Bill Introduced in House to Make Downer Ban Permanent

Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) recently introduced a bill in the House of Representatives which would permanently ban downed animals — animals which fall and cannot get up under their own power — from entering the food supply.

After a cow in the United States tested positive for Mad Cow Disease in 2003, a temporary ban on the slaughter of downed animals for food was put into place by U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns.

The bill would require that any downed animals be immediately and humanely euthanized and adds that,

It shall be unlawful for an inspector at an establishment to pass through inspection any nonambulatory livestock or carcass (including parts of a carcass) of nonambulatory livestock.

The USDA would be given one year from passage of the bill into law to promulgate regulations for the humane slaughter of downed animals and their exclusion from the food supply.

The full text of the bill can be read here.

Has FDA Vascillation Effectively Killed Market for Cloned Farm Animals?

The Associated Press ran a story this month outlining fears by the dairy industyr that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s inability to come to a decision about the safety of food from cloned animals may have already doomed that market. It has already led to the failure of one company that was prepared to sell cloned farm animals.

In 2003, the FDA issued a draft safety assessment that found food from cloned animals was probably as safe as food from non-cloned animals. But it also effectively banned the sale of food from non-cloned animals until it makes a final determination.

Several additional studies have been published in the interim confirming the FDA’s draft assessment that food from cloned animals is safe and indistinguishable from that produced by non-cloned animals, but the FDA’s final determination of safety is still nowhere in sight.

One company, Infigen, has already went out of business thanks to the FDA waffling. In 2002 and 2003, Infigen made headlines for advances it made in cloning pigs that allowed it to produce cloned pigs with just one round of embryo implantation in a single pig compared to earlier methods which required multiple rounds of embryo implantation in multiple animals to produce viable clones. Infigen co-founder Michael Bishop told the Associated Press that the FDA’s delay in approving food from cloned animals was the straw that broke his company’s back,

It’s hard to find people who want to do business with you when a government agency could possibly regulate against the food products entering the food chain.

According to the Associated Press, Bishop believes that cloned farm animals will never be economically viable.

This sentiment is apparently shared by many dairy farmers whom would otherwise benefit the most from cloned animals. As the Associated Press notes, because cloned animals are so expensive its unlikely they would ever be used for slaughter. Instead they would be beneficial in things like a dairy operation where a farmers could clone particularly productive dairy cows.

But the FDA lack of a decision and the current ban clearly creates the impression that milk from cloned cows may not be safe. Susan Ruland, a spokeswoman from the International Dairy Foods Association, told the Associated Press,

There’s a strong general feeling among our members that consumers are not receptive to milk from cloned cows. This seems to be one of the things where technology seems to drop something in the lap of the food companies. It’s not driven by the market or any benefit to the consumer.

There are currently farmers in the United States who have cloned dairy cows, but they feed the milk to family and employees rather than sell it for the moment. Wisconsin dairy farmer Bob Schauff, for example, tells the Associated Press that he had four clones of a prize-winning Holstein dairy cow made four years ago. Schauff calls the ban,

. . . ridiculous. It’s a phobia more than anything scientific. We need to get FDA to come along and say it’s fine. They’re as normal as any other animal. Common sense has to take over soon.

So when will the FDA finally resolve the matter one way or another? That’s anybody’s guess. According to the Associated Press, an FDA official said that the agency has no timetable for making a final decision.

The full text of the FDA’s draft assessment can be read here.


Dairy industry skeptical about cloned cows. Frederic J. Frommer, Associated Press, August 11, 2005.

Animal Rights Group Protests at Sausage Sale

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned the controversy over a pig and cow raised at Daylesfor Secondary College in Australia to give students there exposure to traditional farming methods — i.e., the animals were raised to be slaughtered for sausage.

Members of Ballarat Organization for Animal Rights showed up at the Glenlyon Food and Wine Fayre in late July to protest the sale of the sausages made from the animals.

BOAR spokesman Trevor Wilson told The Courier,

They [the students] have all suffered. . . . We would hope to get the message through so that it never happens again. . . .When you desensitize people [to violence], who knows what they can turn into.

Wilson added that his groups thinks Australia’s Education Minister should ban schools from raising animals for slaughter,

We feel that Lynne Kosky should make a requirement that animals are not used this way in education.

Liam Thoryncraft, who helped organize the school’s participation in the young gourmet contest at the food fair, said that the sausages sold well. He added that if the project is repeated there would be some changes,

We understand [the controversy raised by keeping the animals on school grounds] and we did make the mistake of putting the pig in the school grounds for people to get attached to it. We would do it all again, but would change some things.


Protest at sale of sausages. The Courier (Australia), July 31, 2005.

U.S. FDA Bans Antibiotic Baytril In Poultry

In July, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a report announcing that the antibiotic Baytril would be banned from use in poultry effective September 12, 2005. The drug will remain on the market and approved for use in treating infections in dogs, cats and cows.

The FDA took the extraordinary move out of concern that use of Baytril in poultry could lead to antibiotic-resistant form of the campylobacter bacteria. Campylobacter is common in the intestines of turkey and chickens, but it doesn’t usually cause the animals disease. When Baytril is administered to poultry, it tends to lead to the emergence of antibiotic resistant forms of the bacteria.

The FDA fears that, while not causing illness to poultry, these antibiotic resistant forms of campylobacter could find their way to human beings, impairing the ability of existing antibiotics to treat these human infections.

The Associated Press reported that,

Resistant bacteria my be present in poultry sold at retail outlets. [FDA commissioner Lester] Crawford noted that since the drug was introduced for poultry in the 1990s, the proportion of resistant campylobacter infections in humans has risen significantly.

That can prolong the length of infections in people and increase the risk of complications, Crawford said. Complications can include reactive arthritis and blood stream infections.

Bayer, the manufacturer of Baytril, has 60 days to appeal the FDA’s decision.

The full FDA report on Baytril can be read here (2 mb PDF file).


FDA bans use of Baytril in poultry. Randolph Schmid, Associated Press, July 29, 2995.

California Supreme Court Refuses to Hear PETA’s “Happy Cows” Appeal

In April, the California Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals of its lawsuit against the California Milk Producers Advisory Board.

PETA filed that lawsuit in December 2002 arguing that the board’s marketing campaign constituted false advertising under California law.

The board used the slogan, “Great cheese comes from happy cows. Happy cows come from California.” PETA’s lawsuit maintained that far from being happy, California dairy cows live a miserable existence.

Both a judge and an appeals court panel rejected the lawsuit on the ground that, as a government agency, the California Milk Producers Advisory Board was immune from this sort of lawsuit.

PETA appealed the appeals court panel ruling to the California Supreme Court, which denied without comment PETA’s request for a review of the case.

The full text of the appellate court panel’s decision in People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals vs. California Milk Producers Advisory Board can be read here.


State justices refuse PETA a hearing on the life of cows. Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, April 21, 2005.