Animal Equality has released its latest undercover investigation exposing serious violations of California’s animal cruelty laws inside a major U.S. meat supplier.
Animal Equality has released a new investigation documenting shocking scenes of suffering and abuse of birds at a Foster Farms hatchery in Stanislaus County, California.
This facility provides baby chickens to farms managed by Foster Farms, where they are raised and then slaughtered.
Foster Farms supplies major west coast grocery chains as well as the fast food chain Chick-fil-A.
The investigation exposed serious violations of California’s animal cruelty laws and showed chicks routinely being inhumanely killed or left to slowly die from injuries.
PROLONGED SUFFERING AND DEATH: At the hatchery, video footage documented chicks left to suffer for hours after being mutilated and severely injured by machinery, before they were dumped into a chute to be ground up while still alive.
Chicks who were just a few hours old were found with their bodies ripped open and internal organs exposed.
Others were caught or crushed by processing equipment that moved the birds along on conveyor belts.
Some chicks became trapped in hatching trays and were pulled into washers, where they were scalded and drowned in hot water.
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CRIMINAL WELFARE VIOLATIONS: The investigation found serious criminal violations of animal cruelty laws:
Newly hatched chicks were crushed or mutilated by automated processing machinery.
Live chicks were found drowning in water and chemical foam on the floors underneath conveyor belts.
One chick was discovered alive in a hatching tray that had gone through the washing machine which uses hot, high-pressure water.
The rangers will manage the first wild bison to roam in the UK for thousands of years. Photograph: Tom Gibbs and Donovan Wright
Animals arrive in Kent in spring 2022 and will create forest clearings – described as ‘jet fuel for biodiversity’
“When you see them in the wild, there’s this tangible feeling of humility and respect,” says Tom Gibbs, one of the UK’s first two bison rangers. “The size of them instantly demands your respect, although they are quite docile. I wouldn’t say they are scary, but you’re aware of what they can do.”
The rangers will manage the first wild bison to roam in the UK for thousands of years when four animals arrive in north Kent in the spring of 2022. The bison are Europe’s largest land animal – bulls can weigh a tonne – and were extinct in the wild a century ago, but are recovering through reintroduction projects across Europe.
“They are magnificent animals, truly gentle giants,” says colleague Donovan Wright, who spent 20 years working with rhino, cape buffalo and other large animals in southern Africa. “The Kent project is very different, but it’s no less important.”
Wright says: “How amazing will it be to track the largest land mammal in the UK on foot right here in [Kent]? To experience something like this only five miles from Canterbury would be just incredible, and help people reconnect with nature.”
Gibbs and Wright have just returned from training with wild bison herds in the Netherlands, where they were reintroduced in 2007. The £1m Kent project is called Wilder Blean and is run by the Kent Wildlife Trust and the Wildwood Trust, and funded by the People’s Postcode Lottery. A principal aim is for the bison to rewild a dense, former commercial pine forest.
Microbes in oceans and soils across the globe are evolving to eat plastic, according to a study.
The research scanned more than 200m genes found in DNA samples taken from the environment and found 30,000 different enzymes that could degrade 10 different types of plastic.
The study is the first large-scale global assessment of the plastic-degrading potential of bacteria and found that one in four of the organisms analysed carried a suitable enzyme. The researchers found that the number and type of enzymes they discovered matched the amount and type of plastic pollution in different locations.
The results “provide evidence of a measurable effect of plastic pollution on the global microbial ecology”, the scientists said.
Millions of tonnes of plastic are dumped in the environment every year, and the pollution now pervades the planet, from the summit of Mount Everest to the deepest oceans. Reducing the amount of plastic used is vital, as is the proper collection and treatment of waste.
But many plastics are currently hard to degrade and recycle. Using enzymes to rapidly break down plastics into their building blocks would enable new products to be made from old ones, cutting the need for virgin plastic production. The new research provides many new enzymes to be investigated and adapted for industrial use.
“We found multiple lines of evidence supporting the fact that the global microbiome’s plastic-degrading potential correlates strongly with measurements of environmental plastic pollution – a significant demonstration of how the environment is responding to the pressures we are placing on it,” said Prof Aleksej Zelezniak, at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden.
Pesticides have polluted our rivers and lakes – and there’s no quick fix
Damian Carrington I have been reporting on pesticides for more than a decade, but some revelations really stick in my mind. One was the discovery in 2013 of insecticide pollution in the ditches by Dutch fields that was so bad the water itself could have been used as an effective pest killer. Not surprisingly the impact on dragonflies, snails and other wild water creatures was devastating.
The situation does not appear to have improved. New research by the European Environment Agency showed excessive levels of pesticides in about a quarter of rivers and lakes across the EU, with the Netherlands the worst affected. More than half of all Dutch water bodies – 56% – had high levels of pesticides, including 62% of lakes. Agriculture is particularly intensive in the Netherlands, but it is far from alone in dousing its landscapes in pesticides. In Italy, Belgium, the Czech Republic and Finland, about half of water bodies were heavily polluted, as well as 38% in Germany, 33% in Ireland, and 26% in France.
The EEA also reported excess pesticides in groundwater in about 5% of sites. The striking aspect of this was that the most common pollutant was atrazine, which was banned in the EU in 2007. “It is very persistent,” said the EEA, which also noted that, unlike most pollutants, pesticides are specifically designed to kill living things.
The data analysed by the EEA was taken from more than 20,000 monitoring sites across the EU between 2013 and 2019, but it is far from the full picture. Only half the pesticides detected have exceeded limits set by Europe – the other half could not be included in the study. The data is also reported voluntarily by countries, meaning considerable gaps remain, but there is no indication of an improving situation. The UK is no longer an EU member, so was not included in the EEA analysis, but insecticides were revealed to be polluting rivers in England in 2017.
The number of different pesticides reported in EU rivers and lakes was more than 100 in Germany and Italy. France detected 215 different pesticides in groundwater. That reminded me of another striking finding from France, from a study I reported in 2017: virtually all farms could significantly cut their pesticide use while still producing as much food. Most pesticides are applied “just in case”, the work showed, doing little other than harming nature.
Only a few months after that, another memorable study laid out the big picture: the assumption by regulators around the world that it is safe to use pesticides at industrial scales across landscapes is false, said senior scientists. With no limit on the total amount of pesticides used, and virtually no monitoring of their effects in the environment, the damage is done before it is detected.
The new EEA analysis comes at an important time. The European Green Deal plan is aiming to reduce the use of, and risks from, chemical pesticides by 50% by 2030. Addressing the risks, as well as the volume, of pesticides is vital – the amount being used is falling, but the increasing toxicity of the chemicals is outpacing that fall.
But cutting pesticide use it is not going to be easy. Last week, the website DeSmog published an investigation into the powerful companies and lobby groups working to water down the EU’s targets for more sustainable farming. These companies and groups spent €45m lobbying EU decision-makers between 2019 and 2020, DeSmog reported, and held hundreds of meetings with relevant bodies.
Natacha Cingotti, at the Brussels-based Health and Environmental Alliance, said: “When working on pesticide-related policies, the imbalance of stakeholders in favour of industry interests is striking. The dominating actors are those very companies set to profit from the sale of harmful chemicals, not those who stand for health and environment protection.”
It looks like I’ll be writing about pesticides for the next decade as well.