AWI Quarterly

Judge Strikes Down Phony "Dolphin-Safe" Label


Judge Strikes Down Phony "Dolphin-Safe" Label

On April 11, 2000, Judge Thelton Henderson of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco ruled against the blatant defrauding of consumers by the U.S. government. The judge struck down the new "dolphin-safe" label for canned tuna fish—a label that is distinctly dolphin unsafe. Judge Henderson questioned the diligence of the Department of Commerce in adequately studying the reason for the lack of recovery of several species of dolphins, hard hit for decades in the eastern tropical Pacific.

Despite the death of over seven million dolphins who were chased, exhausted and netted to catch the tuna schools beneath them, Secretary of Commerce William Daley made a preliminary finding last year that there was no proof that this technique of fishing caused "significant adverse impact." His finding triggered the release of a new, official Department of Commerce "dolphin-safe" label for canned tuna fish. The new label would have been used on cans of tuna caught by harassing dolphins. Judge Henderson essentially voided this fraud and sent the government back to the drawing board. His ruling came in the nick of time, with Mexico poised to flood the U.S. with tons of dolphin-deadly tuna.

Thanks to especially vocal consumers, all canned tuna now sold in the United States is caught without netting dolphins. All three major American tuna importers have vowed to continue the present definition of dolphin-safe and reject the phony label.


Photo, Spotted dolphins (Stenella attenuata) are one of the two species most heavily impacted by being chased and encircled by tuna nets in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean. (Psarakos/Earthtrust)

China's Torture Chambers

 

China's Torture Chambers

The results of an extensive undercover investigation into China's cruel bear bile farms by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) were revealed in a new report discussed at the recent meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Nairobi, Kenya.

WSPA's report, Inside China's Torture Chambers, documents how thousands of bears are kept in horrific conditions in hundreds of farms across China, producing approximately 7000 kg of bear bile every year for the traditional Chinese medicine market.

WSPA fears that China will apply to register some of its bear farms with CITES (none currently registered), thereby circumventing the existing international ban on trade in endangered bear parts. Bears from facilities approved by the CITES Secretariat can have their parts sold in global commercial trade while wild bears of the same species ostensibly are protected from such profitable exploitation. Such a move would hasten the demise of bears in the wild, with many taken from the wild each year to restock the farms, and encourage the continued development of this barbaric form of "farming."

The bears kept on these farms endure the most appalling levels of cruelty and neglect, with many wounded and scarred due to the friction caused by being kept in tiny metal cages suspended above the ground. They have no choice but to lie squashed in their cages on a bed of bars, some with a constant stream of bile seeping from their stomachs, where an open wound allows workers to insert a tube or piece of metal to "tap" the bile twice a day. Bears may stop producing bile after just a few years, after which they outlive their usefulness and are left to die or killed for their paws and gall bladders. A single bear paw may sell for several hundred dollars - almost a year's salary for the average worker in China.


Photo, Bile seeps from a bear's abdomen at a Chinese bear farm in Heilongchiang Province. (Fisherman/WSPA)

Random Source Dog and Cat Dealers Under the Microscope

ALTHOUGH NO ACTION WAS TAKEN on the Pet Safety and Protection Act in the last Congress, the Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations bill and the FARM bill were adopted; both include language regarding random source Class B dealers who sell dogs and cats for experimentation.

They call for an independent review by a panel of experts to determine how frequently animals sold by Class B dealers are used, and make recommendations regarding such use. In addition, the Agriculture Committee leadership in both the House and Senate called for a Government Accountability Office study on the subject.

In response to Congress's call for action, the National Academies Institute for Laboratory Animal Research (ILAR) formed a committee to "address the use of Class B dogs and cats in research funded by the National Institutes of Health." The 10-member committee representing a broad spectrum of individuals, from vocal opponents of Class B dealers to scientists who purchase and use such animals, is expected to issue its report this spring. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been tasked by Congress to review any recommendations proposed and report how they may be implemented to ensure compliance with the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).

Most of the committee's deliberations have been private, but during two half-day public sessions, an array of people spoke, including Cathy Liss of the Animal Welfare Institute. Liss provided a statement, showed footage from dealer premises, presented extensive documentation and answered questions based on her 28 years of random source dealer experience.

Two representatives from a licensed Class A dealer facility (a breeder of purpose-bred animals), gave an impressive presentation describing their ability to provide a wide variety of animals and services to the research industry. The breeding facility is able to meet the research demands for dogs and adapt as these needs change. Unlike random source dogs, the health status and genetic background of Class A animals is known.

