Category: General News

Thanks EU – When It Comes To Pesticides, We Will Mark Our Own Homework.

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We expressed our concerns about the way things were going with the EU and big pharma lobbyists back in March; here is the ink:

https://worldanimalsvoice.com/2019/03/08/eu-have-the-lobbyists-for-bayer-monsanto-convinced-the-eu-to-ignore-the-concerns-of-the-eu-citizen/

Well as the following article suggests, big pharma has now got its foot in the door and its lobbyists are now working to play down the effect that pesticides can have in relation to human health. It has been shown that such pesticides are killing off the bees kept within the EU, but it does not really appear to matter much in the corridors of Brussels. The lobbyists appear to be getting their way, in direct opposition from the European citizen. The shape of things to come ? – regardless of what damage your products may incur on people, the people who make decisions have been sorted out by the lobbyists to work in their favour – and regulations may be watered down as a result to ensure that big industry continues to make profits for shareholders; products continue to be sold in the shops; and if you fall ill as a result of using them; then tough; we have doctored the legislation so that we will not be taken to court. In other words; just as we want it !

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Source:

https://www.independentsciencenews.org/health/eu-threatens-to-legalise-human-harm-from-pesticides/

 

By Hans Muilerman and Jonathan Latham, PhD

Current EU regulations forbid human exposure to pesticides that are classified as mutagenic, carcinogenic, reprotoxic (toxic for reproduction), persistent or capable of disrupting endocrine systems. By virtue of these and other protective measures EU regulations are considered the gold standard in public protection.

However, experts who are closely linked to industry (or are part of anti-regulation pressure groups) have taken control of the EU’s new Science Advice Mechanism (SAM). These experts have contributed to a report commissioned to reevaluate the EU’s authorisation of pesticides. The report, called “EU authorisation processes of Plant Protection Products”, and published in late 2018, recommends dramatically weakening the EU regulatory system. Especially notable is the adoption of many ideas previously proposed by the chemical industry. For example, the EU currently deems the acceptable level of public exposure to mutagenic pesticides (those that damage DNA) to be zero. The new report recommends scrapping this standard of protection.

The history of the new SAM report is that it was requested by EU Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis. Its purpose was to determine how to act in cases of so-called ‘diverging views’; that is, when media and public interest groups get involved. The request follows a series of major controversies over EU regulatory decision-making. One such controversy was over the herbicide Glyphosate. A “European Citizens Initiative” delivered more than a million signatures to the EU Commission asking for a ban on Glyphosate. Several cities banned Glyphosate. Even a dairy company banned the use of Glyphosate by their farmers.

With this pressure from all over Europe, the EU Commission had difficulty reaching a decision since many EU member states (Bulgaria, Denmark, Czech Republic, Estonia, Ireland, Spain, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Finland and the U.K) opposed a ban. Ultimately, a very unusual 5-years extension for glyphosate was agreed but soon the discussion will start again.

Issues with neonicotinoids have also pushed the EU Commission into a corner. Neonicotinoid insecticides are linked by much research to ‘bee colony collapse’ and, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature “represent a worldwide threat to biodiversity, ecosystems and ecosystem services” (Goulson, 2013; IUCN 2017). This again placed the EU Commission in the crossfire since many EU member states and their ministries of agriculture wished to keep neonicotionids on the market. Waves of scientific publications and media attention about dying bees and empty beehives forced the EU Commission to finally ban them. Nevertheless, Poland, Romania, Hungary, and Lithuania still resist the ban by using derogations.

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A third big controversy has been endocrine disruption. Public concern about hormone-mimicking chemicals forced politicians in 2009 to address endocrine disruption concerns in the regulations and ban endocrine disrupting pesticides. An enormous lobbying effort from industry, the US chamber of commerce, EU Directorate General (DG) Enterprise, and EU DG Growth, tried to stop the implementation of the new rules, especially during the TTIP trade negotiations with the US. EU DG Environment was isolated and in the end DG SANTE (health) was found willing to do the dirty work of undermining the rules. Again, waves of bad publicity from the public and scientists harmed the credibility of the EU Commission. This debate too is far from over.

