trends
| ||Veggie celebs: "I owe my sexy looks to a vegetarian diet"|
| ||NBA on the ball - says no to slaughterhouse byproduct|
| ||Andy Rooney ponders eating spinach, horsemeat and vegetarianism|
| ||Sri Lankan official calls for ban on cattle slaughter|
Animal Issues and Advocacy
| ||The painful truth about fish|
| ||Animal sentience: Looking at Flipper, seeing ourselves |
| ||The real price of cheap eggs|
The 'Humane Food' Debate
| ||'Ruthless vegans' using welfare laws as the first step to a meat-free world?
| ||Anti: Activist and author Lee Hall|
| ||Pro: Animal Place sanctuary's Kim Sturla|
Books and Perspectives
| ||A new wrinkle on aging|
| ||Q & A with Jim Mason|
| ||We are all Earthlings||
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Mercury in fish may contribute to premature birth
Full story: New Scientist
Eating fish has long been a tough choice for expectant mothers. On the one hand, it contains omega-3 fatty acids, which can boost birth weight and cognitive abilities. On the other, fish can also contain mercury, which causes severe neurological damage to the fetus. Now it seems that mercury poses yet another risk: premature birth. Fei Xue of the Harvard School of Public Health and her colleagues tested a group of 1024 pregnant women in Michigan. Women who gave birth more than two weeks early were three times as likely to have mercury concentrations of at least 0.55 ppm than those who carried their babies to term. Xue says further research is needed to firm up the statistical significance.
New Scientist - October 14, 2006
Link probed between eating meat and dangerous C. difficile bacterium
Full story: CTV, Canada
Scientists in Canada and the United States are exploring the unsettling question of whether C. difficile [a life-threatening bacterium] can be contracted by eating meat after finding evidence of infection in food animals, including dairy calves. A new study by researchers at the Ontario Veterinary College supports the idea, even revealing that the bacterium has already been isolated from meat in the retail food system. The study further shows that a strain of Clostridium difficile that has caused severe hospital outbreaks in Quebec, Britain and parts of the U.S. has been found in the feces of dairy calves in Ontario. Earlier U.S. studies have found other strains of C. difficile in piglets.
Scientists admit they don't know whether people can become infected and develop C. difficile-associated disease through eating meat containing the bacterium. But the University of Arizona scientist who found the bacterium in pigs said it's hard to believe food isn't a potential source for some people. C. difficile has been traditionally thought of as an infection acquired in hospitals. But increasingly, researchers are discovering cases of C. difficile disease in people who haven't been hospitalized, begging the question: How did they contract the bacterium? Suspicion has been turning to the food supply.
CTV, Canada - October 5, 2006
Denmark reports first case of lethal scrapie animal disease
Full story: Bloomberg
Denmark reported its first case of scrapie, a lethal disease affecting sheep and goats which is related to mad cow disease. The animal was more than 10 years old and the source of its infection is unknown. Scrapie is a degenerative disease that affects the central nervous system. Scientists believe that the feeding of rendered scrapie-infected livestock in the form of meatmeal to cattle in the UK in the late 1970s and 1980s caused the emergence of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE. The disease, also known as mad cow disease, has been linked with the fatal brain-wasting disease, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob, in humans.
Bloomberg - October 12, 2006
The Australian (October 13, 2006)
Meat Processing (October 13, 2006)
Planet Ark/Reuters (October 10, 2006)
BBC News (October 11, 2006)
The truth behind the spinach scare: Cheap beef
Full story: Live Science
While some food safety experts are unfairly bashing organic farmers and their reliance on manure for fertilizer, the real culprit behind E. coli outbreaks [found in packaged spinach in the U.S.] is the industrial beef and cattle industry. First, certified organic farmers are prohibited from using raw manure for 90 days before harvest of food for humans. Second, most organic farmers compost their manure, which kills most E. coli. Industrial beef and dairy farms are disease-ridden cesspools. A growing body of evidence suggests that corn-fed cattle have higher counts of E. coli O157:H7 compared to free-range, grass-fed cattle, which seem largely free from this bacterium. Also, mega-farms cannot get rid of their tons of O157:H7-rich manure. This sits in cesspools and ultimately contaminates the surrounding environment.
