AWI Quarterly

Elephant Seals Hot Iron Branded

 

Hot iron branding has caused terrible pain to animals, both wild and domestic. Photographs of branded elephant seals, with hot iron brand marks covering a significant part of the animals' sides (both sides so scientists can read the number easily) were published in the Sydney, Australia Mercury.

According to the March 29th Mercury, "The evidence collected shows the brands have created large weeping and infected wounds on many seals." The Parks and Wildlife Director, Max Kitchell, said, "a significant number of seals were left with horrific injuries which could be life-threatening."

The brandings, part of a 10 year population study, have now been mercifully stopped by the Macquarie Island government.

Animal Dealers Arrested and Convicted

Special Agents of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Law Enforcement Division perform invaluable services in capturing criminal animal dealers and following each case to its conclusion. "Operation Chameleon" has resulted in the conviction of over 20 smugglers and reptile dealers in three countries. In 1992, a major Florida reptile dealer, Tom Crutchfield, was arrested and convicted.

Meantime, the prestigious San Diego Zoo had been augmenting its collection through trafficking in rare and endangered reptiles. Earl Thomas Schultz, former Curator of Reptiles, admitted he had misappropriated more than $100,000 of the zoo's money, but used it to "the zoo's benefit and to enhance its reptile collection. Much of the money was used for gifts to dealers." According to The San Diego Union Tribune, "He conducted all transactions in cash, some of which he kept at home." Schultz testified, "I was following directions… I did not take [the money] from the San Diego Zoo."

The Special Agents of FWS Law Enforcement Division have earned the appreciation of all of us who strive to protect endangered species, and they deserve strong support from the Congress and the Administration.

Humane Slaughter Act Resolution Introduced

In 1958, Senator Hubert Humphrey and Congressman W.R. Poage shepherded the Humane Slaughter Act through the national legislative process. Over forty years later, with great disappointment, it is increasingly evident that the law is being flouted at large slaughter plants across the country. Today, corporate slaughter lines move with such rapidity that every animal cannot be stunned properly and rendered unconscious before being hoisted by a hind leg, violently skinned and brutally dismembered.

To address this horrifying situation, Senator Peter G. Fitzgerald (R, IL) has sponsored a concurrent resolution "Expressing the sense of the Congress that the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act of 1958 should be fully enforced so as to prevent the needless suffering of animals."

Although enacted over forty years ago, public interest over this issue still runs high today. In April, a Washington Post investigative report entitled "Modern Meat/A Brutal Harvest," revealed that there are "repeated violations of the Humane Slaughter Act at dozens of slaughterhouses" and that USDA inspectors have little support from USDA in enforcing the law. According to the paper, "the USDA has stopped tracking the number of violations and dropped all mentions of humane slaughter from its list of rotating tasks for inspectors." Senator Fitzgerald, in his statement on the Senate floor, lamented the practical impact of the USDA's futility in inspecting facilities and recording violations: "This is simply unacceptable. We cannot manage nor regulate what we do not monitor nor measure."

Thus, S. Con. Res. 45 requests that Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman fully enforce the 1958 law to prevent needless animal suffering, resume tracking Humane Slaughter Act violations and report the USDA's findings to Congress annually. It further reiterates, "it should be the policy of the United States that the slaughtering of livestock and the handling of livestock in connection with slaughter shall be carried out only by humane methods." Representatives Constance Morella (R, MD) and Elton Gallegly (R, CA) have introduced a companion resolution in the House of Representatives, H. Con. Res. 175.

During the Congressional deliberations on the original humane slaughter bill in the '50s, Congressman Poage noted that the meat packing industry, "up until a few months ago [had] done practically nothing to meet the requirement of human kindness, and even decency in the slaughtering of animals." It's truly sad that Congress has to remind the USDA and slaughterhouse industry again of the need for basic compassion. The cruelty inflicted on animals in 2001 is even worse than it was when Poage lamented.

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)

rBGH Reconsidered

 

By Chris Bedford

Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) was the first genetically engineered food product to be sold in the United States. Approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration on November 5, 1994, rBGH has played a significant role in the industrialization of dairy production which has serious implications for animal welfare and poses a serious health threat to consumers. In the last year, new information has come to light on rBGH which raises important questions about the efficacy and the ethics of the FDA approval process itself.

What it does

rBGH, also known as BST (for Bovine Somatotropin) and Posilac (Monsanto's product name), is injected by needle into cows every two weeks to increase individual animal milk production (by weight) from 10 to 15 percent. rBGH can extend lactation periods for up to three times their normal length. The current rBGH record is 1,374 days of milk production during a single lactation.