Conflicted science advice

The SAM report is important since it will soon be used by the EU Commission as an input for its ‘REFIT’ programme to evaluate pesticide regulation. This is a programme that the chemical industry sees as a major opportunity for a regulatory roll-back.

Some of the experts invited to help SAM and listed on the SAM website, however, are not independent. Instead, they have strong links to the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI). ILSI is a worldwide network, a federation of non-profits funded by many industries, including the pesticide industry, and which provides expertise in regulatory issues.

ILSI global includes over 400 company members and ILSI Europe includes 88.

Among them are every pesticide multinational.

Sourcewatch writes of ILSI that: “The interests of food, pharmaceutical, tobacco, energy, and other industries have become even more entwined. They have learned to cooperate (rather than blaming each other for the cancer epidemic) and they now form coalitions to fight health and environmental regulations.

“It is notable that [ILSI members] generally employ the same lawyers, lobbyists and PR companies, and use essentially the same tactics”.

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ILSI has a negligible public profile, and claims not to be a lobby group, but is very active behind the scenes in obtaining seats for ILSI-associated scientists on regulatory panels such as that of the EU Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and international organisations like WHO, the World Health Organisation, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the UN, and the International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS) of the WHO. Experts generally do not disclose their links to ILSI and pretend to be independent academic scientists.

A recent example of ILSI members successfully getting seats on an EFSA-panel concerned the risk assessment idea of a Threshold of Toxicological Concern (TTC). This idea assumes chemicals are safe at low doses without (expensive) testing. It has been an important goal of the chemical industry to establish TTCs in European and other jurisdictions.

PAN Europe has analysed the process of developing guideline for the TTC at the European Food safety Authority EFSA. We discovered that the chair of the EFSA working group was Sue Barlow, who worked for ILSI and the cigarette industry. She had volunteered to be chair of the EFSA working group. From this position she installed an ILSI network. This EFSA working group then more-or-less copy-pasted the ILSI proposal, making it into an EFSA opinion.

ILSI has been imposing its ideas on many other current EU risk assessment methods too, intending to weaken protections and ease access of pesticides to the market. Thus a PAN Europe survey showed that out of 12 EU pesticide risk assessment methods analysed, 8 were designed and promoted by ILSI. Industry is being allowed, under the radar, to “write its own rules”.

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The conflicted scientists

In the case of the SAM, a prime example of these conflicts is UK professor Alan Boobis who is listed on the SAM website as a contributor to the SAM report. Alan Boobis has been active in ILSI  for decades. Until January 2018 he was the chair of its Board of Trustees. Due to his conflicts of interest Boobis was disbarred from a new expert panel convened by EFSA in 2012.

French professor Dominique Parent-Massin is mentioned alongside Boobis as working on the SAM report. Prof. Parent-Massin has previously worked with ILSI member, Ajinomoto – the world’s biggest Aspartame producer.

Also listed on the SAM website is Joergen Schlundt, former Director of the Danish National Food Institute. Schlundt is also a former ILSI board member .

All three are listed on the SAM-website as contributors to the report, or as providers of evidence through another report written by a new network called Science Advice for Policy by European Academies (SAPEA), or as being part of a ‘sounding board’ and fact-checking process. Despite these counter-indications the SAM website states that “The Commission found that none of the interests declared constituted a conflict of interest.”

Another expert used by the SAM is German professor Daniel Dietrich, editor-in-chief of the journal Chemico-Biological Interactions. With a group of editors of journals of pharmacology and toxicology he has been very vocal in trying to stop the regulation and banning of endocrine disrupting pesticides (in EU Regulation 1107/2009). Dietrich published editorials in several scientific journals that triggered highly critical responses from other scientists, such as members of the ‘Endocrine Society’. Ties between the Dietrich group of authors and industry were exposed by Le Monde journalist Stéphane Horel who found 17 out of the 18 experts of Mr. Dietrich’s group have past or current ties to industry. The Dietrich group has been prolific, publishing articles like ‘Endocrine disruption: Fact or urban legend?’ that disputes the health risks of endocrine disruption (Nohynek et al., 2013). Even after former EU science advisor Anne Glover achieved a consensus between opposing groups that toxicological thresholds below which chemicals are safe (see TTC above) were unproven, Dietrich and his group (along with Alan Boobis) still claimed their opponents used “pseudoscience” (Dietrich et al., 2016). Dietrich also opposed the EU ban of bee-harming neonicotinoids, and both Dietrich and Boobis criticized the IARC-report asserting the genotoxicity of Glyphosate.