Switching back to free-range, grass-fed cattle would solve this problem. But beef would be more expensive, and some view this as a bad thing despite the epidemic of obesity and diabetes and the clear link between high beef consumption and colon cancer. Look for Band-Aid solutions touted in the weeks to come, such as irradiation ... with the unnatural process of irradiation, we can continue the unnatural but cheap practice of feeding cows corn, which they can't digest, so we can continue the unnatural process of consuming lots and lots of this modern invention called the cow. Then maybe we can counter any adverse human health effects with expensive surgery or drug therapy. It's the American way.
Live Science - September 26, 2006
More health stories:
USA Today (September 24, 2006)
Nutrition Horizon, The Netherlands (September 26, 2006)
Nutrition Horizon, The Netherlands (September 25, 2006)
CBC, Canada (September 28, 2006)
Business Week (August 13, 2006)
Slide show re above
Call for ban to destructive fishing practice gains celebrity attention
Full story: International Herald Tribune
Sigourney Weaver urged U.N. members to impose a moratorium on a destructive fishing practice called high-seas bottom trawling, warning that the world's oceans are at risk. Weaver, appearing with several environmental activists and U.N. ambassadors, said that new technology has brought remote and fragile ecosystems within the reach of bottom-trawlers, which rake giant nets equipped with wheels, chains and metal doors across the sea floor to scoop up fish.
"The high seas belong to no single country and they most certainly do not belong to the owners of these large industrial fishing corporations," Weaver said. "They belong to all of us and it is time for us to take them back." Starting [October 4], the 192-member U.N. General Assembly will meet to discuss whether to impose a moratorium on bottom-trawling. Environmental groups say the practice is killing little-known coral ecosystems and the species that dwell in them, and must be suspended so the remote areas can be studied.
International Herald Tribune - October 3, 2006
Sydney Morning Herald (October 4, 2006)
CTV (October 7, 2006)
E/The Environmental Magazine (October 11, 2006)
Anti-factory farm movement comes from neighbors
Full story: The Star Press, IN, US
When he became president of the Indiana Pork Producers Association in January, Monty Moss called community activism against concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) potentially "more devastating to our livestock industry than anything we've encountered in the last 10 years. It's not coming from animal rights activists who think everyone should become vegetarians, or from environmentalists who think the only way to save the world is by eliminating modern farming practices," Moss wrote. "It's coming from right across our road - our neighbors with whom we have lived beside for many years."
Retired farmer Millard Goggin of Cambridge City is one of those neighbors. Is Goggin a vegetarian? "Who me? No, no, no - no. I've got a meatloaf in the oven," he said in a telephone interview from his residence. Does he oppose modern farming practices? "No, but my thing is, this is not farming. It's a hog factory. It's not a farm as such. The air pollution is more of a concern than anything else. It's something the state doesn't have any control over. My wife has a lot of stuff on that. She has MS (multiple sclerosis). So does my daughter, a school nurse. They have a low-immunity problem.
The Star Press, IN, US -
World hits annual sustainable resource 'overshoot'
Full story: ENN/Reuters
The world went into the ecological red on [October 9] - meaning that for the rest of the year mankind will be living beyond its environmental means, scientists said. Ecological Debt Day or Overshoot Day, measures the point at which the consumption of resources exceeds the ability of the planet to replace them - and it gets earlier every year. Calculating the rate of resource consumption against the planet's ability to replenish it, the group said humanity first went into ecological debt on Dec. 19, 1987. Britain went into ecological overshoot on April 16, barely three months into the year - suggesting that if everyone in the world consumed at the same rate as Britons then the world would need the resources of three planets to support just this one. [And North Americans are even worse!]
