University of Waterloo Vegetarian Club

End Cruelty, Get Healthy, Save the Planet


Human RightsAnimal Agriculture and Human Rights

1. General


Throughout the developing world today, one of the first things people do as they climb out of poverty is to shift from their peasant diet of mainly grains and beans to one that is rich in pork and beef.”



2. Resource Depletion


[Meat] costs include hugely inefficient use of freshwater and land, heavy pollution from livestock feces, rising rates of heart disease and other degenerative illnesses, and spreading destruction of the forests on which much of our planet’s life depends.”

Seventy percent of all the wheat, corn and other grains produced goes to feeding herds of livestock. Around the world, as more water is diverted to raising pigs and chickens instead of producing crops for direct consumption, millions of wells are going dry. India, China, North Africa and the U.S. are all running freshwater deficits, pumping more from their aquifers than rain can replenish. As populations in water-scarce regions continue to expand, governments will inevitably act to cut these deficits by shifting water to grow food, not feed. The new policies will raise the price of meat to levels unaffordable for any but the rich.”


http://www.time.com/time/reports/v21/health/meat_mag.html


Thirty six percent of the world’s grain is fed to livestock.”


Grain-fed cattle, pigs, chickens, and other livestock, in turn, are being consumed by the wealthiest people on the planet while the poor go hungry.”

”…157 million metric tons of cereal, legumes and vegetable protein suitable for human use are fed to livestock to produce 28 million metric tons of animal protein that humans consume annually.”


Bear in mind that an acre of cereal produces five times more protein than an acre devoted to meat production; legumes (beans, peas, lentils) can produce 10 times more protein; leafy vegetables 15 times more protein.”

The human consequences of the transition from food to feed were dramatically illustrated in 1984 in Ethiopia, when thousands were dying each day from famine. The public was unaware that, at the same time, Ethiopia was using some of its agricultural land to produce linseed cake, cottonseed cake and rapeseed meal for export to Britain and other European nations to be used as feed fro livestock.”

http://www.upc-online.org/environment/020527latimes_bone.html


3. Job Safety



The Human Rights Watch report “Blood, Sweat, and Fear: Workers’ Rights in U.S. Meat and Poultry Plants” states, “Almost every worker interviewed by Human Rights Watch for this report began with the story of a serious injury he or she suffered in a meat or poultry plant, injuries reflected in their scars, swellings, rashes, amputations, blindness, or other afflictions.”13


The workers who kill animals are at constant risk.

One researcher in a slaughterhouse reports that as chickens are being hung by their legs to be killed, “The birds, weighing approximately five pounds each, fight back by pecking, biting, and scratching the hangers …. Then, as workers finally hoist the birds onto the hooks, the chickens urinate and defecate out of desperation, often hitting the workers below.”14 Many cows and pigs are still completely conscious when they are hung up by their hind legs and their throats are slit, and they kick, thrash, defecate, and vomit as they die.


Slaughterhouses abound with dangerous equipment that is often operated by immigrants and poor, rural Americans who can’t read the instructions and haven’t been properly trained


In order to keep insurance rates low and to avoid having to file reports with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), workers in slaughterhouses and factory farms are often pressured to hide injuries and continue working even if they’re in great pain.40 According to an investigative report by Reuters on the exploitation of meat industry workers, “Court documents show several of the largest companies kept two sets of injury records, one for themselves and one for the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.”


