The American Diet of Meat

David Cassuto

With a hat tip to Scu and a huzzah to the NY Times, this graphic speaks for itself:

Law, Food, & Vegas

David Cassuto (also up in GreenLaw)

Alas, blogging has paid a heavy price for what has been and continues to be a very busy semester.  But it’s been busy in a good way.  To wit, I am recently returned from both Las Vegas and Rio.  I’ll discuss Rio in my next post but first, to Vegas.

A few weeks ago I attended the Conference of the Association of Law, Culture & Humanities held at UNLV.  This very fine interdisciplinary conference had three panels organized by UNLV’s Professor  Bret Birdsong on Law & Food.  The panel discussions ranged from GMOs to marketing and were uniformly excellent.  My talk (I was on one of the panels) grew out of some of my previous work.  It explored the unique normative challenges raised by the human/animal dynamic and how those challenges manifest in animal law and, consequently, in food law as well.  I argued that many of the failings of animal law (and environmental law) can be explained by the fact that it does not arise from the traditional relationships from which laws are created.  Continue reading

The Agribusiness Lobby Wins Again

Jacqueline McMahon

Well, there go the rights of farmed animals and whistleblowers in Iowa.  On March 17, 2011, the Republican-dominated Iowa House of Representative voted 65-27 to approve a bill criminalizing secretly recording factory farm practices.  Under the bill, House File 589 § 9, drolly named “Animal Facility Interference,” any person who produces, possesses or distributes an audio or visual recording of an animal facility without the consent of the owner is guilty of either a class D felony or aggravated misdemeanor.  The bill still has to pass through the Democrat-controlled Senate before officially becoming Iowa law, but with similar proposals popping up in other states including Florida, the idea of prohibiting these exposé recordings is picking up steam. Continue reading

Wolves have their day in court…again

First, anyone who aspires to be a judge should take a gander at this.

Here’s the latest on the complex legal maneuvers surrounding the wolf issue in the northern Rockies. A small cadre of “anti-wolf protesters” showed up outside the courthouse in Missoula, MT yesterday–to view the rest of their signs, click here.

Fashion, fishin’, & factory farming: Fowl play in the news

Kathleen Stachowski Other Nations

Today it was corndogs. Two days ago it was feathers.  More often than not, something I read in the local morning paper gets my goat. It’s not that I go looking for the dark side, mind you. Whether an article deals with fun, food, or fashion, if the news-maker relies on animal exploitation, I see the backstory no matter how deftly it goes unmentioned. It’s probably like that for you, too. Animal rights folks tend to see the big picture–the one that includes the suffering and the slaughter. Sigh.

First, the corndogs. The headline advises me to “Celebrate corndogs, hoops on national day.” Turns out that National Corndog Day is “the first Saturday in March after the NCAA men’s basketball tournament kicks off.” Factory farming giant Foster Farms is a sponsor (“Foster Farms Corn Dogs are fun-tastic anytime!“). Continue reading

Going Dutch – National Debate on Factory Farming

Laurens Peters

As is the case in many countries, Holland’s factory farming business has always been largely hidden from the ordinary consumer’s view. This is no small feat in a country that slaughters half a billion farm animals per year. Holland is as densely populated as New Jersey, less than twice its size. Over the past five years however, the number of factory farms (loosely defined as >12,500 pigs, >185,000 egg laying chicken, > 300 milk cows per farm according to Dutch animal welfare organization WakkerDier) has almost tripled, sparking local resistance and debate.   Continue reading

Minding the GAP Program



William Sheehan

In a market awash with vague and misguiding advertising regarding the treatment of animals raised for slaughter, Whole Foods’ proposed GAP Program is a breath of fresh air. Whole Foods announced that it will rate food items that use animal products on a 5-step scale, established by the Global Animal Partnership, indicating the specific conditions which the animals were subjected to. The scale serves dual purposes: it provides consumers with the information which they require to make informed decisions that satisfy their ethical concerns and it also allows companies to sell their products at a premium that accurately reflects the treatment which they provide for their animals. Continue reading

Bad luck for the bunny

Kathleen Stachowski Other Nations

At first glance, the Chinese Lunar New Year and Easter have little in common.  On second glance, a long-eared furry creature hops through both. Is it possible to celebrate a new year and wax sentimental about a candy-bearing bunny while ignoring the atrocities faced by the family Leporidae?

The Chinese new year arrived in February, and with it, the Sign of the Rabbit (hare, in China). People born under this sign are said to have many desirable personality traits–kindness, sensitivity, and graciousness; good luck is usually mentioned, too. The oh-so-lucky rabbit! Continue reading

Eating Live Lobsters: Painful or Delicious?

Lili Corn

I recently received an email advertising a hot new delicacy at a swanky New York City restaurant and couldn’t wait to share the news! Apparently, the best way to eat a spiny lobster is while it’s still alive (I was promised the opportunity to “pick belly sashimi out of its still moving body”).  Now, I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical at first.  Even a Zagat blogger joked that the practice might actually be cruel.  Worse still was that after I poked around on the web for 10 seconds, I discovered that recent studies show that crustaceans, including lobsters, experience pain. Continue reading

The Donation Loophole in the Lacey Act – A Win for Animal Smugglers?

Jacqueline McMahon

In the United States, animal smuggling is a $10 billion industry.  Worldwide, animal smuggling is seen by participants as a “low risk, high profit” business because of the limited breadth of domestic legislation, undermanned agencies, and lax penalties.  The U.S. Lacey Act, one of the key pieces of legislation designed at targeting animal smuggling, prohibits the sale of exotic animals or their body parts for profit.  While the language may seem like outright prohibition on smuggling, animal smugglers are finding loopholes in the Act to continue the trade.      Continue reading

Killing the Holy Grail: Fisher, wolverine trapping continues

NPS photo


Kathleen Stachowski Other Nations

Last autumn, on a remote forest road in Montana’s northern Bitterroot Mountains, I saw my first fisher. The luxuriously-coated, dark brown carnivore–a member of the weasel family–had just caught lunch. As he dragged his prey into the forest, I wished him safe passage through the coming trapping season. A few years earlier I came face-to-face with a pine marten on a high, wild trail in the Tetons.  My first and only marten sighting was cause for gratitude—just the two of us in a deep forest, quietly considering each other. An exquisite least weasel in Yellowstone’s backcountry, a long-tailed weasel rippling through snow on my own property–no doubt about it, the mustelids had, well, weaseled their way into my heart. But for all my considerable time spent in wild, remote places, I’ve yet to encounter a wolverine. What an unforgettable event that will be!

But, just like excrement, trapping happens. Some Montana mustelids (otter, fisher, wolverine) are considered “furbearers” for whom quotas exist; others like the pine marten face unlimited trapping. Continue reading