Animal Rights

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Sigh. The European Union is way ahead of us as far as animal rights, improving the environment and regulating unhealthy food products and methods. Regulations have already been passed, and in effect since 2004, that would step by step outlaw animal testing on cosmetics in EU countries. Why can’t we do that here in the U.S.?

Imprisoning, strapping down and dropping noxious chemicals in to a bunny’s eye all to develop a new scent of shampoo is a totally unacceptable practice.

Developing new ways to test cosmetics, without torturing animals, is a great place for business growth. Send me your thoughts on why America can’t ban cosmetic testing on animals too. Leave a comment after the jump. Love, Elizabeth Fiend

(Complete schedule for EU Cosmetic Directive scroll to the end.)

Chips could put lab rats out of work

Source: CNN.com TROY, New York (AP) — The lab rat of the future may have no whiskers and no tail — and might not even be a rat at all.

Scientists are working to develop special chips that can be used instead of animals to test product safety.

With a European ban looming on animal testing for cosmetics, companies are giving a hard look at high-tech alternatives like the small, rectangular glass chip professor Jonathan Dordick holds up to the light in his lab at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

The chip looks like a standard microscope slide, but it holds hundreds of tiny white dots loaded with human cell cultures and enzymes. It’s designed to mimic human reactions to potentially toxic chemical compounds, meaning critters like rats and mice may no longer need to be on the front line of tests for new blockbuster drugs or wrinkle creams.

Dordick and fellow chemical engineering professor Douglas Clark, of the University of California, Berkeley, lead a team of researchers planning to market the chip through their company, Solidus Biosciences, by next year. Hopes are high that the chip and other “in vitro” tests — literally, tests in glass — will provide cheap, efficient alternatives to animal testing.

No one expects the chips to totally replace animals just yet, but their ability to flag toxins could spare animals discomfort or death.

“At the end of the day, you have fewer animals being tested,” said Dordick.

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Rethinking the Meat-Guzzler

mc_ds.jpgPosted by: Elizabeth Fiend

Source: The New York Time

By MARK BITTMAN

A SEA change in the consumption of a resource that Americans take for granted may be in store — something cheap, plentiful, widely enjoyed and a part of daily life. And it isn’t oil.

It’s meat.

The two commodities share a great deal: Like oil, meat is subsidized by the federal government. Like oil, meat is subject to accelerating demand as nations become wealthier, and this, in turn, sends prices higher. Finally — like oil — meat is something people are encouraged to consume less of, as the toll exacted by industrial production increases, and becomes increasingly visible.

Global demand for meat has multiplied in recent years, encouraged by growing affluence and nourished by the proliferation of huge, confined animal feeding operations. These assembly-line meat factories consume enormous amounts of energy, pollute water supplies, generate significant greenhouse gases and require ever-increasing amounts of corn, soy and other grains, a dependency that has led to the destruction of vast swaths of the world’s tropical rain forests.

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The Jan. 17th, 2008 decision of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to revise its ruling banning farmers from labeling their milk so consumers can tell whether or not it comes from cows injected with artificial hormones, has brought milk into the limelight again. But it’s not the first time there’s been a tiff between the factory farming industry and small farmers over milk production practices, and it won’t be the last. Proposals of similar rulings are being fought in Washington State, Missouri and Ohio.

The story begins with pharmaceutical giant Monsanto, who produces the artificial hormone, which for some reason has several different nick-names – rBST, rBGH, BGH, BST. Let’s just use the commercial name Monsanto came up with: Posilac (cute, huh? Fusing ‘positive’ with ‘lactate’ – man, they are good). Is this a story of corporate greed? Or are the organic milk farms unfairly stealing business from Monsanto, by making gullible consumers think artificial, genetically-engineered hormones are BAD?

Most of the tellings of the story kind of go like this: the FDA has gone out of its way to prove that milk containing traces of Posilac is not harmful to humans, plus the use of Posilac allows struggling farmers to increase their production of milk without increasing the number of cows (Isn’t Monsanto thoughtful?), and the organic farms are making big bucks anyway just for putting the word ‘organic’ on the cartons, so why all the fuss? Well, let me tell the story from a slightly different angle. Big factory farms with thousands of cows produce so much milk they drive down the price and squeeze out the small family farms, then a pharmaceutical company seizes the opportunity to offer a ray of hope the the struggling small farmer: a drug that will make their cows make more milk. But like all drug dependencies, the downsides are a) diminished health – health of the cows, health of the humans who drink the milk of the cows, b) empty pockets – as the struggling farmers keep struggling, the drug sellers just get richer, and c) broken relationships – as word of the possible dangers of these drugs spreads across the land, consumers abandon farmers who use the drugs, up goes the demand for drug-free milk, and the drug sellers start seeing a drop in sales. Uh oh.

