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Winter 2005 - Act•ionLine

Movement Watch

MOVEMENT WATCH is an update on recent and current campaigns in the animal advocacy movement, with brief, rights-based analyses. MOVEMENT WATCH does not provide a full overview of any listed advocacy group’s work. Campaigns and news items are selected for their legal and social significance.


Thanks to our friends at Ánima for providing this document in Spanish on their web site.

Anti-Fur Demonstration at the Chinese Embassy

On the day of the Arctic Refuge rally, with U.S. policy affecting a major biocommunity at stake, many animal advocates were missing. Turned out they’d gone to confront the employees of the Chinese Embassy.

Odder still, the embassy visit was meant to indicate that some fur is worse than other fur.

The Anti-Fur Society, together with names of a number of national animal advocacy groups, were listed on an alert circulated throughout Washington, D.C. and beyond, which stated:

Why the Chinese Embassy? So far, the emphasis has been on fur traders and consumers while offending countries are overlooked. This demo is basically the beginning of a direct negative PR against embassies of countries that allegedly commit the worst types of cruelty against the fur animals.

This is the 21st century. No fur is needed — no matter who’s shipping it. Unfortunately, campaigning against a specific country when a commodity is widespread can lead to the belief that certain nationalities are more cruel than others. Such campaigning is likely to repel potential allies, exploit prejudice, and at the same time — much like the campaign to have restaurants sell pink veal on the theory that it’s less cruel — suggest to customers that they are taking correct action by choosing their furs more carefully, and buying locally.


Katrina Largesse

The September 29th 2005 issue of the Chronicle of Philanthropy listed the Humane Society of the United States in its “Top Ten recipients of Katrina largesse” — non-profits that collected the largest amount of donations after the hurricane. Here’s the list, for a total of $1.2 billion.

Non-profitDonations
American Red Cross$807,800,000
Salvation Army USA$145,000,000
Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund$100,000,000
Catholic Charities$25,000,000
United Way$20,300,000
Samaritan’s Purse$18,400,000
Humane Society of the United States$16,000,000
America’s Second Harvest$15,300,000
United Jewish Communities$12,700,000
Habitat for Humanity$11,000,000


 


The Importance of Giving Locally

While it’s good to see the public caring in a time of desperate need, it’s important that help and resources not be diverted from groups with small budgets and low overheads that will continue to shelter animals long after the media moves on to other issues and incidents.

Before the storm, the Humane Society of Louisiana managed to relocate all of its sanctuary animals from New Orleans to Tylertown, Mississippi. Flooding shut down the local SPCA in New Orleans, whereupon hundreds of animals went to St. Francis Animal Sanctuary in Tylertown. The Mississippi Animal Rescue League set up camp at state’s fairgrounds.

Many people turned pets over to shelters because they themselves became homeless. The sanctuary group Best Friends ran a hotline to connect evacuees with pets left behind. Best Friends staff also took animals from the Jefferson Parish Animal Control Shelter and countless birds and small mammals from area Petco stores.

Supplies and volunteers flowed to the gulf region, including a convoy that connected with sanctuary groups through the Friends of Animals Web log 1. Tennessee shelters collaborated with the Humane Society of Tennessee Valley, which opened a new veterinary clinic as displaced gulf residents moved north. Clinic workers rushed to defend animals from leptospirosis — a disease carried by rat urine — and giardia, a major concern for animals in flood water.

Many other sleeves have been rolled up over the past months since the hurricanes hit. To mention them all would take a full magazine. Profound thanks to all of you who contacted us, committed to find ways of helping small, local shelters directly.


Guinea Pig Farm Closes

Following several years of campaigning against them, the owners of Darley Oaks farm in Staffordshire, England have decided to stop breeding cavies — commonly called guinea pigs. The family that owns the farm has surrendered to threats and attacks.

Good intentions doubtless lay behind the campaign to end the use of countless small mammals in chemical and pharmaceutical experiments. Unfortunately, good intentions were overrun by some ugly campaigning. False accusations of child molesting and a variety of authoritarian tactics were used against the farm owners, their relatives, people who made deliveries to the farm, and so forth. The campaign even included grave desecration. In short, activists relinquished their moral high ground, putting the community firmly against the animal advocacy movement, and ensuring that many ordinary people reading about the campaign would be less receptive to animal advocacy.

As long as there is a demand for animals for use in research, as well as legal requisites in some cases, there will also be breeding, even if that sector moves offshore.

Moreover, the Darley Oaks farm isn’t closing. The owners have essentially been harassed into changing their animal of choice to breed, and will reportedly return to traditional dairy farming.

Serious animal advocacy has been completely sidelined at Darley Oaks. As for our relationship with other animals, the “bottom line,” as law professor Catharine MacKinnon points out, is that we eat them. Once people start to think about how needless this consumption of animals is, we’ll have a basis to start a serious discussion about uses that seem much harder to transcend — in pharmaceuticals, for example. It’s doubtful, though, that people will stop using animals in biomedical research as long as society as a whole says it’s acceptable to consume them at every meal. Which means the way to the public’s heart, and to its consciousness, is through its stomach.


