By HELENA BOTTEMILLER EVICH | Politico
4/16/14 12:05 AM EDT
Expired marshmallows, broken crackers, stale donuts, even orange peels are among the billions of pounds of would-be waste that help feed livestock every year.
By regularly diverting its waste in this way, the food industry prevents millions of tons of greenhouse gases from being released into the atmosphere, but an obscure proposal under a 2011 food safety overhaul could inadvertently send much of the reusable food back to landfills.
Food manufacturers send the vast majority of their waste to be turned into animal feed, which many view as a significant achievement considering that more than 30 percent of all food in the United States is thrown away. But the Food and Drug Administration has proposed placing new sanitation and record-keeping requirements on feed production that could increase compliance costs and paperwork — mandates that many in the industry and on Capitol Hill warn could make it too expensive for businesses to continue recycling.
“World food needs are going to increase dramatically,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), ranking member of the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, said at a recent hearing on the FDA’s budget.
Blunt urged FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg to revise the proposed animal feed rule, which was required under the Food Safety Modernization Act, to give more consideration to food byproducts used in feed.
“Normally, we’d think about how we need to produce more food, but [we also need to] more effectively use the food and food products we have,” Blunt said, adding, “I think this is a big issue.”
The Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents more than 300 top food companies and supports the food safety overhaul broadly, is raising alarm about the feed proposal. The group has said the FDA’s approach would be costly, bad for the environment and provide little or no food safety benefit.
“Of course, our members do not want to use landfills except as a last resort, but they may have no other option if compliance costs are too high,” the group said in 88-pages of comments on the proposed regulation. Tonnage sent to landfills “could drastically increase,” the group warned.
Food manufacturers kept about 44 billion pounds of food waste out of landfills in 2011, including such discards as French fry potato peels and granola bar trimmings, according to data compiled by the Food Waste Reduction Alliance, a collaboration between GMA, the Food Marketing Institute and the National Restaurant Association.
In its own economic analysis, GMA has estimated that nearly 70 percent of the waste stream from food manufacturers goes into animal feed and only 5 percent is dumped in landfills. The bulk of the remaining waste is composted or applied to land.
Those numbers would change dramatically if the FDA proposal becomes law, the group said. The proposed regulation would require manufacturers to create food safety plans for all of the byproducts going into feed, a potentially costly mandate that would likely prompt companies to divert as little as 22 percent of their food waste to feed and almost 28 percent to landfills in order to save money and avoid the hassle, GMA estimated.
Overall, the rule would cost food manufacturers about $444 million a year, GMA said, which is more than three times what the FDA estimated for the human, livestock and pet food industries combined. That includes $100 million in lost revenue from animal feed buyers and $344 million in increased landfill and compost fees.
In environmental terms, carbon dioxide emissions would increase by 4.7 million metric tons annually — the equivalent of adding about a million passenger cars to the roads, the group said.
“It is bad public policy for FDA to put companies in the situation of having to decide whether to incur significant expenditures for compliance, with minimal, if any, augmentation to the health of humans or animals, or to engage in a practice that it known to be environmentally unsustainable,” GMA said in its comments on the rule.
The industry group has asked the FDA to overhaul its proposal and cost-benefit analysis and conduct an environmental impact assessment, which the agency has argued isn’t necessary. The FDA’s analysis found that the proposal would provide “potential improvements” to public health by reducing contamination in animal feed and the animal products that people consume, but the agency did not provide figures and said it is “unable to quantify the benefits of the proposed rule.”
David Plunkett, a senior attorney at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said he believes it’s unlikely companies will divert their food to landfills and that such concerns are overblown.
“Trade associations have the job of constructing the ‘worst case scenario’ to minimize the impact of regulations, but the reality is often very different,” Plunkett said. “Companies are accustomed to [hazard control] plans for food safety, and it is unlikely that pet food and animal feed are going to disappear into landfills simply because of this rule’s minimal requirement to practice safety and keep good records.”
Responding to pushback on several of its food safety proposals, the FDA announced in March that it plans to issue “revised language” for the feed rule, and top officials have said that they’re committed to finding a practical solution to food waste concerns.
At the recent Senate appropriations hearing, Commissioner Hamburg told Sen. Blunt that she has brought the waste issue to the attention of her team.
“We want to support sustainable agriculture practices,” Hamburg said. “It makes enormous sense. We do believe this can be addressed in a practical, sensible way.”
Meanwhile, the EPA has developed a “food recovery hierarchy” to guide food waste policy. Its top priority, aside from reducing waste, is to feed hungry people and, after that, to feed animals.
