Canadian Poultry Magazine

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FROM THE EDITOR: March 2006

A spokesperson for PETA, Ms. Anderson and other followers of extreme animal rights


January 15, 2008
By Kristy Nudds


Topics

Many of you may be surprised at first when you see Pamela Anderson’s
name attached to one of the stories this month (see pg. 28).  Sorry
gentlemen, there are no pictures of her inside.  She may look great in
a bikini, but she is no friend of the poultry industry.

Many of you may be surprised at first when you see Pamela Anderson’s name attached to one of the stories this month (see pg. 28).  Sorry gentlemen, there are no pictures of her inside.  She may look great in a bikini, but she is no friend of the poultry industry.

A spokesperson for PETA, Ms. Anderson and other followers of extreme animal rights activist groups would like nothing better than to see all forms of animal agriculture banished.  They tend to have the idealistic view that the entire population of the world can meet its protein and amino acid requirements on plant diets alone. 

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Groups such as the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) believe that animals are better off dead than raised for food. What irony!         

Fact: feeding the world on plant diets alone is something that simply cannot be sustained with our current land resources, energy consumption, reliability on fossil fuels, and population growth.

Why is it then that animal activist groups cannot see the inherent ignorance – dare I say stupidity – with their school of thought?

It’s because the very basic human need to eat has become entangled with the moral values of a select group. Granted, there is nothing wrong with choosing not to eat certain foods due to religious beliefs or for personal nutrition. But what used to be a personal choice has resulted in changes in societal values.

It’s a phenomenon for developed countries; those whose population have the economic luxury to demand that their food be produced in a certain way, and don’t often feel true hunger pangs. 

Extreme activist groups – those that employ terrorist-like campaigns to ensure they get the ‘proof’ of perceived cruelty or unnatural practices that they need – and other less extreme lobby groups have, for the most part, been successful at increasing welfare standards for livestock. This is undoubtedly a great thing, even if it has been achieved under somewhat questionable circumstances.

Big business has taken notice as well, and purchasers of animal products such as McDonald’s can now demand that increased welfare standards be implemented by their suppliers. 

But for all of the positive changes and increased attention to welfare, it sometimes seems as though groups like PETA and ALF will never be satisfied.

Change takes time.  Learning is a process, and we live in a world where science is used to dispute past beliefs and lead us in new, often better, directions.  This system isn’t perfect.  Yes, mistakes are made, some have been proven harmful, but we learn from them and move forward.     

Scientists have made incredible progress with respect to understanding the needs and behaviour of domestic animals, something that they did not consider relevant 50 years ago.

Animal rights activists want the public to believe that agriculture is cruel and unnecessary, and they use the term welfare to promote their cause.  What they don’t realize is the difference between what they call themselves, and what they are promoting.

Animal ‘rights’ implies that animals feel, act and behave as humans do.  Animal ‘welfare’ implies ensuring that the specific needs of the animal are met, and that these needs are not exactly the same as ours. 

For animal rights activists, their moral views make it difficult to understand the difference, and this is why they are so troublesome. They get blinded by their morality and don’t stop and think about the reality.  They use their values to sway public opinion, whether based on fact or not.

The poultry industry has responded by developing more bird-friendly housing systems and contributing millions into poultry welfare research, but activist groups still promote the false notion that Canadian birds are raised on a daily diet of antibiotics and growth hormones.

Activists do this because (in my opinion) it isn’t necessarily welfare they want to improve.  They know that a good portion of the public will believe their lies, bringing them closer to their ultimate goal – that meat be abolished from the North American diet.

Livestock industries are getting better at communicating the advancements made with respect to welfare, as well as the nutritional benefits of eating their products.

Given the public recognition of activist groups, do you think we are doing a good enough job?     


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