Poultry Press and News

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Shipping Crisis News- Thanks to Dennis at Dom-Bird Group on Yahoo

On May 13, 2002, the President signed the "Farm Bill" that contained "our"
amendment that removed the June 30, 2002 limitation on the authority of
the United States Postal Service (USPS) to "assess, as postage to be paid
by mailers of any shipments...a reasonable surcharge the Postal Service
determines in its discretion to be adequate to compensate air carriers
for any necessary additional expenses incurred in handling...air mail shipments
of day old poultry, honey bees, and other such live animals as postal regulations
allow to be transmitted as mail matter." The Agriculture, Conservation
and Rural Enhancement Act of 2002-H.R. 2646 Sec. 1060.
The animals rights organization, again, opposed our efforts but, that "minor,"
but important amendment, will be added to what became law with our amendment
last fall to the Appropriations Bill for Treasury and Other Governmental
Agencies that gives the USPS the authority to require any air carrier to
accept such shipments except those air carriers "who commonly and regularly
refuses to accept any live animals as cargo." 39 USC §5402(d)(2).
We are now, therefore, in Phase III whereby we will seek legislation to
require air carriers to take all live animals by air cargo transport. One
of the remaining problems with the current law is that Federal Express,
that took over the Eagle Air Flight Program of the USPS, claims that it
is exempted from the law since it "commonly and regularly refuse to accept
any live animal cargo." It is true that Federal Express refuses to carry
some live animals but it does, in fact, carry live animals as cargo. We
are currently building a coalition of organizations that would support
the effort including the American Kennel Club, Joint Advisory Pet Council,
Cat Fanciers Association, organizations from various bird interests, the
medical community and others. It is our intention to have the legislation
introduced in 2002 but realize it probably will not be acted upon before
the Congress adjourns this fall. We shall be ready to press forward when
the new Congress convenes in January 2003.

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Antibiotics in Chickens!?!

Banning Chickens in Green Forest, AR

Nays have it in fowl vote

Sunday, March 03, 2002

By Anna Mathews, CCN staff writer

GREEN FOREST -- The bird is banned -- say the majority of people who turned out to vote in a special city-wide chicken election last week.

More than half who cast ballots voted to rid the town of chickens, and their feathered fowl friends, including ducks, turkeys, geese and emu.

Election results showed that 181 registered voters said no to the birds, while only 73 turned out in support of fowl.

Of the 1,134 registered voters in the town, only 254 showed enough interest to mark a ballot.

According to the latest census figures, Green Forest's population now stands at 2,717. Nearly a third of those residents are Hispanic. Yet, few Hispanics voted in the special election even though many harbored the birds for their meat and eggs.

A poll worker stated that during the course of the day, she saw only one Hispanic person pass through the doors to cast a vote. The remainder were anglo-Americans.

Reactions to the election results were mixed. Ronnie Ray, who initially led the crusade to ban the birds, was not available for comment.

However, Jess and Phyllis Cooper, who purchased a radio ad in the hopes of banishing their neighbor's birds, were available.

Phyllis spoke for both of them when she said they were "real happy" with the results. She said they had campaigned hard because of the "old McDonald's Farm" that is next door to their residential home. According to Phyllis, ducks, rabbits, geese, turkeys, and chickens inhabit the adjoining property. "Oh yes, we're real happy," she said.

On the other hand, Shelia Roberts was heartbroken when she learned of the results. Roberts keeps chickens, bantys, and ducks at her home, where a half-acre lot provides plenty of room for her neat and tidy pens.

The birds are her companions. She bakes cornbread for them daily, and nurtures them as one would a child.

"I'm devastated," she said while speaking through tears. "I'm sick, I'm physically ill. I don't know what I'll do. This has been a shattering experience for an old granny."

According to Mayor Leonard Tidyman, residents will have 60 days to rid their residences of birds. Enforcement of the bird ban will be carried out by Green Forest police and the animal control officer by means of citations.

The penalty for harboring birds is outlined in Ordinance 359. The current ordinance that voters approved is an amendment to Ordinance 359.

The ordinance states that violation of the ordinance is a misdemeanor. Persons convicted are subject to a fine of not more than $500, or by imprisonment in the city jail, up to one year -- or both. Each violation constitutes a separate offense.

However, Green Forest no longer has a city jail.

Green Forest Police Chief John Bailey said he hopes that residents will voluntarily comply. He is attempting to draft a memo, in both English and Spanish, to distribute either city-wide, or to just those who are known to harbor birds.