ENN/Reuters - October 9, 2006
Related info and stories:
Meat production's environmental toll
An excellent overview from Toronto Vegetarian Association
A panel discussion on the health and environmental cost of factory farming
Radio Netherlands (October 6, 2006)
Leading researchers and ecologists call for tax on meat
and dairy to reflect true environmental impact
European farmers had a first hand look at the environmental and health impact of factory farms
Food & Water Watch (September 29, 2006)
From "Plan B: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble" by Lester Brown
Earth Policy Institute (August, 2006)
Lifestyles and Trends
Veggie celebs: "I owe my sexy looks to a vegetarian diet"
Full story: Times of India
[Former "Baywatch" star Pamela Anderson answers questions about her support of animal issues and the reasons for her compassion.] I have been a animal lover all my life and it's an issue close to my heart. My crusade started when I was a 10-year-old and walked into the shed behind our house on Vancouver Island right after my dad had returned from a hunting trip. I opened the door and looked up to see a once beautiful deer hanging upside down - her fur drenched in blood. I remember screaming and running out from the shed and making a vow never to eat meat. In fact, I owe my sexy looks to a vegetarian diet. I used my fame to draw attention to issues that mattered as a responsible star. If I can so can they.
Times of India - October 7, 2006
NBA on the ball - says no to slaughterhouse byproduct
Full story: OpEd News
In the bling bling world of the National Basketball Association (NBA), leather is on its way out. Not the shoes, boots, sneakers, pants, or ubiquitous motorcycle jacket ... I'm talking about the ball itself. "Spalding urged the NBA to switch to a composite model because it was having trouble securing 'consistent' leather to keep manufacturing the ball that has been used for decades," writes Marc Stein of ESPN.com.
"Leather is not simply a slaughterhouse byproduct," writes animal issues columnist Carla Bennett. "Skin accounts for approximately 50 percent of the total byproduct value of cattle." Leather is also made from slaughtered horses, sheep, lambs, goats, and pigs. "Thus, the economic success of the slaughterhouse (and the factory farm) is directly linked to the sale of leather goods." Another tactic for procuring animal skins is hunting. These animals are often endangered or illegally poached-and death is rarely swift or painless. [The article outlines that tanneries are also health threats to workers and nearby residents.] Whether the NBA realizes it or not, its decision was a slam dunk.
OpEd News - October 6, 2006
Andy Rooney ponders eating spinach, horsemeat and vegetarianism
Full story: "60 Minutes," CBS, US
Someone is always warning us not to eat something. We're warned about fast food all the time. Farm raised salmon is a threat because it may contain mercury. You could become a thermometer. Beef was suspect a few years ago because of the mad cow disease. Recently it's been spinach. Consumers should not eat bagged fresh spinach at this time, we were warned.
There are only a couple of things I won't eat. I don't care much for Brussels sprouts, liver or custard desserts. I like steak, lamb and pork chops but you couldn't make me eat rabbit or horse. I don't know why anyone who eats beef finds the idea of eating a horse so repulsive but I'm one of them. Horses seem so friendly and I don't like to be reminded of the animal I'm eating. I often pass a farm with cows grazing in the field and I think to myself how terrible it is that human beings grow other animals just to kill them and eat them. Most of us think of vegetarians as nuts and I'm not a vegetarian but I wouldn't be surprised if we came to a time in 50 or 100 years when civilized people everywhere refused to eat animals. I could be one of them. Of course, I'd be pretty old by then.
"60 Minutes," CBS, US - October 1, 2006
Sri Lankan official calls for ban on cattle slaughter
Full story: Asian Tribune, Sri Lanka
Speaker of the House, W.J.M. Lokubandara addressing a World Animal Day meeting at the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress Hall, Colombo wowed to extend his maximum support for a total ban on cattle slaughter in Sri Lanka. The Speaker condemned crass ingratitude of humans in slaughtering an animal that helped them to till the land and provided them with manure and milk for children. "The cow is like a mother to us," he said
There is no better period than this 2550th Buddha Jayanthi Year to strive for this, the Speaker stressed. He said that it was a shame that non-Buddhist countries like Sweden had strict laws to prevent cruelty to animals, whereas Sri Lanka still had no such laws. Attorney at Law and Consultant, Law Commission, Senaka Weeraratna who drafted the Animal Welfare Act that is expected to be passed in Parliament early next year, said that the Draft Act is a substantial document that took nearly six years in preparation.
