Bye for now, sleep well…Venus
Bye for now, sleep well…Venus
From the Animal Liberation Press Office website, received anonymously:
Late this summer animal liberation activists carried out two raids on fur farms in Idaho and Utah. Fencing was ripped down and nearly 2,000 mink were released allowing them to clamor toward freedom. Both farms sat near the edges of mostly undeveloped public lands, allowing plenty of habitat for the newly freed native predators.
Walking through a large field, quietly climbing a barbed-wire cattle fence, and crossing the road in clear view of the house associated with the first farm proved easy. It became clear there was no visible electronic security, and the activists bet heavily that the faint barking was from a neighbor’s property, or at least from a dog contained within the fur farmer’s house.
Cage after cage, row after row, shed after shed, latches were opened and nesting boxes removed allowing the mink to escape to their rightful home.
They spaced out the releases in order to disperse the noise from disturbing mink away from a singular location. The surreal and beautiful moment where the mink explored in the moonlight will be carried in the hearts of those that gazed upon them for a lifetime.
The approving chorus from coyotes in the nearby hills still echoes in their ears.
Days later, these activists found themselves before another sprawling fur farm complex.
A respected Bay Area veterinarian endures widespread attacks following an industry “alert” about her criticisms of factory farms.
This week’s SYSTEM UPDATE on this topic — with Dr. Crystal Heath, one of the veterinarians targeted by these industry campaigns for retaliation — can be viewed on The Intercept’s YouTube channel, or on the player below.
ANIMAL AGRICULTURE INDUSTRY GROUPS defending factory farms engage in campaigns of surveillance, reputation destruction, and other forms of retaliation against industry critics and animal rights activists, documents obtained through a FOIA request from the U.S. Department of Agriculture reveal. That the USDA possesses these emails and other documents demonstrates the federal government’s knowledge of, if not participation in, these industry campaigns.
These documents detail ongoing monitoring of the social media of news outlets, including The Intercept, which report critically on factory farms. They reveal private surveillance activities aimed at animal rights groups and their members. They include discussions of how to create a climate of intimidation for activists who work against industry abuses, including by photographing the activists and publishing the photos online. And they describe a coordinated ostracization campaign that specifically targets veterinarians who criticize industry practices, out of concern that veterinarians are uniquely well-positioned to persuasively and powerfully denounce industry abuses.
One of the industry groups central to these activities is the Animal Agriculture Alliance, which represents factory farms and other animal agriculture companies — or, as they playfully put it, they work for corporations “involved in getting food from the farm to our forks!” The group boasts that one of its prime functions is “Monitoring Activism,” by which they mean: “We identify emerging threats and provide insightful resources on animal rights and other activist groups by attending their events, monitoring traditional and social media and engaging our national network.”
Indeed, the Alliance frequently monitors and infiltrates conferences of industry critics and activists, then provides reports to their corporate members on what was discussed. As The Intercept previously noted when reporting on felony charges brought against animal rights activists with Direct Action Everywhere, or DxE, for peaceful filming and symbolic animal rescues inside one Utah farm that supplies Whole Foods and another owned by Smithfield — an action that showed how wildly at odds with reality is the bucolic branding of those farms — the Animal Agriculture Alliance issued a statement denouncing the activists for (ironically) harming their animals and urging law enforcement and “policymakers” to intervene on behalf of the industry against the activists.
In the emails obtained by the FOIA request, the Alliance and its allies frequently encourage their members to alert the FBI and Department of Homeland Security regarding actions by activists. In response to a project by DxE to create a map tracking factory farms, Lyle Orwig — chair of the agricultural company Charleston/Orwig, Inc. and a member of the Alliance board — proposed the retaliatory step of “taking photos of every DXE [sic] member” and posting them to the internet while accusing them of being “opposed to feeding the hungry.”
ONE PERSON SINGLED OUT for retaliation in these discussions was a popular, respected Bay Area veterinarian, Dr. Crystal Heath. As a local CBS affiliate television profile of her explained, Dr. Heath is the kind of veterinarian who we all as children are taught to admire.