Another detailed presentation was given by a genetic expert on cats from the National Cancer Institute's Laboratory of Genomic Diversity. He described how to breed cats to ensure genetic diversity, emphasizing that it can in fact be done.

The USDA's Animal Care staff gave two separate presentations and has submitted data to the committee. One chart notes that from November 2007 to November 2008, 2,863 dogs and 267 cats were sold by Class B dealers to research facilities. Currently, just 11 such dealers remain. Compared to historical figures, these numbers clearly represent a dying industry.

Recently, Animal Care has revised the manner in which it conducts tracebacks intended to assess the accuracy of dealer records identifying from whom they purchase their dogs and cats.

Tracebacks are an extensive and costly process, yet they cannot provide assurance that the dealers' transactions involving animals were legal. A significant loophole in the AWA is that any person who claims to have bred and raised a dog or cat can sell the animal for profit. Dealers can exploit this loophole knowing it is virtually impossible to disprove their claim.

The suggested machinations to tighten controls and provide oversight of Class B dealers are mind boggling. Based on the evidence provided, it seems inconceivable that the committee can justify a research need on scientific grounds to use any dogs and cats obtained from these dealers. While the vast majority of researchers get their animals from other sources, it is time for the foot-draggers to follow suit.

Dogs at a Class B dealer facility.

Ebola Strikes in Gabon

In the West African nations of Gabon and the Republic of Congo, at least 34 people have died in a recent outbreak of the Ebola virus. Gabon's border with the Republic of the Congo has been sealed off and similar restrictions are being placed on provinces within the country. While the death toll rises from this disease, which is estimated to kill 90 percent of its victims, rumors swirl about whether the infection is being spread by the consumption of meat from infected primates.

A dead monkey awaits the cooking pot in Gabon. (AP/Wide World Photos)

Authorities in Gabon have urged local villagers to abstain from eating bushmeat, but it is unclear whether this sage advice will be heeded. According to a recent Reuters report, a traditional Christmas meal in Gabon could include monkeys, chimpanzees, gazelles, or wild boar. Other mammals in Gabon that have been identified by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) as being in the commercial bushmeat trade include the mandrill, Moustached monkey, Black colobus, and Grey-cheeked mangabey.

The CITES Bushmeat Working Group meeting in Cameroon in January 2001 revealed that some 68 species were threatened in Gabon by poaching for the bushmeat trade. However, the infrastructure to combat this poaching does not exist: staff is inadequately trained and the ability to monitor protected areas is lacking. Enforcement of Gabon's ban on bushmeat hunting is poor, and villagers apparently continue to consume the flesh of these wild animals, despite the potentially grave risks.

The Ebola virus (Ebola hemorrhagic fever) is named after a river in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and can be spread through contact with an infected animal such as primates in Africa. According to the Centers for Disease Control, within a few days, patients may suffer flu-like symptoms. Within a week of infection, chest pain, shock, bleeding, blindness, and death may result.


2002-The International Year of Ecotourism

W e should all be lucky enough to experience the exhilaration of driving across the Maasai Mara land in Kenya and seeing a cheetah on the hunt; the surprise of seeing minke whales surface around a boat on a brisk afternoon whale-watching adventure off the coast of Maine; the haunting sounds of the morning calls of endangered lemurs in Madagascar (the indri) from high in the rainforest's treetops; the awesome magnitude of Victoria Falls, dividing Zimbabwe and Zambia, and whitewater rafting down the Zambezi river; or watching vibrantly colored toucans eating bananas from a nearby tree while drinking your morning coffee in Costa Rica.

"Ecotourism"-adventurous travels based on the splendors of the natural world, including wildlife and wild places-is a vital part of the conservation of the environment and the animal species living within it. It is also a fundamental mechanism to assist local communities in their economic development by bringing in foreign visitors, and foreign dollars, to these indigenous peoples. This is why it is so important that the United Nations (UN) declared 2002 the "International Year of Ecotourism."

The UN Resolution making the declaration notes "that travel and tourism provide a source of income for many people," and "that travel and tourism contribute to the conservation, protection and restoration of the Earth's ecosystem." After agriculture, tourism is the biggest benefactor to the development of Kenya's economy. Wildlife-viewing safaris bring about one million visitors to the country annually. Whale-watching alone is thought to bring in a total of more than one billion dollars to the economies of 80 countries across the globe.