Asian Tribune, Sri Lanka - October 7, 2006
An interview with the president of Slovenia
Svoboditev Zivali, Slovenia (September 10, 2006)
Animal Issues and Advocacy
The painful truth about fish
Full story: Los Angeles Times, US
Every year, sportsmen around the world drag millions of fish to shore on barbed hooks. It's something people have always done, and with little enough conscience. Fish are ... well, fish. They're not dogs, who yelp when you accidentally step on their feet. Fish don't cry out or look sad or respond in a particularly recognizable way. So we feel free to treat them in a way that we would not treat mammals or even birds. But is there really any biological justification for exempting fish from the standards nowadays accorded to so-called higher animals? Do we really know whether fish feel pain or whether they suffer - or whether, in fact, our gut sense that they are dumb, unfeeling animals is accurate?
It turns out that the stereotype of fish as slow, dim-witted creatures is wrong; many fish are remarkably clever. And their brains are not as different from ours as we once thought. Although less anatomically complex than our own brain, the function of two of their forebrain areas is very similar to the mammalian amygdala and hippocampus - areas associated with emotion, learning and memory. Moreover, we actually have as much evidence that fish can suffer as we do that chickens can [reviewed in the article]. I think, therefore, that we should adopt a precautionary ethical approach and assume that in the absence of evidence to the contrary, fish suffer. But I do find it curious that it has taken us so long even to bother to ask whether fish feel pain. Perhaps no one really wanted to know.
Los Angeles Times, US - October 8, 2006
Animal sentience: Looking at Flipper, seeing ourselves
Full story: New York Times
What is so upsetting to some people about the closeness between animal and human intelligence, or between animal and human emotions, for that matter? Just saying that animals can learn from each other, and hence have rudimentary cultures, or that they can be jealous or empathic is taken by some as a personal affront. Accusations of anthropomorphism will fly, and we'll be urged to be parsimonious in our explanations. The message is that animals are no humans.
That much is obvious. But it is equally true that humans are animals. Is it so outlandish, from an evolutionary standpoint, to assume that if a large-brained mammal acts similarly to us under similar circumstances, the psychology behind its behavior is probably similar, too? This is true parsimony in the scientific sense, the idea that the simplest explanation is often the best. Those who resist this framework are in "anthropodenial" - they cling to unproven differences.
New York Times - October 9, 2006
The real price of cheap eggs
Full story: The West Australian
They spend their entire lives in a space three-quarters the size of an A4 sheet [letter-size] of paper in wire boxes in dimly lit sheds. The cramped conditions make their bones so brittle they have trouble supporting their own weight. At one day old their beaks are often sliced off by a hot guillotine to stop them pecking each other to death. And after a year in these nightmarish conditions, during which time they will lay an egg every day, they are slaughtered for pet meat. The horrifying truth behind Australia's $300 million battery hen industry has prompted the RSPCA to launch a new campaign against cagelaid eggs.
Switzerland has already banned battery cages and the rest of Europe, including Britain, plans to phase them out by 2012. But in Australia there are no plans to crack down on the industry. And Australian shoppers seem happy to choose cheaper "cage eggs" over barn-laid or free-range produce, which can cost 50 per cent more. The RSPCA will [now] shift the focus of its long-running campaign against cage eggs from government regulators to the 85 per cent of Australian consumers who buy the cheaper eggs. The new RSPCA advertisement will show a woman reaching for a box of eggs and finding herself trapped inside her shopping trolley in conditions resembling a battery hen.
The West Australian - October 3, 2006
More animal welfare stories:
The Border Mail, Australia (October 4, 2006)
Notable quote: "Chickens are really bright, intelligent and curious creatures so you could imagine what stress that causes them to be cooped up in these cages."
