<$BlogRSDUrl$> The Cyberactivist

Behind the scenes of the fight for the protection of animals and workers and the preservation of the environment - my experiences as a Tyson slaughterhouse hanger/killer turned activist. Exposing the evils of factory farming, by Virgil Butler. If you have arrived here looking for the Tyson stories, view the early archives. Some of them are now featured on the sidebar for easy searching.

Friday, October 31, 2003

More Frankenchickens to Come 

I read an alarming article at UPC's site that
they sent me a notice about . Karen Davis
wrote it herself, and it is well-researched
and highly informative. It is entitled,
"Genetic Engineering and Cloning of
Domestic Fowl" and it seems to agree with
other article I have read recently with this
growing trend.

Let me give you a few quotes from the article
to give you an idea of what is so alarming to
me, just in case the idea of cloning animals and
genetically manipulating them for food production
seems like a good idea.

In 1994 , a researcher at an international
symposium on the artificial insemination of
poultry joked to his colleagues that his talk on
Beyond Freezing Semen should be titled "The
Night of the Living Dead." He was discussing his
creation of bird chimeras--birds with genes from
other species inserted into their embryos. Of birds
hatching in his laboratory with no outward sign of
the desired change, he said: "We simply throw
them away." (Robert Etches 2001)

The indifference to the animals who are being
used in genetic engineering experiments was
expressed by the researcher who told his
colleagues at a poultry science meeting in 1992,
"We are no longer selling broilers [i.e. baby
" meat-type" chickens], we are selling pieces.
A knowledge of how broilers of different strains
and sexes grow and become pieces is increasingly
important" (Dudley-Cash).

AviGenics is a U.S. biotechnology company
established in 1996. Located in Athens, Georgia,
home of both the USDA Agricultural Research
Service's Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory
and The University of Georgia,...AviGenics is in
the business of creating and commercializing
recombinant biopharmaceuticals using transgenic
chickens as "oviduct bioreactors" and developing
lines of "meat" birds with economically favorable
"agronomic traits" through cloning and genetic
modification. The company's Windowing Technology,
now patented, allows researchers to put DNA into
chicken embryos through a hole or "window" in their
shells. AviGenics has announced its intention to
control proliferation of the company's proprietary
genetic lines, like its "FibrGroTM Advantage broiler
lines" which will be rented to poultry breeding
companies, four of which companies own 92
percent of the world's market (Aho, p. 36)

This would be a good time to point out one of
the things I noticed in the notes at the bottom
of the article with her extensive bibliography.

These four companies (groups of companies)
are Aviagen, which owns about 44 percent of
the global market; Cobb-Vantress, owned by
Tyson Foods, which owns 33 percent; Hubbard/ISA,
which owns about 10 percent; and Hybro, which
owns 5 percent of the world market share of broiler
chicken breeding stock (Aho, p. 36).

Hmmm. I'm not surprised. But wait, there's
more. Quite a bit more. They are being used
for all kinds of weird experiments that you never
would have thought of. Here's just a few:

To secrete human growth hormone to help
dwarfs grow taller. (Clark)

To produce growth-promoting antibodies in
egg yolks to be fed to farmed animals to
increase their growth rates by disrupting their
normal peptide and gut processes, thus, for
example, tricking animals who are already full
to continue eating. (Recombinant Proteins)

To produce soy isoflavons in eggs sold for
human consumption. For example, poultry
researchers at the University of Maryland and
the University of Arkansas are experimenting
with Japanese quails to see if soy isoflavons
can be transferred and accumulated in their eggs.

As fertile "egg-type" hens' eggs carrying "meat-
type" chicken cells in order to mass-produce
cloned "meat" (broiler) chickens, and thus do
away with the expensive maintenance of broiler
breeder flocks.

Wonderful, huh? There are so many concerns
about this technology that I'm not even going
to start, I'll just close this up with a couple of
last horrifying thoughts appropriate for the day:

Paul Thompson, of Purdue University, brought
up "the blind chicken problem." He said that
chickens blinded by "accident" have been
developed into a strain of blind laboratory chickens.
These chickens, he said, "don't mind being crowded
together so much as normal chickens do."
Therefore, he said, a suggestion has been made
that we "ought to shift over to all blind chickens
as a solution to our animal welfare problems
associated with crowding in the poultry industry."
Thompson called this a "philosophical conundrum,"
because while most people would think that
creating blind chickens for the poultry and egg
industry is "an absolutely horrendous thing to do,"
if it's "the welfare of the individual animal that
really matters here, how the animals are doing,
then it would be more humane to have these
blind chickens."

Yeah, right. How humane. He should be
married to this woman:

...avian specialist Lesley J. Rogers says that an
ultimate aim of breeding programs for chickens
and other domestic animals is to obtain minds
"so blunted that they will passively accept
overcrowded housing conditions and having
virtually nothing to do but eat--and then to eat
standard and boring food delivered automatically."

Yep, sounds like the kind of folks Tyson would
cozy up with, huh?

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