Blogging About Critters Since 2007

Sunday, May 31, 2009

"Bloodless" Bullfighting in San Joaquin Valley May Not be so Bloodless

An animal cruelty investigator from Animal Cruelty Investigations and sheriff deputy were injured at a bullfight in Thornton CA. Though the bulls were supposed to be hit with velcro darts, these ones were allegedly stabbed with nails. From the Sacramento Bee:
When the animal cruelty investigator attempted to grab the bandoleras, he was put in a chokehold by Darren Nunes, 24, and almost lost consciousness, according to a Sheriff's Department news release.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Happy Saturday

It's a hamster sort of day:

Friday, May 29, 2009

Uganda Benefits from Mountain Gorilla Survival

Uganda is seeing a growth in tourism dollars from visits to see its mountain gorillas. This is very important. The tourism revenue creates an incentive for Uganda to protect the endangered species at the same time that it contributes to human welfare.

This is a kind of symbiotic relationship that only benefits both members of the relationship. Lets hope it continues to flourish. There are only about 700 mountain gorillas left in the world.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Are We Much Better than Michael Vick?

This is an excellent opinion piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The author, an assistant professor of sociology at Tulane University, poses some important questions. While I don't agree with everything he says, I do think he makes some legitimate points.

The media and society is vilifying Michael Vick (rightly I believe.) But is he relatively that much worse than the rest of us? Is what he did consciously to his pitbulls that much worse than what we do unconsciously to animals every day?

This is part of the piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer...
Some of us forget that dogs are mere animals, and that animal mistreatment is as American as Apple iPods. Like Vick, most of us shamelessly abuse and kill animals.

Homemakers employ deadly rat traps and poisons to rid their dwellings of vermin. Chefs place live lobsters in pots of boiling water. Hunters shoot down animals in cold blood for mere sport.

In university labs nationwide, scientists inflict spinal-cord injuries on dogs and cats, inject rats with carcinogens, test dangerous drugs on monkeys, and do all kinds of evil things to guinea pigs in the name of scientific research.

Americans systematically exploit and kill animals - sometimes for scientific progress; sometimes for leather jackets, ham sandwiches, or horse-racing.

So why is one type of animal cruelty (dogfighting) more reprehensible than another (lobster-boiling)?

If you are a non-meat-eating, non-leather-wearing, non-shampoo-using, animal-rights activist for PETA, then it is not hypocritical to judge Vick for animal abuse. But the rest of us rat-killing, horse-racing, lobster-boiling, deer-hunting carnivores should take the planks out of our eyes before trying to remove the speck from Vick's.

It's true. Many (though not all) animal lovers kind of suck too, including myself. I still eat eggs that come from battery hens, even though I do try to buy free range, and I wear leather, even though I only buy it used. None of us is pure. But the author ends with this thought, which I do NOT agree with.
Vick lost millions of dollars in income, spent hard time in prison, and faced public scorn for actions that did not lead to the abuse of one single human being. In contrast, athletes who beat their wives or drive intoxicated often spend not a night in prison and endure little damage to their finances and reputations.

I think we have it backward. Let's give the federal prison sentences to athletes who harm humans by beating them or jeopardize their safety by driving drunk. And let's give slaps on the wrist to animal abusers.

Sorry, hurting any living thing is wrong. Just because we are hypocrites in so many ways does not mean that we simply accept that behavior from ourselves or others. We just need to be willing to look at our own actions and hold ourselves to the same standards to which we hold others.

ALF Activists Burn Company That Sells Animals for Research

Activists from ALF are claiming responsibility for a fire that caused an estimated $300,000 damage to Scientific Resources International. From the site:
In the early morning hours of May 18th, four incendiary devices were planted at Scientific Resources International, a supplier of non-humyn primates for use in vivisection labs all over northern Nevada. The concept of animals existing as "resources" is utterly despicable, and we vow to do all in our power to run businesses like these into the ground. "For only a fool would cling to this world as it is" --ALF
Scientific Resources International keeps a lower profile on the internet then ALF. Here is one little blurb I found out about them from the University of Wisconsin:
Scientific Resources International, Ltd.