Arkangel (October 12, 2006)
Eastern Ontario AgriNews (October, 2006)
Des Moines Register, IA, US (September 29, 2006)
ABC News, Australia (October 3, 2006)
San Diego Union-Tribune, CA, US (October 13, 2006)
Scientific American (October 12, 2006)
The 'Humane Food' Debate
'Ruthless vegans' using welfare laws as the first step to a meat-free world?
Full story: Tucson Weekly, AZ, US
If [the Arizona Humane Treatment of Farm Animals Act] passes, then Arizonans are going to wake up one day to find that a cabal of ruthless vegans has outlawed meat consumption. At least that's the slippery-slope message detractors of the initiative have emphasized in their efforts to shoot it down. [The act] would make it a misdemeanor "to tether or confine a pig during pregnancy or a calf raised for veal on a farm for all or the majority of a day in a manner that prevents the animal from lying down and fully extending its limbs or turning around freely." Ian Calkins, spokesman for the No Campaign, insisted the evidence leading to the meat-outlawing prediction is as plain as day.
"If you look at the heads of the organizations that are pushing for this, all of them are avowed vegans - i.e., no meat, no fish, no poultry, no eggs, no dairy, no nothing. I believe that that's not some sort of coincidence," he said. "Secondly, when you look at the Web sites of the organizations, there are little buttons on there and little pieces of information about how to become a vegetarian, and ... animals are our friends. I see nowhere anything about how to cook barbecue on your grill ... or where to get the best pulled-pork sandwich. Cheryl Naumann, chairwoman of Arizonans for Humane Farms, dismissed Calkins' vegan-cult theory as a PR ploy [used because] "there's not a lot of substance to any argument they can make to say why they can't allow an animal enough room to turn around in his kennel." A poll found overwhelming support for the initiative.
Tucson Weekly, AZ, US - October 5, 2006
Anti: Activist and author Lee Hall
Full story: Satya Magazine
Q: Your book Capers in the Churchyard examines two major trends you see in the animal rights movement: militant action and intimidation on one end, and animal welfare reform on the other. Why do you find this problematic? A: From an industry manager's perspective, you'll see two major ways in which animal users keep activists under control. The traditional way entails being prepared to negotiate a few animal welfare concessions with activists. The animals, of course, aren't polled. The other management method involves portraying activists as dangerous.
Let's look at the first. Adjustments in commercial husbandry practices may be touted as victories, but over the years they've done very little, except to give the impression industries have "taken a bite out of their worst cruelties." Such assurances don't empower us or other animals, so why do they occupy so many advocates? It's the seductive but largely illusory view that things can't change overnight, so we should relieve suffering now. The thing is, now just keeps going on and on, while industries expand to meet new profit opportunities. So forget egg reform. Let's start commending veganism - without hedging. Animal rights activism is not exemplified by those who present a smorgasbord of choices, who sometimes advocate veganism and sometimes promote humane animal farming.
Satya Magazine - October, 2006
Pro: Animal Place sanctuary's Kim Sturla
Full story: Satya Magazine
There's a fear within the animal rights movement that you can't be honest about your ethics - activists worry they'll be labeled "radical" or will run afoul of donors or legislators. But in my experience, when you remain consistent in your belief of having compassion for all species and convey this message in a non-judgmental way, the general public and mainstream media do understand and respect it. Yes, abolition is the ideal, but animal welfare is a positive step, too. Even the legislative efforts like the recent ban of live field coursing in our county and the ban on foie gras in California help raise awareness that animals deserve compassion and respect.
Unfortunately, terms like "humane slaughter" and "humane meat" are misleading - they're oxymoronic and give folks the wrong idea. These terms are marketing ploys designed to make a segment of the public - compassionate consumers - feel better about buying meat. Rather than promoting so-called "humane meat" or even cage-free eggs, I prefer to encourage people to give up meat or animal products one day a week. If they do, that will have a more lasting impact on them and the animals, and show how easy it is to enjoy a plant-based diet.