How Whole Foods Market is Enabling Canada's Seal Hunt

Whole Foods Market, promising “the best environmental choices for seafood,” has brought Canada’s annual seal slaughter into its advertising. The company explains that Canadian coast dwellers “kill baby seals in the off-season from fishing by clubbing them to death or shooting them primarily to sell their fur” and announces that it won’t sell Canadian fish products “until the fishermen commit to stopping this practice.”2

Whole Foods Market wrongly implies that coastal residents make the hunting decisions and can “commit” to hunting fish, but not seals. In reality, it’s the government that sets a seal kill quota, based on the numbers of fish and seals. Thus, Canada's government — not the people in financially poor coastal towns — must do the committing.

Moreover, a temporary boycott would only continue the very cycle that’s behind the kill. Whole Foods Market admits this, saying: “If it is determined that population control of the seals is necessary for the balance of the ecosystem and health of the seal population, then we will encourage the fisherman and the Canadian government to find more humane ways to achieve this.” For more information, Whole Foods Market sends visitors to the website of the Humane Society of the United States.

Is it too much to ask that the Humane Society and other animal advocacy groups take an unequivocal stand against the seal hunt?


Romancing the Steak

October’s “Power of One Conference” was hosted by the Culture and Animals Foundation, founded by Tom Regan and Nancy Regan, and the Institute for Animals and Society, a public policy enterprise co-directed by Kim W. Stallwood.

With support of the Animal Protection Institute, the Humane Society of the United States, Farm Sanctuary, Lantern Books, and the American Anti-Vivisection Society, the conference featured John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, as a keynote speaker. According to the conference brochure, speakers exemplified “the history of social justice,” in which certain individuals “dared to challenge the status quo and take up the cause of the oppressed.” Added the flyer: “It is our hope that by sharing their stories of courageous action, our guest speakers will not only show us how to follow in their footsteps, they will inspire us to lead others in the years to come.”

By suggesting an Animal Compassion label for steaks and chicken breasts, John Mackey is likely to create new market niches for animal-derived products in North America — and now in Britain. At the same time, Whole Foods Market is promoting the comeback of fondue,3 and the store’s salad bar now features Fish and Meat Salad with “a protein punch!” — sure to suggest, to some concerned parents and other customers, that vegetarianism is protein-deficient. (It’s not.)

If Mackey’s admirers fail to grasp that the main drive of Whole Foods Market is profit and not “the cause of the oppressed,” it’s likely because the privileges enjoyed by many people in the animal advocacy community can be blinding. It is not unusual to hear advocates express anger at the people who kill animals, particularly in ways that seem either very cheap or culturally foreign, yet encourage the well-heeled shoppers who buy meat from upscale provisioners such as Whole Foods Market.

Mackey is also featured in Peter Singer’s new book under the title of “The CEO as Animal Activist.” If animal philosophers support Mackey, then what does animal agribusiness have to worry about? Nothing, answers activist and writer Daniel Hammer — because the animal activist and the CEO of animal agribusiness are identical.


Lab-Grown Meat: Some Advantages; but Not Exactly Animal Rights

Lab-grown meat might reach the market in less than a decade, if scientists at the University of Maryland and other institutions are correct.4 Scientists claim that the engineered flesh could reduce pollution, lower disease risks, and even prevent bioterrorism.

Some animal advocates are heralding the meat as the best thing since sliced bread. It’s the position of Friends of Animals that people should be removing animal products from our diets instead of attempting to invent new ones.

In theory, fewer domestic animals — and less natural habitat for free-living animals — would be used once the technique were put into place, for the method would rely on growing cells inside buildings, from tissue biopsies taken from one animal. Proponents say lab-grown meat would also reduce methane emissions associated with grazing animals, and also lessen animal waste runoff into bays and streams. In this sense, the new technology would be an environmental boon. Yet the lab technique still accepts that animal flesh is a mere resource, and that animals are acceptable subjects of research and manipulation. And presumably, some fresh stock would always be needed for biopsies.

Meanwhile, you can bet that the experiments will continue for years to come. Scientists plan to explore ways to limit fat, preserve traditional taste, and eliminate bacteria. Vladimir Mironov, a cell biologist and anatomy professor at the Medical University for South Carolina, says, “We want to create something better than natural meat.”

We have created something better than natural meat just this year. It’s a cookbook, called Dining With Friends: The Art of North American Vegan Cuisine. We recommend it for you, your friends and family, and the scientists in your life.

 

  • 1. Friends of Animals ran no hurricane-related fundraising, aware that local needs were paramount.
  • 2. Whole Food Market, “Products: Seafood: Seal Hunt Statement” (2005).
  • 3. Whole Foods promoted the concept of “chocolate enrobing stations” as CEO John Mackey talked on KRLU Radio about customers dipping salmon pieces into chocolate fondue.
  • 4. Mariana Minaya, “Steak a la Laboratory: Researchers Cook up Recipe for Producing Meat in a Factory” Baltimore Sun (12 Aug. 2005).

Act•ionLine Winter 2005

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