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Red Fish, Blue Fish, Old Fish, Monster Fish!

September 16, 2010

One summer when I was about 11, I went to work with my dad a few times at the Lancaster Stockyards. It was there that I experienced for the first time the kinds of treatment animals go through in the process of being factory farmed and slaughtered.

Animals arrived after days on trucks with no fresh air, water, or food. They were beaten because they couldn’t walk after being malnourished and dehydrated or crushed by other animals in over crowded trucks; they were left for dead while still fully alive; they were born and left to die because their mothers were being sold. My dad took the job because he needed the income, and ended up quitting it because he simply couldn’t do what the job asked of him anymore. The year or so my dad worked at the Lancaster Stockyard, my family ended up taking home a dozen or more injured and left-for-dead animals and raising them on our Amish neighbor’s property (and in our garage in some cases).

This video put together by Gene Baur at Farm Sanctuary is about Lancaster Stockyard, which is now defunct. The sheep Baur talks about finding on the dead pile was Farm Sanctuary’s first animal rescue I believe.

I tell this story to clarify that being opposed to jumbo food growers and factory farming is not the same thing as being opposed to raising and killing animals to eat. I like to eat animals. I also want to be upfront with why I use the word “torture” when I’m talking about factory farming. I’ve seen it (and it is now well documented in films like Food Inc.), and torture is what it is.

And now on to what this post really is about: the FDA’s pending judgment on an issue very close to the heart of 21st-Century factory farming: genetically engineered animals.

The FDA is close to approving the very first genetically engineered animal for human consumption. It’s an Atlantic Salmon that has been stuck with a growth gene from a Chinook Salmon (an Alaskan/Siberian salmon) and an antifreeze gene from an Ocean Pout (an Atlantic eel).

The problem inherent in GE animals is that, except for their use in medicine, creating GE animals is simultaneously a band aide for and a vehicle for continuing to use unsustainable food production and consumption practices. The food industrial complex wants to create animals resistant to diseases caused by our own practices, like Bovine Grown Hormone use and over-milking dairy cows or over-crowding chickens, pigs and other livestock.

Creating GE animals also further enhances a food industrial complex that creates mega-jumbo food “growers” who monopolize the market with highly-medicated animals that live in devastatingly torturous conditions, and squeeze out local and sustainable farmers who take good care of their animals and don’t use nearly as many poisons in their methods.

As for the new GE Salmon, Ben and Jerry’s has a cool interactive monster fish graphic and a link to a petition to sign. Unfortunately

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