Satya Magazine - October, 2006
More on the debate:
The October issue of Satya Magazine has more thought-provoking sanctuary perspectives and an editorial on the subject:
"Certainly, we support systems that are less cruel, but simply because we have the might to kill these animals, it does not give us the right."
"All in all, it has made our job as farmed animal advocates even more difficult than it always has been."
"I keep hoping it is all some mastermind genius scheme to infiltrate the enemy camp and then in one fell swoop eradicate animal exploitation."
Drovers Magazine (October 12, 2006)
Books and Perspectives
A new wrinkle on aging
Full story: Santa Cruz Sentinel
John Robbins flips his 5 1/2-year-old grandson upside down, giving him a gravity-defying walk on the ceiling and making the straw-haired little boy grin. You might expect the man who wrote a book about living healthfully into old age to say that the key to a long life is in the bowls filled with fresh fruit that sit on his kitchen counter ... But it is this simple act with his grandchild that he would count as the most important predictor of a long and healthy life. The idea that love is key to healthy old age is just one of the conclusions in Robbins' new book, Healthy at 100: The Scientifically Proven Secrets of the World's Healthiest and Long-Lived Peoples.
Diet is also key, Robbins says. For instance, all four of the long-lived cultures [he studied] eat low-calorie diets. All four also rely on whole grains, fresh vegetables, small servings of meat or fish and no processed foods. People also stay active. His book recounts stories of 90- and 100-year-olds who hike down steep canyons to dunk themselves in cold mountain streams, or chop wood and haul water. And it's not genetics that keep them rolling into their golden years, Robbins says. Younger Okinawans who have adopted a Westernized diet and lifestyle have the same rates of cancer, obesity and disease as their Western counterparts. "The idea of being a victim of genes," Robbins says, "is just an excuse to indulge."
Santa Cruz Sentinel - October 1, 2006
Q & A with Jim Mason
Full story: Advance Titan, University of Wisconsin, US
[Here is just one of the many interesting exchanges in the interview with the author of The Way We Eat: Why our food choices matter.]
Q: You're the fifth generation of a Missouri farming family. How has this affected your ethical food choices? A: Every generation before me on my mother's side was either born or raised on a farm. I was raised on a farm and milked cows twice a day for 17 years. I did all the farm chores (and) I grew up close and personal to farm animals and I realized the family farm isn't exactly a humane place. I saw many cruelties in the course of my upbringing, and as I became older and mature and an attorney, it struck me what an injustice it is that animals can feel the same as we do and yet we treat them as though they feel nothing. I just couldn't escape the injustice.
Advance Titan, University of Wisconsin, US - October 4, 2006
We are all Earthlings
Full story: Waterloo Chronicle
Earthlings is a documentary about humanity's absolute dependence on animals for pets, food, clothing, entertainment and scientific research. Narrated by actor, animal rights activist and vegan Joaquin Phoenix, it is unquestionably the most gripping, thought-provoking film I've ever seen. It is also extremely graphic. With much of the footage captured by hidden cameras, the 95-minute film chronicles the horrific day-to-day practices of some of the largest industries in the world, which rely entirely on animals for profit.
Pet stores and puppy mills are the first places the film takes viewers to illustrate the correlations between animals and human economic interests. From there, the film exposes the indignities, inhumane torture and excruciating pain animals suffer through factory farming. I imagine most viewers would be repulsed to see cows, pigs and chickens slaughtered. Even worse is the footage before they are killed, as these creatures are castrated, debeaked, dehorned, branded and pumped full of hormones and antibiotics. Viewing Earthlings reminded me of the disrespect many humans show these so-called "non-human providers" on such an enormous global scale. It is not an easy film to watch, but it's an important one. After all, we are all earthlings. [DVD copy is available at the Earthlings website
Waterloo Chronicle - October 4, 2006
More book reviews and links:
Satya Magazine (October, 2006)
Amory is often called the father of the modern animal rights movement
Long Island Press, NY, US (October 5, 2006)
Features the books included in this newsletter and many more - thanks for your support!
Whenever possible, stories are linked to the original source. Some sites may require registration, and/or not archive the stories. All links were active at the time of publication.
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