Dr. Mohan Raj, a world-renowned expert in humane slaughter and farm animal welfare, has been tapped to lead Animal Welfare Approved (AWA)’s newly formed Scientific and Technical Advisory Board, AWA Program Director Andrew Gunther announced today. Raj is currently the Reader in farm animal welfare at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. He is one of the foremost authorities in the field of humane stunning and slaughter and the developer of a novel and humane slaughter system for poultry and pigs using inert gases. Raj has published over 40 original scientific papers and authored chapters in textbooks and reference books. The Animal Welfare Approved program has experienced tremendous growth over the past year, Gunther notes. The creation of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Board is the next step in aiding the program in retaining its reputation as being driven by practical science while still grounding the standards in the everyday reality of farm life. “Dr. Raj will be instrumental in ensuring AWA standards respect and reflect the needs of the animals and farmers while not compromising good care,” Gunther says. “We are honored and fortunate to have Dr. Raj at the helm of our new Board. His experience and knowledge is second to none in the field.”
Not that we like to gloat, but…. Grassfed beef from two Animal Welfare Approved farmers has gone head-to-head with conventional beef in separate taste tests. The results are in and, well, to be modest, SMACKDOWN! This past summer, AWA supporter Chef Bill Telepan issued a challenge to Mark and Dr. Patricia Whisnant of American Grass Fed Beef—bring him some grassfed beef that he deemed worthy of using in his famous burger and he would make the switch from the beef his customers had come to love. And so, on a muggy New York City afternoon, a small crowd gathered to see the gloves come off as 100% grassfed took on heavyweight conventional grain-fed. In a stunning upset, Chef Bill declared the upstart 100% grassfed beef the winner, bestowing the crown of onion rings and French fries that top the famous Telepan burger on the Whisnant’s American Grass Fed Beef.
A recent newspaper article brought home once again the extraordinary reality of industrialized food production – and lengths that some in the US food and farming industry will go to in the pursuit of "efficiency." This time, it was an article in the LA Times about the currently legal practice of feeding US cattle so-called "poultry litter." An unlikely sounding cattle feed, poultry litter is actually made up of industrial chicken feces, spilled chicken feed, feathers and other poultry waste collected from the floors of factory farms across the US. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – which is responsible for protecting public health and is at the center of this current situation for continuing to permit poultry litter as a feedstuff – estimates that US farmers currently feed between one and two million tons of poultry litter to their cattle each year.
As Program Director for Animal Welfare Approved, a free third-party food label that certifies family farms raising their animals outdoors using high-welfare practices, I generally sit out ballot box battles over farm animal welfare. Our efforts at Animal Welfare Approved focus on supporting sustainable family farms, high-welfare production and consumer education. So the fact that I’m going to ask Ohioans to vote against Issue 2 this coming Tuesday will seem unusual to those who know me and my organization. But the case is clear. Our farmers are telling me that Issue 2 is not what it seems and attention should be paid. The basic problem with Issue 2 is summed up by Animal Welfare Approved farmer Dennis Adams of Cota Farms in Cardington. He says: “Issue 2 is not about farm animals, it’s about control. The measure is a fake, a sham.”
Asheville, NC Citizen-Times, October 27, 2009--The rural American landscape has changed in a way that can now imperil human health. In the name of efficiency, industrial farms have uprooted the family farm and the numerous jobs that go with it. Today the meat, milk and eggs on the average American’s table travel to supermarkets from places that more closely resemble factories than farms. On these industrialized operations, animals are confined indoors, in numbers far exceeding their natural social groups. They are forced to eat, drink, and in many cases stand in their own feces. These stressful conditions incubate and cause many diseases.