People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is back to its bizarre ways (if I didn’t know better, I’d swear
this group had been taken over by hunters looking to discredit the animal
rights movement). In mid-September PETA showed up to protest at the American
Meat Institute convention and held a “human barbecue.” It barbecued
tofu in the shape of a “cattleman.”
“People eat other animals,
why not humans?” asked PETA President Ingrid Newkirk in a press release.
“The notion of eating any animals should be as preposterous as cannibalism.
So eating a hamburger is the same as roasting up Uncle Bob.”
If that wasn’t enough, PETA attacked
ads featuring the National Football League’s John Randle, who plays defensive
tackle for the Minnesota Vikings. The commercial, paid for by Nike, shows
Randle making a small football jersey emblazoned with a No. 4 similar to
the one that Green Bay Packer quarterback Brett Favre wears. Randle then
practices chasing the chicken around the field (Favre is known for his
ability to take off running if he cant find a receiver to throw
to). The chicken keeps getting away from Randle until the finale where
the audience sees Randle standing over a grill where he is preparing chicken.
PETA, of course, is horrified that
the ad is running and wants it pulled immediately. In fact, PETA claims
that “the commercial mimics what psychologists now see as a sign
of criminal mentality, in that pleasure is apparently derived from trauma
inflicted on a vulnerable animal.” According to Newkirk, “Young
people who see Randle as a role model may learn to associate the terror
of defenseless chickens as a form of amusement.”
So eating hamburger is cannibalism
and chasing a chicken is a sure sign that one is a sociopathic criminal.
I know a lot of anti-animal rights
people despise PETA, but in my opinion they are our best ally. No single
person or group does more to discredit animal rights and show just how
bizarre the animal rights agenda is than PETA.
A little over a year ago the largest
recall of beef in US history led to speculation that Americans might curb
their beef consumption over fear of |E. coli| — so far, that simply
Hudson Foods Co. recalled 25 million
pounds of beef produced at its Columbus, Ohio, plant based on fears that
the meat may have been contaminated with potentially deadly E. coli.
Although prices in the cattle futures and similar markets declined in
the days immediately after the recall, Americans average yearly consumption
of beef has remained steady at about 64 pounds.
Part of the explanation for the
continued popularity of beef has been the industry’s quick initiatives
to combat E. coli contamination. Ranchers, meat packers and others
in the beef industry quickly formed the Beef Industry Food Safety Council
in the wake of the Hudson Foods recall to promote education and research
into preparing beef safely. Most plants also stopped the reprocessing
of meat left over from the previous day — no one in the industry wants
to have to recall several days worth of production as Hudson did because
of its reprocessing procedures.
Hudson Foods sold the Columbus
plant, but it is still not completely off the hook. The U.S. Attorney’s
office in Oregon is investigating whether the managers at the Hudson plant
tried to cover up the extent of the E. coli contamination.
Keeping with the Xenotransplantation theme, there have been a number of stories recently about real world applications
for transplanting animal cells into human beings as well as transplanting
genetically altered human cells into human beings.
- In late May, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new
skin graft product called Apligraf intended to be used initially in
the treatment of venous skin ulcers. Apligraf is composed of human skin
cells combined with collagen cells taken from cattle. The human cells
come from the foreskins of newly circumcised infants.
Venous skin ulcers affect thousands
of Americans each year and require multiple surgeries to correct. Apligraf
will speed the healing and recovery time after surgery. The product
is currently undergoing clinical trials to discern its effectiveness
in treating burns, diabetic ulcers and eventually bed sores.
- At the end of July, Imutran, one of the leading companies doing xenotransplantation
work, announced it would begin using pig livers to act as dialysis machines
for human beings.
“What we are thinking of doing
is using the liver as a temporary support, outside the body, as a sort
of dialysis machine for patients in liver failure to allow the doctors
to buy time until a human organ becomes available for transplantation,”
Dr. Corrine Savill, Imutrans CEO, told BBC radio.
