Sunday, October 28, 2007
I'm asking everyone I know, "Do you support animal rights?"
Everyone wavers a bit at first - unsure of where I'm going.
They want to know, "What do you mean?"
I respond with, "You know, animal rights."
"Well, yes," they all say.
Too many of us do not know the difference between animal rights and animal welfare. My surveyed friends, all wool-wearing, meat-eating, leather-sporting, zoo-going, pet-owning animal lovers, thought I was talking about animal welfare. The difference between rights and welfare may seem frivolously semantic, but I assure you, it is not. The difference is so important because organizations like Farm Sanctuary (FS), Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) are counting on a majority of their contributors and supporters to be ignorant of that difference. FS and HSUS do not want you to know what "animals rights" really means.
Those who believe that animals can contribute to human welfare (by providing food, fiber, work, companionship, entertainment, or by serving for biomedical research or education) believe that humans have moral obligations to protect the welfare or provide for the well-being of animals.
Animal rights philosophy is diametrically opposed to the concept of animal welfare. The animal rights philosophy is opposed to any use of animals, holding that animals should have the same "rights" as humans.
Despite the public's rejection of animal rights as determined by evaluating its own use of animals, animal rights philosophy is a dominant factor in popular culture. This disconnect is caused in part because many people, like the friends I surveyed, don't understand the true beliefs and goals of the animal rights movement.
The animal rights philosophy is radical, abolitionist, emotional, and uninformed.
The philosophy argues that there is no morally relevant difference between humans and other animals. In the words of Ingrid Newkirk, founder of PETA, "There is no rational basis for saying that a human being has special rights. A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy." Michael Fox, of HSUS has said, "The life of an ant and the life of my child should be accorded equal respect." (Okay, I'm feeling sorry for this man's poor kid.)
Proponents of animal rights reject all animal use, all traditional relationships with animals, no matter how humane. They support laws and regulations which prohibit the the use of animals as in the raising of livestock for food and clothing, petting zoos, hunting, life saving medical research, circuses, pet-ownership, rodeos, and even in disability assistance like the use of seeing-eye dogs.
When the interests of humans and animals come in conflict, animal rights advocates put animals first. PETA founder, Newkirk said, "Even if animal research produced a cure for AIDS, we'd be against it." (It bears noting here that advances in human medicine arrived at through animal research usually carry an equivalent benefit to veterinary medicine. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and other animal welfare groups monitor conditions in laboratories and support legislation for humane conditions, but do not call for an end to laboratory research on animals.)
Animal rights supporters believe that violence, misinformation, and publicity stunts are valid uses of funding donated to their tax-exempt organizations for the purpose of helping animals. Arson, vandalism, and assault are common tactics used by underground animal rights groups to further the cause. Groups such as the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), which have been classified as terrorist by the FBI, routinely use criminal activities.
Animal welfare philosophy is moderate, revisionist, reasoned, and informed.
Because we recognize that some animals are capable of having interests or suffering, we have evolved culturally to respect those interests. Those who love, respect, use and raise animals believe that humans can and should interact with animals in a variety of ways, but that the interaction should include provisions for the proper care for all animals involved.
Animal welfare, as defined by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) describes animal welfare as a human responsibility that encompasses all aspects of animal well-being, including proper housing, management, disease prevention and treatment, responsible care, humane handling, and, when necessary, humane euthanasia. Animal welfare also means that animals experience no unnecessary suffering in providing for human needs.
Animal welfare groups use scientific evidence (see my sidebar links on animal welfare aspects of foie gras production) in which to base animal care and handling guidelines.
Animal welfare makes sense for animal raisers. Farm animals are raised in an environment that reduces stress and recognizes the science-based behavioral, physiological, and psychological needs of each species. An animal held in an environment that creates undue stress will not thrive, reducing productivity for the farmer. Farmers know that cared-for livestock animals produce more and better products. The same is true for biomedical work, disability services, and animal entertainment.
A Shared Earth
The animal welfare philosophy recognizes the interdependence of life between animals, humans, and our shared environment. Its belief in stewardship of species and individual animals embraces a human connection to the Earth through interaction with animals.
The animal rights philosophy separates the destiny of humans from the destiny of animals while the movement shows it cares nothing for the Earth. Barbara Biel, animal rights activist, said, "The animal rights movement is not concerned about species extinction. An elephant is no more or less important than a cow, just as a dolphin is no more important than a tuna...In fact, many animal rights advocates would argue that it is better for the chimpanzee to become extinct than to be exploited continually in laboratories, zoos, and circuses."
The rest of us don't strive to save endangered species, wilderness preserves, or coral reefs because they have rights. Rather, we place value in these rare systems because our own moral laws teach us to protect our environment.
