The Torture Never Stops – But It Must, For All of Us to Survive

Michael Moss/The New York Times

Michael Moss/The New York Times

Whether its animals or people, our society tortures millions of innocent lives everyday.

Two stories brought that home to me this week.

The New York Time published a story on Jan. 19 – U.S. Research Lab Lets Livestock Suffer in Quest for Profit: Animal Welfare at Risk in Experiments for Meat Industry. The story exposes the experiments done on cows, pigs and sheep at a USDA research facility in rural Nebraska.

At a remote research center on the Nebraska plains, scientists are using surgery and breeding techniques to re-engineer the farm animal to fit the needs of the 21st-century meat industry. The potential benefits are huge: animals that produce more offspring, yield more meat and cost less to raise.

There are, however, some complications.

Pigs are having many more piglets — up to 14, instead of the usual eight — but hundreds of those newborns, too frail or crowded to move, are being crushed each year when their mothers roll over. Cows, which normally bear one calf at a time, have been retooled to have twins and triplets, which often emerge weakened or deformed, dying in such numbers that even meat producers have been repulsed.

Then there are the lambs. In an effort to develop “easy care” sheep that can survive without costly shelters or shepherds, ewes are giving birth, unaided, in open fields where newborns are killed by predators, harsh weather and starvation.

The picture above shows some of the unintended consequences of the “easy care” program.

Last Mother’s Day, at the height of the birthing season, two veterinarians struggled to sort through the weekend’s toll: 25 rag-doll bodies. Five, abandoned by overtaxed mothers, had empty stomachs. Six had signs of pneumonia. Five had been savaged by coyotes.

“It’s horrible,” one veterinarian said, tossing the remains into a barrel to be dumped in a vast excavation called the dead pit.

It was difficult getting through this article – reading about untrained personnel performing surgery on animals, ranchers being repulsed by the “twinning” program – but that didn’t stop the “researchers” from moving forward with the experiments, and dangerous experiments with horrible results.

Months into his new job at the center in 1989, Dr. Keen said, he got a call from a fellow worker asking him to help with a “downed cow.”

“There was a young cow, a teenager, with as many as six bulls,” he recalled. “The bulls were being studied for their sexual libido, and normally you would do that by putting a single bull in with a cow for 15 minutes. But these bulls had been in there for hours mounting her.”

The cow’s head was locked in a cagelike device to keep her immobile, he said. “Her back legs were broken. Her body was just torn up.”

Dr. Keen wanted to euthanize the animal, but the scientist in charge could not be tracked down for permission. A few hours later, the cow died.

In order to end the friction between researchers and veterinarians, who raised questions about experiments that would cause undue harm to animals, the research center has no veterinarians on full-time staff.

This is what happens when the need for larger profits and reduced costs becomes the driving force behind everything in the industrial food complex. Animals are commodities and expendable. It is disgusting.

Please take the time to read this important article and sign a petition started by Animal Place – an animal sanctuary in Northern CA – to call for the closure of this facility to put an end to this tax-funded cruelty and needless experimentation.

Mohamedou Ould SlahiThe second story was on Democracy Now! on Thursday – Inside the U.S. Torture Chambers: Prisoner’s Guantánamo Diary Details 12 Years of Abuse, Terror. It is the story of Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a Mauritanian man who has been held at the base for more than 12 years. He has never been charged, and never will, because there is nothing to charge him for. But that hasn’t kept our government from keeping him locked up. It didn’t keep them from torturing him, leaving him for months in solitary confinement, threatening to harm his family if he didn’t cooperate.

The cell—better, the box—was cooled down to the point that I was shaking most of the time. For the next 70 days, I wouldn’t know the sweetness of sleeping: interrogation 24 hours a day. I was living literally in terror.

Three years after arriving at Guantánamo, he started keeping a diary. With the help of lawyers and other groups, the diary has been published – Guantánamo Diary – by The Guardian.

“Blindfold the [expletive] if he tries to look.” One of them hit me hard across the face, and quickly put the goggles on my eyes, ear muffs on my ears, and a small bag over my head. They tightened the chains around my ankles and my wrists; afterwards, I started to bleed. I thought they were going to execute me.

Thursday afternoon, I was reading The World Peace Diet by Will Tuttle and found this passage. I’ll leave you with it, because it puts all of this into perspective. We have to end this madness, before it ends all of us.

There is perhaps nothing more terrifying than to be helpless and restrained, and to be looked at by a cold, disconnected eye that does not care about our experience of suffering. This is the eye of the herder toward his property animals, all of whom he will manipulate and kill for his own benefit; it is the eye of the soldier toward his enemies who threaten his rulers’ cattle and capital interests; it is the eye of the scientist or research assistant deliberately subjecting sentient creatures to terribly painful experiments. This hard, unsympathetic eye is a deeply wounded parody of the true human eye that shines with loving kindness, compassion, and a natural sense of caring and sympathy for all our fellow creatures on this earth. The hard eye is achieved only by rigorous practice – the practice that we are enlisted in practically from birth of disconnecting from the horror on our plates three times a day. We learn to cast this unsympathetic gaze on those outside our species, our race, our country, class, gender, tribe, religion, or sexual orientation, and particularly on pigs, cows, coyotes and other “food” or “nuisance” animals.

One thought on “The Torture Never Stops – But It Must, For All of Us to Survive

  1. Pingback: NY Times – Farming Science, Without the Conscience | Whole Food-Whole Life

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