Conflicts in EU science advice

The EU has mechanisms to prevent conflicts of interest from derailing its scientific decisions. The SAM website currently presents ‘Declarations of Interest’ (DoI) for its members including for Boobis, Parent-Massin, Dietrich, and Schlundt. But one might wonder if procedures to report conflicts of interest are functioning. DoI’s were not available online when the SAM-report was published (in June 2018). One was even not signed until considerably after publication, in August 2018.

The efforts of ILSI have so far been effective. Several of its campaigning targets are included in an important “SAPEA evidence review report“. SAPEA (Science Advice for Policy by European Academies) is a new body set up by European science academies. This evidence review is intended to feed into the SAM report and featured many of the conflicted scientists above. SAPEA’s report promotes many industry objectives, such as the use of ‘historical control data’. The great importance of this is that, since many potential historical controls exist, their use makes it much easier to ascribe toxic effects observed in animal testing as being simply noise and therefore irrelevant.

Another industry goal is to promote inexpensive (in vitro) ‘mode-of-action assessment’ in preference to expensive adverse outcome testing. A third is to drop the obligation for chronic mouse testing.

The aims of PAN Europe and the Endocrine Society, on the other hand, are: 1) to recognise the reality of ‘low dose effects’ which are currently not tested at all for pesticides; 2) the recognition that chemicals may cause non-linear toxicity responses over a wide range of doses. These are called ‘non-monotonic dose-effect responses’ (whereas regulators presently acknowledge only linear dose-response curves of toxicity and even dismiss effects entirely if they are not linear); 3) mandatory testing for endocrine disruption; 4) to dispute the current regulatory assumption that chemicals have safe thresholds. All are missing from the SAPEA report.

In a further blow to precaution, the SAM report proposes to change EU rules by exchanging the acceptable level of citizen protection from “do not have any harmful effects on humans” for an undefined level, that of “acceptable risk”. This is the change of regulation that would make human harm legal, since it would stop the EU’s much-detested-by-industry ‘hazard approach’ that aims to avoid any exposure of humans to classified (mutagenic, carcinogenic, reprotoxic (toxic for reproduction), persistent and endocrine disrupting) pesticides.

SAM proposes that the EU should re-examine this ‘hazard approach’, which has been under attack by industry for many years; and so it seems that SAM might prove to be the instrument by which industry finally achieves successes for which they have campaigned so long.

The EU has shown itself sensitive to public pressure. What is now needed is for that pressure to be redoubled.

References

Goulson, D. (2013) An overview of the environmental risks posed by neonicotinoid insecticides. Journal of Applied Ecology 50: 977–987.
Nohynek, G.J., C. J. Borgert, D. Dietrich, and K. K. Rozmand (2013) Endocrine disruption: Fact or urban legend?, Toxicology Letters 223 295– 305.
Dietrich et al., (2016) Allowing pseudoscience into EU risk assessment processes is eroding public trust in science experts and in science as a whole: The bigger picture. Chemico-Biological Interactions 257 (2016) 1-3.
Dietrich et al., (2013) Open letter to the European commission: scientifically unfounded precaution drives European commission’s recommendations on EDC regulation, while defying common sense, well‑established science, and risk assessment principles. Arch Toxicol (2013) 87:1739–1741.

Hans Muilerman works at PAN Europe and is based in Brussels.

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Victory for Elephants! Cambodia’s Largest Tourist Attraction Is Banning Cruel Elephant Rides.

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Victory for Elephants! Cambodia’s Largest Tourist Attraction Is Banning Cruel Elephant Rides

Posted by Carly Day | June 12, 2019

Victory for Elephants! Cambodia’s Largest Tourist Attraction Is Banning Cruel Elephant Rides

Image Credit: Moving Animals

After years of suffering, the elephants at Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia will no longer spend their lives in forced labor, traipsing along the unforgiving concrete carrying hordes of tourists in the scorching heat.