Animal welfare supporters work to enrich and celebrate human/animal interactions in an atmosphere of concern for animal well-being; animal rights proponents work for the day when human life will be impoverished because we can no longer enjoy the company of non-human animals.
For more information, read:
Animal Rights versus Animal Welfare
Animal Rights, Animal Welfare: Which Is It?
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
The footage includes ducks being stomped, beaten, and thrown. Of course the world is shocked upon seeing these types of videos. Even I, who credit myself as being fairly educated about the techniques of foie gras farming, was confused. What's the deal? I asked myself: How could this video possibly be real?
First of all, Farm Sanctuary is not above using deceptive campaigning and illegal tactics. The organization is known for hiding its vegan agenda in order to gain small but insidious legislative victories from voters who would not support such an agenda. The organization was also convicted for 210 counts of campaign finance fraud. Obviously, one should be wary of any information one gathers from such an organization. Immediately, we should know that something's fishy about these videos.
But before completely discounting these videos as fakes (which I'm about to do) let's give Farm Sanctuary the benefit of the doubt. Let's pretend the abuse we saw in the videos was not staged in some way. Let's pretend this is really an expose... Anyone who truly cared for animals, and was not simply convinced by a zealot-ridden cause, would have thrown down their camera and saved the animals being abused. In fact, all the farmers I know would have done just that. Every farmer I know is an animal lover. They have to be. Its their job. These supposed documentarians seem to have betrayed their own ideology by watching the abuse go on and doing nothing. Of course, we know that animal rights organizations are not above sacrificing a few animals along the way.
But forget all that. I do not believe in the veracity of these highly edited videos. Clearly, the abuse was staged. Not only are there clues in the new video which lead me to believe this, but there is a long history of animal rights advocates faking these films.
First, the clues:
1. Faces of the animal abusers are blurred out. Why? Wouldn't you think Farm Sanctuary would want to expose everyone connected with these crimes? Or perhaps the abusers are also animal rights advocates, hired, along with the camera holder, under false pretenses.
2. There are actually moments in the video where the animal abusers seem to pose for the camera. I speak specifically of a moment where a duck is killed in an inapropriate way and after tearing out its organs, the worker clearly pauses and holds them directly in front of the camera. Hmmmm... How'd he know about that camera?
3. There is no sound in the video, aside from the overly emotional musical soundtrack. I can just imagine the camera holder goading and taunting the workers, "Show me how you kill a duck! Ha ha ha! Yeah!" Or, "Let's stomp 'em!" Or "Act natural! Show me the blood!" I could go on. We don't hear the sound because we are not supposed to hear the director's directions.
4. We know nothing of the film crew and nothing of the workers in the video. This video would actually be credible if the names of the film crew were released, along with the names of all those who abused the animals. The animal abuse in the video is illegal - wouldn't an animal rights advocate want those perpetrators to be prosecuted? Not if they were the ones abusing the animals. We also know very little about the times and dates these events took place. A true documentary shows facts, not propaganda. The secrecy leads me to suspect a hoax.
Second, the precedent has been set:
1. Ever been to Universal Studios or Disney World? If so, you'd probably understand how easily we can be fooled by a camera. The documentary style of the video certainly makes the images look real and not staged. Unfortunately, this type of film making is easily manipulated for political reasons. Presenting images out of context or simply faking them can be quite easy and quite lucrative.
2. The history of these animal snuff films is extensive. The following examples have resulted in legal action against the filmmakers, including some convictions.
The hoaxes date all the way back to 1964 when the International Fund for Animal Welfare paid a man to torment and skin a baby seal in front of photographers.
In 1972, The Canadian Association for Humane Trapping caught animals in the wild and released them into traps in order to film them dying.
In the mid-1980's Greenpeace Australia's film crew paid two men to mutilate live kangaroos.
In 1996, a film crew staged the brutal murder of a dolphin in Venezuela in order to raise money and generate public support for embargoes against Venezuela's two exports, oil and tuna fish.
There are countless other examples including tricks of the camera, misinformation, and outright lies.
Third, independent veterenarians have visited the foie gras farms and have reported seeing no animal abuse. One Dr. Robert P. Gordon, New Jersey delegate to the American Veterinary Medical Association, visited a New York farm and said, "Afert being on the premises, my position changed dramatically. I did not see animals I would consider distressed, and I didn't see pain and suffering."
What can we do?
We can call on Farm Sanctuary (and anyone else who releases such videos) to do the following:
1. Provide the full, uncut film footage, with sound. Anyone unwilling to do so is probably hiding something.
2. Call for the people on the video to be identified by name.
3. Require sworn statements from the filmmaker and crew in the case of footage of illegal activities, attesting to the time, place, and other circumstances relating to the illegal activities.