One resident has already given up the bulk of her birds. That would be Janet Clark, an early advocate for fowl. Clark found new homes for most of her feathered friends after the city council initiated proceedings to ban the birds.

"I've had birds in the past but got rid of them in October," she said. "I didn't want to keep on fighting. There are more important issues going on in the world today.

"I still have Freddy the Emu," she continued, "but, I think I've found a home for him."

Clark said she was not surprised by the outcome of the election.

"The ballot was ambiguous," she noted. "People didn't understand it, unless they read the paper. The ballot had no mention of chickens. You had to go to city hall to read the ordinance. The Hispanic population probably couldn't understand it. They should have made it as simple as possible. I believe it worked the way they wanted it to work."

Clark was referring to the wording on the ballot. Instead of voting for or against chickens, voters were asked to vote for or against an ordinance that bans chickens. A "NO" vote was a "yes" for chickens.

City council members passed the ordinance banning fowl, then referred the ordinance to voters after citizens on both sides of the fence said they wanted a city-wide vote.

The controversy has peaked the interest of neighboring Hispanic-inhabited towns where the chicken population has grown along with the Hispanic population.

Many bird proponents say the keeping of birds provides farm-fresh eggs, hormone-free meat, and a significant decrease in insect populations.

The debate and subsequent vote caught the attention of the media as well. News crews from a number of television stations visited the town, looking to film chickens roaming the streets, and catch comments from opinionated people.

Now that the dust has settled, perhaps the city council can concentrate on other issues, such as the possible acceptance of pot-bellied pigs as domesticated pets.

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Antibiotics in Chickens!?!

Poultry Industry Quietly Cuts Back on Antibiotic Use

This article from NYTimes.com-

February 10, 2002
Poultry Industry Quietly Cuts Back on Antibiotic Use
By MARIAN BURROS
The poultry industry has quietly begun to bow to the demands of public health and consumer groups by greatly reducing the antibiotics that are fed to healthy chickens.

Long a mainstay of poultry farming, antibiotics have been justified as a means of preventing infection in chickens as well as enhancing growth. Opponents have bitterly criticized the industry for a strategy that they say contributes to a much larger public health problem: the growing resistance to antibiotics of disease-causing bacteria in humans.

Now it appears that with little fanfare, the industry has begun to acquiesce. Three companies - Tyson Foods, Perdue Farms and Foster Farms, which produce a third of the chicken consumed by Americans each year - say they have voluntarily taken most or all of the antibiotics out of what they feed healthy chickens. In addition, the industry is turning away from an antibiotic used to treat sick birds because it is related to Cipro, the drug used to treat anthrax in humans. Some corporate consumers, including McDonald's, Wendy's and Popeye's, are now refusing to buy chicken that has been treated with it.

But despite the overall decrease in antibiotic use, there is no way for the consumer to know whether one of these companies' chickens has been treated with antibiotics. This is especially true of drugs used to treat sick chickens, like the Cipro-related antibiotic. Treating a few sick birds requires treating the entire flock, and flocks often number more than 30,000. The only way for consumers to be certain the chickens they buy have not been treated with antibiotics is to purchase those labeled antibiotic-free, or organic.

Many opponents of the prevailing agricultural practices see these developments as a major step toward combating antibiotic resistance. But in the absence of any monitoring by the federal government, some remain skeptical about assertions that antibiotic use has been reduced. Because farmers are not required to report antibiotic use in animals, the reduction cannot be documented.

For more than 20 years, poultry producers have stoutly defended the use of all antibiotics. The National Chicken Council, an industry trade association, maintains that antibiotics have always been used responsibly. "People well aware of antibiotic resistance in the industry are skeptical that we are the root of the problems," Richard Lobb, spokesman for the council, said.

Many public health advocates say the use of antibiotics in poultry causes
disease germs to become resistant not only to those drugs but also to the
closely related drugs used to treat human diseases. The theory is that stronger, more drug-resistant strains of bacteria grow when competing organisms are killed off. Strong resistance to a drug may cause it and others in its chemical class to become ineffective for treating some diseases.

Experts say that another significant factor in the emergence of drug- resistant bacteria is the overuse of antibiotics in human medicine.

The turnaround on the part of three major companies is a powerful recognition of public health officials' longstanding concerns. Foster Farms says it uses no antibiotics at all, except to treat sick birds. Perdue says it is using only antibiotics that are not the same as or similar to those used in human medicine. Tyson says it has cut back on antibiotics that are similar to those used on humans, and now uses only two when a flock is at risk of disease.