Rather than working for corporations or state agencies engaged in cruel animal experimentation, or for factory farms making a large salary to provide the veneer of medical justification for their barbaric, torturous practices, Dr. Heath has devoted herself to shelter medicine, working for years with the Berkeley Humane Society and other nonprofit animal rescue groups, where she “has spayed and neutered more than 20,000 animals.” The CBS broadcast report provides a full picture of the humanitarian and self-sacrificing nature of her work.
But to the Animal Agriculture Alliance and its industry allies, Dr. Heath somehow became a grave danger, an “extremist” whose name needed to be circulated within her profession as someone to be aggressively shunned. And that is exactly what they did. What prompted this targeted campaign against her was nothing more than her use of her veterinarian expertise to express criticisms of industry abuses and excesses.
In May, The Intercept reported on a gruesome mass-extermination technique being used by Iowa’s largest pork producer, Iowa Select Farms, to kill large numbers of pigs which were deemed unnecessary and in need of “depopulation” due to the pandemic. The technique, called “ventilation shutdown,” or VSD, involves cutting off the air supply in barns and turning up the heat to intense levels so that “most pigs — though not all — die after hours of suffering from a combination of being suffocated and roasted to death.” The pigs who survive this excruciating ordeal are then shot in the head in the morning by farm employees. A video report produced by The Intercept and the video documentarian Leighton Woodhouse — based on footage obtained inside an Iowa Select barn by DxE as the pigs were slowly dying — was viewed by more than 150,000 people.
Numerous veterinarians were shocked by the use of this unspeakably cruel and gratuitous mass-extermination tactic, which imposes extreme, protracted suffering on highly intelligent, socially complex, sentient animals. And it created serious problems for the industry, with McDonald’s demanding an explanation it could use publicly, and even discussions — from the National Pork Producers Council — to invent a new, more pleasant and euphemistic name for the extermination technique:
One of the veterinarians indignant about ventilation shutdown extermination programs was Dr. Heath. She was part of a group of hundreds of her veterinarian colleagues to launch a campaign urging the American Veterinarian Medical Association to withdraw its approval of the use of this technique in limited, proscribed circumstances. Though the AVMA says it was not involved in the specific use of the extermination technique by Iowa Select, its guidelines approving of VSD were, as The Intercept documented, cited as justification by the company and its allies.
Dr. Heath was quoted in one news report on the controversy as saying: “I believe the majority of AVMA members do not approve of VSD except as a ‘last resort’ depopulation method and AVMA intended VSD to be used only in extreme conditions of infectious or zoonotic disease outbreaks or natural disasters. AVMA approval has allowed pig and poultry producers to use VSD as a cost-savings procedure to cheaply destroy unprofitable or excess animals.”
Due to her criticisms of these factory farm practices and her work with DxE in advocating industry reform, industry groups focused on her. In one email from April, a vice president of the Animal Agriculture Alliance, Hannah Thompson-Weeman, revealed that an “alert” had been sent about Dr. Heath to California members, accusing her of engaging in “extreme activism” and encouraging groups to “spread the word to your veterinarian contacts in California” — where Dr. Heath practices — “using private, members only channels.”
Following that “alert,” Dr. Heath began experiencing targeted campaigns against her online and within her profession. Though it cannot be proven that this was the result of the Alliance’s “alert,” what began happening to her for the first time in the wake of that alert tracked the language used against her by these industry groups. (The Alliance and Thompson-Weeman did not respond to The Intercept’s request for comments. Thompson-Weeman locked her Twitter account yesterday after we previewed this article and the SYSTEM UPDATE episode. The AVMA has denied that it was involved in Iowa Select’s use of VSD.)
What perhaps alerted the Alliance was one veterinarian group that accused her of being “part of an active campaign to cause as much harm as possible to our clients and ourselves,” announcing that they had alerted the Alliance about her. Veterinarian groups on Facebook posted their own warnings about her, and she was banned from some groups. Comments began appearing on her own Facebook page, purportedly from other veterinarians, accusing her of “deranged activism,” being “a liar who makes up stories,” “bastardizing our profession through every available method,” and claiming that she is “literally, by name, a topic of conversation in board rooms from Ag business to organized veterinarian medicine across the nation. Your name is literally toxic.”