Address: 432 Ridge Street, Reno, Nevada 89501 UNITED STATES
Phone: 775-786-3244
Fax: 775-786-2767

Scientific Resources International (SRI) specializes in naive purpose bred non human primates for research. We offer top quality Chinese origin Rhesus (Macaca mulatta) and Chinese and Indonesian Cynomolgus (Macaca fascicularis) primates. Our large inventory can match your specific age, weight, sex and disease status requirements. All animals are available post USA quarantine and ready for use. SRI can also offer direct international shipment, if your organization is an authorized and licensed quarantine and use facility. Please contact us for a written price quotation.....we look forward to supplying your primate needs.
Other then that, they seem to make a real point to fly under the radar.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dogs Seized at Kennewick Puppy Mill

Dogs were seized at a Kennewick puppy mill with the help of the HSUS. H/t to HelpAnimals on Twitter. From the HSUS press release:
KENNEWICK, Wash. - The Humane Society of the United States assisted the Benton County Sheriff's Office today with the seizure of hundreds of dogs from a puppy mill here.

Prosecutors are considering charges in connection with today's seizure against Ella Stewart, owner and operator of Sun Valley Kennel, who was recently charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty. The dogs--all miniature American eskimos--lived in deplorable conditions: Dogs were confined to shopping carts, while others spun circles in rusty pens caked with feces. The smell of hot urine eminated from the property lined with pens and more makeshift cages, created with plywood and rusty metal doors. Some of the dogs suffered from malnutrition, urine burns and overgrown nails.

Quote of the Week

If men were angels, no government would be necessary.
--James Madison

(For all those libertarians out there, as well as anyone who believes government has no place regulating anything, including animal welfare.)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Defending Laboratory Rats

Nice article about people who are committed to defending "lab rats" used for medical research.

I've worked with rats and I find them charming and intelligent creatures. So I think it's sad to read this....

"You see people shut down if you talk about how a rat can suffer," says Chad Sandusky, director of toxicology and research at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a group that fights for animal rights and advocates vegetarianism.

These are of course the same people that have no problem watching that stupid Ratatouille movie (or however you spell it) and saying how "cute" it is.


Breeders Also Supply Universities with Research Animals

I guess I'm living in a cave. I didn't know that there were specific breeders out there producing animal subjects for medical research. According to this article, some are so bad that the University of California and the University of Cincinnati have actually decided to end their relationships with them and stop purchasing animals bred for research use.

So, does this mean they are getting animals from shelters instead? I didn't really understand the second half of the article.....

Is Cheap Meat Endangering Our Lives?

Very interesting opinion piece about how factory farms facilitate the rapid spread of viruses into the food supply. Will our desire to mass-produce cheap meat end in a health disaster?

From the Independent...

How much harm will we do to ourselves in the name of cheap meat? We know that bird flu developed in the world's vast poultry farms. And we know that pumping animal feed full of antibiotics in factory farms has given us a new strain of MRSA. It's a simple, horrible process. The only way to keep animals alive in such conditions is to pump their feed full of antibiotics. But this has triggered an arms race with bacteria, which start evolving to beat the antibiotics – and emerge as in the end as pumped-up, super-charged bacteria invulnerable to our medical weapons. This system gave birth to a new kind of MRSA that now makes up 20 per cent of all human infections with the virus. Sir Liam Donaldson, the British government's Chief Medical Officer, warns: "Every inappropriate use in animals or agriculture [of antibiotics] is potentially a death warrant for a future patient."

Of course, agribusinesses is desperate to deny all this is happening: their bottom line depends on keeping this model on its shaky trotters. But once you factor in the cost of all these diseases and pandemics, cheap meat suddenly looks like an illusion.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

ASPCA Gets Four Stars from Charity Navigator

That is a good rating; however, if you click on the comments tab, you'll see a spirited debate about the executive compensations.

