08 February 2011

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Mark Bittman wants to outlaw confined livestock feeding operations because, he says, they harm the environment, torture animals and make meat less safe (“A Food Manifesto for the Future,” column, Feb. 2).

We take issue with him on all three points.

Yes, there were a couple of highly publicized manure spills involving hog farms in the mid-1990s. But pork producers have made changes to assure that they won’t be repeated. If they are, producers are subject to fines up to $37,500 per day under tough new federal regulations.

Modern livestock housing is temperature-controlled, well lighted and well ventilated. It keeps animals safe and comfortable and protects them from predators and disease. That’s why the incidence of key food-borne illnesses in this country is going down, not up.

As for “sustainable” alternatives, perhaps they can produce enough meat for the wealthy, but not for a world population that is growing and demanding more protein.

Randy Spronk
Chairman, Environment Committee
National Pork Producers Council
Edgerton, Minn., Feb. 4, 2011

04 February 2011

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “A Food Manifesto for the Future” (column, Feb. 2):

Let us give thanks for Mark Bittman! He is speaking sensibly about one of the most important issues we face as a nation. Better food creates better health. And yet our government is perversely encouraging food habits that negatively affect our health and our environment.

His call for the end of factory farms (concentrated animal feeding operations) is courageous. But the vested interests are very strong, and consumers have become accustomed to artificially low prices for meat.

When we understand that these prices require “torturing animals,” we will begin to change this system and also improve our diets. His new column offers hope for animals and help for people.

Ken Swensen
Pound Ridge, N.Y., Feb. 2, 2011

Note from KBJ: Only someone who doesn't understand torture could think that meat production involves torture. Torture is the deliberate (not merely intentional) infliction of severe pain for the purpose of (1) punishing an offender, (2) securing a confession from a criminal suspect, (3) eliciting information, or (4) gratifying the sadistic desires of the torturer. Meat production may be cruel or inhumane, but it is not, literally, torturous.

01 February 2011


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