Sunday, May 8, 2011

Of Cows and Justice

Videos Plucked From YouTube: The Mercy For Animals (MFA) videos depicting extreme cruelty at the E6 Cattle Co. in Hart, Texas, were plucked off the website. The folks at YouTube, it seems, didn't like the extremely shocking nature of the videos. They said that "if a video is particularly graphic or disturbing, it should be balanced with additional educational or documentary context and information." In response to YouTube's decision, the following statement came from MFA Executive Director Nathan Runkle:
MFA strongly agrees that videos of cruelty to animals are shocking and disturbing, but in the context of helping to expose and eliminate animal abuse they are extremely important. Consumers have a right to know how their food is being produced, especially when the production methods are shocking or disturbing, so that they can make informed choices. (Source)
What We Should All Know About Milk: The following primer comes from Robert Grillo, editor of It appeared on the website Eat Drink Better, where I found it. It ought to be mandatory reading for omnivores. I hope you find it useful. Take it away, Robert Grillo:

  • Dairy cows only lactate and produce milk when they become pregnant with calves, so to be considered a productive and economically-viable cow, she must be routinely impregnated, causing greater stress, greater likelihood of illness and premature death.
  • Newborn calves are separated from their mothers quickly, usually within 1-3 days, since the mother/calf bond intensifies over time and delayed separation can cause even worse emotional distress for the calf and mother.
  • Calves separated from their mothers are denied their mother’s milk, which is perfectly formulated by nature to provide all the essential nutrients and antibodies the calf needs.
  • Calves are fed “milk-replacement formulas” often in dried powder form and raised without a mother’s care. Under normal circumstances, mother’s teach their young critical survival skills and develop very deep bonds, much like humans.
  • Cheesemakers need veal processors. Rennet is a complex of enzymes required to coagulate cheese. Traditionally rennet is extracted from the inner mucosa of the fourth stomach chamber (the abomasum) of young, unweaned calves, the “by-products” of veal production. Many large cheese producers today use a bacterial, genetically-engineered rennet of both plant and animal origin.
  • Male calves are of little or no value to the dairy farmer. Healthy calves are typically sold at auction for a small price to veal farmers or raised as adult bulls for meat. Weak ones are often killed.
  • While they are productive and making money for dairy farmers, dairy cows can suffer from a variety of illnesses associated with intensive milk production. Hundreds of pharmaceutical products are available and administered to cows which can end up in their milk and cause adverse side effects.
  • Cows produce an average of 729 days of milk, which corresponds to 2.4 lactations, before they are considered “spent.”
  • Cows can live up to 20 years or more; however “spent” dairy cows are typically removed from the dairy herd at age 4-5 when their milk production weans and then marketed for slaughter. In their fragile end-of-production state, handling, transport, and slaughter add to their suffering and distress.
  • Artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization of dairy cows are common practices today. Embryo transfer is yet another, newer reproductive technology that consists of giving cows hormone treatments to produce multiple embryos. These embryos are then removed from the donor cows and transferred into other surrogate cows. This results in 3 to 6 calves instead of just one. These procedures are often invasive, causing physical pain and emotional distress.
  • Cows are social, complex animals with the ability to nurture friendships, anticipate the future, and experience pain, fear, and anxiety.
  • Grillo also included the following information in his article under the heading "Some Key Human Health and Milk Facts."
    • Humans are the only mammals that drink milk, the secretions of the mammary glands, of another animal, though most of the world’s population does NOT drink milk or consume dairy products. While chronic diseases remain almost nonexistent in populations that consume little or no meat and dairy, affluent populations commonly have rates of chronic diseases to the extent they consume them.
    • [The western diet rich in meat, dairy and eggs] “…is associated with a multitude of disease conditions, including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, arterial hypertension and cancer. Malignancies typical for affluent societies are cancers of the breast, colon/rectum, uterus (endometrial carcinoma), gallbladder, kidney and adenocarcinoma of the oesophagus.” —The World Health Organization
    • In the most comprehensive study of human nutrition ever conducted, “What protein consistently and strongly promoted cancer? Casein, which makes up 87% of cow’s milk protein, promoted all stages of the cancer process. What type of protein did not promote cancer, even at high levels of intake? The safe proteins were from plants, including wheat and soy. As this picture came into view, it began to challenge and then to shatter some of my most cherished assumptions.” — Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study
    • “The increase in cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and asthmathat has occurred in the Western world over the past century directly correlates with the increase in dairy consumption.” —Dr. Adam Meade
    • “…milk products may contain contaminants such as pesticides,which have carcinogenic potential, and growth factors such as insulin-like growth factor I, which have been shown to promote breast cancer cell growth.” —The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
    • “Humans now carry dioxin levels in their bodies hundreds of times greater than the “acceptable” cancer risk as defined by the EPA, and 95 percent of that results from eating red meat, fish and dairy products.” —The Diet-Cancer Conncection
    • “Any lactating mammal excretes toxins through her milk. This includes antibiotics, pesticides, chemicals and hormones. … the USDA allows milk to contain from one to one and a half million white blood cells per millilitre. … another way to describe white cells where they don’t belong would be to call them pus cells.” — Robert M. Kradjian, MD, Breast Surgery Chief Division of General Surgery, Seton Medical Centre
    • 1 lb. of cheese requires 10 lbs. of milk. 1 lb. of ice cream requires 12 lbs. of milk. 1 lb. of butter requires 21 lbs. of milk.1 So it’s easy to see how the contaminants in milk become highly concentrated in other dairy products. — 1Dairy MAX, The National Dairy Council
    And Finally, While We're Talking About Cows: Please, please, please read Tricia Orr's haunting poem about a beautiful cow named Billie who met a tragic fate. The poem, titled "Good 'Til The Last Drop," appeared on the website On Nonhuman Slavery, and it includes a short introductory statement by Orr that sets the context for the poem. The poem is devastating, absolutely devastating. It makes me ashamed to be part of the human race, a feeling I've felt an awful lot since opening my eyes and awakening from my ignorance about the treatment of animals.