ConAgra Foods, which owns such popular brands as Chef Boyardee and Reddi-wip, used the EPA recommendations to develop its waste-reduction strategy, Gail Tavill, the company’s vice president for sustainable development.
“Our strategy was really to move up that value hierarchy,” Tavill said. “Feeding animals, for us, is a huge part of our strategy.”
Tavill pointed to shelf-stable pudding as a key example. Typically, the company will produce some initial batches of pudding cups to ensure the process is sterile before making cups to ship to consumers.
“For many years, those finished cups were going into the landfill,” Tavill said. But then ConAgra Foods started working with another company that could separate the pudding from the cups to use in poultry feed and recover energy from the plastic. Cost was not a significant factor in pursuing this relationship, she said. While it did deliver a small savings, the real driver was working toward keeping valuable materials out of landfills. Today, ConAgra Foods diverts about 87 percent of its total food waste stream to animal feed, she said.
Tavill expressed concern that FDA’s proposal will prompt companies to discontinue their recycling efforts. Compliance will be especially difficult for manufacturers who handle multiple products or those with a lot of ingredients, such as soup and pot pies, she said.
“[The regulations] are pretty prescriptive,” Tavill said. “What is the problem that the rule is trying to solve? Where’s the risk that they’re trying to solve? … Is the effort to comply with the requirements equal to the risk?”
Dozens of other companies also are expected to weigh in on the proposed feed rule. Food giant Cargill told POLITICO that it supports the food safety law, but “believes that the regulation should have some flexibility due to the broad nature of the animal food, feed and ingredient space.”
Despite the problem that food waste presents, recycling hasn’t attracted as much high-profile attention in the United States as it has in other countries. In the United Kingdom, for example, celebrities advocate feeding discarded food to pigs under a campaign dubbed “The Pig Idea.”
Taking a cue from across the pond, the Agriculture Department and EPA launched the less-cleverly titled U.S. Food Waste Challenge this past summer to raise awareness of the need for more recycling.
“The food industry in general is starting to pay more attention to the waste stream and find ways to capture value from what they previously threw away,” said Jonathan Bloom, author of the food-waste treatise “American Wasteland.” “As the cost savings become clear, more and more companies are looking at it,” he said.
Consumer awareness of the issue is also growing, he said.
“People are becoming increasingly interested in where their food comes from, and a natural offshoot of that is to ask, ‘Where does it go when we’re done with it or when we don’t use it?’”
Note: While focusing specific on Animal Research, this article is extremely relevant to all animal-use industries, as many of the tactics identified here are used on other targets.
Animal rights activists have dramatically shifted their tactics over the last decade, targeting individual researchers and the businesses that support them, instead of going after their universities. That’s the biggest revelation to come out of a report released today by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), the largest coalition of biomedical research associations in the United States.
The purpose of the report—The Threat of Extremism to Medical Research: Best Practices to Mitigate Risk through Preparation and Communication—is to provide guidance to scientists and institutions around the world in dealing with animal rights extremists. That includes individuals and groups that damage laboratories, send threatening e-mails, and even desecrate the graves of researchers’ relatives. In 2004, for example, Animal Liberation Front activists broke into psychology laboratories at the University of Iowa, where they smashed equipment, spray-painted walls, and removed hundreds of animals, causing more than $400,000 in damage. In 2009, extremists set fire to the car of a University of California, Los Angeles, neuroscientist who worked on rats and monkeys. And other researchers say activists have shown up at their homes in the middle of the night, threatening their families and children.
“We wanted to create an international document to get people thinking about the potential of animal extremism,” says Michael Conn, a co-chair of the committee that created the report and the senior vice president for research at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock. “These activities can happen to anybody—no one is immune.”
Personal attacks, in particular, appear to be on the rise. The report looks at 220 reported illegal incidents within the United States between 1990 and 2012. It finds that from 1990 to 1999, 61% involved universities, while just 9% involved individuals. From 2000 to 2012, however, only 13% of incidents involved universities, while 46% involved individuals. Actions against businesses are also on the rise, with 17% of incidents from 2000 to 2012 involving investors and business partners, two groups not even mentioned in the previous decade’s numbers. These latter incidents included activists threatening to protest businesses that supply animal feed to research labs and airlines that transport research animals. “If all of a sudden companies refuse to supply you with paper towels or lab coats, you have a serious problem,” says Conn, who himself was the target of animal extremism—receiving threatening phone calls and being followed through airports by activists—when he was the administrator of an animal facility at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) in Portland. “It makes it very difficult to get your job done.”
