Misconceptions About Agriculture: Monitoring of Animal Welfare In Meat Plants is Inadequate

There are two different kinds of consumers of agriculture/ livestock in our society,. There is the kind that could care less about where their food comes from or how it gets to their table, and then there is the type who wants to have knowledge about every step of its production. More often then not, the later of these two is concerned with specifically how the animals that their food is produced from are treated. Although in the past these animals used to be slaughtered and treated inhumanely, now it is a common misconception that these animals are treated this way. Some consumers like to think that this is still this case that these animals are still treated inhumanely, but that is simply not the case.

In order to debunk this common misconception about agriculture, particularly livestock, we look at a small piece of history that had a huge impact on the meat packing industry. What am I talking about you ask? I’m talking about the “The Humane Slaughter Act of 1958”. “The Humane Slaughter Act, or the Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act, is a United States federal law designed to decrease suffering of livestock during slaughter. It was approved on August 27, 1958.” (www.wikipedia.org, 2013) So this is an act that is been in place for quite some time, but then the question arises, how is this act enforced in meat packing plants today? As well as the first, this question also has a definitive answer that refutes our misconceptions. In order to answer this question I reference meatmythcrushers.com. “No other sector of animal agriculture has the level of oversight that the U.S. meat packing industry has. Under the Humane Slaughter Act, all livestock must be treated humanely. They must be given water at all times, given feed if they are held at a plant for an extended period and they must be handled in a way that minimizes stress. Federal veterinarians monitor animal handling continually and may take a variety of actions — including shutting a plant down — for violations.” (www.meatmythcrushers.com, 2014)

With these two points of evidence stated it’s easy to understand how people could be uneducated about this topic and create misconceptions. I’m guilty myself because I too thought that animals in meat packing plants were still being mistreated today, thankfully I am wrong. So there you have it, another misconception about agriculture debunked.

Sources: http://www.meatmythcrushers.com/myths/myth-monitoring-of-animal-welfare-is-inadequate.html#footnote1

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humane_Slaughter_Act

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ModiFieD

What in the world is a genetically modified organism (GMO)? Dozens of peoples claim to completely understand what they are, but when questions are raised about them they are often times unable to correctly define specifically what they are. Then again I’m guilty of this, I often times inquire about what a GMO really is. Is it a new type of organism being created in a lab somewhere? Perhaps a new breed of crop? Or even a breakthrough in the realm of agriculture, although maybe consumers are unsure as to whether this break through is a negative one or a positive one. To begin it is imperative that people understand truly what a genetically modified organism is, so we can become more educated about the topic which allows us to make the decision for ourselves as to whether we as consumers are for or against GMOs.

So what really is a genetically modified organism? It is in fact just that a natural organism (such as crops and livestock) that has been scientifically modified to become more efficient and in most cases even tastier and more nutritious for the consumer. The University of Maryland Medical Center defines genetically modified foods as “Genetically engineered foods have had foreign genes (genes from other plants or animals) inserted into their genetic codes.” So therefore genetically modified organisms are crops, such as corn, tomatoes, potatoes, etc. and livestock, such as cows, pigs, chickens, etc. With the introduction of foreign genes to their normal gene pool, these organisms they become much larger which creates a bigger proportion of food for the consumer, which is the trademark of GMOs. With a complicated topic such as GMOs, it’s often easier to just look at an example of a GMO; in this instance you can see a genetically modified cow. (Image from http://depletedcranium.com/belgianblue.jpg)

After beginning to understand more of what a GMO really is, I wanted to learn more about the facts of GMOs and get a more educated opinion about them. After some research it turns out, stated by http://organic.lovetoknow.com/GMO_Statistics, that large abundances of the crops grown and consumed in the United States are genetically modified. “88 percent of corn is genetically modified as well as 93 percent of soy, 94 percent of cottonseed and 75 percent of papaya.” According to the National Research Council, as stated on the same website (http://organic.lovetoknow.com/GMO_Statistics) “it takes just 843,000 cows to garner the milk yield of one million treated cows.” These statistics show that GMOs are actually widely used and fulfill a huge part of the agricultural market.

With a holistic understanding of what genetically modified organisms are it is easier to be able to make an educated decision about whether or we as consumers choose to be either pro or against GMOs. Its an important decision to be made and I decided that since it is so important, I tried to leave out any biased opinions about the difference between pro and anti GMO groups, in order for you to make a more personal decision for you. GMOs are an agricultural innovation, and it is up to you, the consumer, to decide whether or not you are comfortable with supporting and consuming them.

Sources:

http://umm.edu/health/medical/ency/articles/genetically-engineered-foods

http://organic.lovetoknow.com/GMO_Statistics

http://depletedcranium.com/belgianblue.jpg