A Bit Background on Rejection of Horse Slaughter Ban

A couple weeks ago this site noted the Illinois House of Representatives’ rejection of a bill that would have banned the slaughter of horses for food in that state. But part of the story got left out of that brief updated.

Specifically, in rejecting the horse slaughter ban, the House members apparently ignored much-publicized testimony by noted California horse expert Bo Derek. Derek testified before a Senate committee, but her appearance was publicized enough that House members should have been aware of it.

Derek proved to be a brilliant, cogent witness who offered well-considered explanations such as this as to why Illinois should ban the slaughter of horses for food,

It’s [horse slaughter] not humane and you wouldn’t choose it for anyone or your family over chemical euthanasia.

Well that’s certainly a perspective the politicians hadn’t considered. Hard to believe that didn’t win anyone over to her side.


Bo Derek testifies in hearing on horse slaughter. ABC7Chicago.Com, May 20, 2004.

Researcher Discovers Method that Could Improve Lives of Thousands of Premature Infants

Infants born prematurely sometimes develop something called necrotizing enterocolitis — essentially part of the intestine becomes diseased and has to be removed. This is the single most common surgical emergency faced by premature infants, and accounts for 15 percent of deaths in premature infants weighing less than 1500 grams.

Many of those children who do survive have to be fed intravenously. After part of the intestine is removed, the remaining intestinal tissue will grow and become more functional, but there’s a Catch-22 — in order for this to occur, the individual has to take food orally, but many of these patients cannot be fed orally.

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researcher Kelly Tappenden has a possible solution that was recently published in the Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition — adding butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid, to an intravenous nutrition solution might also cause the intestine to grow and become functional.

Tappenden demonstrated that the treatment works in newborn piglets, which are frequently used to model newborn human infants. Adding butyrate to the intravenous solution given to piglets who had parts of their intestine removed caused the intestinal tissue to grow and become functional.

Tappenden said in a statement announcing the publication of the research,

. . . not only was there more gut, the gut that was there was more functional. When we added butyrate, the villi in the intestine increased in size, and they were able to transport more nutrients.

. . .

[This approach should work in humans] But it will depend on the patient, how much intestine he has left, and where that intestine is. We may not be able to take some patients off intravenous nutrition completely, but if patients can eat and just have one supplemental IV feeding daily, it would reduce the number of complications a great deal and increase their quality of life so much.


Research gives hope to preemies and Crohn’s patients. Press Release, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, June 2, 2004.

Illinois Horse Slaughter Ban Amendment Rejected

In May, the Illinois House of Representatives voted 61-50 to reject an amendment to a bill that would have banned the slaughtering of horses for food in that state.

The Illinois Senate had approved the amendment by a vote of 38-15, and there is still a small possibility that a conference committee to reconcile the different versions of the bill could yet reinstate the horse slaughter ban.

The ban is directed at Cavel International in DeKalb, Illinois, where horses are slaughtered and the meat packaged for export. The Illinois Leader reported Cavel International project manager James Tucker saying,

We’re getting a very loud minority who’s making a lot of noise about this. We shouldn’t be defining for other cultures what they eat . . . horsemeat exportation is a multi-million dollar business and good for Illinois’ economy.


Horse slaughter bill not done yet, senate sponsor says. Joyce Morrison, Illinois Leader, June 2, 2004.

Researchers Find Gene that Causes Liver Cancer in Mice

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have discovered a gene that causes liver cancer in mice.

The gene, Foxm1b, plays an important role in allowing tissues to repair themselves in both mice and human being, but for some reason the gene is deactivated in humans as they age.

Dr. Robert Costa created a genetically modified mouse which had the Foxm1b gene deleted from the animals’ liver cells. The modified mouse did not develop liver cancer tumors and, in fact, Costa discovered he was unable to induce liver cancer tumors using a standard laboratory technique to do so. Without the Foxm1b gene, the mice appeared incapable of developing liver cancer.

In a press release announcing the publication of his findings in Genes and Development, Costa said,

To my knowledge, this is the first time a gene has been directly linked to the growth of cancer cells in live animals.

. . .

Foxm1b is expressed in many different kinds of cancer cells which leads us to believe it plays a key role in promoting the growth of tumors other than liver cancer.

Costa and his team of researchers also developed a prototype compound that inhibits Foxm1b and reduced the growth of cancer cell colonies in a laboratory setting.

Costa said,

We’re extremely excited about this finding because it suggests we might have a therapy for stemming the spread of liver cancer.


UIC researchers discover gene that causes liver cancer in animals. Press Release, University of Illinois at Chicago, April 1, 2004.

Effort to Rebuild Horse Slaughterhouse Attracts Controversy in Illinois

In September, Cavel International finalized plans to rebuild a horse slaughterhouse in DeKalb, Illinois. The slaughterhouse burned down in 2002 in a fire whose cause has never been determined.

The slaughterhouse killed horses both for meat which was exported to Europe, as well as for rendering by-products.

Animal rights groups asked DeKalb to revoke the permit to rebuild the slaughterhouse, but that seemed unlikely. Both of the DeKalb area’s representatives to the Illinois state house, for example, said they would oppose proposed state legislation that would ban horse slaughter in Illinois.

Rep. Brad Burzynski (R) told The DeKalb Chronicle that, “It’s a job issue. It’s an issue of keeping a company viable in this district.” Once rebuilt, the slaughterhouse would create about 40 jobs.


Plans finalized to rebuild Illinois slaughterhouse. BloodHorse.Com, September 15, 2003.

Horse-slaughter bill won’t affect Cavel’s decision. Chris Rickert, DeKalb Daily Chronicle, November 1, 2003.

Horse Slaughterhouse, Candelight Vigil. United Animal Nations, September 17, 2003.

Vigil in Protest of Slaughterhouse Rebuilding. Habitat for Horses, September 2003.

PETA's Anti-KFC Billboard

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals found its latest billboard attacking KFC widely rejected before finding a billboard company in Illinois willing to take the group’s money.

In a press release, PETA said,

Showing Col. Sanders spattered in blood and clutching a terrified chicken in one hand and a bloody butcher knife in the other, PETA?s new billboard, reading, “Kentucky Fried Cruelty ? We Do Chickens Wrong,” has just gone up in Springfield as part of PETA?s international campaign to pressure KFC to crack down on cruel treatment of animals by its suppliers. The billboard was rejected by nervous advertisers in cities all over North America. The billboard is located along North Grand Avenue on the right side, 50 feet east of 6th Street.

In a news report from the Edmonton Sun, PETA’s Dan Shannon responded to questions about the billboard (an Edmonton billboard owner rejected it) explaining that,

We’re frustrated. We think this is an important message that people need to hear.

You have to love PETA. Kill a chicken to eat it: bad. Kill a human being as part of a serial killing spree: good.


Billboard company chickens out on campaign. Rob Drinkwater, Edmonton Sun, May 9, 2003.

Ad Depicts Knife-Wielding Col. Sanders “Doing Chickens Wrong”. Press Release, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, July 8, 2003.