The Trump administration has sided with the big dairy, meat and poultry industries to gut a major condition of the Organic Certification standards, ruling that livestock deemed “USDA Organic” need not be treated any more humanely than animals in conventional farming (the inherent cruelties of which have been well-documented).
This decision reverses years of policy at the Department of Agriculture, which, through the “USDA Organic” label, would dictate what may be sold as “organic” food in the United States. This label could not be used unless the stipulated animal welfare standards and practices -- which I helped initially formulate, several years ago -- were adopted and verified.
These new rules, called the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP), were finalized on Jan. 18, 2017, but that didn’t stop the USDA from delaying them multiple times in the wake of President Trump’s post-inauguration regulatory freeze. Scheduled to go into effect on May 14, 2018, the OLPP specified a set of standards for organic livestock and poultry designed to minimize stress, facilitate natural behaviors and promote animals’ well-being.
This reversal means that consumers will not have any government assurance that the animal produce they purchase comes from animals raised and treated with some humane consideration.
Reinstating humane livestock standards -- as well as those protecting the environment and public lands, which the current administration has trashed -- should be the first task of redemption by the next administration. But that all depends on an enlightened populace electing a more responsible legislature that equates the common good with those values that indeed were making America great, and beginning to put ethics and compassion into more responsible business practices, along with environmental responsibility.
In the interim, I urge consumers to consider vegan and “fake meat” options. The nonviolent revolution of the kitchen calls for saying “fork you” to the conventional food industry, seeing as it is petrochemical-based, pesticide-dependent, drug-addicted and inhumane. The lacto-ovo-vegetarian option (eating dairy and eggs, but no meat) is a relatively humane choice. Practitioners should support known, local producers whose bovine hormone-free (rBGH-free) and cage-free claims can be verified. Also, some animal produce that has been humanely certified by independent, nongovernmental organizations can be found in some stores and farmers’ markets; this may become more prevalent in reaction to the Trump administration’s negation of humane concerns for farmed animals.
Any government that puts making a profit over the higher ethical and spiritual values that define our humanity, especially over concern for fellow creatures and the natural environment, will ultimately justify violating human rights for the greater good of mammon -- and will not make America great again.
DEAR DR. FOX: My miniature long-haired dachshund Gus has exhibited “shaker syndrome” episodes since about age 2 or 3. He begins to shake and loses control of his hind legs. He maintains eye contact and does not appear to suffer any pain. He will sometimes vomit after an incident, and willingly enters his crate when the tremors subside, after he has regained control of his legs.
After these episodes, Gus appears to act normal again and resumes eating and playing. He will be 7 years old in a few months. My own research about this condition indicates it could be inherited, and that dogs with it can still live a normal lifespan.
In your experience, would any changes in diet or activity reduce the frequency of these episodes? Do medications help? I would prefer natural remedies. I appreciate your professional insight into this unsettling disorder. -- J.J., Falls Church, Virginia
DEAR J.J.: Your dog’s condition, evident in certain breeds, does point to a genetic susceptibility, but the actual cause has not yet been determined.
It may be an autoimmune inflammatory brain disease, possibly triggered by an infection, or so-called vaccinosis: an adverse reaction to vaccination. I would avoid further vaccinations and the use of anti-flea drugs, which can affect the nervous system.
I would put your dog on a whole food diet, as per my recipe on my website, that you can prepare yourself. Add some antioxidant-rich blueberries and other finely chopped or blended raw fruits and vegetables (apple, papaya, pineapple, kale or broccoli), plus anti-inflammatory fish oil. Discuss with your veterinarian a treatment with prednisolone (not prednisone) on a periodic regimen of increasing and then decreasing the dose, with intervals of no medication and possible maintenance on gabapentin. Melatonin, a natural plant product and potent antioxidant, may also be beneficial.
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