Written by PETA
The following is the winning PETA article on Helium.com and was written by Amanda Day.
Factory farms' presence increased significantly over the past fifty years. Continued growth will cause further environmental damage. Factory farms also known as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) are defined by the Environmental Protection Agency as facilities that confine and feed livestock for 45 days or more in any 12 month period and the area is absent of grass and vegetation typical of natural conditions. Traditional, pastoral, American farms where animals graze and exercise their natural behaviors have been replaced by factory farms where animals processed for food live in filthy, cramped, unnatural conditions detrimental to animals and our environment. Factory farms' deplorable practices compromise our water, soil and air quality. They must be removed from our landscape.
Contaminated water is unpleasant, dangerous and responsible for endangering ecosystems and diminishing biodiversity. Fertilizer ingredients sprayed on animal feed including potassium, nitrogen and phosphorus naturally occur in our environment, but accumulation of these elements is hazardous. Excess amounts spill, leak and runoff into the ground, fouling water and encouraging algae to grow which depletes oxygen and kills fish and other aquatic animals. Factory farms' sizes make these occurrences frequent. Each incident jeopardizes species by rendering water and terrain uninhabitable. If factory farms continue to operate and expand, less water and land will be available for growing whole foods which can sustain a greater number of people using natural resources more efficiently.
Fertilizers represent only the beginning of factory farms' harmful affects on our environment. Manure and urine pollute the air and further taint already spoiled water and soil. Four gases mainly responsible for the stench wafting into our atmosphere are methane, ammonia, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide. All of these gases in excess are known to cause considerable health problems including eye, nose, and throat irritations, headaches, lack of coordination, nausea, liver and kidney damage, central nervous system complications and certain cancers. High levels of carbon dioxide released by factory farms prevent tissues and organs from absorbing oxygen triggering chest pains, fatigue and decreased concentration as well as vision and brain impairments. Odors and poor health often indicate air pollution. Climate changes ensue when these gases get trapped in our atmosphere due to the greenhouse effect.
Why such an excess of gas? Animals processed for food in factory farms increased about 60% within the past five decades. Increased animals means increased animal waste. Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, noted that consumers today spend about $110 billion annually eating four times the amount of chicken and three times the amount of beef and pork compared to previous decades explaining the continued growth and profitability of fast food establishments. Growing consumer demand for cheap meat and dairy products perpetuates the existence of factory farms on a global scale inhibiting governments' abilities to regulate and hold CAFOs accountable for environmental damage.
Farming methods practiced by traditional farmers had less of an impact on the environment than factory farms. Traditional farmers conducted business on a long cycle meaning they often raised livestock and crops simultaneously using a conventional fertilizer method, composted manure. Wealthy CAFOs operate on a short cycle focused on quantity. Even if animal waste were properly composted and utilized on nearby crops, the amount would be excessive. When lagoons, where animal waste is held, are not properly managed, waste leaks into our groundwater and emits high levels of gases into the atmosphere worsening global warming. The inability of traditional farmers to compete with CAFOs is partly the reason factory farms dominate our landscape.
Soil, water and air quality diminish as factory farm numbers grow. Fertilizers and animal waste contribute to environmental destruction while medications foster new bacteria. Factory farm managers use antibiotics to prevent outbreaks of sickness resulting from animals being confined in unnatural, cramped settings filled with their own excrement. As strains of bacteria become resistant to antibiotics, new bacteria strains develop and pose serious problems to our environment. A foreign introduction into any surrounding disrupts nature's equilibrium.
With a disruption of our environment's balance, conserving natural resources becomes even more crucial, but that is not what happens. The amount of energy required to manage CAFOs further taxes our polluted environment. "Beef production alone uses more water than is consumed in growing the nation's entire fruit and vegetable crops" [Motavalli, Jim. "So You're an Environmentalist; Why Are You Still Eating Meat?" AlterNet.]. A typical dairy farmer will use 150 gallons of water per day on each cow to wash and flush out the manure system. In addition to high volumes of water usage, land that could be used to grow crops for people is used to grow animal feed not to mention all the transportation required to ship animal feed and animals to be processed.
Companies have taken a captive supply and/or vertical integration approach to agribusiness. Captive supply is when a packing company owns contracts for cattle giving them a market advantage because they do not have to bid on cattle for slaughter in the open market. Vertical integration gives an even greater advantage because the company owns the entire process—factory farms, fertilizer manufacturing plants, feed sources, slaughterhouses, packaging and distribution centers as well as technology like genetic engineering and irradiation. These companies are modern day monopolies. To save our environment from further adverse effects of factory farms, they must be either preferably dismantled or held accountable for their negative impact on our environment.
