Animal Welfare Approved

Archive for January, 2011

Where’s the Beef?

By Andrew Gunther |

The story that grabbed my attention last week was a class action lawsuit against Taco Bell challenging the actual beef content in the chain’s beef tacos. Taco Bell responded with what appeared to be an example of public relations crisis management at its best, but with one major flaw: in rebutting the lawsuit Taco Bell appears to have trashed its product.

The false advertising lawsuit claims that the “seasoned ground beef” in Taco Bell’s crunchy taco, beefy ground burrito and other products doesn’t actually meet the minimum requirements set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to be labeled as “beef.” Taco Bell responded quickly with its “thank you for suing us” ads stating that the filling was indeed beef with added seasonings.

The Organic Elite Surrenders to Monsanto: What Now?

By Animal Welfare Approved | January 28, 2011

Reprinted by permission from the Organic Consumers Association

In the wake of a 12-year battle to keep Monsanto’s Genetically Engineered (GE) crops from contaminating the nation’s 25,000 organic farms and ranches, America’s organic consumers and producers are facing betrayal. A self-appointed cabal of the Organic Elite, spearheaded by Whole Foods Market, Organic Valley, and Stonyfield Farm, has decided it’s time to surrender to Monsanto. Top executives from these companies have publicly admitted that they no longer oppose the mass commercialization of GE crops, such as Monsanto’s controversial Roundup Ready alfalfa, and are prepared to sit down and cut a deal for “coexistence” with Monsanto and USDA biotech cheerleader Tom Vilsack.

In a cleverly worded, but profoundly misleading email sent to its customers last week, Whole Foods Market, while proclaiming their support for organics and “seed purity,” gave the green light to USDA bureaucrats to approve the “conditional deregulation” of Monsanto’s genetically engineered, herbicide-resistant alfalfa. Beyond the regulatory euphemism of “conditional deregulation,” this means that WFM and their colleagues are willing to go along with the massive planting of a chemical and energy-intensive GE perennial crop, alfalfa; guaranteed to spread its mutant genes and seeds across the nation; guaranteed to contaminate the alfalfa fed to organic animals; guaranteed to lead to massive poisoning of farm workers and destruction of the essential soil food web by the toxic herbicide, Roundup; and guaranteed to produce Roundup-resistant superweeds that will require even more deadly herbicides such as 2,4 D to be sprayed on millions of acres of alfalfa across the U.S.

News & Observer Releases Top Restaurant Awards Many AWA Certified Farms Supply the Winners

By Animal Welfare Approved | January 21, 2011

The Raleigh News & Observer’s restaurant critic Greg Cox came out with his annual recognition for local restaurants today. Topping the list as “Restaurant of the Year” is the new Bella Mia, the coal-fired pizzeria in Cary, NC. According to Cox, “Its blistery-crusted pies immediately raised the bar far above anything the area has ever seen.” AWA is proud to announce that all of the beef used by Bella Mia is supplied by Rare Earth Farms of Zebulon, NC.

Animal Welfare Approved farms also supplying Gold, Silver and “Best in Class” award winners include Border Springs Farm (lamb), Cane Creek Farm (pork), Captain John S. Pope Farm (lamb), Cohen Farm (eggs), Fowl Attitude Farm (eggs), and High Ground Farm (eggs).

Announcing Good Husbandry Grant Winners!

By Emily | January 18, 2011

Now in its third year, the AWA Good Husbandry Grants program is helping promote innovative, forward thinking farming techniques that ultimately enhance farm viability. Twenty-eight grants have been awarded to farms and slaughter plants across the nation to improve animal welfare and allow pasture-based farmers to increase productivity for their operations.

The 2010-2011 Good Husbandry Grants range from $600 to $6000 and were open to current Animal Welfare Approved farmers and those who have applied to join the program, as well as slaughter plants working with or seeking to work with AWA farmers. The funding priorities included genetic improvement for pasture-based systems; outdoor access and mobile housing; welfare improvements in the slaughter process; non-lethal predator control and other innovative projects that improve the welfare of animals.

Genetic Meddling: A Step Too Far

By Andrew Gunther | January 14, 2011

The news that scientists think it is possible to genetically modify a chicken to make it resistant to avian influenza–also known as “bird flu”– had me spitting feathers. Talk about treating the symptoms and not the cause!

A BBC news piece on January 13 highlights the gallant efforts of scientists to cure the scourge of bird flu using GM technology. Researchers from a joint project between Edinburgh and Cambridge Universities have inserted an artificial gene into chicken cells that would make a chicken resistant to bird flu. The scientists go on to say that they think the potential to protect any farm animal from any viral disease is now only a test tube away. Professor Helen Sang said, “This is really exciting because bird flu is a real challenge to poultry production and if it were introduced to poultry breeding it would protect our large scale production flocks from avian influenza.”

Simon Boers Meat Goats – Hagerman, ID

By Animal Welfare Approved | January 13, 2011

Simon Boers is in the lovely Hagerman Valley in Idaho, set among the Snake River canyon and hay fields, and home of many public wildlife preserves. Evelyn Simon and her husband, Joe Bennett, are the team behind the farm, working together to raise champion goats–prized for their look and the taste of their meat. Judges from the American Boer Goat Association have described the goats as high quality, beautiful animals with excellent Boer characteristics, like a bold curved nose, strong shoulders and a glossy coat of white and brown hair.

AWA Launches Online Directory of AWA Farms and Products

By Animal Welfare Approved |

As consumer demand grows for products from animals raised with high-welfare standards, Animal Welfare Approved is pleased to launch its new Online Directory of AWA farms and AWA farmers’ products across the country. From beef to bison, milk to cheese, chicken to sheep, this directory is the go-to search engine to find the most humane products available in the United States.

GM Crop Thriller Outguns James Bond

By Andrew Gunther | January 4, 2011

Watching James Bond films is for some of us a family tradition over the Christmas holiday, mostly because the stories are so big and farfetched. You know, where the bad guys are found to be secretly coercing governments – and even entire countries – to aid and abet corporate global domination, and where good old Felix from the CIA saves the day and helps Mr. Bond defeat the evildoers.

But in a bizarre twist to the plot, it now looks like the real-life Felix may have actually been working for Monsanto and the Big Ag lobby all along. An article in The Guardian newspaper this week on the latest batch of diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks reveals that the U.S. embassy in Paris advised Washington in 2007 to start a military-style trade war against any European Union country that opposed genetically modified (GM) crops. It’s exactly the kind of plot that you’d expect to see in a James Bond movie.

One of cables is from Craig Stapleton, the U.S. ambassador to France from 2005-2009. In that cable, Stapleton expresses his concern that France might soon pass laws that could hamper the expansion of GM crops in Europe, and calls on Washington to punish the EU – particularly countries not supporting the use of GM crops.

“Country team Paris recommends that we calibrate a target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU since this is a collective responsibility, but that also focuses in part on the worst culprits… “