Friday, April 25


A scientific panel, the Institute of Medicine, says lawsuits against the government are "casting doubt on its authority to enforce food safety laws." But what to do about the problem? Um, gosh, er... ENFORCE FOOD SAFETY LAWS, maybe? Nope, that would be too simple. Instead let's have more laws to stop people from filing lawsuits against manure-spewing farms that destroy area residents' quality of life ("Bryan Burgess of St. Clair County has fainted from the stink of a hog farm near his home, and the creek he pictured full of children instead swims with E. coli."). But for the animal-abuse industry, that's still not enough: A county board has asked Minnesota to make all the state's feedlot locations top secret. The article notes that if this happens, "someone looking to buy a farm house, for instance, wouldn't have an automatic right to check records to see how close feedlots were or where the resulting manure is spread" (gee, wonder what they'll do once they find out? Hello, lawsuits!). The whole thing is supposedly predicated on fighting "terrorists," but the County Commissioner "wondered whether the county was labeling [animal-rights] activists as terrorists simply because they don't support animal agriculture." And the concept of hiding huge livestock operations from real terrorists is laughable. Even if they were too lazy to research the location info in other ways, they could, as one activist points out, simply "follow their noses."

Thursday, April 24


I've had a problem with reports of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty using aggressive, terroristic tactics in an attempt to bully Huntingdon's employees and investors out of what they're doing (animal experimentation) and the injunction barring them from getting anywhere near employees' homes shows how far (too far) the group has pushed its luck. In the meanwhile, a different group, Uncaged Campaigns, has achieved a stunning victory with a non-bullying courtroom approach, forcing the release of a huge volume of confidential documents that detail how, once again, the experimentation was rife with fraud, illegality, and government collusion.

"In total," reports The Observer, "the documents reveal at least 520 errors and omissions," many of which resulted in needless and painful animal deaths. "The documents show that a quarter of the primates died from 'technical failures'." The paper continues, "Many of the 1,274 pages of documents reveal a litany of failings that will serve to ignite further controversy over HLS ... Fundamental questions over the value of vivisection itself will also be asked." Yes, let's hope so.

Wednesday, April 23


The California assembly has approved a resolution on vegetarian options in school lunches (it now goes to the state senate). And not a moment too soon: Veggie-oriented students are multiplying, from USC college kids all the way down to vegan preschoolers, and many in between, like this college-graduating 13-year-old. Even in traditonal lunchrooms, regular-kid trends are interesting: "We looked at what foods kids are actually taking and actually throwing away,' school board member Bob Stranger said. "We found they ate a lot of peas,' Stranger said. "Peaches and peas were a heavily consumed item -- whereas often with the corndogs and hotdogs -- that's another story."

Tuesday, April 22


The bird flu that's hammering the California poultry industry and causing Poultry Emergencies in neighboring states has now spread to Texas. And in Europe, an outbreak in the Netherlands has spilled into Belgium, which just announced two more cases, and is nearing Germany. A quarter of a million birds in Belgium are being slaughtered, while the Dutch have already killed eleven million - 10% of the country's entire flock - yet new cases of the disease are still being found. News stories are careful to note that the flu isn't dangerous to humans - at least they were until this weekend, when a veterinarian "died of pneumonia after catching the bird flu, raising fears that a mutated version of the avian virus could cause a SARS-type human epidemic." Great. All this so some people can enjoy their KFC and McNuggets.

UPDATE 5/13: It's now spread to Germany.

Monday, April 21


Consumers want organic foods, and are willing to pay, even though they're constantly being told (falsely) that such foods are no more nutritious or less harmful than conventional. The only major obstacle is the credibility of the "organic" designation. Last week, that obstacle was flattened - at least for now. A rider to the 2003 spending bill, "Written for the benefit of a Georgia poultry farm, would have allowed farmers to label meat and dairy products as organic without using 100 percent organic feed if the price of organic feed was more than twice that of conventional feed." Thanks to Patrick Leahy and Sam Farr, this BS was eliminated from the bill. As to the anti-organic rider, "it was just such a sleazy way of going about it because consumers wouldn't know what they were buying," said Barbara Haumann, spokeswoman for the Organic Trade Association. Yep, sleazy - the meat industry's middle name.

Sunday, April 20


Chronic Wasting Disease is on the rise in Wyoming. In the Billings Gazette: The number of documented cases of chronic wasting disease continued to increase in Wyoming in 2002, say. "This tells us that it's spreading," said [one wildlife researcher]. "There are a lot of folks that haven't wanted to buy into it spreading, but this clearly shows it has extended its range where we didn't expect it to be, which really isn't good news."