Oh, well. I'm still a member.

Atttorney's File Motion to Dismiss Charges Against AETA 4

Attorney's for 4 people accused under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act filed a motion to have the charges dismissed. Among the activities the 4 are charged with are writing in chalk on a sidewalk and distributing leaflets. From the press release:
“To characterize protest and speech as terrorist activities is ludicrous,” said Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) cooperating attorney Matthew Strugar. “And it is not just animal rights activists who are in danger here. The AETA is so broad and unclear it could be used to suppress lawful protests and boycotts by any activists across the spectrum, no matter what the issue. The law must be struck down.”

The activists, Joseph Buddenberg, Maryam Khajavi, Nathan Pope and Adriana Stumpo, referred to as the AETA 4, were indicted for alleged conspiracy to commit “animal enterprise terrorism” as a result of their alleged participation in conduct including protesting, writing with chalk on the sidewalk, chanting, leafleting, and the use of “the Internet to find information on bio-medical researchers.” These activities are protected by the First Amendment.
Chanting? I have to say, this is pretty lame. Blowing things up or burning down buildings is one thing, but writing things on the sidewalk?

Friday, May 22, 2009

UN Launches Projects to Help Mountain Gorillas

Habitat destruction is a very serious threat to the mountain gorilla. Desperately poor people are devastating Virunga National Park in search of wood. This pressure has only increased with refugees from the many wars that have raged over the years.

From the UN News Centre....

The 2009 Year of the Gorilla (YoG) partnership is supporting a project enabling local residents in areas endangered by increasing demands for fuel – not least the Virunga National Park, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – to buy low-cost, fuel-efficient stoves.

Other measures needed to target the reduction of charcoal production include solar cookers, tree-planting on farms and the widespread use of fuel-efficient stoves, UNEP said in a news release.

Further cause for concern to the agency is the signing of land deals by many gorilla range States with foreign companies for agriculture, including bio-fuel production.

There is a certain irony in that last sentence. The much-lauded production of biofuel is actually creating its own environmental hazard.

Americans Still Support Wearing Fur and Animal Testing

Disappointing results from Gallup's annual "moral acceptability" measure. The article also shows results on non-animal issues as well.

Not surprisingly, Republicans tend to take more conservative stances than Democrats.

Musings 1.2

If human beings are so exceptional and the natural masters of the universe, then why did it take the demise of the dinosaurs for them to evolve?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Vick Back Home

Vick has returned to his home in Virginia. From the AJC:
He will spend the next two months being monitored at home and working a $10-an-hour job as a construction laborer. He’s scheduled to be released from federal custody on July 20, and then faces three years of supervised probation.

Vick’s construction job is part of his probation, and he was to find out more about the restrictions he faces in home confinement from the probation officers, though it was not clear if those guideline were laid out Thursday.
Expect the Great Vick Image Rehabilitation Campaign in the coming weeks and months.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Quote of the Week

It may be suggested by some books that it is not a sin to kill an animal, but it is written in our own hearts - more clearly than in any book - that we should take pity on animals in the same way as we do on humans."
-- Leo Tolstoy

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Vick to Be Released Wednesday

Michael Vick is set to be released from Federal prison on Wednesday and will serve the remainder of his time in home confinement. There is already talk about him returning to the NFL. Yes, that's just what the NFL needs is a man who, according to his indictment:
In or about April 2007 Peace, Phillips and Vick executed approximately 8 dogs that did not perform well in testing sessions at 1915 Moonlight Road by various methods, including hanging, drowning and slamming at least one dog's body to the ground.
I don't care how sorry he is, or how many PETA public service announcements he tapes, he doesn't deserve to play in the NFL. What kind of sick mind stands there watching a dog hanging there gasping and kicking for his or her life? Seriously. That's not just making a mistake or falling in with the wrong crowd. That's just evil.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Good News About Blue Whales

Looks like blue whales may be coming back to Alaska. Here's hoping Sarah Palin leaves them alone.