Bovine growth hormone (BGH) is a normal product of the pituitary gland of cows. rBGH, a synthetic version of BGH, is produced by snipping a piece of cow DNA that carries the code for (r)BGH and inserting it into the DNA of e-coli bacteria.

The unnatural extension of lactation produced by rBGH severely affects the cow by doubling the metabolic stress from the onset of lactation and draining her of needed nutrients, particularly calcium. Use of rBGH also stimulates production of another bovine hormone, Insulin Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1) by up to 80%. In turn, IGF-1 is secreted into the milk in increased levels.  

The increased stress combined with the presence of IGF-1 increases the frequency of clinical mastitis, a very painful condition of the cow's udder. The warning label on Monsanto's Posilac explicitly states, "Cows injected with Posilac are at increased risk for clinical mastitis." Increased incidence of mastitis, in turn, necessitates increased use of antibiotics which can pass through to the milk. Currently, only four out of 82 commercially used antibiotics are tested for on a regular basis. A Wall Street Journal investigation found 20% of milk tested had illegal antibiotics present. Other studies have found 38% higher levels. These antibiotics can contribute to antibiotic resistance in human consumers.

The increased stress combined with IGF-1, a known human health hazard, is at the center of the new information. The Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) approval is based on an assertion that BST and IGF-1 is destroyed by the pasteurization process.

But normal pasteurization heats milk to 168 degrees for 15 seconds to destroy bacteria and other contaminants. The FDA approval study, conducted by a Canadian undergraduate named Paul Groenewegen from Guelph, Canada, cooked the milk for 30 minutes, one hundred and twenty times longer than commercial production practice. According to Groenewegen, only 19% of the rBGH and IGF-1 were destroyed in the FDA study's extended pasteurization process, not the 90% claimed by the agency.

In addition, activist Robert Cohen has uncovered information that suggests that Monsanto's rBGH formula approved and tested by the FDA was different from the one now on the market. If this is true, it makes the entire FDA approval process invalid. Small family dairy farmers, animal welfare activists, environmentalists, consumers and others have focused on this improper approval process in an effort to have Posilac withdrawn from the market.

rBGH in the European Union

In November, 1999, the European Commission adopted a measure that would permanently ban the use of rBGH in Europe. This action, announced by Commissioner David Byrne before a European Parliament hearing on November 24, 1999, represents the final act of a six-year struggle over rBGH use.

On December 20, 1994, the European Commission prohibited the marketing and use of rBGH, also in the European Union until December 31, 1999. The prohibition was enacted to give two EC scientific advisory bodies time to study the impact of rBGH use on animal welfare and public health. One of those committees, the Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare, examined the effects of rBGH use on (1) the incidence of mastitis and other disorders in dairy cows and (2) the overall effect of rBGH use on dairy production.

On March 10, 1999, the Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare issued a 90-page report that concluded, "BST (rBGH) use causes a substantial increase in levels of foot problems and mastitis and leads to injection site reactions in dairy cows. These conditions, especially the first two, are painful and debilitating, leading to significantly poorer welfare in the treated animals. Therefore from the point of view of animal welfare, including health, the Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare is of the opinion that BST should not be used in dairy cows."

Monsanto, with support from the U.S. government, sought to counter these European actions by having the rBGH ban declared an illegal restraint of trade under GATT. But before such a charge could be brought under the treaty, international standards for rBGH use had to be established. On June 30, 1999, the Codex Alimentarius Commission, meeting in Rome, Italy failed to agree on an international standard for the Maximum Residue Level (MRL) for rBGH in milk. This ruling effectively stopped the GATT complaint by the United States and gave a green light to bans on rBGH by individual countries and the European Union.

Right now, rBGH is licensed for use only in Mexico, the United States and South Africa.

--Small family dairy farmers, animal welfare activists, environmentalists, consumers and others have focused on this improper approval process in an effort to have rBGH withdrawn from the market.


Photo, rBGH makes cows extremely susceptible to mastitis infections.  Note the enormously enlarged udder and the cow's depressed demeanor.

WTO and Sea Turtles Clash Again and Again

Turtles symbolize the over-reaching impact of globalization and the corporate usurpation of "free trade." This, after the Animal Welfare Institute led protestors through the streets of Seattle, Washington and Washington, DC in public demonstration against the damaging application of the World Trade Organization's (WTO's) obscure trade rules on animal welfare, conservation and environmental legislation.

US law requires shrimp trawlers to employ turtle-excluder devices (TEDs), which prevent turtles from drowning in shrimp nets. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) estimates "that TEDs are effective at excluding up to 97% of sea turtles" from shrimp nets.

No shrimp may be imported into America from countries not certified as having sound comparable regulatory policies involving the use of TEDs by shrimp trawlers, unless shrimp harvesting does not involve sea turtles. This TEDs law was challenged by India, Malaysia, Pakistan and Thailand in 1996 as an unfair barrier to free trade.