We should look at these films not as news, not as undercover stings, but as hoaxes, clearly perpetrated by advocates who have betrayed their own ideology. Chances are, Farm Sanctuary will remain silent, except for the continued documentation of their own cruel torture of animals.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Before I continue, I'd like to note that I am not calling animal rights advocates Nazis. But I would like to point out some of the thought provoking parallels I encountered between the two groups during my research. I'd also like to draw attention to the little talked about idea that kindness to animals doesn't lead to kindness to humans. Testimony to this idea lies not only in the history of Nazi Germany, but also in the present day treatment by animal rights advocates of farmers, restauranteurs, and researchers.
We know that cruelty to animals may lead to cruelty to people. It is a known predictor in children of anti-social personality disorder, or sociopathy, a mental illness which causes people to value others only as objects. Most serial killers tortured animals as children.
However, we often assume that kindness to animals will equal kindness to humans. Unfortunately, there is no connection between the two. In fact, as discussed in my previous post, a preoccupation with animals may lead a person to treat people worse. This is because the animals rights advocates' morals are so skewed as to allow for the equation of genocide not only with foie gras but with eggs, hamburgers, cheese, etc. As also noted in a previous post, many animal rights advocates value human quality of life so little that they will systematically torture humans.
I have noted three interesting parallels between Nazis, the first to outlaw foie gras, and contemporary animal rights advocates. This is not to say that there are no differences between the two groups, as there certainly are many. Still, I'd like to explore three parallels.
Parallel 1. Claims of Ethical Superiority
Nazis clamied a moral high ground not only when attempting to exterminate the Jews, but also when insisting upon the rights of animals. This is also a characteristic of the contemporary animal rights movement. The preoccupation with "cruelty" and using "cruelty-free" methods and products implies that non-advocates or non-adherents are cruel.
Parallel 2. Propoganda
The Nazis are well-known for their propoganda maneuvers. This includes a statement issued by Goebbels, Nazi Minister of Propoganda: "The Fuhrer is deeply religous, though completely anti-Christian. He views Christianity as a symptom of decay. Rightly so. It is a branch of the Jewish race... Both [Judaism and Christianity] have no point of contact to the animal element, and thus, in the end, they will be destroyed. The Fuhrer is a convinced vegetarian, on principle. His arguments cannot be refuted on any serious basis. They are totally unanswerable." That many of the Nazi animal protection laws were not fully instituted or complied with lead one to assume that the laws were, in part, propoganda maneuvers.
Similarly, animal rights organizations are famous for their propoganda campaigns. In one example, PETA spent larege sums of money in a fruitless attempt to gain custody of the 17 well-known Silver Spring Monekys. Meanwhile, the organization killed 32 "liberated" rabbits and roosters at an animal "sanctuary" because of "overcrowding." It is clear that PETA would rather spend money on hot topics and publicity than on providing suitable housing for animals in its care.
Parallel 3. Hypocrisy
PETA has killed over 14,000 animals. An organization that seeks "total animal liberation" and then kills the animals it "liberates" is clearly duplicitous and misleading. And of course, while Nazis touted rights for animals, they sent millions of humans to their deaths. While they outlawed vivisection, they conducted terrible medical experiments on humans. While they outlawed the force-feeding of fowl, they starved millions of people.
Finally, from Martin Hulsey in The Implications of Nazi Animal Protection:
"Whenever animal activists argue today that giving rights to animals will produce a kinder, gentle society, it is perfectly apprpriate to point out that the only modern civilization to embrace a philosophy of animal rights did not turn out to be more kind or more gentle."
Sunday, October 21, 2007
The following information is taken from a bioethics article on animal rights activists and violence at The Discovery Institute.
We have to understand that ARLists do not share a common frame of moral reference with the rest of society. Whereas most of us believe that humans have the highest moral value, it is an article of faith among ARLists that no moral distinction exists between humans and animals; "a rat, is a dog, is a boy," in one animal liberationist's infamous assertion. Thus, while most of us believe that we have a positive moral duty to treat animals humanely and support punishing people that abuse them, ARL movement devotees believe — not metaphorically, but literally — that we have no right to use animals for any purpose, not even as seeing-eye dogs.
In this surreal moral prism, real evil is reduced to banality as advocates equate cattle ranching with human slavery, Mengele's notorious twin experiments with testing the safety of stem cells in rats, and the sending of Jews to the gas showers at Auschwitz with eating a steak. Lest you think I exaggerate, in its pro-vegetarian "Holocaust on Your Plate Campaign," People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) asserted, "The leather sofa and handbag are the moral equivalent of the lampshades made from the skins of people killed in the death camps." What's worse: They meant every word.
