Happy holidays and a new year full of peace and compassion!
In this edition...
| ||Meat contributes to climate change, UN study confirms|
| ||Sea turtle's epic journey celebrated with commitment to conservation|
| ||U.S. approves overhaul of rules for fisheries|
| ||Diet high in fruits and veggies, low in meat lessens stomach cancer risk|
| ||Bird flu: Thousands of birds culled in S. Korea|
| ||Scientist warns of new 'mad cow' outbreak|
Lifestyles and Trends
| ||Dutch raise animal rights to new level|
| ||Study: Intelligent kids more likely to become vegetarians|
| ||Entertaining vegetarian guests|
| ||U.S. consumers uneasy about biotech food, cloned animal products|
| ||Bioprinters vs. the Meatrix|
Animal Issues and Advocacy
| ||U.S. suit a test case on farm animal cruelty|
| ||Abused turkeys saved from Christmas chop|
| ||Chimp champion fights ape meat, pet trade|
| ||A more humane way to kill lobsters?|
| ||American horse slaughter prevention act: What is the issue?|
Books, Movies and Perspectives
| ||Documentary offers unsettling peek at food industry|
| ||Healing through healthy foods|
Are They Serious? Unfortunately Yes
| ||Of mice and men|
| ||`Zombie chickens' hatch debate over older chickens' fate||
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Meat contributes to climate change, UN study confirms
Full story: The NewStandard, US
The typical American diet adds significantly to pollution, water scarcity, land degradation and climate change, according to a United Nations report released [November 29]. Written by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO),the report is the latest research linking meat-eating with environmental destruction. According to the FAO, the arm of the UN that works on worldwide hunger-defeating initiatives, animal farming presents a "major threat to the environment" with such "deep and wide-ranging" impacts that it should rank as a leading focus for environmental policy. The report calls the livestock sector a "major player" in affecting climate change through greenhouse-gas production.
As demand for meat grows, the report explains, so does the need for pasture and cropland, making deforestation an additional concern; currently, according to the report, the livestock sector occupies 30 percent of ice-free land on the planet. Despite such alarming findings, the FAO report stopped short of suggesting more people adopt plant-based diets; instead it advocated for technological solutions and changes in farming policies. Gidon Eshel, assistant professor of physical oceanography and climate [at] the University of Chicago report, [said] "It is probably not a bad idea to suggest unambiguously that if more people used less animal products in their diet than they do today, we [would] be able to sustain a larger number of people on earth for an indefinite period of time, or afford those who are here a better lifestyle."
The NewStandard, US - December 7, 2006
Related stories and links:
United Nations News Center (November 29, 2006)
New Scientist (December 12, 2006)
Quote: Perhaps the report's most striking finding is that the livestock sector accounts for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions - more than transport, which emits 13.5%.
Meat production's environmental toll
An excellent overview from Toronto Vegetarian Association
Sea turtle's epic journey celebrated with commitment to conservation
Full story: Environmental News Network
A group of 20 fishermen, researchers and resource managers from Mexico, Japan and the United States gathered in November to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Adelita's track from Baja California Sur to Japan - the first loggerhead sea turtle to provide physical proof of their trans-Pacific migration via satellite telemetry. The objective of the trip was to share experiences, raise awareness and work towards reducing bycatch of loggerhead sea turtles during a two-week expedition throughout the Japan Archipelago.
North Pacific loggerhead sea turtles nest exclusively on beaches in Japan and then undertake developmental migrations that can last decades and span the entire North Pacific, passing Hawaii to the rich waters of Mexico. Listed as an endangered species by the World Conservation Union, loggerheads have declined dramatically to the point where there are no more than a few thousand females nesting in the North Pacific per year. Coastal fisheries bycatch in Mexican and Japanese waters plus international longline fisheries in the Central North Pacific have been identified as some of the leading sources of loggerhead sea turtle mortality.
Environmental News Network - December 8, 2006
U.S. approves overhaul of rules for fisheries
Full story: Washington Post
[The U.S. government has] passed the broadest overhaul of the rules that govern the U.S. fishing industry in a decade, with provisions instructing fishery managers to adhere strictly to scientific advice so as not to deplete the ocean. The final language of the Magnuson-Stevens Act was a compromise between environmentalists and fishing interests. The measure mandates an end to overfishing of depleted species within 2 1/2 years and allows the selling and trading of shares in a fishery to promote conservation.