In what is a far cry from their arduous lives to date, the 14 elephants will be moved to a more natural setting to live in semi-retirement in a new center set up in a forested area with a stream, located in the Sotr Nikum district.

“In early 2020, our association plans to end the use of elephants to transport tourists,” said Oan Kiry, Director of the Angkor Elephant Group Committee. “They can still watch the elephants and take photos of them in our conservation and breeding center. We want the elephants to live in as natural a manner as possible.”

In 2016, one of the Angkor Wat elephants dropped dead while carrying tourists around the ancient temple complex. Sambo, a male in his forties, had been working for 40 minutes when he had a heart attack due to toiling in the extreme heat.

Cambodia’s wild and domesticated elephant populations have been decreasing over the last decade. Just 10 years ago, there were an estimated 200 domesticated elephants in the country; now, there are only 70. Wild numbers sit at around 500.

Elephant advocates applaud the decision to end riding and establish a conservation and breeding facility, but emphasize the importance of also protecting the country’s wild population.

“Cambodia could restore its domestic and wild elephant numbers by establishing centers and national parks for domestic elephants to live and breed naturally in, as well as provide sanctuaries for the protection of wild elephants,”  said WWF Cambodia Country Director, Seng Teak.

We are happy to see an end to elephant abuse at one of the biggest tourist attractions in Southeast Asia, and sincerely hope that the remaining domestic elephants in Cambodia are granted the same opportunity to live out their lives with dignity.

 

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Little Grey and Little White Have Now Begun Their Journey to Their New Sea Sanctuary.

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We covered the preparation work for the major shift a few months ago:

https://worldanimalsvoice.com/2019/04/05/beluga-whales-little-grey-and-little-white-moved-to-the-worlds-first-beluga-sanctuary-in-april-2019-confirmed/

https://worldanimalsvoice.com/2018/11/08/new-retirement-home-off-iceland-for-beluga-whales-used-in-entertainment-park-in-china/

 

Update 19/6/19:

 

Their journey back to the sea begins..

Hello Mark,

This is just a short email, but I wanted to keep you updated: Little White and Little Grey have started their 6000 mile journey back to the sea. These two whales, who have been exploited for years by SEA LIFE at their centre in Shanghai, will now finally have a chance at peace at a new sea sanctuary.

With your help we have been campaigning for these whales to be retired to a sanctuary for years and finally, SEA LIFE gave into pressure and have built this long-awaited haven for the whales in a bay in Iceland.

Read more about the whales and their sanctuary here:
www.freedomforanimals.org.uk/news/beluga-whales-start-6000-mile-journey-to-sanctuary

The 6000 mile journey will take place by air, sea and road, and will not be an easy one for the whales. But hopefully, it will all be worth it in the end when they make it back to the sea.

We will be anxiously monitoring the situation and will update you with any news we have as soon as possible. The best way to keep updated is to follow us on social media, where we can post more regular updates.

facebook.com/freedomforanimals
twitter.com/freeanimalsuk

The whales are so close to a life far, far away from the horrible concrete tank that held them for so long. We wish them all the luck and cannot wait to celebrate their arrival.

Thank you!

For Little White and Little Grey,

 

 

If This Photo Does Not Send A Message About Global Warming; Then What Does ? – Husky photograph reveals troubling reality of melting ice in Greenland.

Huskies pull scientists through waters standing on a 1.2m-thick ice sheet in Inglefield Bredning in north west Greenland

 

Husky photograph reveals troubling reality of melting ice in Greenland

 

Photo by climatologist Steffen Olsen taken on same day island lost 2 billion tonnes of ice amid high temperatures

An extraordinary photograph of huskies pulling sleds through ankle-deep meltwaters on top of an ice sheet in Greenland has brought attention to the uncharacteristically warm temperatures affecting the Arctic.

Danish climatologist Steffen M Olsen took the picture on 13 June while on a routine mission through the Inglefield Gulf in northwest Greenland.

The rapidly melting ice caused difficult and dangerous conditions for the team of climatologists who were retrieving weather station equipment from the area.