Factory farms profit at the expense of animals and our environment. Their wealth and power influence government policies. We may not pay at the checkout line, but we pay when we visit the doctor for health problems directly correlated to factory farms' callous operations and with our tax monies to subsidize the meat and dairy industries as well as clean up their toxic waste. One way to combat factory farms' adverse effects on the environment is to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle. Consumers unwilling to give up animal products should purchase responsibly and write representatives urging them to enact harsher penalties for factory farms' spills, leaks and runoff disasters.
Update: Unfortunately, we've discovered that Maggie Gyllenhaal was, in fact, wearing real fox fur. You can watch the saga unfold on Ecorazzi.
On Tuesday, green gossip blog ecorazzi posted a photo of Maggie Gyllenhaal wearing, as they said, "what looks to be an entire forest of animals." Tee hee, ecorazzi!
But after some detective work, ecorazzi was able to determine that, fortunately, Maggie's vest was a faux-fur item offered by Louis Vuitton—not the collection of animal skins it appeared to be. Excellent—it would be a shame for the eco-friendly Maggie to make a public appearance in an eco-toxic dead skin!
You know what I love about this story? We weren't even the ones who started this whole thing—the photos of Maggie exploded all over the blogosphere, and everybody wanted to know if the fur was real or faux. We got a lot of calls and e-mails, too, from a lot of people who were all hoping that Maggie's outfit was faux.
It's really heartwarming to see just how many people react negatively when a celebrity is spotted in what appears to be fur. It really goes to show you that fur is dead in more ways than one—between the celebs who wear only faux fur and the stylists who have to resort to lying about the faux-ness of their fur, it looks like the Trollsens are the only hags who still think fur is a good idea.
Written by Amanda Schinke
I have some good news, and I have some bad news.
First, the bad news: Ned, an elephant confiscated from a Florida-based circus trainer, almost starved to death—he weighs a ton less than he should. That's right, a ton. Carol Buckley, the founder and director of the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, has rated his health a 2 on a scale of 1 to 10 and described him as a "bag of bones"—a sadly accurate description, as you can see in this photo. Ask yourself how long it must have taken for him to shrink away to that degree.
But there's good news—Ned has been confiscated from that trainer by the USDA and brought to the Elephant Sanctuary! He's being housed temporarily in a private facility, but will move to a permanent home once he regains his strength. Carol says he's starting to eat vegetables such as pumpkins, broccoli, and corn—a much more nutritious diet than the one he received in the so-called "care" of Ned's former trainer, which likely consisted of little more than hay. Hopes are high for Ned; Carol says he has the potential to live to be 70.
But, more bad news: The trainer who is responsible for Ned's condition is still licensed to work with animals! And this isn't the first time we've heard of him. We asked for an investigation into Lance Ramos in 2007 when whistleblowers contacted PETA about two tigers who allegedly died after being unnecessarily anesthetized for microchipping. (Ramos was training them for the hideous Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, by the way.)
In fact, Kollmann's history of problems goes back at least to 2000, when he was initially denied a permit because of the violations he had committed under his father's USDA license. We believe that Kollmann's abuse of Ned should be the last straw for the USDA—it's time for Kollmann's license to be revoked permanently.
In our letter to the USDA—which can be read here—we ask that Kollmann's license be permanently revoked and that criminal charges be brought against him. Ned's face says it all—Kollmann should not be entrusted with the care of any animal.
I honestly can't tell who's more stunning in PETA Europe's new anti-fur ad—Topsy, or Natalie Imbruglia! I mean, sure, Natalie's gorgeous, but Topsy has such fluffy ears ….
Really, though, "Torn" artist Natalie Imbruglia really shines in her new ad, which points out that even a "little fur trim" is the product of an industry that skins animals alive.
"There is no kind way to rip the skin off animals' backs. In the wild, animals are caught in snares and steel-jaw traps that slam down on their limbs—they often cut down to the bone and mutilate animals' legs and paws," Natalie says—and that kind of torture is a part of every piece of fur we see. Natalie continues, "Anyone who wears any fur shares the blame for the torture and gruesome deaths of millions of animals each year."
This isn't the first time Natalie has spoken out against fur, by the way. In 2005, she told Cosmopolitan just how she felt about fur when she shared her opinion of furry Jennifer Lopez. Oh, Natalie, you took the words right out of our mouths!
So when you go shopping for that new winter coat, don't forget to make sure that all the trim is totally faux—and you can check out PETA's Shopping Guide to Compassionate Clothing for some great cruelty-free resources. Topsy will thank you for it!