What alarmed Dr. Heath most was the emergence online of anonymous flyers which contained a “BEWARE” warning at the top, along with her photo and a string of accusations, some of which were false, that claimed she harbors “an agenda that doesn’t include anything positive for our profession” and “expresses fondness” for “domestic terrorist organizations.” It warned that even allowing her access to the social media pages of veterinarians could be dangerous, and thus urged that she be blocked from all online forums, personal profiles, and social media groups.
It goes without saying that this sort of a campaign could be devastating to the career opportunities or ability to earn a livelihood of any veterinarian. Fortunately for Dr. Heath, she believes her hard-earned reputation with area clinics developed over many years will enable her to continue to work, but she believes, for very good reason, that “alerts” and campaigns of this sort would make it extremely difficult if not impossible for her to find work anywhere else. For a younger or less-established veterinarian seeing what was done to her, they would obviously think twice about speaking out or working against the factory farm industry, the obvious goal of such campaigns.
That the U.S. Department of Agriculture was in possession of the emails and other documents circulated by industry groups, and thus produced them as part of the FOIA request, indicates that, at the very least, government officials are being included in these discussions (the flyer about Dr. Heath and other social media postings regarding her were obtained by The Intercept from Dr. Heath, not by the FOIA request). What is clear is that the animal agricultural industry essentially operates their own private surveillance and “warning” networks, and uses their extensive influence within the halls of government power to aid their efforts to punish and retaliate against its critics and activists.
Dr. Heath is my guest on this week’s SYSTEM UPDATE. The episode, which can be viewed on The Intercept’s YouTube channel or on the player below, first reviews these new documents in detail obtained by the FOIA request, and I then speak to Dr. Heath about what she has endured as a result of her speaking out against this very powerful industry.
Tomorrow, on the second Monday in October is #Thanksgiving in # Canada.
Benjamin Franklin wrote that in comparison to the bald eagle, the turkey is “a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America…He is besides, though a little vain and silly, a “Bird of Courage.”
Turkeys are intelligent and sensitive animals that are highly social. They create lasting social bonds with each other and are very affectionate; rather similar to dogs.
Turkeys are native North Americans.
European immigrants killed the abundant numbers of wild turkey written about in early historical accounts declined with colonization until they were nearly wiped out.
To this day we continue to massacre turkeys by the millions in the name of “Thanksgiving”.
Last year, 20 million turkeys were killed in Canada for their flesh that we don’t need.
Most of them were condemned to shortened lives of misery in crowded and filthy warehouses.
Give thanks to turkeys and all beings this Thanksgiving by taking them off your plate.
Animal Save Movement Canada
And I mean…What does a Thanksgiving symbolize?
If this is connected with the mass murder of animals, then we remember archaic, prehistoric rituals when people wanted to thank their gods and sacrificed animals for it.
Since then, we mean that we have developed.
Therefore, such a “thank you” has nothing to do with gratitude or social culture.
It is a mass murder in the name of an outdated tradition and therefore perpetuates primitive man’s culture.
Canadians: Take a nice walk in nature that day, or play football and let the corpses of the animals out of your plate!
Your health would thank you for it, your conscience, and above all the animals.
My best regards to all, Venus
A bone-on-a-chip device developed to tackle animal testing in medical research
A bone-on-a-chip device, which grows human bone tissue in the laboratory, has been developed by engineers in hopes that it could reduce the need for tests on animals in medical research.
The researchers, led by the Department of Materials Science and Engineering of Sheffield University and the Insigneo Center for Solico Medicine, demonstrated how the bone-on-a-chip could be used to test new possible therapies for weakened or diseased bones through growing bone tissue – and published the information in the Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology.
Compared to existing experiments, which generally involve comprehensive in vivo evaluations involving animals, this new method has been developed in vitro, entirely in the laboratory, and eliminates the need to use animals in research.