Article XX of the 1994 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (which established the WTO) allows for ten exceptions to international trade dealings, including measures "relating to the conservation of exhaustible natural resources." However, it must also be determined that such a regulation is not applied arbitrarily or discriminately. The WTO decided that the US sea turtle law was necessary to conserve natural resources, but the implementation of the law was arbitrary and unjustifiably discriminated against the WTO member countries that brought the case.

To comply with this unaccountable international trade body's ruling, the US amended its regulations, easing the requirements for compliance, enhancing due process by communicating directly with nations requesting certification to export shrimp to the US, offering technical assistance to countries requesting it and negotiating multilateral sea turtle conservation agreements. The National Marine Fisheries Service even held training workshops in Pakistan and Australia.

Dissatisfied with America's extensive efforts, Malaysia argued that its "exporters continue to suffer a loss of export opportunities and market share in the United States for wild-harvested shrimp due to the prolonged import prohibition" and appealed to a new WTO Panel. On June 15, 2001, the WTO Dispute Settlement Body upheld America's revised turtle protection measures.

While the US went through various machinations to comply with the original WTO ruling, Malaysia never even attempted to attain certification as a nation that could export shrimp to the US. 

Under the WTO, countries should be treated equally. Malaysia and the recent Dispute Panel itself treat the US decidedly differently. The Panel concludes, for instance, "given its scientific, diplomatic and financial means, it is reasonable to expect rather more than less from the [US] in terms of serious good faith efforts." So as a relatively wealthy nation, the US must meet higher standards in order to apply its own domestic legislation to protect animals-the very type of unequal treatment about which Malaysia complains.

Further, Malaysia defended the rights of "sovereign harvesting nations" by arguing that it was unfair for the US to determine unilaterally what conditions must be met in order to export shrimp to America. But if Malaysia suggests that it loses sovereignty by having to do certain things to gain access to the US market, surely it would agree that the US loses its own sovereignty without the power to set its own import regulations to protect endangered species.

The recent Panel ruling suggests that animals and the environment can be protected under the WTO-the outstanding question is whether we should have to endure five years of legal wrangling and other contortions in order to apply this much needed animal protection. And, of course, Malaysia can appeal once more.


Caption:  Hawksbill sea turtles, like other turtle species (green, loggerhead, flatback, leatherback, olive ridley, and Kemp's ridley) are in danger of extinction. US leadership and international protection are vital to their long-term survival. (Ursula Keuper-Bennett/turtles.org)


Music of the Birds

 

Music of the Birds
A Celebration of Bird Song

Includes audio compact disc featuring songbird concerts and solos
by Lang Elliott, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1999, 136 pages, $25.00

A book published a few months before the symposium, Music of the Birds, A Celebration of Bird Song, by Lang Elliott, includes a compact disk giving clear reproductions of each of the singers' voices as well as color photographs of each of the bird species captured with open beaks, pouring forth their individual songs. Elliott knows the characteristics of a vast number of bird songs and approaches silently to portray each bird as he sings. Together with the beautiful color photographs, Elliott quotes poets who have written about denizens of North American woods and fields.

Beside a photograph of a Yellow Warbler, William Wordsworth is quoted:

The birds pour forth their souls in notes
Of rapture from a thousand throats.

A photograph of a Scarlet Tanager (photo left) is accompanied by Geoffrey Chaucer's:

Hard is the hert that loveth nought,
In May, when al this mirth is wrought,
When he may on these braunches here
 The smale briddes syngen clere
 Her blesful swete song pitous…

Elliott writes: "Bird song preceded human music. Considered from a scientific perspective, it evolved with the appearance of songbirds during the Pliocene and early Pleistocene periods, several million years ago." His words are illustrated by a photograph of a Wood Thrush.

Elliott chooses Ralph Waldo Emerson's words to illustrate his picture of a Black-capped Chickadee:

There is no sorrow in thy song, no winter in thy year.

The Skylark of Europe inspired Shelley's famous poem, "To a Skylark:"

Higher still and higher
From the earth thou springest,
Like a cloud of fire;
The blue deep thou wingest,
And singing still doth soar, and soaring ever singest.

Opposite the photograph of another sweet singer, the Gray Catbird (photo right), James Russell Lowell is quoted:

As a twig trembles, which a bird
Lights on to sing, then leaves unbent,
So is my memory thrilled and stirred:—
I only know she came and went.

Robert Louis Stevenson was chosen to comment on photographs of Warblers and a Carolina Chickadee:

My bedroom, when I awoke this morning, was full of birdsongs, which is the greatest pleasure in life.