The thin layer of water was standing on top of an ice sheet around 1.2 metres deep, Dr Olsen said on Twitter.

“We know the ice is around 1.2m thick and that we have about 870m [of] water below us. Together with the local hunters we have been measuring also ice thickness from December to now. An ongoing activity for almost a decade now.”

Dr Olsen’s colleague Ruth Mottram, an expert on Greenland’s ice sheet, told The Independent the onset of unusually warm temperatures combined with very few cracks in the ice meant the rapid accumulation of meltwater was unable to drain through the solid sheet of ice.

She said along with local hunters who still live a traditional subsistence lifestyle in this region, climatologists from the Danmarks Meteorologiske Institut (DMI) had worked for several years to monitor ice and ocean conditions in Inglefield Bredning – a fjord in north western Greenland near the settlement of Qaanaaq.

She said: “In the project they place instruments on the sea ice that forms in the bay in winter each year and then retrieve them around about now in late spring/early summer before the sea ice breaks up, in order not to lose what are pretty expensive instruments into the ocean!

“This year the expedition to retrieve the instruments (by dog-sled, still the most practical way to get around in this region at this time of year) ran into a lot of standing water on the sea ice. The ice here forms pretty reliably every winter and is very thick which means that there are relatively few fractures for meltwater to drain through.

“Last week saw the onset of very warm conditions in Greenland and in fact much of the rest of the Arctic, driven by warmer air moving up from the south.”

She added: “The DMI weather station nearby at Qaanaaq airport registered a high of 17.3C on Wednesday and 15C on Thursday, which is pretty warm for Northern Greenland, even in summer!”

On Monday evening Dr Olsen wrote on Twitter the expedition to retrieve the instruments had been successful. “We managed to recover the remaining instruments so now to the data recovery and hopefully heading home in a couple of days,” he said.

Greenland is currently in the grip of near-record levels of ice melt, with the day Mr Olsen took the photograph – 13 June – seeing the country lose more than 2 gigatons (equal to 2 billion tons) of ice on that day alone.

The sudden spike in melting “is unusual, but not unprecedented”, Thomas Mote, a research scientist at the University of Georgia who studies Greenland’s climate, told CNN.

“It is comparable to some spikes we saw in June of 2012,” he said.

That year saw record-setting ice melt with almost the entire ice sheet experiencing melting for the first time in recorded history.

https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/husky-photograph-greenland-climate-change-melting-ice-photo-a8963466.html?amp=1

 

India: ‘Elephants screaming in agony’ as guides whipped them with bamboo canes at a Wildlife Reserve – Click on link for all photographs.

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https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7147157/Wildlife-photographer-47-says-saw-elephants-screaming-agony-wildlife-reserve-India.html

See all the photographs by clicking on the link above – WAV.

All photos – Mercury Press.

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Horrified wildlife photographer, 47, says he saw ‘elephants screaming in agony’ as guides whipped them with bamboo canes at a wildlife reserve in India

  • Photographer Norman Watson travelled to Bandhavgarh in India on holiday to take pictures of big cats
  • But he was shocked to find elephants being abused, chained up and beaten and used to carry several tourists
  • He has publishes shots of the experience and vowed not to return to India until the abuse has been stopped

 

A Scottish wildlife photographer has vowed never to return to India after allegedly witnessing the shocking abuse of elephants during a trip to a wildlife reserve.

Snapper Norman Watson, 47, claimed he was horrified to see guides whipping the gentle giants with 5ft bamboo canes and beating them, leaving them ‘screaming in agony’.

He also claims he spotted emaciated baby elephants chained to trees and in cages during the working holiday to Bandhavgarh – one of India’s most popular national parks, known for its tigers – to photograph the big cats.

Norman, from Aberdeen, said: ‘I felt so much anger, there were five people in the group and they witnessed it all, feeling the same as I do.

‘We were shocked.

‘The screams from the elephants when they were whipped put a shiver down my spine.

‘They were in so much distress they were weeing themselves – while we were about 100 metres away, screaming for this to stop.’

Norman visited the Bandhavgarh nature reserve in April this year to photograph wild tigers but felt compelled to share the elephant abuse he witnessed as he could not believe it was happening in an area popular with animal lovers.

