250,000 Demand Tyson Foods Stop Using Gestation Crates
Almost a quarter of a million people have signed a petition to Tyson Foods, the world’s second-largest meat processor and major U.S. pork supplier, created by consumer watchdog group SumOfUs.org and The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) demanding the company develop plans for getting the gestation crate confinement of pigs out of its supply chain.
The petition follows the announcements of many of the nation’s largest food companies–including McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Kroger, Safeway and Denny’s–that they will eliminate gestation crates from their supply chains. The effort also follows this Spring’s release of undercover footage taken by the HSUS at a pig factory farm that was supplying animals to Tyson Foods, in which breeding pigs were crammed into gestation crates, piglets were kicked like soccer balls and swung in circles by their hind legs and mother pigs were repeatedly beaten when they resisted being separated from their young, among other abuses.
“Consumer citizens have sent a message that is loud and clear to Tyson’s that they don’t support forcing pigs to spend their lives crammed inside cages so small they can’t even turn around,” said Taren Stinebricker-Kauffman, founder and executive director of SumOfUs.org. “Consumers are showing their power over corporations to shift their practices and shift entire industries. It’s time for Tyson to move beyond gestation crates to alternative housing.”
While other leading pork companies–like Smithfield Foods and Hormel–have stated their company-owned pig breeding operations will be gestation crate-free by 2017, and Cargill’s breeding operations are already 50 percent gestation crate-free, Tyson has no plans to get gestation crates out of its supply chain, and continues defending their use.
“Countless people care about how animals raised for food are abused and gestation crate confinement has come to epitomize that cruelty,” continued Stinebrickner-Kauffman. “The demise of gestation crates has become inevitable and Tyson should stop lagging behind its competitors and start thinking outside the crate.”
Earlier this Spring, SumOfUs.org members were instrumental at getting Tim Hortons, the fourth largest restaurant chain in North America, to commit to getting their pork producers to submit plans for phasing out gestation crates by the end of 2012.
About Gestation Crates:
• More than 80 percent of breeding pigs in the U.S. are confined day and night during their four-month pregnancy in gestation crates, cages roughly the same size as the animals’ bodies, preventing them from even turning around. They are then placed into another crate to give birth, are re-impregnated, and put back into a gestation crate. This happens pregnancy after pregnancy for their entire lives, adding up to years of virtual immobilization.
• Eight U.S. states have passed laws to ban the practice and Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island have bills pending that would do the same.
• Renowned animal welfare scientist and advisor to the pork industry, Dr. Temple Grandin, is clear on this issue: “Confining an animal for most of its life in a box in which it is not able to turn around does not provide a decent life.” Grandin further states, “We’ve got to treat animals right and the gestation stalls have got to go.”
Visit EcoWatch’s FACTORY FARMING page for more related news on this topic.
SumofUs is a global movement of consumers, investors and workers all around the world, standing together to hold corporations accountable for their actions and forge a new, sustainable and just path for our global economy.
The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization—backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, the HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs.
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By D. André Green II
One of nature's epic events is underway: Monarch butterflies' fall migration. Departing from all across the United States and Canada, the butterflies travel up to 2,500 miles to cluster at the same locations in Mexico or along the Pacific Coast where their great-grandparents spent the previous winter.