From the Associated Press:
Blue whales are returning to Alaska in search of food and could be re-establishing an old migration route several decades after they were nearly wiped out by commercial whalers, scientists say.

The endangered whales, possibly the largest animals ever to live on Earth, have yet to recover from the worldwide slaughter that eliminated 99 percent of their number, according to the American Cetacean Society. The hunting peaked in 1931 with more than 29,000 animals killed in one season.

The animals used to cruise from Mexico and Southern California to Alaska, but they had mostly vanished from Alaskan waters.

Japan Hesitant to Move Away from Animal Testing

Interesting article on animal testing and cosmetics in Japan. They still have a lot of work to do in the pursuit of alternatives. They also need the will to change.

Belgian City Goes Vegetarian Once a Week

Last week, the City of Ghent in Belgium started eating vegetarian one day a week. Public officials and politicians will start, with school children following in September. It's their way of acknowledging the impact of livestock on the environment.

Not only is there reason to believe that livestock contribute to greenhouse gases, but meat is resource-intensive to produce. A lot of land and money goes into producing meat in a world with diminishing space. Is meat really the best way to feed our growing population?

I honestly believe it will take environmental catastrophe for people to stop eating other species. I have very little regard for the human conscience when it comes to empathy outside themselves. Only when humans start to freak out about their own survival will they stop eating meat. In the meantime, they will always justify it in some manner whether it be "logic" or "God."

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Wildlife Rescued in Trinidad and Tobago

Three corrupt police officers in Trinidad and Tobago robbed a couple of Venezuelan wildlife smugglers and were subsequently arrested themselves. Over 1,000 animals were rescued, including 500 bull finches and 300 picoplats, The rescued wildlife also included monkeys, parrots, macaws and other species from Venezuela.

There was also over 400 lbs of "wild meat" (I don't want to know what that could be!)

Marine Litter is Devastating Oceans

Abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear in the oceans makes up around 10 percent of all marine litter. And the problem is getting worse as we continue overfishing the oceans.

(It's easy to overlook ocean issues when there are so many other things to think about. But the oceans are also an ecosystem with living beings.)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Millions of Animals Used in EU Experiments


From the Epoch Times....
Around 12 million animals are used each year in the European Union (EU) for research purposes. This became clear from a report addressed at the European Parliament (EP) session on May 5–7, which seeks to vote on a directive concerning animal research. If the directive is approved, the number of animals used for experiments will be limited, and the animals’ welfare will be improved in accordance with ethical principles of the EU concerning animals.

At the same time, the opinion of the European Parliament is that these objectives have to be achieved without impeding research on various serious diseases in Europe, reported the parliament’s press room.

According to the Members of Parliament (MPs), who adopted the report on its first review last week, all planned tests should be subject to mandatory ethical assessments to take into account the concerns of the public on the matter. The European Parliament approves of the ban on testing on large primates (chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans), which are threatened with extinction, except in experiments aimed at conservation of these endangered species.

I really hope this passes. My personal philosophy is that millions of animals shouldn't suffer on anyone's behalf, especially when they do so against their will. I'm sorry, but these are living beings that should be respected, not treated like toilet paper that you casually flush after use.

It's Confirmed that Travis the Chimp was on Xanax

Travis is the infamous Connecticut chimpanzee that wore clothes, drank wine, attacked a woman, and was shot by police afterwards. It's now confirmed that he had the anti-anxiety drug Xanax in his system. Did this play a role in Travis' attack?

The victim is now blind, with a brain injury, severe damage to her face and the loss of both hands. Doctors say that it could take two years and numerous surgeries to reconstruct her face.

It's very sad all around and, if anyone is to be held responsible, it's the owner. But apparently drugs are becoming common tools for addressing pets' behavioral problems.

I am not a doctor or scientist, but I have a family member on Xanax and that is powerful stuff.

Appropriate for a chimpanzee? All I know is that a chimp should not be anyone's pet in the first place.

