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Archive for April, 2011

Text of the booklets we handed out at Lincoln’s Earth Day celebration today.

The Air

Animal agriculture is by far the largest source of ammonia emissions in the United States.  Because of this, people living near large factory farms have higher levels of respiratory illness (Gurian-Sherman 4-5).  In some areas, this pollution becomes so intense that residents have to wear masks just to go outside (Barlett).

Ammonia contributes significantly to acid rain, and can acidify the soil and water supply.  This can kill plant species and the animals that rely on them, causing a decrease in biodiversity.  In many areas of the United States, ammonia levels have exceeded the “critical load” level recognized as being unhealthy for forests (Gurian-Sherman 4,5,55; Steinfeld xxi).

The Land

Animal agriculture is a huge factor in the destruction of native ecosystems.  Currently, 30% of the land surface of our planet is being used for animal agriculture.  About 20% of these areas have been degraded to some extent because of overgrazing, soil compaction, and erosion.  In South America, 70% of the land that used to be rainforest has been converted into pasture land for livestock (Steinfeld xxi).

Our planet is currently seeing massive levels of extinction, somewhere between 50 and 500 times the rate seen in the background fossil record.  According to the United Nations “the livestock sector may well be the leading player in the reduction of biodiversity, since it is the major driver of deforestation, as well as one of the leading drivers of land degradation, pollution, climate change, over fishing, sedimentation of coastal areas and facilitation of invasions by alien species” (Steinfeld xxiii).

The Water

By 2025, it is estimated that 64% of the human population will be living in water-stressed basins (Steinfeld 127).  Here in Nebraska the Ogallala aquifer, our main source of water, is quickly being used up and is at risk of being fully depleted (Pew 27).

Animal agriculture uses massive amounts of water.  It takes 420 gallons of fresh water to produce one pound of chicken (Pew 27).  It takes far more water to produce beef, milk, and pork.

Animal agriculture is likely the largest source of water pollution. Common pollutants include animal feces, heavy metals (added to animal feed), antibiotics and other pharmaceutical drugs (also added to animal feed), fertilizers and pesticides (used to grow animal feed), and eroded soil (Pew 24-25; Steinfeld xxii).

Perhaps the most drastic of these pollutants is the feces.  The USDA estimates that cows and chickens alone produce 500 million tones of feces every year, more than three times what the human population produces.  The processing of this waste is poorly regulated, and the feces often get into our water (Pew 23). When manure gets into the water, the high level of nutrients causes algae and bacteria to grow, which decreases oxygen levels and kills aquatic animals (Pew 23-25).  Large sewage spills have been responsible for the deaths of millions of fish in American waterways (Gurian-Sherman 4).  Feces, pesticides, and fertilizers from animal agriculture contribute greatly to “dead zones” –areas where little animal life can survive– which currently occupy about 173,000 square miles of American waterways (Pew 25).

This pollution can also hurt humans.  More than a million Americans get their drinking water from groundwater that is moderately to severely contaminated with nitrates from animal waste and fertilizers (Pew 29).  Nitrate consumption has been linked to certain types of cancer and to “blue baby syndrome”, which can be fatal (Gurian-Sherman 42).

The Climate

The United Nations recently called global climate change “the most serious challenge facing the human race”.  Animal agriculture is one of the largest causes of climate change, releasing more greenhouse gasses (measured in CO2 equivalence) than all of our cars, trucks, buses, airplanes, trains, boats, and ships put together (Steinfeld xxi).

 Animal agriculture produces 37% of our methane emissions and 65% of our nitrous oxide emissions.  Methane has 23 times the global warming potential of CO2; Nitrous oxide has 295 times the global warming potential of CO2 (Gurian-Sherman 56; Steinfeld xxi).

The Solution

On the bright side, it is easy for each of us to make a difference.  Every time you sit down to eat, you can choose to avoid animal products.  By doing so, you will be helping to create a more sustainable planet.  You will also be helping yourself; the consumption of meat, milk, and eggs has been linked to a variety of different diseases, from diabetes to cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer (Stenfield 269).  Furthermore, you’ll be helping the animals we share our planet with; even on the most humane farms, animals suffer needlessly and then die so that we can eat their bodies, their eggs, and their milk.

Please consider adopting a vegan or vegetarian diet.  For more information on how to eat a plant-based diet, or for a vegetarian starter kit, please contact Animal Rights Advocates of Nebraska at: contact@aranebraska.org

Works Cited

Barlett D, Steele J, Karmatz L, Labi A, Levinstein J (1998).  CorporateWelfare: The Empire Of The Pigs.  Time Magazine.  <http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,989675,00.html&gt;

Gurian-Sherman D (2008).  CAFOs Uncovered – The Untold Costs of Confined Animal Feeding Operations.  Union of Concerned Scientists.

Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production (2008).  Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America. The Pew Charitable Trusts and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Steinfeld H, Gerber P, Wassenaar T, Rosales M, de Haan C (2006).  Livestock’s Long Shadow – Environmental Issues and Options.  Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: Rome, Italy.