"This clearly acknowledges the problems we face and reflects a realization by lawmakers that we can't continue to postpone dealing with overfishing and the destruction of marine habitat," said Josh Reichert, head of the Pew Charitable Trust's environmental program ... But those compromises angered Michael Hirschfeld, chief scientist for the advocacy group Oceana. "We're disappointed because we really do see this as an opportunity missed," Hirschfeld said, adding that he hopes federal officials will manage fish "in a way to make sure that there's enough resources for the whole ecosystem, not just us."
Washington Post - December 9, 2006
Environmental News Network/Reuters (December 19, 2006)
Environmental News Network (December 19, 2006)
Diet high in fruits and veggies, low in meat lessens stomach cancer risk
Full story: Kansas City Infozine
The latest results from the most comprehensive study of diet's role in cancer risk ever undertaken suggest that getting plenty of vitamin C may lower risk for stomach cancer. The study also indicated that vitamin C may play an important role in protecting against the specific cancer risks associated with diets high in meat.
The study is called the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition, or EPIC. A cohort study initiated in 1992, EPIC is currently tracking the diets and disease rates of an unprecedented 521,483 individuals in 10 different European countries. This new study offers further evidence that people concerned about cancer risk should consume a diet that is rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables and that is also low in red meat in general and in processed meats (hot dogs, cold cuts, sausage and bacon) in particular.
Kansas City Infozine - November 27, 2006
MedlinePlus/Reuters (December 13, 2006)
Quote: Vegetarians had lower blood levels of several hormones and other substances that have been tied to certain cancers.
Bird flu: Thousands of birds culled in S. Korea
Full story: Daily India/UPI
Thousands of quails and other birds have been slaughtered as South Korea tries to contain an outbreak of avian influenza. The latest outbreak in North Cholla province killed 3,000 birds at a quail farm in Kimje, more than 200 miles southeast of Seoul, the Korea Times reported. Last month, there were outbreaks at two farms in Iksan. Authorities said that the latest cull will involve 290,000 quails at the Kimje farm as well as all poultry within a 3-kilometer (almost 2-mile) radius. That means an additional 352,000 quails, chicken and ducks will be killed.
Daily India/UPI - December 13, 2006
Scientist warns of new 'mad cow' outbreak
Full story: ITN, UK
Professor John Collinge has established the human form of mad cow disease can be easily passed on through blood and more easily transmitted than eating contaminated meat. The specialist has been tracking the progress of 24 people who accidentally received infected blood transfusions. Three of them have now died and thousands more could be at risk because nobody knows how many infected donors have given blood in the past or are still donating now. Prof Collinge, from the Medical Research Council's Prion Unit, said it might be possible for a person to be silently infected with vCJD [mad cow disease] for more than 50 years before developing symptoms. During this time a "carrier" posed a potential risk to others, by transmitting the infection through donated blood or contaminating surgical and medical instruments.
ITN, UK - December 15, 2006
Wisconsin Ag Connection, US (December 15, 2006)
Ottawa Citizen, Canada (December 5, 2006)
Lifestyles and Trends
Dutch raise animal rights to new level
Full story: BBC News, UK
It has been a busy few weeks for Marianne Thieme [since] she made history as one of two animal-rights candidates to win election to the Dutch parliament. They are the first animal-rights MPs anywhere in the world. On Thursday 30 November, she and her fellow MP, Esther Ouwehand, were sworn in as MPs. Now their real work begins: to persuade the next government (which has yet to be formed) to adopt animal-friendly policies. "I miss compassion in our society," Ms Thieme says. "When I look at animals, they are innocent. We are treating them like they are things, like they are bicycles. That's not what we have to be as human beings. We have common sense and moral awareness, so we have to use that as well."
In its manifesto the Party for the Animals (PvdD) says protection for animals should not be defined by the market. It wants to abolish the biotechnology industry and promote organic agriculture instead. It calls for an end to industrial farming practices such as castration and tougher penalties for those who abuse animals, as well as an end to ritual slaughter without anaesthesia. Ms Thieme hopes the success of the Party for the Animals will encourage other similar parties across Europe. But she offers some words of advice. "They must realise they are pioneers, and that nine out of 10 won't understand what they're doing. But fortunately, a lot of people don't want to be nine out of 10 anymore."
BBC News, UK - December 4, 2006
Reuters (December 12, 2006)
Washington Post (December 12, 2006)
In Defence of Animals
Of note: Kucinich's campaign manager for his 2004 campaign was the noted vegetarian author and activist John Robbins.
Study: Intelligent kids more likely to become vegetarians
Full story: Bloomberg, UK
Children with a higher intelligence quotient at age 10 are more likely to become vegetarians later in life, according to a study published online [December 15] by the British Medical Journal. People with an IQ of 110 were two-and-a-half times more likely to avoid eating meat, the lead author of the study, Catherine Gale of the University of Southampton, said in a telephone interview. Researchers studied more than 8,000 men and women, and found vegetarians were more likely to be women, belong to a higher social class, and have higher educational degrees.
