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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.
Tuesday, November 04, 2003
lately in the factory farming industry. It
seems like every time I turn around, there
are more problems being reported,
especially with regard to disease and
contamination by feces (which is basically
the same thing, I guess). I'm not too
happy with the idea of cloning animals
either. There are too many unknowns
associated with that, as has been proved
many times over.
These two aspects illustrate a growing
trend in the industry to put profits over
public safety. Let me just give you some
highlights of things that have come through
my inbox in just the last month alone. I
have saved the complete articles if anyone
is interested in where I got this information,
but it would make this post too long if I
were to cite them all after each item.
At one of the largest slaughterplants in the
country, feces has continually been found
on the bodies of slaughtered cattle even
after they've passed through washes of hot
water and acid. Although inspectors reported
this, regulators did not stop meat from being
shipped from Shapiro Packing for human
consumption. Even when potentially fatal E.
coli O157:H7 bacteria was found, the plant
was not shut down.
An entire herd of 330 cattle was culled as a
precautionary measure in Scotland after a
significant number of the animals tested
positive for bovine tuberculosis (TB).
Turkeys at two Dutch farms were diagnosed
with parasite-borne blackhead, but that the
government was not very concerned because
about 10 cases of the disease are reported
each year. If left untreated, the blackhead
disease may be fatal but the only drug used
to cure it has been banned because it may also
Human and equine West Nile virus infections
occurred in France in August and September.
In August 2003, an infected purebred beef
herd was detected with TB and depopulated
in Zavala County, TX.
Italy has reported two more cases of mad cow
disease, bringing the country's total to 113.
Fifty positive cases were reported in 2001, 36
in 2002, and 27 so far this year.
More than half of the slaughterhouses in Canada
have "major" deficiencies that could compromise
the safety of their meat products, according to
internal inspection reports obtained by the
Vancouver Sun. In response, the Canadian Food
Inspection Agency provided reports for 106
slaughterhouses, most written in May or June of
this year. Of those reports, 61 (57.5 %) list at
least one "major deviation" from regulations --
everything from the mistreatment of animals to
fecal matter on carcasses. Another 39 (36.8 %)
listed minor deviations. Only six (5.7 %) had no
deviations at all. I have a list of things they found
that ranges from "carcasses stored on the floor"
to "mould present on knife storage containers" to
"fecal material on carcass in cooler".
The 2003 North Carolina Poultry Health Meeting will
be held Nov. 7. Topics for the meeting include:
cataracts in chickens, Arizona's salmonella reduction
program, excessive mortality in young broilers,
occurrence of protozoas in turkeys, North Carolina
Department of Agriculture's exotic Newcastle project,
international issues in poultry and unsolved feather
loss in broiler breeders.
About 31,000 farmers and 4,000 feedlots from
across the country sued IBP Inc., saying the
company conspired to fix prices paid on the open
market. According to the plaintiffs, Dakota Dunes-
based Tyson Fresh Meats, formerly IBP, violated
the federal Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921 by
"using unfair, unjustly discriminatory or deceptive
practices or devices; manipulating or controlling
prices; creating a monopoly in cattle acquisition;
or restraining commerce in cattle." Complaints
cover a period from 1994-2002.
Jamaican and Caribbean poultry farmers are
bracing for a potentially devastating attack on
their $305-million industry by a deadly combination
of the Avian Influenza (AI) and Newcastle diseases
which have wiped out commercial flocks in large
parts of the United States, Italy and Chile. The
diseases have reportedly been savaging commercial
flocks in California, Virginia and, to a lesser extent,
in Nevada and Arizona in the US, and have also
wreaked havoc in Italy and Chile.
Only about 1/10 male turkeys are physically capable
of impregnating females through natural means, so
turkeys are now the only poultry that reproduce
mainly through artificial insemination, the same way
as cows and pigs. It seems that their breasts have
been genetically modified to the point that they
are too big to be able to perform the act. The only
reason farmers keep a group of stud turkeys
around is that their semen doesn't freeze well.
They have to gather the semen 2 to 3 times a week
from them. I don't even want to think about how.
What about all this injecting meat with water and
saline and all? Quite a few people don't know that
most of what they are buying in the store has
been "pumped" so that they are paying for water.
The water content can run 8%-10%, with some
marinated meats going as high as 30%. This not
only ups the chance that the meat has been
contaminated, but you are paying for meat and
getting water, plus there is added sodium that is
a problem for people with high blood pressure.
And, of course, you have seen the fact that we
have Missouri and Oklahoma both suing over
pollution of rivers from factory farming. I have
already written about that.
Keep in mind that this is just a sampling of
what I have seen come around this month.
And I'm sure I didn't catch everything. I read
stories every day about problems at one place
I have read about two communities that have
been fighting the big factory farms coming
into their areas just in the last week or so. I
am sure they are not the only ones, either.
The really alarming thing about this is that,
even as the number of problems, farms, and
plants are increasing, the number of regulations
is getting more and more lax. Every attempt
to regulate the industry is met with such stiff
resistance and screams from the industry of
how it will drive them into bankruptcy if they
have to pay for all this, that nothing much
happens. I have been watching their latest
upset over the country-of-origin labeling law
(COOL) that has been passed.
It is quite obvious that the industry is uncaring
about the animals, uncaring about food safety,
and uncaring about their workers. From all the
different pieces of evidence that I have gathered
since I started my little campaign against Tyson,
I have come to recognize the sheer amount of
corporate greed that exists in the industry.
I never really noticed before. I went about my
business like any other person, going to work
every day, going to the store and buying the
normal food, and being generally unaware of
the scope of the situation. It is amazing how
much shows up when you sign up for the right
newsletters and install a little program to watch
for things like this coming through the news.
I have really been astonished to find the amount
of things they get away with. And the public
says nothing unless it is happening in front of
their noses. They just go blindly along, as I did,
trusting that what they put in their cart won't
make them or their kids sick. They trust that
the animal welfare policies take care of potential
cruelty problems, and they trust that the EPA
will make sure they don't pollute the environment.
Well, I have come to found out that I was very
blind to many situations before, as are probably
most people. I highly doubt that many people
are lined out like I am to stay on top of these
type of reports. What I have come across since
all this started has just really raised my awareness
of how bad and out of hand we have let this
Enough is enough. It is time for a complete
overhaul. It seems to me they have proved that
they cannot be trusted to conduct their business
in a proper manner, so it is time to make sure
they do. It is for our own protection. The safety
of the public food and water supply is the most
important public safety issue.
What more is it going to take before people start
really making a stink? Why is it that the only
people you hear demanding something be done
about this are animal rights activists and environ-
mentalists? Where is the general public? Don't
they care? Or do they still believe the lies of the
industry? From what I have seen, it is mostly
the case of the latter. I guess until something
happens to impact them personally or they start
to wake up and listen to those fighting for them
us activists will have to keep on fighting the fight.
That's okay. I was in the military. I don't mind
fighting for what I believe to be right for my
country and its citizens. I consider this fight to
be no different from that. And I am not alone.