He claims the guides, known as mahouts, repeatedly hit the elephants and whipped them with bamboo as they rode them – sometimes up to six people on an elephant at a time – and saw emaciated babies left chained up and in cages.

The irony that the guides abusing the elephants were responsible for leading the photographers to photograph the tigers to help preserve them was not lost on Norman, whose Facebook post has since gone viral on social media.

Norman said: ‘They should be banned from keeping any kind of animal and certainly not elephants, given other roles in the reserve that doesn’t cause animal abuse.

‘Elephants shouldn’t be taken from the wild or ridden by people. They should be given protection throughout Asia.

‘During one of the worst incidents we witnessed, we heard the elephant in distress really trumpeting.

‘There were two young elephants, about five years old, with their legs chained so close together they were actually hopping while trying to get away from a mahout beating them with a bamboo pole.

‘It escalated to one mahout pulling the elephants over with their tails while the other had a sharp hook over its ear.

‘They rolled it onto its side and beat it for about 10 minutes, only stopping because he was exhausted swinging the bamboo pole.’

Norman, who has travelled the world taking animal photos, said India was an otherwise great place to visit but he would not return to Bandhavgarh until the abuse stopped.

He said: ‘India was a great place, friendly people but I’ll not return to Bandhavgarh until this abuse has stopped.

‘Only people power can change wildlife abuse and animal cruelty!’             

 

 

 

Frederik, a transport victim with great luck!

 

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Germany, Lower Saxony: A piglet has managed to escape from an animal transporter at full speed on the A1 motorway in Lower Saxony.

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The animal not only survived the fall from the truck, it also gets a new home with an animal rights activist, as the police announced on Friday. How the little pig could get out of the hold of the transporter remained unclear.
During the trip, it fell out of the truck at about 80 to 90 kilometers per hour and overturned several times before it stopped next to the motorway.

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A car woman-driver driving behind the truck noticed the falling piglet and called the highway patrol. The animal rights activist turned at the next exit and took part in the search.

The pig was slightly injured in the fall. The truck driver did not limit the loss of the animal from his van, as a call to the transport company revealed. Because the return of the vice to retrieve the piglet would have been too great a burden for the other animals in the van, the company decided that the animal rights activist may keep the piglet.

https://www.wz.de/panorama/niedersachsen-ferkel-entkommt-aus-tiertransporter_aid-39021797

 

My comment: Frederik lives, as far as I am informed, today on the Farm Butenland, Germany, together with other animals, which are rescued from the same abovementioned similar cruel conditions and have a nice life there.
Frederik won 6 in the lottery and we wish him a long and healthy life !!

The last Video from Frederik`s new life, Hof Butenland

 

My best regards, Venus

 

USA: Fair Oaks Farm ARM Investigation – Extended Cut – 1 hour and 30 minutes.

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In early June we released the footage of undercover filming by ARM activists. Here is the link to our first report:

https://worldanimalsvoice.com/2019/06/12/fuck-fair-oaks-farms-and-coca-cola/

 

Here is the full extended (1 hour and 30 minutes) cut of the footage; a lot of which was not seen in the original.

 

See for yourself the treatment – ABUSE – of the young calves. Kicked; punched; hit it the face with branding irons; left to suffer and die alone without any medical attention or supervision.

Fair Life Milk Exposed | Operation Fair Oaks Farms Extended Cut | ARM Investigation | The Full Story

From the Animal Recovery Mission Website –
On June 4th, 2019, ARM released disturbing footage of one of its most grueling factory farm investigations to date. Initiating in 2018, an ARM undercover investigator captured surveillance evidence of the systematic and horrific animal abuse that is occurring at the Fair Oaks Farm’s

This place needs to close, and close now. All those involved with the cruelty shown must be made accountable and prosecuted under the full weight of the law.

We (WAV) have seen a lot of animal abuse in our time over the years; but we find the footage here; showing very young and vulnerable baby calves, particularly disturbing.

Watch, Repent and most importantly, Take Action to follow this up with the authorities.

This is what your pint of milk costs.  Cows milk is for baby calves, not humans.