There are a couple of reasons you might know Jared Padalecki. If you're like Patricia over at peta2, you remember him as Dean on Gilmore Girls and love him as Sam on Supernatural (and if you're really like Patricia, you just might have a little crush on him—just sayin'). You might also remember the anti-fur ad he did for peta2. Jared posed with doggies Harley and Sadie to ask his fans, "If you wouldn't wear your dog, please don't wear any fur."
Well, it looks like Jared's fans have done more than just abstain from fur—they've joined him in the fight against it! The fans at SupportSupernatural.com banded together to raise some serious moolah for PETA in Jared's honor—a hefty $1200, if you can believe it!—which will go a long way to help animals.
Big thanks go out to Lindsay and Heather at SupportSupernatural.com—that's some major organizing and some major fundraising, ladies!
Hmm … inspiring, animal-loving cutie who plays a badass demon-fighter? Maybe Patricia is on to something ….
Here's a rare glimpse into what it's like for an undercover investigator. We would like to give a heartfelt thank you to the two brave individuals who went undercover at this pig factory farm in Iowa (and to undercover investigators everywhere). The investigators hope their experiences will motivate you to make a difference for animals each day in your own way. Here's what they had to say:
What exactly was your reaction when you saw just how badly the animals were really being treated? Did you cry?
Investigator 1: I was horrified and terribly saddened. But I had a good idea of what I was going to see, and I prepared myself for it. … Because it is so critical to conceal my identity and my sympathy for animals while undercover, I [can only] cry on the inside when I see the abuse and the cruelty. I can never let my coworkers see that side of me. Sometimes, I will let out a good cry at home or in my car after a particularly disturbing day.
Investigator 2: There were some nights I would get home and get emotional about the day's events. You have to hold it inside until you get home. If the other employees see you react in an emotional way, it would blow your cover. The people whom I have met working at a hog farm would never get emotional or upset due to the mistreatment of the animals, and so we must act in that same manner.
What toll does it take on you mentally and emotionally? How do you handle working in facilities that abuse animals?
Investigator 1: The job is challenging, both mentally and emotionally. It always helps me tremendously to look at the big picture and focus on the light at the end of the tunnel. Personal sacrifice is almost always necessary to achieve great change. But I take solace in those … moments that I spend, one-on-one, with the animals whom I meet on an assignment. Looking into the sad eyes of a suffering animal motivates me and energizes me to do more. And I realize that my mental and emotional anguish pales in comparison to the suffering and pain this animal is feeling right now. I get to go home after work every day, but the animals never leave.
Investigator 2: It can take a large toll on you. Seeing what happens firsthand day in and day out definitely affects you. There are times during a case when I have had nightmares about it. The only way to really get through it is to always keep in mind that this would all be happening if I was there or not. By being there, I have the opportunity to help stop abuse.
To read all of the questions and answers from the investigators, click here.
Do you think you'd be able to handle being an undercover investigator?
Written by Christine Doré
This year, in response to the gobbledygook that is offered on Butterball's Thanksgiving hotline (tips for stuffing a murdered bird? No, thank you!), you'll never guess who is greeting 1-888-VEG-FOOD callers and asking folks to pardon all turkeys from the horrible fate of being Thanksgiving dinner. A clue? He's "decided" to give the birds a break.
Each year, the president "pardons" two turkeys, who used to be sent to, ahem, Frying Pan Park in Fairfax County, Virginia. Well, instead of letting two overblown, overgrown birds get a few months to hobble around on painful legs, here's an idea: Go meat-free! Of all the tough decisions boggling the Executive-brain, this one should be the easiest to make. The weapons of mass defeathering are well-documented, and are known as shackles, scalding tanks, and blade machines. Check out the words of wisdom:
So, a word to those who would celebrate Thanksgiving with a dead centerpiece: Why not try one of these life-affirming, tasty recipes instead? Or how about a faux turkey? Or a vegan Wellington of mass deliciousness? Yep, healthy, vegetarian Thanksgiving fare abounds, and the turkeys needn't be the only ones doing the gobbling.
Written by Charlotte Gordon
A new report by the auto insurance–funded Highway Loss Data Institute finds that fatalities in collisions between vehicles and animals—mostly deer—have more than doubled in the last 15 years. Hunters are undoubtedly tripping all over themselves in the hope of using this to rationalize killing even more animals—but we believe that the blame for this crisis falls on their shoulders.
