DEAR READERS: Many conscientious consumers of eggs, poultry, dairy products and meat rely on the USDA's Organic Certification (OC) label. The label, on which I worked decades ago, implies some humane standards of care, including access to the outdoors and freedom to engage in instinctual behaviors essential for animals' overall well-being.
On dairy products, the label has been questionable for years. One example: In 2019, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service, nine organic-certified, corporate-owned confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) in Texas produced 1.5 times more "organic" milk than all 530 family-owned organic dairy farms in Wisconsin combined. The latter are being forced out of business by these competitors with mega herds of 10,000 to 20,000 cows.
Now, the validity of the OC label is in even greater jeopardy as Big Ag's factory farmers seek to remove basic humane standards and permit Organic Certification of produce from poultry kept in CAFOs. Specifically, draft regulation currently under consideration would legalize factory farm conditions for organic chicken meat and egg producers. This is an outrage.
Industry watchdog group OrganicEye opposes the legislation. Here is part of a statement, via ChildrensHealthDefense.org:
"OrganicEye is now renewing its call to the USDA to enforce current organic regulations and is urging organic consumers and supporters to appeal to President Biden to intervene and stop this latest 'giveaway to corporate lobbyists.' Organic regulations already mandate outdoor access for all livestock, including pasture access for grass-fed cows and other ruminants. Importantly, organically raised animals must, by law, have the opportunity to express their natural instinctual behaviors.
"OrganicEye has created a proxy letter you can download from its website (organiceye.org). Simply print it out, sign it, add any personal comments on the back, and mail it to OrganicEye. They will deliver the letters to President Biden's office."
URGENT APPEAL TO HELP ANIMALS IN FLOOD DISASTER
DEAR DR. FOX: We are appealing to your readers to send us funds to help with the flood disaster in our animal refuge, Sorriso di San Francesco (close to Assisi, Italy).
A supply bridge -- vital for the care of our animals -- connects our main building with our dogs, horses, donkeys, sheep, goats, pigs and cats on the other side of the river in the valley. This bridge was torn away with impetuous water force. The reconstruction of the supply bridge is urgent. According to initial estimates, this will cost 130,000 euros. The fence and stables must also be reconstructed, and the bank stabilized.
The reconstruction will demand a lot from us, and I sincerely hope that we will be able to shoulder this in addition to our already overwhelming responsibility for our animal residents. For details, please go to: pro-animale.de/flood-disaster-in-assisi/?lang=en. -- Natascha and Johanna Wothke, Pro Animale, Schweinfurt, Germany
DEAR N.W. AND J.W.: You have my sympathy and respect for the many years of dedication your organization has put in, helping animals from Ireland to Turkey -- and most recently, rescuing animals in Ukraine, including those from the war-caused flooding.
Now your beautiful sanctuary near Assisi, which I saw at its beginnings, is a victim of climate change. All who can pitch in to help must do so.
TYSON'S CHICKEN BACK ON ANTIBIOTICS
Tyson-branded chicken with labels stating that no antibiotics were used in production will begin using a different label -- "no antibiotics important to human medicine" -- by the end of this year. That standard, recognized by the USDA and the World Health Organization, allows for the use of antibiotics that are "not crucial to the treatment of human diseases." (Full story: CNN, July 3)
In my professional opinion, while antibiotics are needed to control some diseases in these stressed and overcrowded poultry factories, the fact that antibiotics are also used in farmed animals to boost productivity should be noted, too. Antibiotic residues in contaminated chicken, even after chlorine treatment, are an issue for companion animals whose manufactured pet foods include commercial chicken parts and discards.
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org 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.)