"If they are not using millions of pounds of antibiotics in chickens, there is that much less pressure on disease-causing organisms to develop resistance," said Dr. Margaret Mellon, the director of the food and environment program of the Union of Concerned Scientists, a public advocacy group. "That means the antibiotics will work at lower concentrations."

The three companies, which sell a total of 216 million pounds of chicken a year, have quietly made the changes over the last three to four years, though Mr. Lobb suggested that the trend had been going on longer than that. Dr. Mellon and other leading opponents of animal antibiotics said they were unaware of the new farming practices.

"I was surprised but delighted that companies are making the changes they say they are making," said Rebecca Goldburg, a senior scientist with the
organization Environmental Defense. "For many years the animal industry has disregarded or even denied concerns about antibiotic resistance, but this shows they are beginning to take them seriously."

The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that 26.6 millions pounds of
antibiotics are used for animals each year, with only 2 million pounds used to treat sick animals. These figures are estimates because farmers can buy many antibiotics without prescriptions.

For the last three years, the European Union has tightly regulated animal
antibiotics related to those used in human medicine, which are called medically important. In Denmark, the restrictions have resulted in a drop of about 60 percent in overall use of antibiotics from 1994 to 2000.

"Currently we are not using medically important antibiotics non-therapeutically that would be used in human medicine like penicillin, tetracycline and sulfonamides," said Dr. Hank Engster, vice president of technical services for Perdue. "The primary reason is that we want to make absolutely sure if there is any question that we are in no way, shape or form contributing to antibiotic resistance in humans. We want to make sure there is no overuse."

Tyson says it made the decision for economic reasons. "We looked at the
cost-benefit ratio of antibiotics and determined we could just as effectively do it without them," said Ed Nicholson, a company spokesman. "If we can raise birds without doing it, why do it?"

There is no evidence that a reduction in the use of antibiotics for healthy chickens will increase the risk of getting sick from eating them.

On the contrary, the continual use of antibiotics makes bacteria more resistant.

While some processors have been reducing such use in healthy chickens, there has been an equally significant effort to ban a newer class of antibiotics, called fluoroquinolones, in chickens that are sick. The chicken drug, which is very similar to Cipro, is called Baytril. Both are manufactured by Bayer A.G.

Even the Food and Drug Administration, which has done little in the past to curb the use of antibiotics in animals, has been trying to ban Baytril since October 2000. Cipro is used to treat not only anthrax but also food-borne illnesses like campylobacteriosis and salmonellosis.

Walt Riker, a spokesman for McDonald's, said the company decided a year ago not to serve chickens that had been treated with fluoroquinolones. "Based on the science and some of the concerns raised and its limited application, it was easy to discontinue the use of it," he said.

Foster Farms does not use fluoroquinolones. Tyson and Perdue still do. Perdue and Foster Farms say fewer than 1 percent of their chickens are treated with any antibiotics because of illnesses.

In December, Keep Antibiotics Working, a coalition dedicated to reducing the use of antibiotics in animals, wrote to 50 poultry producers, telling them about three studies published in October in The New England Journal of Medicine confirming the links between antibiotic overuse and drug-resistant bacteria found in meat and poultry products. The coalition, which includes the Union of Concerned Scientists, Environmental Defense, the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Natural Resources Defense Council, asked each company to "commit to eliminating the nontherapeutic use of medically important antibiotics
in your production practices."

After the Food and Drug Administration gave the poultry industry permission to use fluoroquinolones to treat chickens in 1995, contrary to advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the increase in bacteria resistance among humans rose from almost nothing to about 18 percent. The most recent preliminary government report indicates a reduction in bacterial resistance to about 14 percent, which may be attributed to a reduction in use as processors and purchasers turn away from it.

The Food and Drug Administration says that even though there has been a
reduction, the level of resistance is unacceptable. Among those supporting its call for a ban are the American College of Preventive Medicine, the American Medical Association and the American Public Health Association.

But once an animal drug has been approved, it is very difficult to take off the market against a company's wishes. One manufacturer, Abbott Laboratories, agreed immediately to withdraw the product. But Bayer has not and is fighting the proposed ban.

Senator Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, has told Bayer that if it does not
voluntarily remove Baytril from the market, he will introduce legislation to ban its use in animals. Representative Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, plans to introduce similar legislation in the House.

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