Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Animal Advocates Mobilize for Proposition 2

Ballot Initiative Will Stop Torture of Chickens, Pigs, Calves


Copyright © 2008 by Leo E. Laurence • All rights reserved

Most of the chicken and eggs, and some of the meat, we eat come from tortured animals and chicken, raised on huge commercial farms. Proposition 2 on the November ballot will stop the torture.

“We insist that all animals be treated humanely, including animals raised for food,” Wayne Ta-celle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, said in an interview in Ocean Beach, scene of an S-R-O rally to support Proposition 2.

“(It) targets the tortured confinement of veal calves in small crates, breeding sows (piglets) in gestation cages and laying hens in battery cages.

“(Those cages) are where 6 or 8 chickens are crammed into a tiny cage so small that the birds can’t extend their wings or have the opportunity to engage in basic behavior like nesting, perching or dust bathing.

“Those practices are targeted by Proposition 2, and are the most abusive confinement systems in modern American agriculture,” Tacelle added.

“Factory farms” — the target of Proposition 2 — are large-scale, industrial-size, animal-agriculture facilities where thousands of animals are crammed into windowless buildings and treated like commodities; rather than living, breathing, feeling creatures,” Tacelle explained.

“In California alone, 20 million animals are confined in these factory farms that will be affected by Proposition 2.

“The largest operator is Norco in Riverside County that has 8 million hens in its operation.

“The egg industry is profiting hand-over-fist. They have increased prices by 30 to 40 percent in the last year, well beyond the increase in feeds costs that have come about because of ethanol-related issues and higher prices of corn.

Polls taken in mid-September show that 63 percent of likely voters will vote ‘yes’ on Proposition 2, with only 24 percent voting ‘no,’ and 13 percent undecided. However, initiatives that target large businesses frequently lose support as well-funded industry campaigns attack them — and Tacelle warned his audience that that might happen with Proposition 2.

“The animal agribusiness industry is putting millions of dollars into the fight to deceive the public and defeat Proposition 2,” he said.

“They are trying to misdirect the discussion and somehow argue that confining animals and chickens in these windowless buildings in small cages actually promotes food safety.

“Just last Friday (September 5) alone, 133 companies donated $4.5 million in one day” to fight Proposition 2.

“I went to a factory farm for egg-laying hens in Yucaipa in San Bernardino County where they have 750,000 chickens. They were open, wire cages on several floors. Those below were browner because the manure was falling on them from the chickens on the upper floors.

“It’s not only the intensive confinement that is so frustrating to these hundreds of thousands of chickens, but it is squalid , smells horrible and is just a filthy environment for these chickens to live in all their lives,” the CEO of the U.S. Humane Society said.

Massive Mobilization

“Proposition 2 has been one of the most inspiring campaigns because of the huge, local mobili-zation of volunteers” in the greater San Diego area, reports Kath Rogers of the Animal Protection and Rescue League (APRL).

“Here in San Diego County, we have the largest volunteer base of anywhere in the state, but we still need many more!

“We had over 600 active volunteers to get Proposition 2 on the ballot. “We now have 2,300 who signed up to help (get it passed in November). We are really pushing now to get-out-the-vote.

“The factory farm corporations don’t have anyone on the ground, pushing.

“We have people who care about animals who want to put a stop to their massive abuse. We need volunteers to help on weekends and in their free time to make a change,” Rogers added.

One of those volunteers is Spencer Herrick, 33, of La Jolla.

“I’m involved because this is a great cause to prevent animal cruelty. It’s not hard to volunteer and do whatever you can,” Herrick explained.

“I spent the summer at the APRL office to prevent farm-animal cruelty and to let these animals and chickens have a life worth living. They can’t even turn around or stretch their legs.”

Foie Gras Fight

Meanwhile, the APRL is also continuing it fight to remove foie gras from high-end restaurants in the San Diego area.

“Foie gras is liver from ducks that have been cruelly forced-fed massive amounts of food to en-large their lives to 12 times their normal size,” says APRL attorney Bryan Pease. He has also been in the forefront of the battle to protect the seals in La Jolla’s Children’s Pool.

“With foie gras production, they force-feed corn mash that is deficient on choline, an amino acid that is essential for liver functioning.

“That causes the liver function to break down so that it cannot transport fat into the rest of the body, and the fat builds up in the liver.

“The disease (of the liver used in foie gras) is called hepatic lipodosin,” Pease explained. So, foie gras, although a delicacy in expensive restaurants, is actually diseased liver.

The APLR has been waging a campaign to get foie gras removed from local restaurants for 6 years.

“Most have removed it,” Pease reported in an interview.

The APLR will be targeting the Blanca Restaurant in Solano Beach with sidewalk, protest dem-onstrations. They will also be back to the Laurel Restaurant at Fifth Avenue and Mr. A’s in Hillcrest, both of which had removed it from their menus, but subsequently restored the dish of diseased duck liver.

For comment, contact Leo Laurence at (619) 757-4909 or at

Photo caption: Attorney Bryan Pease speaks to a September rally supporting Proposition 2 in Ocean Beach. Photo by Leo E. Laurence.