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Thanks A Lot, HBO, Says Meat Industry

By       Message Martha Rosenberg     Permalink
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The pork industry was still reeling from grisly 2008 images of the MowMar sow farm in Bayard, IA when HBO aired Death on a Factory Farm in March.

The turkey industry was still reeling from 2008 images from Aviagen turkey farms in Lewisburg, WV that ruined many a Thanksgiving dinner this year (resulting in 11 felony counts).

And it's only been a year since Americans watched downed and dying cows waterboarded and forklifted to slaughter for the school lunch program at Hallmark Meat Company in Chino, CA.

Death on a Factory Farm, produced by non-vegetarians Sarah Teale and Tom Simon, shows whimpering pigs bashed against walls and sows hung from forklifts, squealing and kicking all fours for painful minutes as "euthanasia" methods on the Wiles Hog Farm in Creston, OH.

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Shot by "Pete" who took employment at Wiles, it has provoking new pledges to be on good behavior from a pork industry that seems perpetually on the defensive.

Of course factory farm cruelty has been so well documented by now the public realizes it is the rule not the exception and passed California's Proposition 2 in November with more votes than were cast for Obama.

In fact undercover "employees" with hidden cams who immortalize factory farm conditions on YouTube, websites and HBO are as big an occupational hazard to factory farmers than the ones that elicit FREEZE! IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION SERVICE!

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And the meat industry has other woes.

Congress is no longer tolerating its antibiotic double talk thanks to growing community acquired MRSA and also wants to be able to trace where food animals actually come from through instituting the much-hated National Animal ID System (NAIS).

Nor are rural residents welcoming the smells, black flies and declining land values of new factory farms even as state attorneys sue over polluted watersheds, dead fish and overtaxed sewer systems.

And just as feed costs rise, the public "meat dollar" has shrunk thanks to the economy and healthfulness of meatless meals. (See: White House; vegetable garden.)

Still, nothing is as harmful to the meat industry than scientific studies like Meat Intake and Mortality in the March 23, 2009 Archives of Internal Medicine that find," Red and processed meat intakes were associated with modest increases in total mortality, cancer mortality, and cardiovascular disease mortality." Especially when they're funded by a sober National Cancer Institute and not some fringe animal or food group.

Sure, most men over 40 know red meat can cause a Tim Russert. Most cancerphobes know it's a quick ticket to breast, colon, prostate, stomach, bladder and cancer-of-the-everywhere-else thanks to the hormones they pump it with.

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But to hear risks again and again--well, it really ruins your barbecue (viz. heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) and Slim Jims (N-nitroso compounds.)

In fact meat eating is starting to sound a lot like smoking which was once thought harmless, too--even good for you--and a bona fide part of a meal.

Nor are mad cow disease fears gone for the industry.

The final USDA report on the Hallmark downer cows issued in November 2008 doesn't exactly comfort. If finds that Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) officials "believed the sanitizer spray was sufficient," to kill mad cow prions that might have been left on knives from specified risk materials. (SRMs) Hello?

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Martha Rosenberg is an award-winning investigative public health reporter who covers the food, drug and gun industries. Her first book, Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health, is distributed by Random (more...)
 

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