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Update Newsletters
2 March 2008 Issue

1. Meat Recall

2. Videos on the Internet

3. Comments on The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

4. Ape Proves Better at Memory


1. Meat Recall

We all know about the huge beef recall after HSUS undercover investigators found workers cruelly carrying downed cattle to slaughter, where they were put into the U.S. food chain. The meat industry is trying make this appear as an isolated incident but, as the Houston Chronicle notes, "[N]o one there took any care to hide it. Like all meat processing plants, the facility was supervised by federal inspectors. And because the plant reportedly was chosen randomly, there's little reason to doubt that what happened there has been repeated elsewhere."

2. Videos on the Internet

1. A Sacred Duty can now be seen on the Internet at ASacredDuty.com (where much background information can be found) and on You Tube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9RxmTGHZgE 

2. Christian Concern For All God's Creatures.
This 36-minute video explores Scripture concerning our treatment of animals based on God's Creatures Ministry's 2006 conference. The video explores our God-given responsibility towards God's animals, the reality of factory farming (the recent exposure of the treatment of sick cows at a California slaughterhouse is more common than the beef and dairy industry wants us to believe), animal research, our health, the environment and world hunger.

Speakers include Stephen Kaufman, MD, chair of the Christian Vegetarian Association, Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman, founders of www.all-creatures.org , Deborah Jones, General Secretary of Catholic Concern for Animals (CCA) and Editor of CCA's journal The Ark, Judy Carman, author of Peace to All Beings, Jan Fredericks, Founder of God's Creatures Ministry and Chair of CCA-USA, NJARA's Steve Ember, and a message from the late Rev. J. R. Hyland, Evangelical minister and author (please see her website: www.humanereligion.org ).

Hard copies of the DVD are available with questions for discussion and resources.

All donations for this video will go into God's Creatures Ministry's Veterinary Charity Fund to help people with vet bills. Thank you!

We are a non-profit organization.

Here's the link to view the DVD: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6617908616725944044 

3. Comments on The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

This fascinating book takes a close look at what we eat and why. The author is not a vegetarian, but he makes a compelling case for avoiding industrialized agriculture, which produces unhealthy products, is environmentally disastrous, and involves cruelty to animals. Over the next few weeks, I will highlight some of Pollan’s observations that I found particularly interesting. I welcome comments and feedback, which might be reprinted unless authors request otherwise.

Corn is a leading agriculture product, though only a small fraction of the corn we eat is consumed as corn kernels. Most corn is fed to animals or converted into corn products such as high-fructose corn syrup, which is the principle sweetener in soft drinks.

Pollan notes that, in order to assist corn growers and to ensure a large supply of cheap corn, the U.S. government sets target prices for corn. If the sale price is below that target price, the government makes up the difference. This encourages farmers to produce as much corn as possible, regardless of the actual market demand.

One consequence is that it is more profitable for farmers to sell their corn than to grow it for their own use, since the government makes the sale price artificially high. As a result, it is more profitable to sell corn that a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO, a.k.a. “factory farm”) uses to feed animals than to feed it to animals raised on the farmer’s own farm. Meanwhile, CAFO’s have abundant cheap animal feed, because grain farmers, without incentive to diversify or switch to other products, generate a huge surplus that drives down the market price of subsidized animal feed. In essence, subsidizing corn (and other animal feed products) subsidizes the meat industry, which is the principle consumer of these products.

While meat is inherently inefficient at converting grains into protein and calories for humans, these subsidies help make meat economically competitive with unsubsidized plant foods. In addition, as we know, CAFOs tend to involve huge degrees of animal suffering; the concentrated animal wastes create severe environmental problems; and the need for antibiotics to prevent the spread of infectious diseases in crowded, stressful conditions helps generate antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.

-- Stephen Kaufman, MD

4. Ape Proves Better at Memory

I'm the Chimpion! Ape Trounces the Best of the Human World in Memory Competition

by FIONA MACRAE, Daily Mail [UK] 26th January 2008

When scientists found out that chimps had better memories than students, there were unkind comments about the calibre of the human competition they faced.

But now an ape has gone one better, trouncing British memory champion Ben Pridmore.

Ayumu, a seven-year-old male brought up in captivity in Japan, did three times as well as Mr. Pridmore at a computer game which involved remembering the position of numbers on a screen.

And that's no mean feat - the 30-year-old accountant from Derby is capable of memorizing the order of a shuffled pack of cards in under 30 seconds.

Both chimp and man watched a computer screen on which five numbers flashed up at various positions before being obscured by white squares.

They then had to touch the squares in order of the numbers they concealed, from lowest to highest. When the numbers were shown for just a fifth of a second - the blink of an eye - Ayumu got it right almost 90 per cent of the time.

His human opponent scored a rather less impressive 33 per cent, Channel Five programme Extraordinary Animals will reveal.

Mr Pridmore, who spends his evenings memorising 400-digit numbers, ruefully acknowledged that he had met his match.

Ben Pridmore can memorise the order of a pack of cards in 30 seconds - but was beaten by a chimp

"I'd rather not be seen on TV doing worse than a chimpanzee in a memory-test," he said. "I'll never live it down!"

The TV tests follow scientific experiments which pitted Ayumu, along with several other young chimps, against a group of university students.

Ayumu was the clear champion, doing twice as well as the humans.

It is thought that young chimps are blessed with photographic memories, allowing them to remember patterns and sequences with amazing accuracy.

Professor Tetsuro Matsuzawa, the Kyoto University researcher behind both sets of experiments, said: "People still believe that humans are superior to chimpanzees in any domain of intelligence.

"That is the prejudice of the people. Chimpanzees can be clever in a specific task in comparison to humans."  

Your question and comments are welcome

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