About 50,000 people in Europe alone
are waiting for transplants, with that number growing at 15 percent
a year according to a Reuters News Service report.
In May a 20-year-old college student had a historic operation after
his heart was removed from his body and fixed using animal tissue.
Guy Altmann, a Texas A&M student,
had a malignant tumor the size of a lemon lodged in his mitral valve.
During the six-hour operation, his heart was stopped, removed and the
tumor cut away. The mitral valve was rebuilt using heart tissue from
“I feel a lot better than
when I cam in,” Altmann told the Associated Press.
- And what about the fear expressed by animal rights activists that
xenotransplantation could lead to some outbreak of a previously unknown
disease? An August report in the New Scientist magazine suggests
that there have been no signs of transmission of such diseases in patients
who have received cells from pigs for pancreatic disorders and Parkinsons
“The findings, based on screening
samples from patients exposed to pig tissue, provide the first compelling
evidence that dormant pig viruses do not spread to humans, causing new
and incurable diseases,” the magazine reported.
More research will need to be done,
of course, but so far the worst fears of those opposed to xenotransplantation
and genetic engineering are proving unfounded.
Drug that helps heal skin wounds wins FDA approval. Reuters News Service, May 26, 1998.
Company plans to use pig livers as human dialysis machines. Patricia Reaney, Reuters News Service, July 30, 1998.
Man has rare surgery: his heart is removed, fixed with animal tissue, put back in his chest. Mark Babineck, Associated Press, May 22, 1998.
Transfer of animal cells to humans shows promise. Reuters News Service, August 5, 1998.
Despite the efforts of animal
rights activists such as Howard Lyman to keep it going, the Mad Cow Disease hysteria continues to recede. The European Commission is currently studying
a proposal to lift its ban on British beef which most observers expect
to occur by the autumn of 1998.
The EC banned British beef in March
1996 after the British government linked bovine spongiform enceophalopathy
(BSE) to a new variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD).
Two years later, Great Britain
has gone to extraordinary lengths to remove BSE-infected cattle from its
food supply, and the link between BSE and CJD grows ever more suspect.
There never was much more than
speculation and inference behind the alleged connection between the two
diseases. There hasn’t yet been a single verified case of an individual
eating meat from a BSE-infected animal and subsequently contracting any
form of CJD. In addition, so far there is no evidence that the prion believed
to be the cause of BSE exists in the muscle tissue of cows — so far it
has been found only in the brains of the animals.
In fact the sixth annual report
by the UK’s National CJD Surveillance Unit reported that rates of CJD
in Great Britain are consistent with CJD rates in other countries around
the world, including those that are free of BSE. Unlike some animal rights
extremists, the CJD Surveillance report does not rule out the possibility
that the rise in CJD cases in the UK is due to improvements in diagnoses
techniques, concluding, “It is impossible to say with certainty to
what extent these changes reflect an improvement in case ascertainment
and to what extent, if any, changes in incidence.”
“Cretuzfeldt-Jakob Disease Surveillance in the UK, 6th report,” The
National CJD Surveillance Unit, 1997.
David Evans, “Mainland British beef exports ban could be lifted,”
Reuters News Service, June 10, 1998.
Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder
that causes sufferers to experience tremors and erratic movements. Experiments
with cloned cells in animals may lead to a breakthrough in treatment of
Researchers at the University of
Colorado successfully transplanted cells |cloned| from bovine brain cells
into the brains of rats that suffered from Parkinson’s-like symptoms.
The cloned bovine cells were effective in treating the rats’ symptoms.
“What we found was that the
bovine fetal dopamine cells were just as good as bovine embryo cells from
an animal that was not cloned, ” said Dr. Curt Freed of the University
Freed is not the only researcher
exploring the use of cloned animal cells for such treatments. Researchers
at Emory University will transplant pig cells into human beings later
Rhonda Rowland “Cloned animal cells may help treat Parkinson’s disease”
Cable News Network April 27, 1998.