A USTR factsheet on "U.S. Pork Industry & Trade" cheers America's annual export of over 700 thousand metric tons of pork, valued at more than $1.5 billion. This, claims USTR, generates "wealth and create[s] good paying jobs that contribute significantly to the economic well-being of rural America." But American family farmers don't benefit; it's the corporate agribusinesses that dominate the domestic and foreign markets, subjecting pigs to intensive confinement.
"Free" trade isn't free for small-scale family farmers. Reducing trade barriers facilitates the flow of cheap pork products from animal factories.
USTR is brazenly using the Central America Free Trade Agreement to eliminate the "sanitary barriers" that contribute to American pork exports from being restricted in the region. "Sanitary" measures are rules on food safety to prevent the spread of diseases and toxins, through the food supply.
USTR is also trying to undermine "China's zero tolerance on pathogens (listeria and salmonella) in raw meat."
"Opening the Australian market for U.S. pork exports is a priority for the Bush Administration," says USTR. The U.S. won't let food safety issues interfere with our ability to flood a market with cheap hog factory pork: "Australia has sanitary/animal health barriers that keep imported pork out. USTR is pushing the Australian government to develop a new, science-based pork import policy." Rather than improve our food safety, the U.S. wants to force other nations to lower their standards. When scientific findings are not suitable to USTR, we simply challenge those findings as not being based on sound science.
EATING APES By Dale Peterson; photographs and Afterward by Karl Ammann; University of California Press Berkeley, California 2003; ISBN: 0-520-23090-6; 333 pages, $24.95
Eating Apes by Dale Peterson is well written in a comfortable style. This excellent and easy to read prose contrasts with the disturbing facts it presents of the ongoing genocides motivated by western civilization's penchant for greed and power. When you consider that indigenous human peoples of Africa have shared the forests with our fellow apes for thousands of years without destroying each other, it is easy to determine who is responsible for this disaster. Consider the fact that our western civilization has yet to come across a people (ape or otherwise) who have lived in harmony with nature and who we have not destroyed. This book chronicles the latest such destruction with regard to chimpanzees, gorillas, and the human forest foragers, as well as the forest in which they live.
Peterson's book with Karl Ammann's "Afterward" creates a bold and brave j'accuse of the logging and conservation organizations that are spearheading this latest attack. The uplifting part of the book is Karl Ammann's story of uncompromising ethics and an amazing dedication to bringing the bushmeat crisis to the world's attention. The apes are indeed fortunate to have a person of Ammann's character befriend them. Ammann's photographs are haunting and make statements that an entire book could not begin to express.
In addition to Ammann's story, there is the story of a former hunter, Joseph Melloh, which serves to give the hunters a face and humanity that can be understood and even forgiven. What cannot be understood or forgiven is the "Feel Good Conservation" rubbish provided by the logging companies and some of the conservation organizations to exploit this crisis for their own gains.
Whereas Peterson's bravery and Ammann's amazing dedication will make you feel proud to be a human, the actions of the conservation organizations selling out to the logging companies will make you ashamed and angry. You must read this book. And then you must follow the advice of Peterson and Ammann as to what you can do to help stop it. Finally, you must act now, because there is very little time left for our kin in the forests. —Roger Fouts
for bea By Kristin von Kreisler; Foreword by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson; Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam New York, NY 2003; ISBN: 1-58542-222-3; 192 pages, $19.95
At too many experimental laboratories that house dogs, you will see individual dogs who are huddled and trembling at the back of their cages, their heads are held low and their tails are tucked tightly beneath them. These poor souls, visibly traumatized by their situation, are terrified of every person who enters the room and every sound and activity that goes on around them. These animals, clearly unable to cope with the laboratory environment, shouldn't be there.
For Bea is the true story of one such dog, a beagle who escaped from a research facility and, aided by the compassion and patience of her new human companions, healed from the psychological damage inflicted upon her. Written by Kristin Von Kreisler about her beloved dog, the reader follows the painstaking transformation of Bea from mental wreck to grand dame of the house.
One of my favorite chapters is titled, "The Battle of Bea's Bulge." There are lots of dogs who love to eat to the point that you worry that, given the obsession and the opportunity, they would consume themselves to oblivion. The traumatized Bea was gaunt, but her rescue and healing yielded a figure that was dangerously overweight. To her chagrin, Bea was put on a diet. She rebelled by eating anything in sight, including papers from the trash can, the fuzz from tennis balls, the wicker off her own bed, and finally the padding from under a rug. Following the consumption of the padding and a trip to the veterinarian, a truce was reached in which Bea was given more food and she stopped eating non-food items.