ARList ideology is a frontal attack on human exceptionalism. In this sense, it is profoundly anti-human, both in its first principles and in consequential effects. This is undeniably subversive to the moral order. Believing that humans are unique and special is essential to promoting the ideal of universal human rights. After all, if we are just another species of animal in the forest, that is precisely how we will act.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
You and a business partner are planning to open a new store, providing a safe and legal commodity your public demands, foie gras.
Before you open it, a group targets you, your partner, your families, and your business with a carefully calculated terror campaign.
First, they spray-paint your home. They pour acid onto your car and windows. They glue shut your locks and your garage doors, trapping you inside your home. They damage a sacred religious statue in your yard.
You receive a videotape, shot from your own garden, showing you and your family relaxing inside your house. A letter accompanies it, warning you that you are being watched.
More letters follow warning you to "stop or be stopped."
You don't stop. This is your life. So they go to the soon-to-be-opened store. They plug the new plumbing with chucks of cement, spray-paint the walls and appliances, and turn on the water, causing a flood.
You lose close to $50,000 and your family is terrified.
You own a restaurant, providing a safe and legal commodity your public demands, foie gras.
One day, your mother, several hundred miles away, calls you crying in a panic. Someone has called and threatened her. Someone has harassed your mother because of a product you sell. You must drop everything, temporarily close your restaurant, and go to comfort her. Not only do you lose money for having to close your business for a few days, but you bear guilt for the terror your own mother has faced for you.
At the same time, someone throws acid on the windows of your business. They cut your power. They spray paint the facade of your building. They break your windows and smear what appears to be blood on your door and sidewalk. They scream at you and your customers, nearly every day.
You have been targeted and terrorized for providing foie gras, food.
In this country, in this age, have we so little to worry about that we must worry about our dinner plates? Is there no other cause for which to fight with such zealotry? Why do these domestic terrorists (as they are considered by the FBI in many cases) want to take away your choices by violently attacking those who provide them to you?
We aren't talking about the war here. We're not talking about global warming, pollution, homelessness, corporate corruption, drugs, or homicide. We are talking about food.
Join me in my fight to preserve our rights to choose what is on our dinner tables.
Freedom...It's what's for dinner.
For more information about the real-life attacks above, please reference the following articles:
Foie Gras Foe Foiled!
Animal-rights vandals hit chef's home, shop
Animal rights group linked to bombs
Duck farm sues animal activists
Foie gras controversy ruffles local chefs' feathers
Foie gras debate triggers vandalism
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Click here to sign the petition at The Center For Consumer Freedom.
Here's why: (from 7 Things You Didn't Know about PETA)
1) PETA president and co-founder Ingrid Newkirk has described her group’s overall goal as “total animal liberation.” This means no meat, no milk, no zoos, no circuses, no wool, no leather, no hunting, no fishing, and no pets (not even seeing-eye dogs). PETA is also against all medical research that requires the use of animals.
2) Despite its constant moralizing about the “unethical” treatment of animals by restaurant owners, grocers, farmers, scientists, anglers, and countless other Americans, PETA has killed over 14,400 dogs and cats at its Norfolk, Virginia headquarters. During 2005, PETA put to death over 90 percent of the animals it collected from members of the public.
3) PETA has given tens of thousands of dollars to convicted arsonists and other violent criminals. This includes a 2001 donation of $1,500 to the North American Earth Liberation Front (ELF), an FBI-certified “domestic terrorist” group responsible for dozens of firebombs and death threats. During the 1990s, PETA paid $70,200 to an Animal Liberation Front (ALF) activist convicted of burning down a Michigan State University research laboratory. In his sentencing recommendation, a federal prosecutor implicated PETA president Ingrid Newkirk in that crime. And PETA vegetarian campaign coordinator Bruce Friedrich told an animal rights convention in 2001 that “blowing stuff up and smashing windows” is “a great way to bring about animal liberation.”
4) PETA activists regularly target children as young as six years old with anti-meat and anti-milk propaganda, often waiting outside their schools to intercept them as they walk to and from class-without notifying parents. One piece of kid-targeted PETA literature tells small children: “Your Mommy Kills Animals!” PETA brags that its messages reach over 2 million children every year, including thousands reached by e-mail without the permission of their parents. One PETA vice president told the Fox News Channel’s audience: “Our campaigns are always geared towards children, and they always will be.”
5) PETA has used a related organization, the PETA Foundation, to fund the misnamed Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a deceptive animal rights group that promotes itself as an unbiased source of medical and nutritional information. PCRM's president also serves as president of the PETA Foundation.