A toucan eats a morning breakfast of bananas at La Laguna del Lagarto Lodge in northern Costa Rica near the Nicaraguan border. (Ben Dykes/Born Free Foundation)


But ecotourism must be responsible tourism. On Cat Ba Island in Vietnam, for instance, the near extinct Cat Ba, or golden-headed langur, clings to life (this primate was featured on the cover of the Fall 2001 AWI Quarterly). More than 70,000 tourists visit the island each year and while tourism supports the local economy, it also leads to difficulties in waste disposal, which fouls the natural environment, as well as increased pressures to build intrusive roads and bridges to accommodate the visitors. As well, Tilo Nadler of the Endangered Primate Rescue Center in Vietnam reports, "The tourist demand for wild-animal meat increases the hunting pressure inside the national park; the collection of geckoes, snakes, frogs...." Some restaurants in town offer wild animal meat from macaques, civets, birds, and other animals.

Tour operators must tread lightly on the lands used by wildlife and international visitors. It's important to be respectful when watching wildlife and not interfere in their natural way of life. Heed the motto: "Take only photographs; leave only footprints."

Perhaps 2002 is the year for you to visit Kenya's elephants, Costa Rica's black howler monkeys, or any of the other amazing wild animals and places around the globe.

Saying Goodbye and a Profound Thank You to Astrid Lindgren

Astrid Lindgren, an author of original genius whose appeal was worldwide, has died at 94. She will be mourned by all who seek to protect the billions of animals in animal factories. When she was awarded the Animal Welfare Institute's Albert Schweitzer Medal in 1988 Ambassador Wachtmeister said, "In Sweden, she is not only the most famous lady, she is the most beloved. I am sure that if the animals could vote, the majority would be still greater in her favor."

Astrid Lindgren looking at
her Schweitzer Medal.


Her books were translated into 60 languages, and more than 130 million copies were sold. Most famous were her stories of tales about Pippi Longstocking, which she made for her young daughter while nursing her through pneumonia. Then while Astrid herself was confined to her bed by a badly sprained ankle, she wrote them down.

Astrid led the way in forthright correspondence with the Prime Minister. Her letters were always printed in Stockholm's biggest newspaper, Expressen-later they were published by AWI in English. Astrid tells of her family's herd of cows who grazed happily on their lush green pasture. When Astrid was a small child, Bessie, one of the cows, lifted Astrid upon her horns and tossed her across the grass toward the farm house. Far from being frightened, this early experience led Astrid to fiercely defend cows and attack industrial dairy farming, in which cows are confined to stalls year round rather than being allowed outside to eat the grass in summer.

In accepting the Schweitzer Medal Astrid said, "almost 80 years later [after being tossed by Bessie], I wrote an article about cows. About how dreary the life of a cow could be nowadays. A cow didn't get to graze anymore, her calf was taken from her as soon as it was born, and, worst of all, she could no longer be courted by an interested bull. The inseminator came instead, and that was not the same.

"After that article I got a letter from a female veterinarian, Kristina Forslund. She was-and still is-a docent at the Swedish University of Agriculture. She described her experiences as a veterinarian, with full insight in our animal husbandry, and it was a harrowing account about indecent treatment of animals. She succeeded in making me so upset that even now, three years later, I still haven't gotten over it. Kristina asked me to help her in her struggle to bring about better animal husbandry. She thought-optimist that she is-that everyone would listen to me. At any rate we managed to rouse a massive public reaction, which finally resulted in a new animal protection law in Sweden.  The Prime Minister himself came to my home to deliver the good news. The new law was supposed to be a kind of birthday present for me! Goodness gracious, what a wonderful present! But it turned out not to be that wonderful-not on every point-not for all animals. There is a great deal more that must be changed, before one can lean back and relax!

Swedish children dressed for the Feast of St. Lucia join Astrid in singing some of the many songs she wrote.


"And that is one of the reasons I am so happy to receive this medal. It gives me the guts to continue the struggle! The struggle, yes indeed. There are reactionaries back home, you know, they don't want any changes. It is impossible, they say. It is too expensive they say. But let us hope that we one day can get an animal protection law as kind and decent as people in other countries believe that we already have.

"For your help and encouragement, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

"I am sure that all Swedish cows and bulls and calves and pigs and sheep and chickens and hens are joining me when I say it once more!

"Thank you!"


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