Company Says Sex Selection for Cattle Should Arrive Soon

XY Inc., a Colorado-based biotech company, has developed a technology that allows for sex selection of non-human mammals, including cows, and is in the process of making the technology commercially available.

XY Inc. signed a deal with Canada’s L’Alliance Boviteq that will see Boviteq set up a Canadian laboratory to commercialize sex-selected sperm and embryos from cattle.

Once available commercially, the technique would be of great use to dairy farms who want to increase the odds that a cows will give birth to heifer calves which can be used in milk production.

XY Inc.’s process is 90 percent accurate, but is costly because of the time it takes to sort sperm to get the correct sex. The research laboratory that Boviteq will develop will focus on speeding up the separation time so that the technique is commercially viable.

Source:

Sex selection on horizon for cattle. Capital Press, Chip Power, April 2005.

Activists Rally Around 10th Anniversary of Death of Jill Phipps

In February, animal rights activists in Great Britain and the United States held protests to remember the 10th anniversary of the death of Jill Phipps. Phipps was an animal rights activist killed in 1995 at an anti-veal protest in Great Britain.

Of course there was a lot of nonsense about exactly how Phipps died. For example, Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty claimed that (emphasis added),

Ten years ago Jill Phipps was murdered. She was a passionate British animal rights activist who literally stood her ground when defending animals from terror and death. She was killed during a demonstration against the cruel live export of ‘veal’ calves at Coventry Airport. She stood defiantly in front of a crowded animal cargo truck, as she had so many times to stop it from making its fateful delivery. This time the truck chose not to stop. She was crushed under its wheels.

In fact, Phipps death was ruled accidental at an inquest that investigated her death and the person primarily responsible for Phipps’ death was Phipps herself.

To be clear, police had cordoned off the area where the trucks were transporting the veal calves. Phipps and other activists, however, evaded police and attempted to block the passage of the trucks. Some of the activists attempted to attach themselves to the trucks with handcuffs while others, such as Phipps, got in front of the trucks in an effort to make them stop.

Due to the confusing set of events that occurred shortly before her death, in fact, the driver of the truck, Stephen Yates, never saw Phipps and didn’t realize he had run her over until a police officer banged on the door of the truck’s cab and asked him to stop the vehicle.

Yates noted that police had not given him any special instructions on how to handle protesters who might jump in front of the truck or might try to climb onto the cab. According to a Guardian account of Yates 1995 testimony at the inquest,

Mr. Yates told police he noticed a woman, probably Ms. Phipps’s friend, Pamela Brown, run to the driver’s side and try to chain herself to the lorry before officers dragged her away.

Inspector Williams said Mr. Yates continued: “There were two, maybe three or four protesters running down the grass verge towards the front of the lorry. I had kept my eye on her.

“Then there was bang on the passenger door. An officer said: ‘Stop, stop. There’s someone under your wheels.’ At the time I didn’t know if it was the back or front wheels. I said ‘What’s wrong?’ and he said ‘Just back your truck — a couple of inches.’ I did.

“Someone told me I’d just run somebody over. I said: ‘You’re joking.’ The officer came around the side to me. I asked: ‘I’ve gone right over the top of her?’ and he said ‘Yes.’ I said ‘Bloody hell, that’s bad. I can’t believe it’.”

He added: “The only person I saw was the girl. I wasn’t doing more than five or six miles per hour – 10 at the most. I don’t think anyone expected the protesters to act the way they did.”

After hearing all the evidence in the case, a 10-person jury at the inquest found that Phipps’ death was accidental. As assistant chief constable Mike Brewer said of the verdict and Phipps’ death,

We didn’t have the benefit of hindsight but it was a good operation. At the time it was well planned and well carried out. The police were not responsible for Jill’s death; regrettably that lies with Jill and her friends. I think Jill Phipps died because she was engaged in an endeavor which was dangerous. The times we are talking about were just literally a matter of four, five, six seconds, between when she was safe and when she was under the lorry. “Jill made a miscalculation and could not get out of the way. Jill and her colleagues had broken the law and put themselves in great danger.

Sources:

Woman’s Veal Protest Death ‘was An Accident’. Rory McCarthy and Eileen Murphy, Press Association News, August 22, 1995.

Driver did not know he had killed woman. Alex Bellos, The Guardian, August 19, 1995.

Animal rights protesters to mark activists’s death. Phil Hazlewood, Press Association, February 5, 2005.

In Memory of Jill Phipps. Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, February 2005.

March to honour animal campaigner. The BBC, February 5, 2005

Stella McCartney: Its Not Dead, Its Vintage

The Daily Telegraph profiled fashion designer and anti-fur activist Stella McCartney in January Ethical Treatment of Animals, but don’t think that stops her from wearing animals skins. The Daily Telegraph’s Sabine Durrant writes,

. . . When she [McCartney] arrives the first thing I notice is her cowboy boots, the color of pale calf, slightly battered. They looks so much like leather it’s uncanny.

‘Yeah, I know,’ she says, and tucks them out of sight. They must be the ones she sells — the veggie shoes that have been such a hit in her shops. I bend to admire them again, to touch them, but she’s tucked her feet so far under her stool I can’t reach them. It’s only then it dawns that something dead may, actually, have walked out of her door.

‘Oh, these are leather,’ I say. ‘No, wait, these are vintage,’ she replies.

I see. Fur is dead, but leather is vintage! Come to think of it, that steak I had the other day was (recent) vintage!