"If you are bright, you are more likely to understand health information, and more likely to act on it," Gale, a senior research fellow, said. The results backed up findings that intelligence is associated with lower rates of heart disease. While their intelligence may allow the vegetarian participants to be more health literate, some vegetarians act on purely ethical reasons when they give up meat, the study said. The researchers studied participants at age 10, and followed up 20 years later. About 4.5 percent of them said they were vegetarian.
Bloomberg, UK - December 15, 2006
Earthtimes.org (December 15, 2006)
NutraIngredients.com (December 15, 2006)
Quote: Since the vegetarian diet has been linked to a lower incidence of heart disease, researchers speculated that this could help explain the link between higher IQ in childhood or adolescence and a reduced risk of coronary heart disease as an adult.
Entertaining vegetarian guests
Full story: Common Ground
During the holidays, young people return from college, relatives arrive from near and far and we connect with seldom seen friends. For an estimated one family in four - the number is growing - festive holiday meals must be adjusted to accommodate at least one vegetarian.
These include young people with concerns about animal rights and environmental issues, as well as older individuals who have had a cancer, diabetes or cardiovascular concern. Year after year, people of all ages, who are reluctant to gain a pound, or five, and who want meals that won't overstuff them, often turn to vegetarianism.
There are many ways to extend the fare for our celebration meals that go far beyond a dreary, little veggie burger for the lone vegetarian. Moreover, accommodating vegetarians can make our holiday spread both prettier and more colourful. The menu ideas [included in the full article] are also suitable for the vegetarians (and vegans) we love and also accommodate people with food sensitivities or celiac disease. [Books mentioned in the article are available at the VegE-Store
Common Ground - December, 2006
U.S. consumers uneasy about biotech food, cloned animal products
Full story: Washington Post
Ten years after genetically engineered crops were first planted commercially in the United States, Americans remain ill-informed about and uncomfortable with biotech food, according to the fifth annual survey on the topic, released [Dec. 6]. People vastly underestimate how much gene-altered food they are already consuming, lean toward wanting greater regulation of such crops and have less faith than ever that the Food and Drug Administration will provide accurate information, the survey found. The poll also confirmed that most Americans, particularly women, do not like the idea of consuming meat or milk from cloned animals. The FDA recently said it is close to allowing such food on the market.
Washington Post - December 7, 2006
Australia: Tighter code for food labels
Terms such as 'organic'and 'free range' to be more closely regulated
The Age, Australia (November 124, 2006)
Bioprinters vs. the Meatrix
Full story: Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies
One of the odder manifestations of the fabrication future may well revolutionize the world of medicine - and quite possibly change how we eat and offer a new way to fight global warming, too. Bioprinters use ink-jet printer technology to lay down controlled layers of cells. Bioprinter systems will eventually be able to produce custom-made biological structures, including organs. We're still a ways away from being able to click "print" and have a heart pop out onto a holding tray, of course. But the work done on this system may have a far larger benefit for those of us who love the taste and texture of meat, but hate what the livestock industries do to the planet.
It's hard to exaggerate just how destructive ranching is to the planet ... Meat consumption is a major cause of heart disease ... And the meat industry is, in a word, cruel, both to its workers and to the animals themselves. It's no exaggeration to say that a vegetarian planet would be a far healthier planet in nearly every respect - environmentally, medically and ethically. Unfortunately, that's just not likely to happen any time soon. Most of what we think of as "meat" is really just animal muscle tissue. In principle, there's no reason why a system that could print human muscle for medical use couldn't do the same for cattle muscle for food use. [The article also discusses culture-grown cloned "meat" and sees the two technologies combined to produce "real meat" in quantity, even from an extinct species!]
Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies - December 14, 2006
Animal Issues and Advocacy
U.S. suit a test case on farm animal cruelty
Full story: Monsters & Critics, UK/Reuters
New Jersey allows cruelty to farm animals by failing to ban practices such as castration without anesthetic, animal rights activists said [December 13] in a lawsuit that might help set national standards for the treatment of livestock. Groups including the Humane Society of the United States and Farm Sanctuary said the state Department of Agriculture had failed to establish humane standards for farm animals as required by a law implemented in 2004. New Jersey is the only state [with such a law], and enforcing the measure could lead to better treatment of livestock across the country, said Gene Baur, president of Farm Sanctuary.
