The Battles in the Mideast Are Showing Animal Agriculture How To Confront Activists

The current conflict in Gaza is daily news of Israel prosecuting a war against Hamas.  It has certain parallels to animal agriculture addressing production methods with animal activists or environmentalists. When companies give a little ground to placate the animal activists or environmentalists, they may believe they are buying peace, but it is short-lived as the domestic terrorists want an end to animal agriculture. When agriculture companies announce an end to conventional cages or gestation crates, this is a short-lived peace.  Their objective is not peace, but the elimination of animal agriculture.  Consider the words of Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Prime Minister. “You cannot negotiate with those who want to put you out of existence,” said Netanyahu. He was addressing a joint session of the U.S. Congress 4 years ago.  He knows a thing or two about terrorists.  Animal agriculture can learn from his experience in application to our response to animal rights groups (i.e., animal activists or environmentalists are defined by the FBI as domestic terrorists). So why do companies producing meat, milk, or eggs think giving in on eliminating cages or farrowing crates will placate the animal activists and allowing those companies to continue operations?  Below are public statements from five leaders in the animal rights community:


  1. 1.“Eating meat is not your personal decision, any more than whether somebody beats their children is their personal decision.” Bruce Friedrich, Farm Sanctuary, formerly PETA.
  2. 2.“Meat consumption is just as dangerous to public health as tobacco use.”

Neal Barnard, Physicians Committee on Responsible Medicine (PCRM).

  1. 3.“I dream of a vegan world – that’s where I want everyone to go.” Gene Baur, Farm Sanctuary.
  2. 4.“ We just have to reduce the number of animals that are raised forIf anyone says ‘cage-free’ is 100% humane, 100% cruelty-free, that’s not accurate.” Josh Balk, HSUS
  3. 5.“[about eggs] We want to get rid of the industry.” Miyun Park, GAP, formerly HSUS.



These are the leaders in the animal rights community.  They don’t want to negotiate a peaceful coexistence with animal agriculture.  They want to eliminate it.


The associations representing animal agriculture must maintain a vigilance in refuting each and every false claim made about modern production practices.  In yesterday's FoodProductionDaily.com (July 30, 2014) is the article "Why did the Chicken Cross Europe? To call for better labelling." This is a report by a European chicken farmer's daughter, Tamsin French, while touring 21 EU member states dressed in a chicken costume for 39 days.  She picked the time because that is average lifespan of an “intensively farmed” meat chicken where the chicken has "little or no opportunity to display natural behaviors" stated Ms. French. Her journey also coincides with a European Commission review of poultry meat labelling this summer. The media pictured this attractive graduate wearing part of her costume.  The implication is she’s from a farm and must know the facts about raising poultry.


I raised the issue yesterday with many EU animal scientists asking what consideration was given to food safety in her mission?  For example, there are food safety concerns associated with free range poultry. As published in Food Control [47 (2015) 161-165] entitled "Microbiological Contamination of Shell Eggs Produced in Conventional [battery cages] and Free-Range" the authors from Clemson University, USA, reported Enterobacteriacea on egg shell surfaces were 90% greater in free-range over battery cages. Salmonella for free-range was 2.36% and 0 for battery while Campylobacter for free-range was 26.1% compared to 7.4% for battery eggs.


Granted this is not the battle we are watching in the Mideast, but unless we draw a line and start refuting the misinformation published in the press, we will soon be facing more food companies demanding we eliminate our proven production practices in providing a safe and wholesome product.