Source:

Stella gets her groove back. Sabine Durrant, The Daily Telegraph, January 25, 2005.

PETA Once Again Simulates Cow Slaughter in India

A brief little blurb appeared in India’s Express News Service earlier this month that read,

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) will organize an awareness campaign against cow slaughter on Tuesday at the Panchwati Circle on C G Road. Dressed as ‘angel of death’ and ‘cow’, PETA activists will enact the slaughtering of a cow to create an awareness about the ill-treatment meted out to the cattle.

Alleging that these animals are treated badly at the slaughter houses, PETA plans to spread the message that ‘Leather is not vegetarian’ and promote the use of goods made from synthetic material.

I just can’t imagine a better costume for a PETA activist than the angel of death — maybe Ingrid Newkirk could dress up like that for Halloween?

Anyway, intrigued, I couldn’t find much else about this specific event, but apparently PETA has been conducting simulated cow slaughters in India for quite some time.

A press release sent out by Jason Baker in February 2001 noted that PETA planned to stage a simulated calf slaughter to protests an abattoir in front of the Gateway to India, which is a popular tourist attraction in Mumbai. According to that press release,

To draw attention to the suffering of cattle at Deonar, an ‘Angel of Death’ will beat a life-like ‘bull calf’ to death, soaking the pavement in his ‘blood’, in front of The Gateway to India while PETA members hold signs reading, ‘India: Stop Cruel Cattle transport’ and ‘Close Deonar Now’. PETA is protesting at the Gateway, Mumbai’s top tourist draw, hoping to educate both local residents and tourists about the sad state of cattle in Mumbai.

Then in October 2002, PETA’s Poorva Joshipura sent out a press release that PETA would do the same thing in Delhi to protest the government’s failure to pass an animal cruelty law that PETA favored. According to that press release,

To draw attention to the suffering of animals during transport to slaughter, an ‘Angel of Death’ will beat a life-like ‘bull calf’, soaking the pavement in his ‘blood’ (red paint), at Jantar Mantar crossing while PETA members hold signs reading, ‘India: Stop Cruel Transport’ and ‘Vajpayee: Strengthen Penalties for Animal Abuse’. PETA is protesting in Delhi, hoping to encourage Prime Minister Vajpayee to pass legislation that would increase the currently outdated and ineffective penalties for overcrowded transport and other cruelty to animals. PETA also hopes to encourage officials to take tangible action to stop rampant beating and such severe and unlawful overcrowding of animals during transport that their bones break, they suffocate and many die.

I’d love to see pictures/and or video of that.

Sources:

PETA to stage ‘cow slaughter’. Express News (India), February 15, 2005.

‘Calf’ To Be Beaten And Tortured By PETA. Press Release, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, October 23, 2002.

‘Calf’ Effigy To Be Slaughtered In Front Of Gateway To India. Press Release, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, February 20, 2001.

Small Study of Macaques and BSE Suggests Low Transmission Risk

British medical journal, The Lancet, published the results of a small-scale French study into the transmissibility of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The results confirm what the evidence and computer models have already implied — that the risk of transmission of BSE from animals to humans in the form of vCJD is very low. The small size of the study, however, do limit the ability to extrapolate from the study.

Researchers took two adult macaque monkeys and exposed them to five grams of brain tissue from a BSE-infected cow. After five years, one of the macaques developed symptoms of a vCJD-like disease while the other macaque remains health and symptom-free.

The French researchers suggest that in order to have a sizable risk of infection, and individual would have to eat about 3.3 pounds of meat from an infected cow. Since current slaughterhouse regulations in the UK and elsewhere are able to detect BSE-infected meat when it hits a threshhold slight less than that from an infected cow, the French research suggests that such existing regulations are well tuned to prevent further such infections.

The researchers also suggest that the incubation period for BSE in humans could be, on average, greater than 50 years, which would explain why so few people have died from vCJD despite presumably widespread exposure to BSE-infected beef in the UK. Other studies have suggested that the vCJD incubation period may, on average, be significantly longer than current human lifespans.

The vCJD epidemic appears to have peaked in Great Britain. Where 18 people died from vCJD in 2003, only 9 people succumbed to the disease in 2004 and there are only five additional suspected cases of the disease in Great Britain.

Sources:

Study optimism on mad-cow disease. News.Com.Au, January 27, 2005.

Risk of oral infection with bovine spongiform encephalopathy agent in primates. Corinne Ida Lasmézas, et al., The Lancet, January 27, 2005.

New vCJD Data, Projections Released in the UK

Lets take a look at where the United Kingdom is in its vCJD breakout, usually ascribed to the transmission of Mad Cow Disease.

In 2004, the number of people who died from vCJD continued to decline. A total of 9 people died from vCJD in 2004, compared to 18 deaths in 2003.

So far, a total of 148 people have died from vCJD and there are currently 5 people alive who are believed to be suffering from vCJD.

How many more people are likely to die from vCJD? An Imperial College London study released in January suggests that about 70 more people in Great Britain will become ill with vCJD.

Thousands of people likely harbor the defective prions, but for a variety of reasons will never exhibit symptoms of the disease in their lifetimes. Only about 40 percent of the British population has the specific genetic makeup that makes them susceptible to the disease. Moreover even in those susceptible to the disease, for most the incubation period will last longer than their lifespan.

Sources:

UK Department of Health, Monthly Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Statistics, Press Release 2005/0009, January 10, 2005.

Thousands of Britons may carry vCJD. James Reynolds, The Scotsman, January 12, 2005.