USDA Investigating Clemson University

The investigation is related to the Animal Welfare Act and Clemson's research activities, but no details are available at this time.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Animal Rights is a Social Justice Issue

Thanks to Provoked for posting this video. It states our case eloquently.

More on the Cow that Escaped from a NY Slaughterhouse

Molly the cow escaped from a Queens slaughterhouse has been sent to a sanctuary in Long Island. And, now she has a new boyfriend names Wexley(story complete with hot cow smooching picture).

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Quote of the Week

"Nothing living should ever be treated with contempt."

----Elizabeth Goudge, author of The Joy of the Snow

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What's the Truth About Woodland Park Zoo's Elephants?

I live in Seattle where Woodland Park Zoo is located. I just don't know what to think.

On the one hand, Woodland Park is very proud of its elephant conservation program and its elephant residents.

On the other hand, Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants says they are not well-treated and should be in a sanctuary.

I'm definitely open to feedback. Elephants need to roam and I don't particularly like having any animal gawked at in a zoo....but I don't really know if Woodland Park is worse than any other zoo. I used to think they were better than many....

Animal Hoarding is a Serious Issue

Animal hoarding is a pretty serious act that causes untold suffering for animals.

From an article in, of all places, "Farm and Dairy: The Auction Guide and Rural Marketplace:"

...there are probably several factors that go into how a person develops into an animal hoarder, but “we think it may be related to obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.”

Because the stereotype of a little old lady walking into a court room to face several counts of animal abuse tends to make judges and juries feel sympathetic for the “criminal,” the legal system rarely prosecutes these people.

Unfortunately, “just one hoarder can cause tremendous suffering to animals,” notes LaFarge.

It’s not just one animal that was abused or neglected, it is usually hundreds that have suffered in deplorable conditions, many of these animals enduring a slow and painful death.

Another Failed Nest for Pale Male and Lola

Pale Male and Lola are the world-famous red-tailed hawks in Central Park who caused such a sensation five years ago when their nest above a swanky co-op was dismantled due to neighbor complaints. There was such an international uproar that the nest was reinstated. Sadly though, they have not had any hatchlings since their home was disrupted.

That really sucks. It's been five years of unsuccessful nestings.

Here's a web site with gorgeous daily photos. I visit it every day and have posted the link once before. I don't know what I'll do when Pale Male disappears.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Emotion vs. Reason

There's always a dilemma in debating any issue as to whether one should rely on emotion or reason to advance one's argument. You'll find this dilemma surrounding issues such as the death penalty, abortion and gay marriage. And it's especially the case in animal rights advocacy.

Many people say that PETA relies too heavily on emotion to argue its position. Others say that emotion is the only way to move humans to care about anything other than themselves.

I'm really torn. I think you have to take a little of A and a little of B. I have a terrible temper and can throw out the vitriol with the best of them. I can pack an emotional punch as well. But in my experience, it usually backfires, particularly with men. One comes across as the hysterical female who can't reason her position. This is frustrating on many different levels. On the other hand, clear cold reasoning can fall flat if there is no conviction underlying the words.

I think the best thing to do first is educate yourself about the issues. If you know what you are talking about, then you won't get flustered and angry. You know your points and you lay them out. But I don't think there's anything wrong with indignation either. It just has to be backed up with facts, reasoning and logic. The combination is a powerful weapon for advocacy.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Echo the Elephant Dies

Echo, the elephant matriarch of a 40 member herd in Kenya has died from what is believed to be old age. From Global Voices Online:
Echo is perhaps the most famous wild elephant in the world after her appearance in various films the most memorable being her 1993 debut in the film Echo of the Elephants produced by the BBC Natural History Unit and narrated by world famous elephant researcher Cynthia Moss with BBC's Martin Colbert behind the camera. Echo appeared in the films sequels now popularly known as the ‘Echo Trilogy'.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

New Book on Animal Rights Activism

It's titled "The Animal Activists' Handbook: Maximizing Our Positive Impact in Today's World" by Matt Ball and Bruce Friedrich. One guy runs Vegan Outreach and the other is a VP at PETA (they have those?). Here's a review on Huffington Post.

