Their Turn - The Social Justice Movement of Our Time Their Turn - The Social Justice Movement of Our Time


What’s the Bird Flu News — “Millions Dead” or “Eggs Prices Could Increase”?

May 4, 2015 by Leave a Comment


In media coverage of the bird flu outbreak, reporters have delivered the news that million hens have been “destroyed” as though they were delivering the weather report — with virtually no emotion. In fact, the mass extermination has not been treated as news at all. It has been provided as background information to what media outlets regard as the real news: the impact of the flu deaths on on egg prices, egg exports and human health.

AP LA-Times USA-today

The media’s disregard for what, in a just world, would have been THE news – “Millions Dead!” – reflects the larger problem that society deems farm animals as commodities and objects instead of sentient beings. If millions of humans were, through no fault of their own, stricken with a virus and killed, the media would report on the tragedy around the clock for weeks, and they would do so with emotion.

Chicken cull in Hong Kong (photo: Philippe Lopez

Chicken cull in Hong Kong (photo: Philippe Lopez

Humans are the only animals who are destroying the planet, yet society has brainwashed us into thinking that we’re superior to those who live in harmony with it. We see ourselves as so superior, in fact, that we can kill animals by the millions without taking a moment to reflect on the pain and suffering they endure – which is caused by us.

Humans behave as though in charge of - instead of a part of - the planet.

Humans behave as though in charge of – instead of a part of – the planet.

The irony in this tragedy is that the 5.3 million birds who were killed are lucky compared to those who are forced to live. There are some fates worse than death, and spending one’s life intensively confined in a factory farm is one of them.

battery cage hens

The vast majority of egg laying hens spend their lives in cages so small that they can’t spread their wings.

In its bird flu coverage, the media also glanced over the conditions on factory farms that facilitate disease transmission. When thousands of animals are stuffed into sheds with no space to move, pathogens that enter spread quickly. Shouldn’t the media report on these conditions, which the industry intentionally hides, so that the public can make informed decisions about what (and who) they purchase at the grocery store?

Bird flu outbreak in China in 2013 (Photo by ChinaFotoPress, Getty Images)

Bird flu outbreak in China in 2013 (Photo by ChinaFotoPress, Getty Images)

The infectious diseases, mass slaughter, public health risks, cruelty and environmental devastation wrought by animal agriculture could be altogether eliminated if people adopted a plant-based diet. Perhaps renowned author Jonathan Safran Foer said it best, “Just how destructive does a culinary preference have to be before we decide to eat something else?”

Filed under: Food, Opinion
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Turning the Tables, Filmmakers to Lock Up Humans in Crates

December 8, 2014 by Leave a Comment

The News

Activists will go to extreme lengths to help animals — from protesting naked to liberating minks from fur farms. But how many are willing to live in their own excrement for 10 days?  “We have a waiting list,” according to the makers of Farming Humans, a one-hour documentary film in the early stages of development.

In Farming Humans, 12 people will be locked up in small cages for 10 days to emulate the intensive confinement of pigs, calves and chickens on factory farms. Unlike other animals, the captive humans will be able to describe their physical discomfort, the smell of their waste and the stress of being unable to move. They will also be able to beg for mercy and leave if they start to go insane, which is what happens to pigs in gestation crates.

gestation crates

Pigs who go insane from confinement chew the metal bars that imprison them

The filmmakers will make life difficult for the human animals, but they will stop short of carrying out the worst abuses, such as castration, dehorning, tail cutting, branding, debeaking, gratuitous physical attacks and, of course, slaughter.

TV host Jane Velez-Mitchell talks to the filmmakers about their provocative concept in an interview.

This isn’t the first time that human animals have stepped into a farm animal cage. In the months leading up to a vote on a gestation crate ban in New Jersey, HSUS challenged people in the state to step inside of one. That challenge, however, lasted only 4 minutes.

Gestation crate challenge in NJ (Photo: HSUS)

Gestation crate challenge in NJ (Photo: HSUS)

As expected, NJ governor Chris Christie vetoed the bill in an effort to curry favor with  hog farmers in Iowa, who have an outsized influence in the race for U.S. President. In reaction to his veto, actress and musician Cher called him a “despicable bully,” and comedian John Stewart criticized him on his show:

cher gestation crate

Your Turn

To learn more about the project and/or support the filmmakers in this endeavor, please visit Farming Humans.

Filed under: Food
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Nestlé To Buy Animals From Less Inhumane Factory Farms

August 21, 2014 by Leave a Comment

The News

The NY Times reports that Nestlé will no longer buy products derived from pigs and chickens held in the most intensive forms of confinement (gestation crates & battery cages) and from cattle who have been dehorned or had their tails docked without anesthesia. The new policy, which will affect at least 7,300 of its suppliers and will likely trigger other companies to follow suit, represents “one of the broadest-reaching commitments to improving the quality of life for animals in the food system.”


Your Turn

Intensive confinement and body mutilation are among the cruelest aspects of factory farming. So, for the billions of pigs, chickens and cows who are born into this system, a slightly less awful existence is better than nothing. But these reforms should not give caring consumers the impression that they are eating happy animals. On the contrary, pigs, chickens and cows raised on factory farms will still live wretched lives in windowless sheds, unable to do anything that comes naturally to them. And then they are slaughtered. Please, go veg.

Filed under: Food
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Where Are All the Egg Laying Hens?

August 20, 2014 by Leave a Comment

The News

In the United States alone, how many eggs do you think are consumed each day — in omelets, baked goods, packaged foods, restaurant kitchens, etc? About 220 million. It’s a staggering number and begs the questions: Where do these eggs come from? And where are the hundreds of millions of hens who are laying them?

Animals Australia has just released 2 minutes of high definition footage from the inside of the biggest egg supplier in the Australia, but this video could have been taken at any factory farm with hens. You won’t see any people in this video. Just hens. Watch and listen:

Your Turn

The farm featured in this video is “Egg Corp Assured (ECA)” in Australia, which means it has the “mark of a quality product produced under strict guidelines.” These certifications are almost always meaningless because they are created by the trade associations who represent their industry, not the public. Please share this video. People who eat eggs deserve to know the truth about what (or who) they are consuming.

Filed under: Food, Investigations
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States Suing California for Banning Import of Battery Cage Eggs

March 4, 2014 by Leave a Comment

The News

In January 2015, egg farmers in California will be required to provide 116 square inches per hen, compared to 67 square inches, which is the industry standard. In response to California’s decision to require out-of-state egg suppliers to provide their hens with the same space, the Missouri attorney general has filed a lawsuit to block the new rules, and several other states might do the same. According to the NY Times, “The beef and pork lobbies are also lining up against the California rules in an effort to prevent any new restrictions on raising livestock.”

Colony cages are 49 square inches bigger than battery cages. NY Times photo.

The “colony cages” shown in this NYT photo are 49 square
inches bigger than battery cages

News & Opinion

The first sentence in this NY Times article is alarming: “Hens in California are living the good life. Many can now lay their eggs in oversize enclosures roomy enough to stand up, lie down — even extend their wings fully without touching another bird.” Does the NY Times really think that being permanently imprisoned in slightly larger cages inside a shed with no natural light and no access to the earth constitutes “a good life?” Putting a positive spin on conditions that are merely “less horrible” gives consumers license to eat eggs from hens who have horrible lives. According to the NY Times, “90 percent of the nation’s roughly 280 million laying hens are still in battery cages about as big as a filing-cabinet drawer.” Please share this undercover footage of battery cages taken by Mercy For Animals.

Filed under: Food, Victories
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