In response, the FASEB report contains a number of recommendations. It advises researchers to limit the amount of personal information they make available on the Internet, for example. It says universities should assemble a “crisis management team” composed of scientists, security personnel, press officers, and legal consultants, so that they can quickly respond to incidents. And it recommends that researchers and institutions actively engage with the public, inviting members of the community to view their facilities, for example, as a way to combat animal rights propaganda. OHSU, for one, allows local residents to tour its primate research center on a regular basis; it also offers summer programs, such as Camp Monkey, for grade-school students.
Eric Bernthal, the chair of the board of directors of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), says he agrees that scientists should combat animal rights extremism. “We don’t condone terror and destruction of property,” he says, noting that HSUS has achieved its animal welfare goals by working with legislators. But he says the FASEB report spends far too much time on how scientists can mitigate attacks and almost no time on why these attacks are occurring in the first place. “If you’re going to give advice to researchers about how to solve this problem, the most constructive way is to use fewer animals in research,” he says, “not assemble crisis communication teams.”
Bernthal says HSUS would like to work with Conn and other scientists to figure out ways to reduce the number of animals in biomedical laboratories. “There are still some circumstances where animal research is vitally important,” he says. “But there are huge steps that can be taken to phase it out.”
In Norway, farmed fur animal producers purchase almost 50,000 tonnes of waste from fish poultry and meat production. In the report Seafood 2025 – How to Create the World’s Wild Fish Industry, which was published in March this year by the Fisheries and Aquaculture Industry Association (FHL), it is stated that the fishing fleet dumps 35 per cent of its waste, amounting to 196,000 tonnes. Read more….
Animal rights extremists have been attacking family mink farms all over North America recently. These attacks, besides being cruel and traumatic to the animals, are federal crimes and fall under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. Hundreds of animals have now suffered and painfully died due to these assaults on hard working families and their farms. The perpetrators are not heroes, or idealists; they are felons that break into and destroy people’s livelihood, terrorizing families in the dead of night. In order to help stop these offenses, Fur Commission USA is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible. Please, if anyone has any information that could help solve these crimes, call 717-983-TIPS (8477) or contact your local FBI field office. Farms in the following locations have suffered these assaults.
July 29, 2013
August 14, 2013
August 30, 2013
September 13, 2013
September 25, 2013
New Holstein, Wisconsin
October 5, 2013
Grand Meadow, Minnesota
October 7, 2013
Third a three-part series by Dennis Magee.
WATERLOO, Iowa — Those familiar with the tactics of hard-core animal rights activists suggest farmers with livestock plan ahead for potential trouble, accepting that isolation in rural Iowa does not provide perfect protection. In fact, remote locations work in favor of extremists bent on criminal mischief or worse. Read more…
Second in a three-part series by Dennis Magee
WATERLOO. Iowa — Because of an incident in November 2004 at the University of Iowa, state law enforcement officials became acquainted with a figure familiar within the extreme animal rights community. Read more….
First in a three-part series by Dennis Magee
WATERLOO, Iowa — Irreverent pundits found a fun topic to roast last week when someone poured red paint on the famous butter cow, a tradition at the Iowa State Fair since 1911. Read more….
I must admit, some stories test my ability to see both sides of an issue.
But as a news reporter, I have to remain neutral — I have to keep my articles balanced and fair, as they say.
Recently, a mink farm near Burley was raided by so-called “animal liberators.” These animal activists release fur-bearing animals from the confines of their cages and into the wild.
The activists who claimed responsibility for the raid on the mink farm said in an online magazine that they “acted with love in our hearts.”
Many have argued against that claim.
Times-News reader Jared Boley commented online, saying: “Those mink will now die of starvation, disease, and the elements! Granting a cruel, slow, inhumane death!”
Michael Whelan, executive director of the Fur Commission USA, agreed.
Whelan told me that these “liberated” mink seldom survive in the wild. Many are hit by cars because they have learned to associate the sound of a vehicle with food.
I love animals, and I understand the emotional issues behind animal activism. But I also respect Idaho’s right-to-farm act.
Mink farming is not illegal, but destruction of property is.
The raid is an act of “economic terrorism in my book,” commented reader Jeff Pierson. “No different than burning down a saw mill in northern Idaho.”
Pierson is correct. Acts of sabotage against animal farms are a felony under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, signed into law in 2006.
Anonymous activists encourage these raids online but do not carry out the raids themselves.
“They know better,” said Whelan. “They target young, impressionable kids looking for a cause.”