Looks like it has some interesting ideas.
The most constructive part of the book (and possibly the most shocking to those who are only peripherally familiar with the vegetarian movement and who might therefore expect radicalism) is the authors' discussion of tolerance in all activities. For instance, they caution that if "we're at a restaurant and there's a veggie burger on the menu but we give the server the third degree about the ingredients or about how it was cooked, we're most likely doing more harm than good." They even go so far as to insist that it can be a good thing for vegetarians to date meat-eaters!

Animal Rights Now On Our Ethical Radar?

Fascinating and uplifting (for a change!) New York Times opinion piece by Nicholas Kristof on animal rights. I totally overlooked it back in April.

Friday, May 8, 2009

San Francisco Passes Anti-Foie Gras Resolution

San Francisco supervisors have passed a resolution supporting city restaurants that remove foie gras from their menus. California will be banning that awful stuff in about three years.

Foie gras is the liver of a duck or a goose that has been specially fattened by force feeding. (Ugh. I just find the whole description vile and gruesome.)

Escaped Cow Goes to Sanctuary

A cow that escaped from a slaughter house in NY City has been allowed to go to an animal sanctuary.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Quote of the Week

"There will come a time when the world will look back to modern vivisection in the name of Science, as they do now to burning people at the stake in the name of religion."
Henry J. Bigelow, MD

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Charity Navigator Gives People for Puget Sound "Three Stars"

I recently signed up with Charity Navigator, an online service that provides financial information about and ratings for specific charities. I'm starting a new mini-feature in which I'm posting about the results of my research into some of the groups I support.

Yesterday, I contributed to People for Puget Sound, a local organization that works on protection of Puget Sound and the Northwest Straits. We live in Seattle and I think it's very important to remember our oceans and the life that reside there.

Anyway, they received three out of four stars. Here is a snapshot of their 2007 budget breakdown. The key is how big their program expenses are. Effective charities should spend the majority of their revenue on programs, not overhead.

Europe Votes to Ban Seal Products

That's good news. From the press release:
Euro-MPs have voted overwhelmingly for a total ban on the trade in seal products across Europe.

A resolution at the end of a three-year campaign, triggered by a public outcry at the annual seal culls in Canada and Norway, condemned the slaughter of seals as "inherently inhumane".

Labour Euro MP Arlene McCarthy, who helped steer the ban through the European Parliament, said: "This law is a victory for people power and a credit to the campaigners involved."

Monday, May 4, 2009

Koreans Clone Glow-in-Dark Beagles

Add it to the stupid files!

I am no supporter of cloning or messing with genes. And I'm certainly no fan of making a living thing "glow-in-dark." What next? Tutti-fruity-flavored cows?

From Huffington Post....

South Korean scientists say they have engineered four beagles that glow red using cloning techniques that could help develop cures for human diseases. The four dogs, all named "Ruppy" _ a combination of the words "ruby" and "puppy" _ look like typical beagles by daylight.

But they glow red under ultraviolet light, and the dogs' nails and abdomens, which have thin skins, look red even to the naked eye.

Baby Gorilla Rescued from Smugglers

A baby lowland gorilla was rescued from smugglers on Sunday, April 24. There has unfortunately been an increase in smuggling attempts in the Congo. She is thought to be about two years old, was hidden at the bottom of a bag and covered with clothes when Congolese Wildlife Authority officers arrested the suspected trafficker at Goma airport. Here is an article about it.

And here is a video about the bust and arrests.

Look at the face of the baby when it's revealed. How can you not see it's simply a frightened child? How can you feel no frigging compassion?

Vivisection is Up There with Waterboarding

Barbaric, backwards and best belonging to the Middle Ages? I say "yes" and it's time to pursue the alternatives.