The book, a quick read, is a heartwarming account sure to be enjoyed by anyone who has shared a special bond with a dog and will be particularly appreciated by those who at one time or another have had a beagle companion. —Cathy Liss
Tony Renger practices what he preaches, getting up close and personal with the pigs at Willow Creek Farm. Diane Halverson/AWI
Tony and Sue Renger and their three children live in the Baraboo Hills of southwestern Wisconsin, close to urban and rural customers who appreciate the Rengers' humane pig husbandry. Their Willow Creek Farm (WCF) products are sold to chefs in Madison, at farmers markets, and in small town delicatessens. AWI is pleased to announce that the Rengers have become the first family complying with AWI husbandry standards to market directly to their customers. Here, in their own words, the family describes their principled approach to raising pigs:
When we first decided to raise hogs we felt it had to be in the manner my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather raised their hogs with access to the natural surroundings. As we designed our operation utilizing the methods of the past it dovetailed perfectly with the humane methods that the AWI supports.
We believe that those involved with raising animals for meat production have a moral obligation to see that their animals have a natural and comfortable existence. One of our greatest pleasures in farming is to watch our pigs frolic on the pasture and to see that they truly enjoy their surroundings. We give them the opportunity to make their own choices, whether going inside a shelter or outdoors or playing in the straw bedding, running up in the pasture, or making mudholes. It's really just the right thing to do.
Some of the stores refer to us as "cruelty-free" farmers and educate their customers concerning the choices they can make when buying meat. Customers are excited to purchase meat from pigs raised in a sustainable and humane manner, to support a small family farm, to know where their food comes from and what's in it. At farmers markets, vegetarians often will buy products from us to serve to their non-vegetarian friends and family just because of the way we raise our animals.
At WCF, we strive to form a relationship with consumers in order to make the food system more local, safe, and sustainable. We feel that by raising our hogs humanely and in a sustainable manner we are working with the natural rhythm of the seasons and the land. Growing the corn and wheat straw on our land and returning manure to the fields for fertilizer creates a circle of fertility that we believe is one of the foundations of good husbandry, both of our hogs and our land.
he U.S. Congress is currently engaged in a two-pronged attack against the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), one of our most important animal protection laws.
The House of Representatives' version of a Department of Defense (DOD) authorization bill, currently pending in a conference committee (where the House and Senate resolve differences in the bill), would allow for broad exemptions from the law not only to the military but to anyone else, including researchers, fishermen, and defense contractors.
DOD wants to change the MMPA definition of "harassment" radically. Rather than referring to activities that injure, torment, or disrupt marine mammals' behavior, the change would mean that only activities causing "biologically significant disruption" would be curtailed. This level of substantiation is very difficult to ascertain, and switches the burden of proof to the government, which would need to show that the disruption was "biologically significant" before protecting marine mammals.
Another recommended change would eviscerate the MMPA further by removing the two primary limitations on the granting of "incidental take" permits: the requirement that the take be geographically limited and that the numbers of creatures affected be small. This would enable the Navy, or any other permit applicant, to kill or injure huge numbers of marine mammals across the oceans with impunity. This one change in language would virtually destroy the ability of the MMPA to protect marine mammals from being harmed or killed incidentally in fisheries, scientific research, and the deployment of devices such as active sonar and air-guns. Some of the impetus for these proposed changes stem from the Navy's desire to deploy its Low Frequency Active sonar over 80% of the world's oceans, potentially slaughtering broad swaths of whales, dolphins and fish with its ear-shattering 234 decibels.
Meanwhile, a bill to reauthorize the MMPA itself (H.R. 2693) has been introduced by the Chairman of the House Resources Committee, Richard Pombo (R-CA) and the Chairman of the Committee's Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans Subcommittee, Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD). This bill also would amend the MMPA by changing the definition of harassment and weakening the restrictions concerning the "incidental taking" of marine mammals.
Members of Congress should see through these underhanded attempts to weaken protection for marine mammals. Urge your legislators to reject the DOD's unnecessary requests for exemptions from the MMPA and to oppose the Gilchrest/Pombo bill as currently drafted. (Click here for addresses to Congress.)