6) PETA runs campaigns seemingly calculated to offend religious believers. One entire PETA website is devoted to the claim-despite ample evidence to the contrary-that Jesus Christ was a vegetarian. PETA holds protests at houses of worship, even suing one church that tried to protect its members from Sunday-morning harassment. Its billboards taunt Christians with the message that hogs “died for their sins.” PETA insists, contrary to centuries of rabbinical teaching, that the Jewish ritual of kosher slaughter shouldn't be allowed. And its infamous “Holocaust on Your Plate” campaign crassly compares the Jewish victims of Nazi genocide with farm animals.
7) PETA has repeatedly attacked research foundations like the March of Dimes, the Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and the American Cancer Society, because they support animal-based research that might uncover cures for birth defects and life-threatening diseases. PETA president Ingrid Newkirk has said that “even if animal research resulted in a cure for AIDS, we would be against it.”
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
So read this article and get informed HSUS! Stop giving them money...they are not what you think
Critic speaks against HSUS
Tom Hennessy, Staff columnist, presstelegram.com
Article Launched: 10/13/2007 09:38:22 PM PDT
In late August, following the defeat of AB1634, an Assembly bill calling for mandatory spaying and neutering of dogs and cats, I ran an interview with Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States.
He touched on a variety of issues, including his critics. Patti Strand, director of the National Animal Interest Alliance, asked me to publish her rebuttal to the Pacelle article. The rebuttal was delayed several weeks because of a death in her family.
NAIA is based in Portland, Ore. I take neither side in this debate, but note only that there are deep divisions in the animal rights movement.
Her rebuttal is as follows:
Wayne Pacelle is correct to rank the NAIA as one of the most prominent critics. We wear that label with honor, many of our members believing HSUS is corrupt to the bone. This corruption comes down to three major elements.
First, HSUS allows its financial supporters - ordinary, animal-loving Americans - to believe it spends an enormous annual tax-free budget of $123 million on caring for animals, when its real agenda is passing extremist legislation.
Second, HSUS calls itself a mainstream advocacy group, hiding or downplaying the fact that it has an extremist agenda. HSUS is all about promoting vegan diets - no meat, no dairy - and ending traditional human-animal relationships across the board, from agriculture to biomedical research.
Third, HSUS constantly engages in deceptive propaganda, half-truths and outright lies in well-funded media campaigns to win its political and legislative battles. But they are not held accountable for their tactics because they are a nonprofit group that enjoys political free speech protections.
NAIA believes it is our responsibility, as animal experts and proponents of true animal welfare, to point out the facts. What qualifies us to know fact from fiction? NAIA is rapidly becoming the nation's leading advocacy organization for animals and the people who actually care for them.
Our members include individuals who interact with animals regularly in a wide variety of settings. We are pet owners, farmers, researchers, animal trainers, biologists, sportsmen, animal caretakers, dog and cat breeders and enthusiasts, educators and entertainers.
Our members have earned their credentials by working with, and in many cases living with, animals, not by reading philosophical treatises or emotional propaganda. We support the responsible, traditional and humane use of animals in agriculture, biomedical research, education, leisure and recreation, entertainment and companionship. We support and advocate reasonable, effective and enforceable laws that ensure the humane treatment of animals and provide penalties for animal abuse.
We support the rights of others to disagree with our views but not to employ defamation and propaganda to force their views on others. To recognize HSUS' deception and sit idly by would be to shirk our responsibility not only as animal experts but as citizens; for we believe the HSUS is destroying the mainstream animal protection movement.
The shelter issue
Mr. Pacelle also seems baffled that anyone would go after HSUS for not having shelters because as he stated, "We never said we run - local animal shelters." This is vintage HSUS. They call themselves a humane society and then blame the public for being confused.
By calling itself the Humane Society of the United States, HSUS rides into every situation on a "case of mistaken identity" - an identity that, oops, just happens to raise millions of dollars: the mistaken impression for many Americans being that it is a humane society rather than a giant propaganda, lobbying and fundraising machine.
When citizens notice that HSUS' carefully crafted image is at odds with reality and say so, HSUS responds with another opportunistic spin, saying that their critics are just people "who don't really care about animals."
Using that logic, maybe humane societies around the country don't really care about animal welfare either. Many of them have begun putting disclaimers on their Web sites urging their donors not to confuse them with the HSUS.
As Pacelle himself stresses, HSUS is a lobbying group. Instead of representing the humane values of the American public, the well-oiled lobby and propaganda machine of HSUS virtually assures that the voting public will be systematically deceived whenever they're asked to vote on an HSUS-backed measure. The history of successful HSUS ballot initiatives is a history replete with after-the-event self-flagellation and revulsion by people who recognized later that they were duped.