Millions of People Care About Monarchs<p>I will never forget the sights and sounds the first time I visited monarchs' overwintering sites in Mexico. Our guide pointed in the distance to what looked like hanging branches covered with dead leaves. But then I saw the leaves flash orange every so often, revealing what were actually thousands of tightly packed butterflies. The monarchs made their most striking sounds in the Sun, when they burst from the trees in massive fluttering plumes or landed on the ground in the tussle of mating.</p><p>Decades of educational outreach by teachers, researchers and hobbyists has cultivated a generation of monarch admirers who want to help preserve this phenomenon. This global network has helped restore not only monarchs' summer breeding habitat by planting milkweed, but also general pollinator habitat by planting nectaring flowers across North America.</p><p>Scientists have calculated that restoring the monarch population to a stable level of about 120 million butterflies will require <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/icad.12198" target="_blank">planting 1.6 billion new milkweed stems</a>. And they need them fast. This is too large a target to achieve through grassroots efforts alone. A <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/CCAA.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">new plan</a>, announced in the spring of 2020, is designed to help fill the gap.</p>
Pros and Cons of Regulation<p>The top-down strategy for saving monarchs gained energy in 2014, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service <a href="https://www.fws.gov/southeast/pdf/petition/monarch.pdf" target="_blank">proposed</a> listing them as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A decision is expected in December 2020.</p><p>Listing a species as endangered or threatened <a href="https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/listing.pdf" target="_blank">triggers restrictions</a> on "taking" (hunting, collecting or killing), transporting or selling it, and on activities that negatively affect its habitat. Listing monarchs would impose restrictions on landowners in areas where monarchs are found, over vast swaths of land in the U.S.</p><p>In my opinion, this is not a reason to avoid a listing. However, a "threatened" listing might inadvertently threaten one of the best conservation tools that we have: public education.</p><p>It would severely restrict common practices, such as rearing monarchs in classrooms and back yards, as well as scientific research. Anyone who wants to take monarchs and milkweed for these purposes would have to apply for special permits. But these efforts have had a multigenerational educational impact, and they should be protected. Few public campaigns have been more successful at raising awareness of conservation issues.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="91165203d4ec0efc30e4632a00fdf57d"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KilPRvjbMrA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The Rescue Attempt<p>To preempt the need for this kind of regulation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved a <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/pdfs/Monarch%20CCAA-CCA%20Public%20Comment%20Documents/Monarch-Nationwide_CCAA-CCA_Draft.pdf" target="_blank">Nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterflies</a>. Under this plan, "rights-of-way" landowners – energy and transportation companies and private owners – commit to restoring and creating millions of acres of pollinator habitat that have been decimated by land development and herbicide use in the past half-century.</p><p>The agreement was spearheaded by the <a href="http://rightofway.erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank">Rights-of-Way Habitat Working Group</a>, a collaboration between the University of Illinois Chicago's <a href="https://erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Energy Resources Center</a>, the Fish and Wildlife Service and over 40 organizations from the energy and transportation sectors. These sectors control "rights-of-way" corridors such as lands near power lines, oil pipelines, railroad tracks and interstates, all valuable to monarch habitat restoration.</p><p>Under the plan, partners voluntarily agree to commit a percentage of their land to host protected monarch habitat. In exchange, general operations on their land that might directly harm monarchs or destroy milkweed will not be subject to the enhanced regulation of the Endangered Species Act – protection that would last for 25 years if monarchs are listed as threatened. The agreement is expected to create up to 2.3 million acres of new protected habitat, which ideally would avoid the need for a "threatened" listing.</p>
A Model for Collaboration<p>This agreement could be one of the few specific interventions that is big enough to allow researchers to quantify its impact on the size of the monarch population. Even if the agreement produces only 20% of its 2.3 million acre goal, this would still yield nearly half a million acres of new protected habitat. This would provide a powerful test of the role of declining breeding and nectaring habitat compared to other challenges to monarchs, such as climate change or pollution.</p><p>Scientists hope that data from this agreement will be made publicly available, like projects in the <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/MCD.html" target="_blank">Monarch Conservation Database</a>, which has tracked smaller on-the-ground conservation efforts since 2014. With this information we can continue to develop powerful new models with better accuracy for determining how different habitat factors, such as the number of milkweed stems or nectaring flowers on a landscape scale, affect the monarch population.</p><p>North America's monarch butterfly migration is one of the most awe-inspiring feats in the natural world. If this rescue plan succeeds, it could become a model for bridging different interests to achieve a common conservation goal.</p>
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