This is an excellent, excellent opinion piece. The author is the press officer for the Animal Liberation Press Office.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Montana Passes Horse Slaughterhouse Protection Measure

Montana has passed a law making it difficult to challenge the building of a horse slaughtering facility in that state. The last such facility in the US closed in 2007. This bill specifically makes for groups that might oppose it to use the court system to do so. From the bill, which you can read here:
Section 2. Judicial review of equine slaughter or processing facilities -- surety bond -- attorney fees -- venue. (1) (a) If an action is filed in district court to challenge the issuance of a license, permit, certificate, or other approval for an equine slaughter or processing facility pursuant to Title 75 or Title 81, chapter 9, the court shall require a surety bond of the person filing the action. The bond must be set at an amount representing 20% of the estimated cost of building the facility or the operational costs of an existing facility.

(b) The bonding requirements of this subsection (1) do not apply to an indigent person.

(2) If the bond required under subsection (1) is not paid within 30 days of the filing of the action, the action must be dismissed.
That's right, so anyone that that challenges the building of such a facility will have to have a bond at 20% of the value of said facility.

Canadian Gives Swine Flu to Swine

A Canadian man has apparently infected some pigs after catching the flu on a trip to Mexico. From the article:
About 10 percent of the Alberta farm’s 2,200 pigs showed symptoms of the same H1N1 strain that has spread across the globe. They are recovering “on their own,” said Dr. Brian Evans, executive vice president of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Social Justice Groups and Big Ag

The other day I was looking at the list of organizations that were part of Californians for SAFE Food, the coalition that opposed Proposition 2 in California (the proposition passed last November). The group was accused of being a front group for the ag industry. And, in fact, many of the organizations were agricultural/agribusiness groups. However, I was struck by the number of social justice groups that were also part of the coalition. These groups included the California Congress of the NAACP, the Congress of California Seniors, the National Latino Congress and the California Conference Board of the Amalgamated Transit Union. What does this mean?

To me, this means that social justice groups believe that big ag and their interests are allied.

I used to think this was understandable. But now I think that’s sad, sad, sad.

I think these groups believe that if big ag’s costs rise, then food prices will automatically increase. That was one of the arguments made against Proposition 2. Proposition 2 will not go into effect until 2015, so there is plenty of time to innovate and comply in a cost effective manner. Second of all, if prices do rise, they are not rising simply to cover new costs but to also maintain profit margins. Because profit, not social welfare, is what motivates these guys.

Last week, I read an interview with a poverty activist who argued that people who are into community/local food and p-patches are middle-class na├»ve yuppies. Local food and individual farming is not the way to feed the world’s poor. You must have mass production. You must have big agribusiness. But I would argue that local growing and self-sustenance is what has maintained societies and the poor for millennia. It’s when land began to be consolidated into corporate ownership and people began leaving the land and entering urban areas, that we all became dependent on corporate behemoths for our food supply. How much poverty is in Haiti as a result of farm land being covered in reservoirs or turned over to big agribusiness?

I think that the choice between people and the environment/animals are false choices. But this is what big agribusiness does, just like the pharmaceutical industry. “Do you put people first or the environment? It’s one or the other.”

Anytime a corporation presents that option, I am suspicious and I believe that many social justice groups have fallen for this. They are ignoring the big picture and giving big agribusiness false credibility by joining their causes.

Countries Unite to Reduce Animal Testing in Toxicology Testing

Agencies in the US, Japan, Canada and the EU have signed an memorandum of cooperation to reduce animal testing. From the NIH press release:
Representatives from four international agencies, including the director of the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP), today signed a memorandum of cooperation that could reduce the number of animals required for consumer product safety testing worldwide. The agreement between the United States, Canada, Japan and the European Union will yield globally coordinated scientific recommendations on alternative toxicity testing methods that should speed their adoption in each of these countries, thus reducing the number of animals needed for product safety testing. The memorandum is available at

"Signing this international agreement demonstrates our commitment to finding and advancing alternatives to animal testing," said Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., director of the NTP and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health. "This agreement will help us achieve greater efficiency by avoiding duplication of effort and allowing us to leverage limited resources."
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