To us it appears that the priorities of HSUS, as former employees have publicly written, are power and money, and that acquiring both justifies the means. That's where the willingness to deceive comes in. These folks should make Pinocchio blush.
When HSUS sets out to do a ballot initiative, as it plans for next year in California, they don't just come to town and start promoting their opinion. Nor do they publish a notice informing voters that as vegans they oppose the consumption of meat, dairy, and even eggs on their anti-farm ballot initiatives. Such a statement might raise questions by voters.
Instead, HSUS conducts sophisticated polling to uncover exactly which messages will work, targeting urban audiences who know little about husbandry and who just happen to live in the most populated areas where a media buy will go a long way. Then, they run one deceptive ad one after another, showing heart-wrenchingly gruesome images, often from foreign countries or showing practices from decades ago, even ones already illegal.
Worse yet, they promote half-truths in support of legislation that in many cases harms animals, even though these bills further the political goals of HSUS. The horse slaughter bill and most of the anti-farming initiatives fall into this classification. HSUS may counter that large companies do major polling and launch advertising campaigns too, prior to introducing new products - but there is a big difference.
The difference is this: When corporations market new products, the public at least recognizes that someone is trying to sell them something. And there are at least some laws that govern how much blue sky can be sold along with the product.
In the case of HSUS, PETA, and other fellow travelers in animal rights, the public only thinks they're regulated and required to be reasonably truthful. The public doesn't realize that political speech is far more protected than commercial speech. Thus, HSUS can say pretty much what it wishes and get away with it.
In the HSUS world of "when did you stop beating your wife" politics, it's basically Defamation For Dollars. They understand social marketing and use it to deceive the public into voting away their rights, their economic best interests, and tragically, the welfare of the animals the public thinks they are voting to protect.
Keep in mind that HSUS is planning a campaign in California that will affect the poultry, pork and beef industries. If it follows suit, it will harm not only California consumers but also the animals themselves.
Tougher for horses
As the American Veterinary Medical Association wrote earlier this week regarding the misguided HSUS campaign against horse slaughter. Efforts by groups calling for an end to horse slaughter, such as the Humane Society of the United States, have led to the closure of the three remaining processing plants in the United States.
Now, as the AVMA has repeatedly warned, horses are being abandoned in the United States or transported to Mexico where, without U.S. federal oversight and veterinary supervision, they are slaughtered inhumanely.
"The reality is, the HSUS has done nothing to address the real issue here, and, in fact, by seeking to ban horse slaughter, they have made things significantly worse," says Dr. Mark Lutschaunigm, director of government relations for the AVMA. "If they really wanted to do something productive to improve the welfare of horses, they would address the issue of unwanted horses in the United States."
And the half-truths and lies aren't confined to pushing bad policies in the United States. Internationally, HSUS was refused entrance into the 2000 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, for filing false accusations about CITES member nations.
In the state of Washington, the HSUS-driven Proposition 713, an anti-trapping ballot initiative, was so misleading, the legislature voted to overturn it when it became obvious that the voters had been misled.
Floridians saw their pork industry - small as it was - wash out entirely because of the cost of equipment changes required by the passage of their anti-gestation confinement, Proposition 204, a measure designed to eliminate gestation crates used by farmers to protect the lives of piglets.
When the HSUS-inspired ballot initiative is forwarded next year, NAIA and its members will be proud to stand with California farmers.
Our membership includes veterinarians, wildlife biologists and other animal scientists, dog and cat breeder/enthusiasts, animal trainers, farmers, ranchers, and others with hands-on experience in animal husbandry and care.
We are fighting a David vs. Goliath battle here. HSUS has regional branch offices all over America and over $100 million to fight, mislead and deceive. We at NAIA are a small, mostly unpaid band of hard-working, hands-on animal people.
Truth, hands-on knowledge, understanding and fair mindedness make us proud of the company we keep. We are proud that many cities around the country call on NAIA for expert guidance to draft sensible animal laws. And we feel validated to be on the same side of the fence as state and federal law enforcement in the animal welfare debate. We are also proud to stand with the American farmer, the legions of dog fanciers, and others who are the real backbone of the mainstream animal welfare movement.
None of them engage in the systematic misrepresentation of issues for profit and power that we see occurring as standard practice in HSUS and other conflict fundraising groups.
Unfortunately, it's the average, uninformed American citizen who winds up at the short end of the stick, thanks to the machinations of HSUS.
But I can tell you this: the animal welfare movement is onto them. And we're going to keep digging in our heels and telling the truth in our loudest possible voice.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
The Time article follows below, as well as a sample letter to the editor. Here are some helpful facts about the animal welfare aspects of foie gras production to include in your letter (for more information, please read the studies linked to this site):
- Ducks lack a gag reflex. Their esophagi have an insensitive lining, allowing them to swallow large fish and other prey.