Nancy Costello Miller, an attorney for the state, said standards of care that many people would find unacceptable for pets are normal in the farm industry. "We have to accept that these animals are being raised for human purposes," she told the court. Asked by Judge Michael Winkelstein how castration without anesthetic can be good for animal welfare, Miller replied that the pain suffered by the animal is only brief. A decision by the three-judge panel is not expected for months.
Monsters & Critics, UK/Reuters - December 14, 2006
Abused turkeys saved from Christmas chop
Full story: BBC News, UK
Fifty turkeys have been rescued from the chop, just weeks before they were due to reach their final end on Christmas dinner plates.
The birds were stuffed in "appalling conditions" according to the USPCA. The animal charity also saved seven geese and two pigs in the joint operation with police and Department of Agriculture officials. A file is being prepared with a view to prosecuting the owner for cruelty. "The conditions were absolutely appalling, animals living in their own filth," he said. "Most of them had no access to daylight and no dry bedding or food."
BBC News, UK - December 8, 2006
Farm Sanctuary's Adopt-A-Turkey Project
Check out the endearing gallery of hopeful adoptees.
Chimp champion fights ape meat, pet trade
Full story: National Geographic News
When Sheri Speede met three angry chimpanzees caged as an attraction at a hotel in Cameroon, her planning began. The U.S. veterinarian and animal-welfare activist decided she would open a modest nonprofit sanctuary for these and a few other primates in the central African country and otherwise work toward conservation of the great apes. Her main adversaries would be the poachers who kill chimps for the illegal wild meat, or "bush meat," trade. The hunters are primarily interested in adult apes; the babies sometimes end up as roadside attractions.
Eight years later Speede's sanctuary is modest no more. The Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center in Cameroon is home to 58 adult and baby chimps on some 220 acres. Speede and her staff have also embarked on the first nationwide radio campaign publicizing the illegality and danger of poaching. Speede is also one of the few professionals with medical knowledge for miles around and serves informally as a doctor to area residents. She has delivered babies, mended bones, and taught about safe sex and AIDS. She hopes to raise funds for a television campaign to make eating bush meat a source of shame. Speede also wants to bring more Cameroonians to her sanctuary to see the chimps living in family groups in the forest. "To see how much they are like people, that really does have a profound effect," she said.
National Geographic News - December 18, 2006
A more humane way to kill lobsters?
Full story: CBC News, Canada
A device that kills lobsters with electric shocks has been developed into an industrial-scale model by a Charlottetown [Prince Edward Island, Canada] company, and the pressure is on processors in Europe to buy it. The CrustaStun, billed as a more humane way to kill lobsters, was originally launched with a home and restaurant version in 1999 by British inventor Simon Buckhaven. Buckhaven says the shock makes lobsters insensible for pain-free boiling.
Marketing for the CrustaStun on the company's website makes claims beyond humane treatment for lobsters. It also suggests "it anticipates humane slaughter legislation currently being considered throughout Europe," and even that it improves the quality of the meat by reducing stress. "As I say there's a lot of pressure on them to humanely process seafood prior to it being eaten. This movement is coming on very rapidly, so yes, I would say in a few years it would be a pretty steady product line." While the pressure is on in the U.K. and Europe, in North America old-fashioned methods are still the norm.
CBC News, Canada - December 14, 2006
American horse slaughter prevention act: What is the issue?
Full story: Lahonton Valley News, NV, US
When it comes to eating horse meat, I don't fault anyone for it. Heck, being from Louisiana I have eaten everything from possum to raccoon to snake. All of it is fair game. So what is all the recent scuttlebutt about the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act? Is the United States trying to stop people from eating horse meat? I don't think so but believe the bill is to control the way these animals are treated in transport and slaughter.
The main crux of this issue are the facts that the trucks hauling them on U.S. roads to Mexico and Canada are not designed for horses (ceilings are too low and double-deckers cannot handle the weight) and the slaughterhouses conducting the killing prescribe to slaughtering methods that we as a culture/nation outlawed long ago. It is a misnomer that only sick, lame or old horses are sent to these slaughterhouses. Many of the horses are healthy and/or previously had been someone's pet. The meat ultimately goes overseas. Most of the meat goes to France, where it is considered a delicacy.