The field of organ-on-a-chip’s goal is to create minuscule devices that contain tiny versions of organs, including liver, bone or lungs in the laboratory. The hope is that discovering ones that function in humans by testing experimental drugs on tiny copies of human organs rather than in animal models will have a higher success rate.
Read more at source
The law requires animals in the EU to be effectively stunned before slaughter. However, exceptions are made which permit some religious communities to slaughter without pre-stunning. This applies to slaughter by the Jewish method (Shechita) or by the Muslim method (Halal).
Compassion believes there should be no exemptions, and the law should be changed to require all animals to be effectively stunned before slaughter, regardless of the slaughter method that is then used (this also applies to mis-stunning in conventional abattoirs). We also believe that all slaughterhouses should have CCTV installed in order to assist with the monitoring of slaughter and to help prevent cruelty.
Loop-holes, poor enforcement, and a lack of suitable legislations can all impact the welfare of animals at the time of slaughter.
There are a range of serious welfare concerns currently affecting vast numbers of animals across Europe.
Survey comes as ‘ritual slaughter’ legal case moves through European courts and Polish government proposes restrictions
Nine out of 10 EU citizens want their governments to ban the slaughter of animals that have not been stunned, according to a poll published today.
The results of the survey, carried out for the animal welfare campaign group Eurogroup for Animals, will feed into a cross-Europe debate about so-called “ritual slaughter” – the killing of animals in line with rules of religions such as Judaism and Islam for kosher and halal meat, respectively.
Some countries, including Slovenia, Finland, Denmark and Sweden, as well as the Belgian regions of Flanders and Wallonia, have already adopted stricter rules, with no exceptions to the mandatory stunning of animals before slaughter.
In Poland, the rightwing coalition government led by the Law and Justice (PiS) party has proposed limiting the practice to the needs of religious communities within the country. That would put an end to Poland’s large halal and kosher meat exports industry.
A legal case over the compatibility of the Flemish ban on slaughtering without stunning with EU law is proceeding through the European courts. An opinion published in September by the advocate general Gerard Hogan of the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) rejects the ability of member states to prohibit slaughter without stunning and implement reversible stunning (which disrupts brain function for a short time). The CJEU’s final decision is due at the end of this year.
In the poll, carried out by UK-based Savanta ComRes, 89% of 23,000 EU citizens surveyed said it should be mandatory to make animals unconscious before they are slaughtered. About as many, 88%, said that animals should be made unconscious before being slaughtered even for religious practices. And 90% of respondents believed that EU countries should retain the right to introduce stricter measures to better protect animals during slaughter.
“EU citizens want animals to be properly stunned before being slaughtered and clearly want member states to be able to introduce stricter legislative measures to protect animal welfare,” said Reineke Hameleers, chief executive of Eurogroup for Animals.
New Zealand banned slaughter without stunning in 2010 and made reversible stunning mandatory. Reversible stunning, or electronarcosis, is a way of stunning animals via electric shock that makes them unconscious for a short period of time, regaining consciousness if they are not slaughtered. The meat produced is certified as halal by religious communities within New Zealand, and recognised as such by communities in Malaysia, India, the Middle East, Canada and China.
Some religious groups have voiced concerns about the proposed changes in law in Europe. Mufti Tomasz Miśkiewicz, head of the Muslim Religious Union in Poland, said: “Halal isn’t just about food, it’s also about religion. The main problem with the proposed bill is that it effectively curbs Polish Muslims’ religious freedoms. The bill proposes that ritual slaughter will be allowed if it serves the community only. But how are you going to know exactly what the needs of the community are at any given time? That’s not anything veterinary inspectorates will know.”
“The law should protect and care for everyone regardless of their nationality or religion. Democracy is about protecting one’s rights.”
Jonathan Ornstein of the Jewish Community Centre in Kraków, Poland, said that if export of kosher or halal meat was made impossible, producers might stop producing it because doing so would not make economic sense, as the economy of scale would be gone. “Without kosher meat sourced locally, we would need to buy imported meat, which would dramatically increase the cost.”
He is a vegetarian, but stressed the cultural importance of kosher meat for the Jewish community.
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Source – The Guardian – UK Press; London.