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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, March 02, 2004
First off, I would like to point out an article I read a couple of days ago that proves the very points that activists have been hollering about for years. This describes the report that the GAO did on the enforcement of the humane slaughter law. Or, perhaps I should say, non-enforcement. According to the report, the inspectors are still not enforcing the humane slaughter act, even though there has been more funding approved and orders to devote more resources to enforcing it.
One of the things they found wrong was the fact that there is a lack of enforcement on making sure that the animals are stunned before killing them, skinning them, and cutting them up into pieces. Isn't that what activists everywhere have been screaming about?
Instead of following the recommendations that Congress gave to hire 50 more inspectors when they approved an additional $5 million for this purpose, the department only increased the time spent by the existing inspectors enforcing the humane slaughter. Congress approved that money to set up a separate group of inspectors whose sole purpose would have been to enforce humane slaughter laws, as opposed to having the ones responsible for making sure that not too much hair, feces, worms, etc. are on the meat doing it.
**NOTE** Of course, you must keep in mind that chickens are NOT covered under this law, so nothing is done about this in chicken slaughter plants. This is why the workers at Tyson were able to get away with blowing up chickens with dry ice bombs, among the many other horrible things they did that I detailed early in the archives of this site.
Also, you might be interested in this article, which tells us that the USDA lied to the public about how much meat was actually contaminated when they found that mad cow. Nearly four times as much as they admitted was sent out to stores all over the place, but they claim that the secrecy was necessary "to gain cooperation from businesses...because that information is considered proprietary."
Well, I'm sure that makes the people who ate that crap feel so much better.
This article talks about how many times 15 firms in Washington state broke the rules on making sure that feed doesn't contain BSE material.
Want to know something else? The USDA doesn't even have the power to force a company to recall a tainted product! All they can do is recommend it and impose sanctions on the company if they refuse. Of course, since the BSE scare, several consumer groups and members of Congress have pushed to make recalls mandatory, but those rules have not changed one bit. It is still up to each company's good graces to recall their tainted products before they sicken, or even kill, consumers. And, it's apparently up to them to tell you who has them. Luckily, there were some grocery stores and restaurants that did post notices that they had received the BSE-tainted beef, (although quietly and discreetly), but the rest just shipped it right on out without saying a word. Doesn't that make you feel oh so very confident in the safety of our food supply?
I watched the video of Dave Louthan's testimony the other day. You can also find it on his site if you want to see more of what he has to say. (You have to have RealPlayer to see it.) You ought to hear what he told them in that testimony. Things about cows having broken - or even missing! - legs, being starved and dehydrated, and other - even worse - horrors that the poor things face as they are dragged by chains into holding pens and in and out of trucks. There is a lot more to the story of how those cows are treated than you will ever hear about in the news. A whole lot more. Terrible things happen to those cows that you hear discussed as "downers." As long as they are alive, they can use them. It doesn't much matter what shape they are in, as long as they are still breathing.
It is just awful to think that a so-called civilized society allows such treatment of the animals it kills for food. If you do end up watching that video, remember that these practices he outlines happen every day, and that every person that buys and consumes meat is supporting such atrocities with every bite they take.
Another article I read this week detailed the story told by a senior scientist at the Department of Agriculture that told of top officials pressuring the scientists to approve meat for sale to the unsuspecting public before the safety of it could be confirmed. Check out this excerpt from the article:
The senior scientist said department researchers had been pressured by Veneman's office to approve cattle from Mexico at risk of tuberculosis, pears from China with fungus problems and, in August, boneless meat from Canadian cattle, calves, sheep and goats as well as hunters' kills.
There is a lot more to that story, so I recommend that you check it out if you haven't already. It will give you a much better picture of how tight the inspectors' hands are tied by the officials over them. I always said that it really wasn't the fault of most of the inspectors on the line. Most of them do the best they can. But they are penalized for stopping the almighty production line without a very good reason - and sometimes even with it. I saw people get replaced at Tyson for doing just that. You either go along with things and play the game or they get rid of you. It's that simple.
Public health be damned! Production and profits rule the roost! Gotta keep those priorities straight. Let me give you an idea of how just one company - Tyson, the world's biggest - does business before I continue.
