A shocking report reveals that a government facility is conducting horrific experiments on animals.
The U.S. Meat Animal Research Center is funded by taxpayers and run by the federal government. It falls under the United States Department of Agriculture, and, according to its mission statement, works towards “developing scientific information and new technology to solve high priority problems for the U.S. beef, sheep, and swine industries.” As the New York Time states, “Since Congress founded it 50 years ago to consolidate the United States Department of Agriculture’s research on farm animals, the center has worked to make lamb chops bigger, pork loins less fatty, steaks easier to chew. It has fought the spread of disease, fostered food safety and helped American ranchers compete in a global marketplace.”
But all of that has come at a very high cost to the animals. The New York Times has published an expose that has even those familiar with the meat industry and the practices within horrified.
At the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, which is a huge complex of pastures and laboratories spread out over 55 square miles in Clay Center, Nebraska, around 300,000 pigs, cows and sheep are subjected to surgery, selective breeding and more in order to make the animals bigger, leaner, more fertile — and, above all else, more profitable.
The New York Times report outlines several of these procedures.
“Pigs are having many more piglets — up to 14, instead of the usual eight — but hundreds of those newborns, too frail or crowded to move, are being crushed each year when their mothers roll over. Cows, which normally bear one calf at a time, have been retooled to have twins and triplets, which often emerge weakened or deformed, dying in such numbers that even meat producers have been repulsed.
“Then there are the lambs. In an effort to develop ‘easy care’ sheep that can survive without costly shelters or shepherds, ewes are giving birth, unaided, in open fields where newborns are killed by predators, harsh weather and starvation.
“… Of the 580,000 animals the center has housed since 1985, when its most ambitious projects got underway, at least 6,500 have starved. A single, treatable malady — mastitis, a painful infection of the udder — has killed more than 625.”
James Keen, a scientist and a veterinarian who worked for the center for 24 years says, “Most Americans and even livestock producers would be hard pressed to support some of the things that the center has done.”
And it seems as though the experiments are not even profitable.
“The experiments have not always helped the meat business. Industrywide, about 10 million piglets are crushed by their mothers each year, according to pig-production experts, and studies have pointed to bigger litters as a major contributor. Not only do they generate more and weaker piglets, but the mothers have grown larger because they are kept alive longer to reproduce.”
In yet another experiment aimed at creating larger lambs, pregnant ewes were injected with such large amounts of male testosterone that their offspring’s genitals began to deform, making urination next to impossible and leading to high death losses.
In fact, some of the trials conducted at the center are so cruel that even meat producers have begun to balk. Yet the inhumane practices still continue.
That experimentation on animals that lead to benefits to people will sometimes involve distress and even death for the animal is accepted. However, the Animal Welfare Act was put into place in 1966 in order to minimize that suffering. Yet the act failed to cover farm animals being used in research that benefits agriculture, meaning that animals such as pigs, cows and sheep can and are being experimented on with very little care being given. Although the Department of Agriculture strictly oversees the treatment of animals at slaughterhouses and in private labs, the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center is not closely monitored, nor does the facility even enforce its own rules when it comes to animal treatment.
“We’re just as concerned about the humane treatment of animals as anyone else,” said Sherrill E. Echternkamp, a retired scientist who worked for the center. He added, “It’s not a perfect world. We are trying to feed a population that is expanding very rapidly, to nine billion by 2050, and if we are going to feed that population, there are some trade-offs.”
The center’s director, E. John Pollak, declined to be interviewed, but claimed, in a written response to t he New York Times, that Agriculture Department officials said the center abides by federal rules on animal welfare. And that may very well be true, since it appears that there are very little rules at all regarding the welfare of livestock.
In today’s world, more and more consumers demand that the meat they consume be raised and slaughtered in humanitarian conditions, and many retailers, even giants like Walmart, try to oblige. Read here about how Walmart severed ties with one of their pork suppliers after a horrific video of their practices emerged. (Warning: Graphic material.)
[Image via the New York Times]