From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 1993:
The Food and Drug Admini-
stration held hearings May 6-7 on whether
to approve the sale of milk produced with
the aid of the genetically engineered hor-
mone bovine somatotropin (BST), and if
sale is approved, whether the milk should
be specially labeled. Four chemical
firms––Upjohn, Monsanto, American
Cyanamid, and Eli Lilly––have reportedly
spent $500 million to develop and introduce
BST, which boosts milk production per cow
by up to 20%. BST is opposed by con-
sumer groups concerned about the possible
effects of the drug on human health, which
may include altering the growth rate of
bone and liver cells; animal protection
groups worried that BST may increase the
stress on cows; and dairy farmers anxious
that many of them could be put out of busi-
ness, since BST enables fewer cows to pro-
duce more milk, which is already in over-
supply. The same debate is underway in
Canada, where a multi-department review
of the possible effects of BST is to be com-
pleted later this year.
A Dutch court on April 28
refused to order 50 cows to undergo
abortions because they had been impreg-
nated by a genetically engineered bull, and
ruled as well that the bull could continue to
provide semen to impregnate other cattle.
The bull, raised by Gene Pharming Europe,
of Leiden, bears a modified human gene
that causes his daughters to produce human
milk protein. The abortions and ban on fur-
ther use of his semen were sought by the
Netherlands Society for the Protection of
Animals and the Dutch Green Party.
The Environmental Protection
Agency is reportedly planning a crackdown
on manure runoff from farms––and expect-
ing outrage from agricultural lobbies.
“Three-quarters of the nutrient pollution in
coastal estuaries comes from non-point
sources, including animal wastes,”
explains Environmental Defense Fund
researcher Doug Rader. New York City is
already spending $3.4 million to fight
manure contamination of the city water sup-
ply, piped in from upstate reservoirs.
Thousands of Milwaukee residents fell ill in
April after ingesting cryptosporidium, a
parasite that apparently got into that city’s
water via cow manure.
Ian Duncan, director of the
Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare
at the University of Guelph in Ontario,
Canada, finds out what conditions are
acceptable to farm animals by letting them
walk away from anything they don’t like.
He uses obstructions including a weighted
push-door to measure the strength of their
determination to get away from irritants.
Duncan’s work is funded by the Ontario
Chicken Producers Marketing Board,
Ontario Hydro, and the Natural Sciences
and Engineering Research Council.
Thirty-two federal grand juries
are still probing the milk price bid-rigging
scandal that broke in 1988. So far, 48 indi-
viduals and 43 companies have been con-
victed of inflating the price of milk sold to
schools and military bases in 20 states.
Major dairiess involved include Borden/
Meadow Gold, Flav-O-Rich, Pet/Land-O-
Sun, Dean Foods, and Southland.
Namibia in early May froze
transactions at several leading ostrich
farms to facilitate an investigation of
charges that eggs and chicks are being
smuggled out of South Africa for resale via
Namibia to the United States. Although
there is still little demand for ostrich prod-
ucts other than feathers, speculation in
breeding stock has reached such a pitch
among U.S. farmers looking for alternatives
to unprofitable cattle operations that eggs
sell for $350, chicks for $2,500, and adult
birds for as much as $30,000. Promoters
claim a market for ostrich meat and leather
will develop, but outside analysts suspect
the ostrich boom will collapse first.
The Vulture’s Quill offers a flyer
on soil erosion, free for SASE: P.O. Box
1124, Ukiah, CA 95482.