John Tyson has a golf course to build, even as Tyson closes plants and lays off workers. Not to mention their practices of screwing over union workers, hog farmers, and cattlemen, as well as poisoning communities and kids. John Tyson is apparently even screwing over stockholders, more than doubling his pay even as profits and stock prices fell. Gotta build that golf course, after all. It's obvious where his priorities are. His profits in his pockets!
Why in the world does anyone do business with this company? And why would anyone believe a single word they say? They are ruthless profiteers that care only about money. That should be obvious to you by now. The evidence is mounting. They can't discredit everybody, like they tried (unsuccessfully) to do to me. At least the majority of people saw through their lies and believe the truth I was telling. I imagine that there are those that didn't believe me then (or didn't want to) that have changed their minds as the evidence continues to pile up against them.
Now, if you want to see the recommendations given to new inspectors, then click on this site. Not very appetizing, is it? And, it also shows the lack of power these people really have in those plants. It is a clear illustration of how so much tainted meat gets out there in the first place and why the humane slaughter laws are routinely and repeatedly violated every day of the week.
Another thing that has been going on is that Creekstone Farms has announced that it wants to conduct the same rapid BSE tests used elsewhere in the world on 100% of the cattle they process, without it costing the government a dime. They said that they will pay for it, and the companies they sell to are willing to pay a little more for this to happen. Japan has already agreed to buy their products if they implement this plan, which will cost the less than they are losing ($80,000/day) in business right now. They estimate only a cost of $20 per cow. That's not much per pound, considering that the average cow weights about 500 lbs. Predictably though, the USDA, National Meat Association, and the American Meat Institute have all come out against this idea.
I figure it's because if they allow this one company to do this, then everyone will be pushing for the rest of the industry to do the same. Which, of course, is exactly what should happen. There are countries, like Japan, that won't buy our beef until we do that. So, doesn't it make sense to do it? Well then, why won't they?
Well, the USDA says it is afraid of "false-positives." In other words, they don't want any more tests to come back positive. They know that if they start testing all the cows, then they will find more BSE. That is a big nightmare for them economically, not to mention the reduction in confidence of the safety of the food supply of the public. They would obviously rather gamble with public health than do the right thing to assure that the products sold to feed families are safe. They are scared to death of finding more cases. I saw a quote somewhere made by an official to the effect of "One BSE-infected cow is an isolated incident, two is a pandemic."
And, btw, there are high-risk parts still going into the food supply. Don't believe me? Then check this out for yourself. Anything with beef broth is a source, as well as other products. Scary, huh?
I have never been so happy to be a vegetarian as I am now. I don't have to worry about stuff like this. Although, I am likely to be a little less likely to eat out anymore. I had never even considered that the forks used in restaurants that have been used by other diners could have the prions on them before reading something about that this past week. It never even crossed my mind as being a possibility. How scary! Wouldn't it be ironic if a strict vegetarian/vegan was to get BSE from a fork that had been used to eat a piece of meat? I'll eat at home, thank you very much. Our forks here aren't being stabbed into the corpses of dead animals on a regular basis. Can't say the same for forks in restaurants that serve beef every day to other diners. I wonder how many other veggie people know about this? Maybe I should start bringing my own fork with me when I eat out. But, what about the plates? Wouldn't they also be possibly contaminated? Maybe I'll just stay home and eat. Cheaper anyway. I would just as soon not have my brain look like Swiss cheese. Nope. Doesn't sound like much fun at all.
Okay, okay, enough of my rambling for now. I guess you are waiting to see what Dave Louthan had to say this time, so I'll get on to that now.
Take it away, Dave!
Hi there Dave Louthan here. See I told ya we'd get it figured out. J.
Patrick Boyle CEO of AMI is slapping Ann Veneman around like a rag doll. Get
the Canadian border open and do it now. He says he wants to do it to spur
all foreign countries into buying our meat but the fact is he's got a lot of
beef standing up there eating hay and getting to fat to sell. I told
everybody the meat people only had until calving season to get this fixed.
That time is now upon us. All that inventory they have been holding back to
keep the prices up must move now to make room for all the new feeders
popping out now, today. Take a drive in the country and start counting
calves. They are everywhere. The dam is breaking. J. Patrick says we're not
testing our cows and your going to eat them whether you like it or not. He's
mad. He was forced to show his hand. He's the one that pulls Ann's strings.