You see, hunting increases deer populations. Deer are masters of managing their own populations if left alone to judge how much food is available to sustain their herd size. Pregnant does have been known to reabsorb fetuses if a sharp winter deprives them of the nourishment to sustain a fawn. But, in hunted populations, does are more likely to have twins rather than single fawns (or none), and are more likely to reproduce at a younger age.
The state agencies that are responsible for wildlife "management" know this, of course—but they've allied themselves with hunters, who want there to be more living targets, not fewer!
So, instead of setting up chemo-sterilization programs or letting the deer figure things out naturally, "game" management agencies deliberately do things like destroying the deer's forest homes by clear-cutting in order to increase the amount of vegetation for the deer to eat, and planting browse in order to fool the deer into increasing their populations. These programs help to ensure that there are plenty of animals for these officials and their bloodthirsty buddies to kill as well as plenty of revenue from the sale of hunting licenses.
When hunting seasons make the deer's ever-shrinking territories into war zones, the deer find themselves constantly on the run—and in their panic they often jump right into roadways. A study of collisions between deer and vehicles in Pennsylvania found that the opening day and opening Saturday of deer-hunting season are "[t]wo of the most dangerous days to drive." And the deer have good reason to be fearful: A British study of deer hunting found that more than 10 percent of deer who are killed by hunters had to be shot multiple times before they died—and that some wounded deer suffered for more than 15 minutes before dying. We suspect the situation is far worse in the good ole U.S. of A.
There is a lot of work to be done to help protect deer and other wildlife. And drivers should slow down and watch the road carefully during hunting seasons. Be aware that most of the time when a car hits a deer, the driver slowed down for one deer, and then sped up and hit another. In other words, if you see one deer, slow down and watch for the rest of the deer family.
So, if you hear someone try to justify hunting with the ludicrous line that "it helps animals," call them out with the facts.
Written by Jeff Mackey
It's not often that we post an entry about octopi, but this story is definitely worth the mention.
When employees at the Sea Star Aquarium in Coburg, Germany, were puzzled by the constant short-circuiting of lights, they thought it was a result of technical difficulties. It turns out, however, that Otto the octopus was just trying to get the irritating light turned off. Maybe he'd read that study about how having lights on at night can interfere with your sleep.
It took three days and the detective work of several employees to learn of Otto's clever antics, which included climbing to the rim of his tank and squirting water at the lights above to turn them off. The cephalopod has also been caught redecorating his tank by tossing its contents around, throwing rocks at the tank glass, and juggling hermit crabs.
Otto's pranks may be amusing—especially when they're fooling humans—but they're also a sign that he is bored out of his mind and not receiving the stimulation that any intelligent being needs. They are a cry for attention. Signs of boredom and loneliness are the norm among animals who are imprisoned in tiny, barren spaces; and they can be dangerous too. When the electricity short-circuited, it shut down all the filters and water pumps, putting not only Otto in danger but the other marine life as well. And the hermit crabs most likely didn't enjoy being tossed around.
Octopi are highly intelligent animals with sharp short-term and long-term memory skills. Instead of buying new toys and keeping an eye on Otto, as the aquarium's director has suggested, we vote that he should be released into the ocean where he can live a natural and full life in his vast native environment. All the toys in the world aren't going to make any difference for an animal who is crammed into a tiny, unfamiliar living space that lacks the proper kind of stimulation.
Written by Jennifer Cierlitsky
Murder is frightening business, but it is even more chilling perhaps when the crime is allegedly committed by a child who is not even old enough to grasp the consequences of the deed. Vincent Romero and Timothy Romans of Arizona were reportedly killed by Romero's 8-year-old son using a rifle much like the one that Romero had used to teach his son to hunt other living beings.
In a time like this, the community should take action. No child should be encouraged to be callous by being taught to kill, nor should children be instructed in the use of firearms, which enable them to wound, maim, and destroy. We have written to Gov. Janet Napolitano of Arizona asking her to ban children under the age of 18 from hunting. It makes them insensitive, damages the ecosystem, and causes the clear danger of familiarizing a child with gun use.
Though some firearms advocates protest that it is fine for a well-instructed child to wield a deadly weapon for the purpose of killing birds and deer, for instance, that is not the case. All school shooters had previously hunted and used guns. The FBI has found through interviews that 36 percent of murderers had tortured or killed animals before killing humans, and 46 percent had done so in adolescence.
We are asking Gov. Napolitano and the community to avoid "sticking to their guns," and to take this tragedy as a wake-up call. We can keep adults and children safe and healthy by not teaching kids to take "taking a life" lightly. You can read our letter to the Gov. Napolitano here.
Written by Sean Conner
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.