And if you’re still unsure that there could maybe, just possibly be a potential for health problems associated with ingestion of milk tainted with Posilac, antibiotics, growth factors, more antibiotics, pesticides and pus (eewwww!), think about this: Canada, and all 25 countries of the European Union, Australia, and New Zealand have banned the use of artificial hormones in dairy farming.

And hey, besides finding sources of milk without potential toxins, it’s not a bad idea to skip milk altogether, or at least vary it up, and BiG TeA PaRtY has been promoting other sources of calcium and vitamin D since day one – check out our video with Elizabeth Fiend’s recipe for Vegan French Toast [click here]. Consider cutting down on dairy consumption and adding these other great sources of calcium to your diet: *collard greens, *blackstrap molasses, *spinach, *soy beans and soy products, even *1/2 cup of white beans has 96 mg of calcium (the others I mentioned all contain way over 100 mg of calcium in a standard serving; so say the USDA dietary guidelines).

But since cow’s milk is still the leading food source of Calcium and vitamin D for American children (I’m not just being nationalistic here, many other countries have already banned the use of artificial hormones on cows), it’s worth investigating what’s in there. Ciao, VaLerie K

Sour Grapes Over Milk Labeling

By Kristen Philipkoski
Source:
Wired

Stanley Bennet, president of Oakhurst Dairy, says he will fight the lawsuit brought against his company by Monsanto. He said the company has no plans to change its labels.

The calls from distressed dairy farmers come nearly every day, and John Bunting does what he can to help.

A mother of 14 tells Bunting that her husband feels like a failure because he can’t provide for his family on milk sales alone. Another farmer says he had to sell one of his cows to repair a broken tractor. They know Bunting, who talks to them on a cordless phone while milking his cows, will lend a commiserative ear. He might also write about them in Milkweed, the dairy publication to which he is a contributor.

By some accounts, the past 18 months have been the worst in history for the U.S. dairy farmer. Milk prices have not increased enough to adjust for inflation in the past decade, and many family dairies have shut down. Sick cows don’t get treatment because farmers can’t afford a vet, or, worse, the vet won’t come anymore because he didn’t get paid last time.

Many small farmers place much of the blame on agribusiness giant Monsanto and a bovine drug called Posilac the company sells to increase the amount of milk a cow can produce.

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Good news for once!!! Animal rights activists, vegetarians and vegans have been honing and transforming the grass roots political efforts of the ‘70’s into large, multimillion dollar strategies – and they’re really having a positive effect on how we view meat and treat animals. I’ve posted an article from the New York Times that explains some of the ways activists of today are causing positive change in animal rights. Love, Elizabeth Fiend

Bringing Moos and Oinks Into the Food Debate
From: The New York Times

By KIM SEVERSON
Watkins Glen, N.Y.

THE first farm animal Gene Baur ever snatched from a stockyard was a lamb he named Hilda.

That was 1986. She’s now buried under a little tombstone near the center of Farm Sanctuary, 180 acres of vegan nirvana here in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.

Back then, Mr. Baur was living in a school bus near a tofu factory in Pennsylvania and selling vegetarian hot dogs at Grateful Dead concerts to support his animal rescue operation.

Now, more than a thousand animals once destined for the slaughterhouse live here and on another Farm Sanctuary property in California. Farm Sanctuary has a $5.7 million budget, fed in part by a donor club named after his beloved Hilda. Supporters can sign up for a Farm Sanctuary MasterCard. A $200-a-seat gala dinner in Los Angeles this fall will feature seitan Wellington and stars like Emily Deschanel and Forest Whitaker.

As Farm Sanctuary has grown, so too has its influence. Soon, due in part to the organization’s work, veal calves and pregnant pigs in Arizona won’t be kept in cages so tight they can’t turn around. Eggs from cage-free hens have become so popular that there is a national shortage. A law in Chicago bans the sale of foie gras.

And earlier this month, the New Jersey Supreme Court agreed to hear a case concerning common farming practices that a coalition led by Farm Sanctuary says are inhumane.

All of these developments reflect the maturation and sophistication of Mr. Baur and others in a network of animal activists who have more control over America’s dinner table than ever before.
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