21 July 2010

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

In your July 12 editorial “A Humane Egg,” you disparage the modern, sanitary housing systems for egg-laying hens, which have improved chickens’ health and well-being, improved consumer food safety and kept eggs a nutritious and economical staple on kitchen tables and restaurant menus nationwide.

These modern systems allow hens to stand up, turn around, lie down and walk to clean water and nutritious food troughs. Groups like the American Veterinary Medical Association support these modern egg-laying housing systems.

The California law adds an arbitrary and unscientific requirement that chickens be prohibited from touching one another or the side of any enclosure. Yet there is no scientific proof that the requirement will improve chicken well-being or food safety.

The new law will cost American family farmers, and ultimately California consumers, hundreds of millions of dollars.

Gene Gregory
President, United Egg Producers
Alpharetta, Ga., July 13, 2010

To the Editor:

Today tens of thousands of American farmers don’t even own the livestock they raise, and the conditions they raise animals in are dictated to them by a handful of extremely powerful companies that are concerned only with the bottom line.

So while The Times is to be commended for continuing to highlight the many terrible aspects of factory farms, including inhumane confinement practices, let’s not forget that because of the extraordinary consolidation and vertical integration of American agriculture over the last 60-plus years, American farmers are enduring extraordinary suffering as well.

Inhumane confinement, illegal anticompetitive practices and factory farming hurt animals, the environment, the consumer, the public health and the farmer. Reversing the agricultural trends of the last half century is a policy area where almost everyone’s interests are aligned.

Regina Weiss
Brooklyn, July 12, 2010

12 July 2010

Henry S. Salt (1851-1939) on Progress

Henry S. Salt (1851-1939) Does Vegetarianism progress? Yes and no, according to the expectations, reasonable and unreasonable, that its supporters have been cherishing. If we have fondly hoped to witness, in the near future, the triumph of the humaner living, it must be allowed that the actual rate of progress is extremely disheartening; but if, on the contrary, we work under a rational understanding that a widespread change of diet, like any other radical change, is a matter not of years but of centuries, then we shall not find in the slow growth of our movement any reason for dissatisfaction. Revolution in personal habits, be it remembered, is even more difficult than revolution in political forms, and needs a greater time for its fulfilment; and looked at in this light, Vegetarianism has made as much progress, during the past half-century, as any other cause which aims at so far-reaching a change.

(Henry S. Salt, The Logic of Vegetarianism: Essays and Dialogues [London: The Ideal Publishing Union, 1899], 114)

From Today's New York Times

A Humane Egg

The life of animals raised in confinement on industrial farms is slowly improving, thanks to pressure from consumers, animal rights advocates, farmers and legislators. In late June, a compromise was reached in Ohio that will gradually put an end to the tiny pens used for raising veal calves and holding pregnant sows, spaces so small the animals can barely move.

In California last week, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a law requiring that all whole eggs sold in the state conform to the provisions of Proposition 2, the humane farming law that was embraced by state voters in a landslide in 2008. By 2015, every whole egg sold in the state must come from a hen that is able to stretch her wings, standing or lying, without touching another bird or the edges of her cage. This requirement would at least relieve the worst of the production horrors that are common in the industry now.

Since California does not produce all the eggs it eats, this new law will have a wider effect on the industry; every producer who hopes to sell eggs in the state must meet its regulations.

Heartening as these developments are, there is also strong resistance from the food industry and from fake consumer-advocacy groups that are shilling for it.

In fact, there is no justification, economic or otherwise, for the abusive practice of confining animals in spaces barely larger than the volume of their bodies. Animals with more space are healthier, and they are no less productive.

Industrial confinement is cruel and senseless and will turn out to be, we hope, a relatively short-lived anomaly in modern farming.

01 July 2010


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