The Animal Doctor

The Big Beef About Beef

DEAR READERS: According to BBC News, using satellite data, an area of Amazon rainforest roughly the size of a football field is now being cleared every single minute.

The rate of losses has accelerated as Brazil’s new right-wing president favors development -- for beef and soybean production -- over conservation. The Amazon, the largest rainforest in the world, is a vital carbon store that slows down the pace of global warming.

Shaley Lensegrav, writing for Tri-State Livestock News, March 28/19, reports:

“A recent meeting between President Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Messias Bolsonaro set specifications into motion that could lead to the return of Brazilian beef to United States markets if the processing facilities pass inspection. The introduction of Brazilian beef could negatively affect herd health and the beef markets in the U.S., say some.”

For more details, visit: theecologist.org/2019/jul/02/jbs-brazilian-butchers-take-over-world.

It should be noted that the U.S. government has blocked efforts to indicate the country of origin of the beef in its markets. The United States imports beef from Australia, Canada and much of Latin America. If that same beef passes a USDA inspection, it receives a label saying “Product of the USA.” (Western Organization of Resource Councils: worc.org/were-importing-beef-and-labeling-it-product-of-the-usa/)

Most U.S. beef producers are opposing protection of wolves under the Endangered Species Act, and are largely responsible for the virtual demise of the mountain lion and the wolf across their natural ranges, which has led to a decline in biodiversity and ecosystem health. In the Amazon, indigenous tribes are experiencing a similar fate as native American Indians a century ago from such commercial expropriation.

Much of the “beef” in pet foods is recycled cattle remains condemned for human consumption and classified as “4-D” meat: parts from cattle who are diseased, debilitated, dying or dead on arrival at the processing plant. Some could soon be coming from Brazil.

Aside from consumer health concerns with the association of high beef consumption with cancers of the breast, prostate and colon, animal welfare and environmental concerns call for informed consumers who wish to eat beef to purchase local, grass-fed and organically certified beef.

Globally, beef production has an incredibly negative impact on the environment and use of water and land for feed, especially when compared with poultry production. So, from now on, the animals in our home will not have any pet foods containing “beef,” “beef meal,” “beef tallow” or unspecified “meat meal,” “meat by-products,” “bone meal” or “animal fat.”

DEAR DR. FOX: Did you receive the wolf adoption gift I paid for with a donation to the World Wildlife Fund in your name? I know how much you have done to spread the good word about these wonderful animals. -- S.C., Bar Harbor, Maine

DEAR S.C.: Your gift has arrived from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Thanks so much for your generous contribution to help protect and conserve wildlife, wolves in particular, via this “WWF symbolic adoption.”

The box included a furry toy wolf labeled “handmade in Indonesia,” made of washable polyester fibers and stuffed with plastic pellets. It was beautifully made, with bright eyes, and stands some 8 inches at the shoulder. It actually startled our resident rescued cat and dog!

But it would seem that the WWF is more concerned with fundraising than distributing gifts made from sustainable materials. Why not stuff with organic or recycled cotton or hemp and fabricate with natural materials, rather than non-recyclable petrochemicals? How can we protect nature when we continue to manufacture and distribute materials that nature cannot recycle?

Clearly, the marketing division of the WWF needs to be more attentive to the kinds of materials they are mailing to raise funds. They are not alone in this regard, since other nonprofit animal and environmental protection organizations offer various goods -- mostly manufactured in China, and many of which, being derived from petrochemicals, cannot be recycled and are toxic to the environment and terrestrial and aquatic life.

I would urge the WWF and other organizations purporting to help wildlife and nature to consider employing indigenous peoples, such as those my wife, Deanna Krantz, could quickly assemble in India with the assist of the veterinarian whose work we support in a UNESCO-designated Global Biosphere Reserve. She established a large shelter and free veterinary services for the villagers and tribal peoples, who could create animal artifacts from forest products including natural fibers, native beeswax and vegetable dyes. Such materials would be exported only with provisions of disease and contamination inspection and prohibition on live seeds.

(Send all mail to animaldocfox@gmail.com or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.

Visit Dr. Fox’s website at DrFoxOneHealth.com.)

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