At a press conference at AMI friday John Stewart CEO of Creekstone Farms
said he will test all his beef whether the USDA approves or not. J.Patrick
said no your not. John Stewart said we'll have to agree to disagree.
J.Patrick said we'll have a private meeting when the reporters go home. It's
all on the Meating Place web site. Check it out.
Here's the deal. J. Patrick demands Ann Veneman declare Canada a low risk
country even though they have had a couple of mad cows already. She will do
that. All those cows will start coming down here in droves. J. Patrick will
demand the U.S. Gov't start punishing all the countries that refuse our meat
with trade embargoes, high tariffs and with holding of foreign aid. Mexico
and some of the smaller countries will cave in to pressure. Japan and South
Korea will not. There will be a huge surplus of fat cattle waiting to be
slaughtered. Prices will continue to plummet. All the smaller feedlots will
go under right away. They will demand subsidies. The American taxpayer, you,
will pick that up. The Gov't is already broke. George W. spent all the money
beating up Saddam. Higher taxes will be necessary.
In the mean time we have a whole bunch of diseased cattle the powers that be
don't want to do any thing about. They just want to play tycoon. Your not
going to get sick for a while so unlike lysteria, E-coli, and salmonella
they can simply push it under the rug in the name of Profit. If this was a
disease you got today and died tomorrow it would be a whole different ball
game. As long as Joe Average is getting his bills paid on time and watching
the evening news which is completely devoid of any MadCow reports he'll be
content to sit there munching on contaminated beef and pretend that BSE is
something that happens some where else. Besides it's perfectly safe and risk
free the Gov't said so. Time after time. When all those poor smucks start
getting sick and are laying in the hospital with tubes running out their
noses all of todays beef tycoons will be laying on private beaches in the
South Pacific sucking down Margueritas and laughing about the time they
tricked America into eating diseased meat and paying good money for the
privilege. My God why doesn't some body wake up the American people. NBC,
CBS, ABC, CNN, FOX where are you. This is your job. If you want to be the
reporters of the news stop worrying about your sponsors behave with Honor
and start damn well reporting the news. Hello there is a story here. Thank
you for your time
Remember to check out his video testimony to the Department of Agriculture on his site. You will be interested to hear the rest of the story, especially that part of it that describes how these cows are treated before they made it to the slaughterhouse. It is quite revealing. You won't hear that on mainstream media. Too graphic, no doubt.
I guess before people like Dave and I started speaking up, outside of animal activists, no one really knew how bad these things were. And, of course, most people just dismissed the stories, pictures, and videos of the animals being tortured as propaganda or as being outdated or isolated incidents. Well, none of that was true, as people are starting to realize.
You might also be interested to know that there has been a survey done to determine how much the public cares about humane treatment of the animals they use for food. Click here to read the story.
According to this survey, 75% of the American people will choose food products certified as protecting animal care over those that are not. Most would switch brands if they found out that the brand they were buying came from a company using cruel practices, with a sizable percentage of them willing to pay more for the products that have been produced humanely.
You would think that given all of the above information, that the USDA and the industry would respond to such sentiment and numbers, especially in light of their desire to resumption of the exports they seem so worried about. Why do you suppose they are dragging their feet?
Well, I'll tell you what I read a while back. They are doing it because they don't want to be perceived as caving into animal activists. That's right. They will continue to serve tainted food, not change their ways in order to resume the exports, and keep on refusing to implement a bunch of other needed changes that the public supports simply because they are hard-headed and don't want the activists to "win." They believe that it would only encourage us to do more. They would have to admit that we were right. And, of course, they would have to admit that what they are currently doing is wrong. Which, of course, we all know that it is.
The Great American Meat-Out is held every March 20. That's the day that many people everywhere give up meat (at least for a day). If you haven't done so yet, perhaps you should consider doing so. For a day, at least? Or even perhaps until the USDA and the industry make some much-needed changes? They are using statistics that show that the American people not changing their spending habits on meat as the reason for not doing anything about these problems. As long as people are buying their products, why should they change their ways?
Just think what a show of solidarity by the American public could accomplish if we all suddenly decided to boycott the industry!! We all vote with our dollars with every purchase we make.
What kind of message are you sending with your purchases????