Poultry workers are 16 times more likely compared to the national average to cumulative trauma disorders


Meatpacking is the most dangerous job in America. In 1998, the latest available statistics, at least 29.3 percent of meatworkers suffered injury or illness, compared to 9.7 percent for the rest of manufacturing, the Labour Department reported.”


http://www.organicconsumers.org/irrad/slaughterworkers.cfm


one in three slaughterhouse workers suffers from illness or injury, compared to one in 10 workers in other manufacturing jobs.11

Slaughterhouse workers are also 35 times more likely to suffer from repetitive stress injuries than their counterparts in other manufacturing jobs.12

http://www.goveg.org/workerRights_dangerous.asp


4. Infection/Disease



Workers also risk being infected with dangerous animalborne diseases and bacteria, including E. coli, listeria, and campylobacter. Animals raised for food are intensively confined on disease-ridden factory farms, and by the time they reach the slaughterhouse many are suffering from pneumonia and other chronic illness, and some have cancerous lesions or pus-filled wounds all over their bodies. At slaughter, animals often vomit and defecate on the workers.


http://www.upc-online.org/environment/020527latimes_bone.html


One study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that in a sample of chicken catchers, more than 40 percent tested positive for campylobacter bacteria, which can cause diarrhea, stomach cramps, and fever.74 The American Veterinary Medical Association warns that workers on factory farms frequently suffer from hearing loss because of the constant loud noise of animals and machines on the farm.75 Workers are also often injured when they are kicked or rammed by cows or pigs, and they may be regularly exposed to dangerous chemicals used on the farm, such as pesticides and industrial-strength cleaning agents.

http://www.goveg.org/workerRights_farms.asp


Modern slaughterhouses run at high speed. They aim to kill and process ever larger numbers of animals per hour. In Europe, the slaughter line in a chicken slaughterhouse kills up to 10,000 birds per hour. In the US, some cattle plants slaughter 400 cattle an hour, compared to less than half that number per hour 20 years ago. The speed required puts physical and psychological strain on the workers and puts them at increased risk of injury.

http://wspafarmwelfare.org/hhworkers.html


5. Exploiting Immigrant Workers


Deliberately recruits immigrants because they will accept low wages and can be easily manipulated for fear of losing their jobs.


Slaughterhouses in the U.S. run radio advertisements in countries in Latin America to recruit workers, and the animal-processing giant IBP has a labor office in Mexico City.53 Some companies even bus workers from their homes south of the border to the slaughterhouses where they will work—GFI America, Inc., an animal-processing corporation that makes hamburger patties for chain restaurants—even bussed workers from the Mexican border to a homeless shelter in Minnesota.

Immigrant workers often so desperate to make money to send to their families back home that they’ll take any job without complaint. If they’re being treated unfairly, they don’t have any choice but to continue working for the farmed-animal industry, and if they become injured and can no longer work, they are often stuck in the U.S. with no job and no money to buy a bus ticket home.

Immigrant workers are often illiterate and unable to speak English, which makes it more difficult for them to learn about their rights and to organize a union. They are easy to manipulate because they are terrified of being fired or deported.

“Supervisors knew who had green cards and who didn’t. And they used it against us. If we didn’t do what they wanted, they would threaten to call immigration.”57

ulio Arturo Sepulveda, an immigrant factory-farm worker, sums up how immigrant workers are treated by the industry they toil for: “We’re disposable to them. We’re like a machine. I don’t think they see us as real people,” he says. “I need this job. I feed my family with this job, but it’s not right.”60

http://www.goveg.org/workerRights_immigrant.asp


Tanneries and Human Rights

  • In order to keep insurance rates low and to avoid having to file reports with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), workers in slaughterhouses and factory farms are often pressured to hide injuries and continue working even if they’re in great pain.40 According to an investigative report by Reuters on the exploitation of meat industry workers, “Court documents show several of the largest companies kept two sets of injury records, one for themselves and one for the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.”


    The centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the incidence of leukemia among residents near one tannery in Kentucky was 5 times the national average


    According to the New York Health Department of Health study more then half of all testicular cancer victims work in tanneries.


    People who have worked in and lived near tanneries are dying of cancer caused by exposure to toxic chemicals used to process and dye the leather. A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that a solvent used in tanning leather appears to be associated with an increased risk of testicular cancer.

    http://www.peta.org/living/clothingguide-intro.asp



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