I’d like to quote what the activists said in their online magazine called “Bite Back” about the July 28 raid on the Moyle mink farm outside of Burley:
“They will claim that we are terrorists. We say that if peacefully opening cages is an act of terrorism, then the word has no meaning. It is appropriately applied to the mass imprisonment and killing of wild animals.
“They will claim that these mink are domesticated animals and will starve. Documentation on the success of farm-bred mink in the wild is extensive, so we will add only our experience watching these naturally aquatic animals, who had spent their entire lives in cages, head instinctively for water and begin to swim and hunt.
“They will claim that conditions on mink farms are humane. We ask why, then, they try only to hide those farms from the public, pushing for legislation to criminalize the taking of photographs. The mink that we freed from the Moyles lived in intensive confinement in their own waste. Their suffering was plain to the eye, and their yearning for freedom plain to the soul.
“…They will say that we will not stop short of the complete and total end of the killing of animals for their fur. On this point we are in total agreement.”
Jack Rose, a physiology professor at Idaho State University who occasionally conducts medical research on minks at his lab at the university’s Department of Biological Sciences in Pocatello, was recently placed on an animal activist group’s “hit list.”
“These kids think they will become heroes for sabotaging a mink farm,” Rose said. “What they don’t realize is that these actions make them criminals and could follow them for the rest of their lives.”
Fur Commission USA
Extremists attack mink farm in Burley Idaho.
July 30, 2013
In the early morning hours of Sunday July 28, animal rights terrorists broke into a Burley Idaho mink ranch, destroyed fencing, breeding records and over-turned thousands of mink pens. Close to 3,800 mink were released from their cages, though only a small fraction ever left the mink yard. Over 60 friends and neighbors helped collect the scared and traumatized animals throughout the following day.
“We are so grateful to our neighbors that have come to help us in our time of need.” said ranch owner Cindy Moyle. “The people who did this have no idea how stressful it is for the animals. The mink are domesticated and have never had to find food or water for themselves. Those that don’t return soon will suffer and die painfully.” The Moyle family spent much of Tuesday picking up mink off the road, as they are attracted by traffic. The animals equate the sound of motorized vehicles with the feed cart.
Cassia County Sheriff’s Dept. is investigating, as well as the FBI. Crimes committed against mink farming fall under the federal Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, and can result in a significant prison sentence for those convicted.
An anonymous internet post has claimed responsibility for the attack. “Historically, these crimes are committed by a small group of individuals that travel around, state-to-state, terrorizing farmers” stated Michael Whelan, Executive Director of Fur Commission USA, the trade organization representing the U.S. mink farmers. “These aren’t peaceful protesters, these are criminal thugs that blindly follow an anti-ag agenda. They’re felons that are ruining lives. Nothing more.” Fur Commission USA is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
Though the anonymous claim does not identify any organization, the FBI considers the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) the number one domestic terror threat in the U.S.
Idaho is the 3rd largest mink producing state in the U.S. The farms create over $40 million in revenue for the state each year, and support thousands of jobs.
SANDY PARKER REPORT, VOL. 35, ISSUE 16, JUNE 13, 2011
The following extract is reproduced with permission from Sandy Parker Reports, Weekly International Fur News. Sandy Parker has been covering the fur industry for more than four decades. For most of that time he has published a weekly newsletter, detailing results of international pelt auctions, wholesale price trends, business developments and movements in the trade, as well as economic and political activities that may impact on it.
Subscribe now and receive all the latest news, either in print or electronically. Just $150 a year for 48 issues! Sandy Parker Reports, 21219 Lago Circle, Boca Raton, FL 33433; Tel: (561) 477-3764; Fax: (561) 862-7052; SParker@SandyParker.com; www.sandyparker.com
International Fur News
with Sandy Parker
New York Market Time Kicks Off
NEW YORK MARKET TIME GETS UNDER WAY THIS WEEK, although some retailers follow their own timetables and have already been in to view the new collections.
Vendors describe the traffic so far as what has become normal for this time of the year, but only a faint echo of what took place years ago when New York was regarded as the fur capital of the world. Now, with several international fairs having developed as one-stop shopping centers where retailers fill most of their basic needs, New York has become a final destination for the fashion pieces to add more spice to their offerings.
Indications are that the traffic will pick up significantly this week at least partly in connection with two events scheduled by Fur New York. One is a seminar for retailers, June 13 at Hotel 30/30. FNY’s annual party and Person of the Year dinner will be held June 14.
IN THIS ISSUE
China Focusing on Home Market
New Fair for Domestic Trade
Currency Doubts Still Persist
Fox Demand Strong in Helsinki …
… but Prices Retreat from Peaks