30 September 2007

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Let the East Bloom Again,” by Richard T. McNider and John R. Christy (Op-Ed, Sept. 22):

The solution to scarcity of water in the United States could be solved rather quickly if more people became vegetarians.

Just think of the savings in water use if we didn’t have the need to raise millions of animals for human consumption!

On top of that, think of the growth of a healthier and slimmer population that wasn’t burdened by the costs of poor health brought on by animal consumption.

Roy Esiason
Granville, N.Y., Sept. 22, 2007

28 September 2007

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Antibiotic Runoff” (editorial, Sept. 18):

As a microbiologist, I know that study after study has highlighted the human health threat from using antibiotics as feed additives for hogs, chickens and cattle, creating super-bugs—bacteria that no longer can be treated with antibiotics. While some chicken producers and poultry purchasers have taken steps to reduce antibiotic use, the hog industry remains largely resistant to change.

To address this problem, I have introduced the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (H.R. 962), which would phase out antibiotics use in livestock for growth or preventative purposes unless manufacturers could prove that such uses don’t endanger public health. It also provides money to help farmers adopt alternative approaches to preventing illness among their herds, like cleaner housing and natural supplements.

The American Medical Association, the Infectious Disease Society of America and the American Academy of Pediatrics are among the more than 350 health, agriculture and other groups nationwide that have endorsed this bill. To preserve the effectiveness of our antibiotics, all meat producers need to back away from the overuse of drugs.

Louise M. Slaughter
Member of Congress, 28th District, New York
Washington, Sept. 20, 2007

22 September 2007

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

I applaud “Antibiotic Runoff,” your Sept. 18 editorial about the abuse of antibiotics in industrial hog farms. It not only brings light to a serious issue, but also begins to make the connection between factory farm practices and consumer choices.

Farmers of hogs and all other types of food employ such indefensible methods not because they are cruel or irresponsible, but because for decades their consumers have demanded that the food they produce be cheap and abundant.

The legislative and regulatory remedies you suggest are valid, but they will not solve the problem alone. Eliminating factory farms and the like will happen only when a majority of consumers recognize their shared responsibility for the food system and start paying farmers a fair price.

Lisa M. Hamilton
Mill Valley, Calif., Sept. 18, 2007

21 September 2007

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Drummer Denies He Intentionally Spooked Horse That Died” (news article, Sept. 16):

As a New Yorker who cringes with disgust and shame every time I pass an overloaded horse-drawn carriage dragging tourists around the streets of this horribly congested city, I was shocked and appalled by yet another incident leading to the death of an innocent animal.

The recent report by the New York City comptroller points out the absolute failure of city agencies to protect these indentured slaves. Horse-drawn carriages in today’s congested cities are an absurd anachronism, as demonstrated by the frequent incidents of “spooked horses.”

For years, the public has had to endure tragic accidents, heat prostration, deaths and severe injuries to both people and horses. It’s time to put aside foolish romantic notions and reject the demands of a self-serving industry.

Thousands of New Yorkers and visitors have signed petitions demanding an end to the senseless tragedies and inhumane treatment of these gentle giants. Shame on Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the City Council for ignoring the plight of these horses.

Zelda Penzel
New York, Sept. 16, 2007

18 September 2007

Industrial Agriculture

The wrongness of factory farming is overdetermined. See here for one sufficient ground. By the way, the editorial board of the New York Times is progressive (as opposed to conservative). Why does it not call for the abolition of factory farming? Instead, it seeks to reform it. Animal rights is neither progressive nor conservative. Think of all the progressives—Michael Moore, for example—who either eat meat or go out of their way to ridicule vegetarians. (Moore looks like he has eaten one too many hamburgers.) Many progressives care only about human beings. Many conservatives care about animals as well as human beings. Why animal rights is considered a progressive cause is mind-boggling.

12 September 2007

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Audit Criticizes City on Care of Carriage Horses” (news article, Sept. 6):

While it’s commendable to finally see an official acknowledgment of the hideous conditions in which the carriage horses are forced to exist, the suggested remedies would just be a Band-Aid for an inherently inhumane situation.

No amount of regulation, advisory panel oversight or coordination by city agencies will change the fact that those horses are tired and broken, and their needs are not being met.

Now that the carriage industry is being held under a microscope, it’s clear that it puts a black mark on the city. There is only one way to avoid future noncompliance and free city resources that are already spread too thin—institute a ban.

Jackie Vergerio
Portsmouth, Va., Sept. 6, 2007

Note from KBJ: I couldn't resist highlighting the metaphors.

11 September 2007

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “The School Cafeteria, on a Diet” (Business Day, Sept. 5):

While we need to ensure that healthier foods are sold in vending machines and served during school celebrations, parents should also know that the “strict nutrition standards” that govern federally subsidized school lunch programs still fall short of being truly healthy for children.

The United States Department of Agriculture purchases food, including high-fat meat and dairy products, under the direction of Congress based on agricultural surpluses and price support activities to help American agriculture producers.

These products are then dumped into schools as part of the National School Lunch program. High-fat, cholesterol-laden chicken nuggets and burgers meet requirements set by the U.S.D.A. in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and schools can be reimbursed for selling them.

But like sodas and sugary snacks, meat and dairy products also play a role in our children’s expanding waistlines. The cheeseburgers and meat tacos our children eat at school also deserve our full attention.

Dulcie Ward
Washington, Sept. 6, 2007
The writer is a staff dietitian at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

06 September 2007

Raw Milk

Have you heard of the raw-milk movement? See here.

02 September 2007