Lahonton Valley News, NV, US - December 13, 2006
Related story and link:
The Horse, US (December 13, 2006)
Depicting the carnage from an overturned truck and slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada - not for the faint-hearted
Books, Movies and Perspectives
Documentary offers unsettling peek at food industry
Full story: Final call
If you're considering becoming a vegetarian, you might like to check out Our Daily Bread
, a documentary that offers an inside peek at the lethal logistics of the high-tech food industry. Welcoming you to a world of callously-efficient production from conception to harvest, and all for the benefit of human consumption, this emotionally detached expose' makes its case against cruelty to animals, and without reliance on an editorializing narrator or on judgmental commentary of any kind. Simply allowing authentic workplace acoustics to serve as the soundtrack, the film effectively positions the viewer inside the killing fields of assorted futuristic slaughterhouses as an almost involuntary eyewitness to the callous butchery.
The few employees featured in the film have deadened eyes that ostensibly reflect their having long since capitulated spiritually to their soul-draining line of work. Our Daily Bread
evokes a sense of urgency in the audience rather than allowing us to remain aloof. Thus, as un-indicted co-conspirators in an ethical compromise of unthinkable proportions, the picture prods you to prevent agri-business from leading the planet down a path to complete moral and ecological collapse. A most perturbing experience guaranteed to haunt you for meals to come.
Final call - December 7, 2006
Healing through healthy foods
Full story: keepMEcurrent, ME, US
Eight years ago, Meg Wolff took a chance that might have saved her life. Wolff gave up on conventional treatment for breast cancer and decided against a bone marrow transplant. "I just felt in my gut that it would kill me," said Wolff. Instead, she began a strict, healing macrobiotic diet that she credits with curing her cancer and helping to improve the quality of her life. Nearly a decade after turning to macrobiotics, Wolff is cancer free and feeling healthier than ever - both mentally and physically.
Recently, after three years of work, Wolff published a memoir of her illness and recovery, Becoming Whole, with the help of writer Tom Monte. Over two years Monte would visit Wolff at her home in Cape Elizabeth for a few days as she told him her story, piece by piece. Eventually, as she recalled her life and struggle against cancer for Monte, the book emerged. "There were days when I'd think I'd much rather be at the beach reading a book," said Wolff. "What really kept me going and pursuing this was that not many people have the chance to make a difference in someone's life like I think I can with this book." The biggest thing Wolff learned from her experiences, she said, was to trust herself and listen to her instincts. "The most important thing is to just go with your gut," said Wolff. "Go with your gut, go with your gut, go with your gut."
keepMEcurrent, ME, US - December 14, 2006
More book reviews and links:
Gwinnett Daily Post, GA, US (December 10, 2006)
The Hindu, India (November 27, 2006)
Blogcritics Magazine (December 18, 2006)
Quote: The book is essentially an adaption of "Fast Food Nation" for younger readers.
Health News Digest (November 27, 2006)
Features the books included in this newsletter and many more - thanks for your support!
Are They Serious? Unfortunately Yes
Of mice and men
Full story: BBC News
UK scientists are seeking permission to place human nuclei into animal eggs in a bid to create stem cell lines. Why do researchers believe the intermingling of species could be vital to science? The mixing up and merging of species is not new to science: a multitude of creatures straddling the line between animal and human already exist in laboratories around the world.
But far from seeing their role as creators of freak-show fodder, scientists believe the creation of part-human part-animal creatures can help to study disease, advance areas such as fertility, and boost understanding of our basic biology. These creatures are called chimeras, and are defined as organisms that contain at least two genetically different groups of cells originating from different organisms. Different from hybrids, which are formed when one species' egg is fertilised with another species' sperm, such as the horse-donkey-cross mule, chimeras can occur between the same species or between different species, exist in nature or be created in the laboratory.
BBC News - November 7, 2006
`Zombie chickens' hatch debate over older chickens' fate
Full story: Mercury News, CA, US
In the rich agricultural region of Northern California, ranchers have been turning chickens too old to lay eggs into compost at a rate of a half-million hens a year. But some chickens not properly euthanized have been seen crawling out of the compost piles, earning them the name "zombie chickens" - and hatching a debate over what else might be done with them and other "spent hens."
A food bank proposed making sausage to feed the poor. A reptile enthusiast suggested using them as food for large exotic pets like pythons and alligators. And an industry group said in the future they could be used as fuel for power plants. [A new European technology turns dead cows into fuel to generate electricity.] But for now, according to egg farmers in Sonoma County, composting is the only affordable option. To kill the chickens, farmers suffocate them in sealed boxes filled with carbon dioxide, a practice that has drawn the ire of animal rights groups. Afterward, the hens are layered in mounds of sawdust.
Mercury News, CA, US - December 3, 2006
Related stories and links:
The New Zealand Herald (December 11, 2006)
Quote: I've got very little time for these activists because they're fanatics ... they're probably vegans.
Scoop, NZ (December 17, 2006)
Access North Georgia, US (December 13, 2006)
To help get hens out of cages.
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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