The Farm Bureau Prediction on China

 

According to the May 2000 issue of Multinational Monitor, Alex Jackson speaking for the American Farm Bureau says, "China is our number one growth market in the world." Wheat, corn, soybeans and meat are expected to be the biggest "market gainers." Jackson claims that by 2020 "China could account for a quarter of all U.S. agricultural exports."

Caribbean Conservation Treaty Spawned

By Adam M. Roberts

Hundreds of species in the Wider Caribbean Region-including the American crocodile, Hawksbill sea turtle, Brown pelican, Cuba Sandhill crane, St. Lucia parrot, Spectacled bear, Giant armadillo, Cuvier's beaked whales, bottle-nosed dolphins and corals-have gained new protection under a Protocol to the Cartagena Convention concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW). When twenty-eight nations signed SPAW in Kingston, Jamaica in January 1990, they did so "conscious of the grave threat posed by ill-conceived development options to the integrity of the marine and coastal environment of the Wider Caribbean Region."

Unlike other multi-lateral conservation treaties such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), SPAW not only protects species by prohibiting trade in wildlife, but also by prohibiting fishing, hunting or harvesting of threatened and endangered species, and by calling on Parties to designate protected areas in their sovereign jurisdiction to sustain "the natural resources of the Wider Caribbean Region." Parties shall, for example, "regulate activities, to the extent possible, that could have harmful effects on the habitats of the species." The protected region under SPAW extends throughout the marine environment of the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea and areas off the Atlantic coast of Florida.

According to an analysis of SPAW by the United Nations Environment Programme, "248 out of the 481 species covered by, or proposed to be covered by the SPAW Protocol are also currently regulated under CITES." This means that 233 out of the 481 species addressed under SPAW gain international protection that would not exist were it not for this valuable Treaty.

Nine countries that signed the Protocol officially have ratified it: Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, the Netherlands, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Panama, Venezuela, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago. These Parties have historically advocated weak positions on wildlife conservation and endangered species protection. At the most recent meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES in Nairobi, Kenya, the Cuban delegation worked tirelessly (though, thankfully, unsuccessfully) to reopen the international trade in hawksbill turtle shell at the behest of Japan, the primary market for products made from turtle shell, called "bekko." The representative from the Dominican Republic spoke out in favor of this failed proposal. Cuba and St. Vincent and the Grenadines also spoke out in support of a Japanese proposal at CITES to downlist gray whales. Without the involvement and vote of the United States in SPAW there may be no strong conservation voice during the deliberations of the Parties to SPAW. In fact, Cuba is scheduled to host the first important meeting of the Parties this September.

The Treaty was originally transmitted to the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 20, 1993 and has lain dormant there for eight years now. Then Secretary of State Warren Christopher testified: "All concerned agencies in the Executive Branch strongly support early ratification of the Protocol....I recommend, therefore, that the Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife in the Wider Caribbean Region be transmitted to the Senate as soon as possible for its advice and consent to ratification...."

Now, there is an immediate imperative for the Senate to give its advice and consent to ratification to enable the United States to have a vote during the Parties' Havana Conference. The State Department, which sends to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee a letter every two years outlining the Administration's Treaty priorities, has assured us that SPAW will be toward the top of that priority list. Unfortunately, other, more controversial Treaties, are slowing down the submission of that letter.

The looming question is whether the Foreign Relations Committee will agree to move the Treaty under the new leadership of Senator Joseph Biden (D,DE), who has assisted nobly in saving dolphins from tuna nets.  If it does, will the Senate approve it, will the President ratify it, and will it be submitted to the depositary government, Colombia, in time for the US to have a vote during the first meeting?

Before the historic Party switch of Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords, the Chairman of the Committee was Republican Jesse Helms. On May 15, 2001, New Hampshire Senator Bob Smith sent a letter to Helms encouraging swift action on the Treaty. "The SPAW Protocol will enhance substantially the ability of nations in the Caribbean region to protect indigenous wildlife and the habitats on which these species depend," wrote Senator Smith. The new Senate leadership should listen to Bob Smith and others in support of the SPAW Protocol and approve it without delay.


Captions:

Seals are one of the many animals protected under SPAW, Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife. (Kip Evans/NMFS)

Bottlenosed Dolphins, the largest of the beaked dolphins, inhabit shallow, coastal waters, and have been traded live from Cuba, the US and Mexico to Portugal, Spain, Honduras, and elsewhere. (J. Stafford-Deitshch)

Vibrantly plumed scarlet macaws are subjected to illegal international trade and are at risk from the destruction of their forest homes. (Dave G. Houser/CORBIS)

Endangered ocelots, mainly hunted for their fur, inhabit jungles, marshes, and tropical rainforests from the United States, through Mexico and Central America, down through Argentina. (Tom Brakefield/CORBIS)

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)

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