AWI Quarterly » 2016 Summer

Summer 2016 AWI Quarterly Cover - Photo by Mike Suarez
Summer 2016 Volume 65 Number 2
The US Department of Agriculture hearing against Santa Cruz Biotechnology, Inc. (SCBT), scheduled for early April, has been pushed back to August 15—the fourth time over the past two years that the hearing on SCBT’s alleged egregious violations of the Animal Welfare Act has been delayed.
In the last 20 years, law enforcement, policymakers, health care professionals, and the general public have become more aware of the significant link between animal abuse and child abuse. As with domestic violence, animal abuse often occurs in the same households as child abuse. But there is another troubling connection: Animal abuse is one of the first signs of antisocial behavior in a child.
Participants in the first animal cruelty prosecution training conference hosted by AWI and the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys in 2009 came looking for guidance—and like-minded souls. They included individuals who had volunteered to take on their offices’ animal cruelty cases—generally not very sought-after assignments at the time. In fact, one senior district attorney was dismissively referred to as “the puppy prosecutor” by some judges.
Since the national organic regulations went into effect in 2001, AWI has called on the US Department of Agriculture and the National Organic Standards Board to establish animal welfare requirements for producers that are certified organic via the National Organic Program.
In 2011, after several reports of animals shipped from the United States dying during arduous journeys overseas, AWI petitioned the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to improve its live animal export regulations.
Poultry engineered to quickly grow freakishly large is a big welfare problem in animal agriculture. So it was good news when Global Animal Partnership (GAP), a third-party animal welfare rating system for food, recently announced that it will require slower growth-rate genetics for all chickens raised under its program.
AWI’s report, The Welfare of Birds at Slaughter in the United States, describes the results of the first-ever survey of federal government oversight of the manner in which birds raised for meat and eggs are treated at the time of slaughter. It is based on federal food inspection documents produced by the USDA between 2006 and 2014.
The food industry impacts almost every sector of society. When food is produced irresponsibly, it can negatively impact workers, animals, and the environment. Animals are intensively confined by the billions, natural resources are polluted and expunged to feed the animals and ourselves, and workers throughout the food supply chain are exploited for paltry wages.
Laying hens belong on pasture where they can spend their day exploring and scratching in the grasses for insects, dust-bathing in the earth, stretching their wings, socializing with other hens, and basking in the sun. Although the vast majority of laying hens are still confined in row after row of cramped, barren “battery” cages stacked one on top of the other, an industry transformation is underway.
AWI joined forces in April with Wild Earth Guardians and the Center for Biological Diversity in filing a petition with the National Marine Fisheries Service to list the Taiwanese humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensis taiwanensis), under the US Endangered Species Act.
In early April, the US National Marine Fisheries Service proposed designating the Sakhalin Bay-Amur River population of beluga whales in Russia as “depleted” under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA).
Despite its own large fishing industry, the United States is one of the world’s top seafood importing countries, and imports of Icelandic seafood products have been on the rise. By 2014, nearly 32 percent of haddock and 8 percent of cod produced by Iceland was being exported to the United States. Unfortunately, some of the companies sending that seafood have corporate ties to Icelandic whalers.
Norway has seen a continuous drop in demand for whale meat for several years, yet it continues to set quotas and kill whales in defiance of the commercial whaling moratorium established by the International Whaling Commission (IWC). In fact, over the past decade, Norway has killed more whales than either Japan or Iceland; over the past two years, it has killed more whales than Iceland and Japan combined.
On March 17, 2016, SeaWorld made a paradigm-shifting announcement. The company will end its captive breeding program for orcas. This policy will extend to all its parks, existing and planned, domestic and abroad. The orcas currently held by SeaWorld will be the last orcas held by SeaWorld.1