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Today ARAN protested the cruel experiments continually conducted at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) and the 12 citations it received for violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

The UNMC conducts animal research on hundreds of animals every year. In recent years the UNMC researchers have conducted much of their research on the effects of Human and Simian Immunodeficiency Viruses (HIV and SIV) and drug addiction in animals. In these experiments animals (usually primates) are intentionally infected with immunodeficiency viruses and highly dosed with narcotics such as cocaine and methamphetamine. The UNMC has also conducted research into liver cirrhosis, intentionally inducing the condition in rabbits with intravenous alcohol. Dogs, pigs, hamsters and rats are also routinely used in various types of painful and traumatic experiments that end in death.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which acts as a regulatory agency enforcing the Animal Welfare Act oversees this research by performing routine inspections. During the USDA’s routine inspections they uncovered several instances of non-compliance with the Animal Welfare Act, including gross negligence which led to animal suffering. Listed below is a summary of the USDA citations:

  • A primate that experienced “repeated and significant” seizures – 12 seizures over the course of 6 months – was not treated for his condition and was left to suffer. (Date of citation: 7/20/2010)
  • At least 4 hamsters with injuries were neglected by the staff. One hamster had a foot that was swollen to “approximately twice its normal size,” others had various scratches and potentially serious wounds. These injuries were not recent and should have been noted by staff that was to inspect the animals twice a day. No treatment was administered to these animals nor had the attending veterinarian been alerted to the situation. (Date of citation: 7/20/2010)
  • At least one singly-housed primate was found rocking back and forth and somersaulting in his cage – behaviors indicative of severe psychological distress. The UNMC was unable to provide documentation that they were providing environmental enhancement that would help to alleviate this suffering, as required by the Animal Welfare Act. (Date of citation: 7/20/2010)
  • The UNMC’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee failed to provide documentation that deficiencies identified during semi-annual program reviews were being corrected. (Date of citation: 2/3/2010)
  • The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee also failed to provide documentation that research currently being conducted or proposed has not already been conducted by the facility. This is perhaps the most severe violation in that it shows that the UNMC researchers may be conducting experiments which have already been carried out – essentially performing painful experiments for no reason. (Date of citation: 2/3/2010)
  • The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee failed to adhere to protocols again by failing to provide a scientific justification for subjecting animals to more than one major operative procedure. Essentially re-using animals to do major surgical experiments (normally the animals are euthanized without being allowed to recover from anesthesia or at some point after the operation). (Date of citation: 2/3/2010)
  • It was found that unapproved terminal procedures (procedures in which the animals are killed) had been performed on 2 dogs. These procedures may not have been in compliance with the Animal Welfare Act because they were not reviewed by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. (Date of citation: 2/3/2010)
  • In September 2009 a post doctoral student euthanized a rabbit by injecting air intravenously – a method that was not compliant with protocol. (Date of citation: 2/3/2010)
  • Another post doctoral student failed to ensure that a rabbit was deceased after administering euthanasia solution. The animal was submitted for post-mortem sampling and was discovered to still be alive. (Date of citation: 2/3/2010)
  • During the last 3 years 13 pigs were fasted for 48 hours which is longer than is allowed under the Animal Welfare Act. The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee did not approve any exceptions to these standards set forth in the Animal Welfare Act. (Date of citation: 2/3/2010)
  • In a 2008-2009 hamster breeding study hamster pups not used in experiments were euthanized, the UNMC did not report these animals to the USDA. According to the Animal Welfare Act all animals utilized in research must be reported in annual reports to the USDA. (Date of citation: 2/3/2010)
  • A room used to house 3 pigs was deemed dangerous to the animals due to sharp metal on the bottom of a non-functional heater within reach of the animals. At least one pig was seen with its snout under the heater which could have injured the animal. (Date of citation: 2/3/2010)

What you can do:

Join ARAN! Help out at protests, come to potlucks and meetings, and donate if you can.

Spread this information on your social networking website.

Contact the Chancellor’s Office at UNMC and let them know that you are disgusted with their mistreatment of animals: clarson@unmc.edu

Write a letter to your paper’s editor

Lincoln Journal Star
Editorial
P.O. Box 81689
Lincoln, NE 68501

Email: oped@journalstar.com

Fax: (402) 473-7291

Omaha World Herald

pulse@owh.com

Contact your local representatives and as them to de-fund programs that harm animals with cruel and unnecessary experiments.

Sample letter:

Dear _______

I am writing in hopes that you will find compassion for the millions of animals that are unnecessarily tortured and killed every year in research labs. Each year billions of dollars go toward animal experiments which are outdated and unnecessary, as alternatives to these experiments already exist. Because many people are unaware that these alternatives exist, there is not a lot of pressure on researchers to implement them. Animal research could be phased out in the very near future if only people would awaken to the fact that research on animals is often erroneous, unneeded, and unethical. Experiments conducted here in Nebraska at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) are a clear example of the cruelty inherent in animal research. These experiments involve infecting primates, dogs, rodents, etc., with disease, addicting them to drugs and inducing disorders such as liver cirrhosis, cancer, etc. What’s more is that the UNMC is not even adhering to the very limited amount of protections afforded to research animals – they were recently cited for 12 violations of the Animal Welfare Act by the USDA: https://aranebraska.wordpress.com/2011/04/21/unmc-cited-for-12-violations-of-the-animal-welfare-act/

Please use your position to help fund alternatives to animal research.

Thank you,

___________

Sen. Ben Nelson: 202-224-6551 or http://bennelson.senate.gov/email-issues.cfm

Sen. Mike Johanns: 202-224-4224 or http://johanns.senate.gov/public/?p=EmailSenatorJohanns

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry: 202-225-4806 or https://forms.house.gov/fortenberry/webforms/issue_su …

Rep. Lee Terry: 202-225-4155 or https://forms.house.gov/fortenberry/webforms/issue_su …

Rep. Adrian Smith 202-225-6435 or http://www.house.gov/formadriansmith/issues_subscribe …

Only donate to charities that do not exploit animals.

Put in your will that you would like to donate your body to science.

Spay or Neuter your companion animals and only adopt from animal shelters – some animal researchers still utilize the millions of stray and unwanted companion animals for their research.

Quit smoking – Tobacco corporations are major funders of animal research.

Only purchase cosmetics from companies that do not test on animals – look for the leaping bunny logo or a statement on the package.

For more information contact: ANIMAL RIGHTS ADVOCATES OF NEBRASKA – CONTACT@ARANEBRASKA.ORG

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