BOOKS: Pet Food Politics

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 2008:

Pet Food Politics by Marion Nestle
University of California Press (2120 Berkeley Way, Berkeley,
CA 94704), 2008. 219 pages, hardcover. $18.95.

The China Health Ministry at this writing has just announced
that the number of infants and young children known to have been
poisoned by melamine mixed into powdered milk or baby formula has
increased tenfold in 48 hours, to more than 54,000.
Four children have died, 13,000 are hospitalized, and
40,000 children plus two orangutans and a lion cub at the Hangzhou
Safari Park near Shanghai have required outpatient medical treatment
for kidney stones caused by ingesting melamine, a coal derivative of
no nutritional value.

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Texas horse slaughter ban applies to hauling too, says A.G.

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2008:
AUSTIN–Texas attorney general Greg Abbott during the first
week of May 2008 issued a legal opinion that the state law against
slaughtering horses for human consumption also prohibits transporting
horsemeat from Mexican slaughterhouses to Texas ports for foreign
“State representive Warren Chisum (R-Pampa), who supports
horse slaughter, said he requested the attorney general’s opinion
after being approached last year by an attorney for a slaughterhouse
in Mexico,” reported Lisa Sandberg of the San Antonio Express-News.
“Mexico kills horses, whether we like it or not, and people
in France eat them. And sometimes the slaughterhouses like to ship
the meat out of Corpus Christi or Houston,” Chisum told Sandberg.

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Meat-eating drives global grain crunch

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2008:
remember 2008 as the year that world economic analysts and planners
belatedly recognized that people eat too much meat.
Whether that recognition translates into cultural and
political changes of direction remains to be seen, but by January
2008 the global consequences of excessive meat consumption were
already evident.
“The food price index of the Food & Agriculture Organization
of the United Nations, based on export prices for 60 internationally
traded foodstuffs, climbed 37% last year,” observed Keith Bradsher
of The New York Times. “That was on top of a 14% increase in 2006.

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Editorial feature– Culturing meat

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2008:

Now among the most talked-about
scientific conferences of 2008, the three-day In
Vitro Meat Symposium was little noticed by anyone
but the handful of participants when convened on
April 9 in the Oslo suburb of Aas.
Home of the Norwegian University of Life
Sciences, best known for associations with the
Nobel Prize, Aas almost every week hosts obscure
and esoteric scientific conferences. Few rate
even a press release. The timing of the In Vitro
Meat Symposium, however, could not have been
better. In Aas, the assembled scientists and a
few investors compared notes on products most
often described as “test tube,” “synthetic,” or
“cultured” meat. Around the world, mass media
reported near-simultaneous civil unrest in
multiple nations resulting from a global grain

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Books on global warming

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2008:

The Hot Topic:
What We Can Do About Global Warming
by Gabrielle Walker
& Sir David King
Harcourt (6277 Sea Harbor Drive,
Orlando, FL 32887-6777), 2008.
256 pages, paperback. $13.00.

Six degrees:
Our Future On A Hotter Planet
by Mark Lynas
National Geographic Books
National Geographic Society (1145 17th St. NW, Washington, DC 20036), 20
335 pages, hardcover. $26.00.

“Agriculture accounts for about 13% of
global greenhouse gas emissions, approximately
the same amount as transport,” Gabrielle Walker
and Sir David King acknowledge on page 105 of The
Hot Topic, in their first and only more than
fleeting mention of the contribution of animal
husbandry to global warming.

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Pet food contamination

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2008:

Hartz Mountain Inc. on February 11, 2008 named American SPCA
Poison Control Center director Steven R. Hansen “2007 Veterinarian of
the Year” for his response to the March 2007 international recall of
pet food that was contaminated with the coal byproduct melamine by
the Chinese makers of wheat glutens used as an ingredient. Adding
melamine produced a chemical reaction that caused tests to indicate
that the glutens contained more protein than they did–and killed
1,950 cats and 2,200 dogs, according to complaints reaching the U.S.
Food & Drug Administration.

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Guangzhou bans eating snakes– ban helps cats

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November/December 2007:


GUANGZHOU–Guangzhou bureau of forestry director Guo Qinghe
suppressed human consumption of cat meat during the first weekend of
November 2007 by announcing on local television his intent to enforce
a four-year-old Guangzhou city ordinance against eating snakes. “It
is illegal for companies, restaurants and individuals to sell live
snakes, snake meat, and related foods,” Guo said, not mentioning
cats, but in case there was any doubt about what he meant, Zheng
Caixiong of the official government newspaper China Daily spelled it
“The popular Cantonese dish longhudou or ‘dragon duels with
tiger’ has been banned,” wrote Zheng Caixiong. “The delicacy
derives its name from snake and cat meat. Apart from having their
snakes and snake products confiscated, those caught flouting the ban
will be fined between 10,000 yuan ($1,300) and 100,000 yuan

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Greenpeace says “Eat roos.”

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2007:
VICTORIA–Greenpeace Aust-ralia on October 10, 2007 endorsed
slaughtering kangaroos instead of cattle as a purported way to fight
global warming.
The argument for eating kangaroos was prominently featured in
the Greenpeace Australia press release promoting Paths to a
Low-Carbon Future, a Greenpeace-commissioned report released on
October 10 and made available for downloading from the top of the
Greenpeace Australia web site.
Kangaroos were actually mentioned in only two sentences of
the 30-page report, but the press release mention– which omitted
half the context–won mentions of Paths to a Low-Carbon Future in
more than 200 newspapers worldwide within the next 24 hours.
Wrote report author Mark Diesendorf at the bottom of page 16,
“This report proposes to reduce beef consumption by 20%, as this
agricultural sector makes the biggest contribution to Australia’s
methane emissions. This could be accomplished by shifting to
kangaroo meat and/or lower-meat diets.”

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Editorial feature: Moral leadership, big groups, & the meat issue

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2007:

Exemplifying moral leadership consists of
departing from typical conduct to demonstrate
standards of behavior which may never be fully
met by most people, yet will be respected,
appreciated, and emulated to whatever degree
others find comfortable and practical.
This is risky business. To lead, one
must step beyond the norms, taking the chance of
ostracism that comes with being different.
Trying to be “better” than most people
incorporates the risk of being perceived as
“worse,” especially if the would-be moral
exemplar is asking others to take the same risk.
Hardly anyone chooses to be considered a
“deviate,” a word which literally means only
varying from routine patterns of conduct, but
connotes perverted menace.
But mostly the behavior and qualities of
moral leadership are not consciously chosen in
the first place, and are not exhibited as the
outcome of an intellectual process.
Despite the labors of moral
philosophers–and editorialists–the study of
behavioral evolution strongly suggests that the
components of “morality” evolved out of the
intuitive gestures and responses associated with
social cooperation. Humans did not invent
codified moral behavior to make ourselves
different from each other; rather, the effort
was to make behavior more standardized, more
predictable, more conducive to social harmony.
“Thou Shalt Not Kill,” “Thou Shalt Not
Steal,” and “Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery,”
for instance, all seem to have unwritten
antecedents in the social norms of many species
much older than humanity.

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