- In nature, ducks fatten their livers for energy, prior to migration, and the effect is reversible.
Independent veterinarians and scientists have concluded that the hand-feeding of ducks for foie gras causes no harm to them.
- American foie gras is raised on small-scale, sustainable farms using artisanal methods.
- A misinformation camapaign orchestrated by extremists is confusing the public with falsehoods and misrepresentations about foie gras.
You might also want to include in your letter a reference to the faulty statistics cited by Nick Cooney, animal rights extremist and founder of Hugs for Puppies.
[Cooney claims that his group represents the public majority, citing a survey which says that 85% of Pennsylvanians are anti-foie gras.]
If you scroll down and read my previous post, you'll notice the problems with this poll. It is a Zogby poll, most likely paid for by Farm Sactuary, an extremist organization. The questions, written by those who paid for the survey, are leading and designed to distort the public's actual views.
Finally, you may also want to highlight the nearly terroristic tactics used by the activists in Philadephia and around the country, which include vandalism and death threats. They are referrenced in this paragraph from the article:
[But having credited themselves with a victory, the Hugs for Puppies group has moved onto other restaurants, picketing the businesses and homes of chefs like David Ansill who recently removed foie gras from his menu at his restaurant Ansill after protesters hounded his customers and staff and leafleted his neighborhood for months. “When I talked to him he hadn’t slept in 15 days,” says foie gras distributor Daguin. “The acts of the protesters are nearly terroristic,” she says. Said Ansill wearily: “It wasn’t worth it. I caved.”]
Thank you for your recent article on foie gras and the controversy surrounding it (Tuesday, Oct. 09, 2007).
Unfortunately, many Americans know little about foie gras and its production. They are easily swayed by animal rights activists like Nick Cooney and his Hugs for Puppies, who tout misinformation and outright lies. The poll Cooney cites is a Zogby poll, which appears to have been written and paid for by an animal rights extremist organization and asks leading questions in order to obtain desired answers. The question about outlawing foie gras in Pennsylvania is asked following a definition of foie gras designed to make it seem cruel and already out of favor with a majority. I am sadened that Time magizine writers and editors did not check this poll for bias before publishing such a comment.
Additionally, independent veternarians and scientists have concluded that the hand-feeding of ducks for foie gras causes no harm to them. Thank you for allowing Ariane Daugin to explain this.
Ultimately, this issue is about choice. Vegetarians can eat what they eat, omnivors should be able to do the same. As extremist organizations gain more and more power and publicity in this country, we are losing more and more of our rights to food. If foie gras goes, chicken may be next.
Tuesday, Oct. 09, 2007 By Lisa McLaughlin
At Philadelphia’s Vintage restaurant last week the special was two delicately pan-seared pieces of foie gras perched atop toasted brioche with a berry coulis, garnished with fresh raspberries and a side of rebellion.
The days of foie gras as a simple exercise in gastronomic luxury are over. Foie gras — French for the fatted liver of a duck or goose — has come under increasing fire in the U.S., where it is a $17 million business. Chicago has banned the sale of it and California law will make it illegal to sell or raise foie gras by 2012. The fiercest battleground right now is in Philadelphia, where City Councilman Jack Kelly has proposed a ban and animal rights group Hugs for Puppies has been protesting the homes and businesses of chefs who serve the delicacy. But a group of Philly restaurateurs are fighting back, under the banner Philadelphia Chefs for Choice, marking the first time anywhere that chefs have organized to protest the foie gras protesters. During the first week of October, nearly 20 restaurants served foie gras specials on their lunch and dinner menus for just $5. The chef group has stated: “In the city of Philadelphia, the birthplace of American liberty, we want to keep the right to serve foie gras.”
The debate is centered around the practice of gavage, in which corn is force-fed to farm-raised ducks through a funnel down their throats. Some argue that gavage is inhumane, while others counter that the physiology of a duck is not the same as a human. “It seems terrible if you don’t know that a duck’s esophagus is lined with a very thick cuticle, if you don’t realize that baby ducks are fed by their mother pushing her beak down the baby’s throat,” says Ariane Daguin, owner of D’Artagnan, the largest foie gras purveyor in the U.S. Recent studies by Dr. Daniel Gu men a leading expert on the physiological effects of gavage, have shown that ducks with young in the wild were under more stress than the ducks being fed through gavage. And both The American Veterinary Medical Association’s House of Delegates and the American Association of Avian Pathologists have concluded that foie is not a product of animal cruelty.
Animal rights activists remain unconvinced and have been increasingly organized in their efforts to have foie gras banned. Hugs For Puppies, which began as an informal vegetarian outreach and animal rescue group in Philadelphia in 2002, started approaching restaurants a few years ago and occasionally protesting, says founder Nick Cooney. “Last December [restaurateur] Stephen Starr stopped serving foie gras and it really motivated us to keep going. Now we are out protesting every week.”
Starr, who owns a dozen Philly hotspots, tells a different story. He emphasizes that the activists had little to do with his decision to remove foie gras from all of his Philadelphia restaurants. “If they said ‘Can we meet with you?’ I probably would have, but instead they use the bullhorn, these really creepy tactics. The bottom line is,” he says, emphasizing his own personal opinion, “that it’s probably not a good thing to do to the animals. But honestly to me it was a non-issue. It didn’t sell that well, I don’t like to eat it myself.”
But having credited themselves with a victory, the Hugs for Puppies group has moved onto other restaurants, picketing the businesses and homes of chefs like David Ansill who recently removed foie gras from his menu at his restaurant Ansill after protesters hounded his customers and staff and leafleted his neighborhood for months. “When I talked to him he hadn’t slept in 15 days,” says foie gras distributor Daguin. “The acts of the protesters are nearly terroristic,” she says. Said Ansill wearily: “It wasn’t worth it. I caved.”
Cooney claims that his group represents the public majority, citing a survey which says that 85% of Pennsylvanians are anti-foie gras. “It’s not just a matter of preference on a menu like chocolate or vanilla. It’s a matter of protecting animals.”
But as celebrity chef/author Anthony Bourdain has argued, how can any meat product be cruelty-free if you are killing an animal? To some chefs the anti-foie gras movement feels like the first step towards demands for completely meat-free menus. Chef Parind Vora, whose Austin, Tex., restaurant Jezebel has been subjected to twice weekly protests by a group called Central Texas Animal Defense, believes that animal rights activists are targeting foie gras because it’s a small industry with little resources to fight back. It’s also food often associated with the upper crust, allowing the class issues to color the debate.
But in Philadelphia last week, foie was the food of the people. At Caribou Cafe, the sliders came topped with caramelized onions and a piece of pan seared foie gras. At Zinc, the foie came poached with mango chutney and waffle chips. Diners wearing bold red “We Love Foie Gras” T-Shirts embarked on foie-cathalons. “I could care less about those snobby French chefs,” Councilman Kelly said in response to a local paper on Monday. “They can stick their $5 foie gras up their rears.” And, as the week ended, restaurateurs planned their next steps. For Michael and Terry McNally of the London Grill it’s about freedom of choice. To celebrate that freedom, they are planning an Oct. 22 dinner in honor of Hudson Valley Foie Gras co-founder Michael Ginor and his book /Foie Gras: A Passion/ with a $165 prix fixe 6-course dinner that includes foie gras in every course, from the matzo ball soup to a creme brulee dessert.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
The survey first found that 94 percent people never ate foie gras or had never heard of it. So the vast majority of those surveyed were informed only by what the surveyors told them about foie gras and its production.
The offered definition was grossly biased and slanted toward the agenda of animal rights organizations. The definition and following question were this: "Foie gras is an expensive food item served in upscale restaurants. It is produced by force-feeding ducks and geese large quantities of food causing the animals' livers to swell up to ten times their normal size. A long metal pipe is inserted into the animals' esophagus several times a day. The process can cause the animals' internal organs to rupture. Several European countries and the state of California have outlawed the practice as cruel. Do you agree or disagree that force-feeding geese and ducks to produce foie gras should be banned in Pennsylvania?"
This definition offers only one side of a controversial topic. The question includes a leading statement by pointing out that "The process can cause the animals' internal organs to rupture". This does not happen. In fact, mortality rates in foie gras production are the same or less than commercial chicken operations. Also, waterfowl will gorge themselves in the wild as preparation for migration, causing their livers to swell to many times their usual size, storing excess energy. Additionally, the esophagi of ducks and geese are uniquely suited to swallowing large prey, allowing for the insertion of the feeding tube without causing stress or pain.
Studies by Daniel Guémené, PHD, Director of Research and Senior Scientist at the French National Institute of Agronomic Research, have shown that the techniques used in foie gras production do not cause stress or anxiety to the animals. In addition, his studies have found that the effects of foie gras production are reversible and do not cause disease in the animals.
Another leading tactic is hidden in the final question at which point those surveyed were informed that several European countries and the state of California have banned the product. This is an inappropriate tactic, as many of us, when we are poorly informed on an issue, will simply go along with what we think everyone else is doing.
I would urge those touting statistics to carefully examine the research tactics involved. And unfortunately, because so few know about foie gras, allowing themselves to be tricked into believing it is cruel, this delicacy may be lost to us.