Last week in my animal welfare class we had the privilege to hear from Dr. Craig Poyne a veterinarian. He really clarified some big issues that are circulating in the agriculture world; those being: hormones, do animals feel pain, and the issue I want to speak more about is antibiotic resistance. In regards to antibiotic resistance he referred to research down by Dr. Hurd from Iowa State University; who really delved into the causes of this resistance. The Centers for Disease Control has an annual report and for 2013 and in their report there wasn’t much information presented against antibiotics in farms. Surprisingly enough the main cause presented in this report of human resistance to antibiotics was due to human’s use of antibiotics. The take away message for me was that humans are the main source of the problem for antibiotic resistance; even though people love to blame farmers for this resistance. I am glad to see the science research proves otherwise. I can actually apply a life situation of my own to this, I feel like many times I have visited the doctor he was very quick to prescribe me medication. His ultimate fix for most problems is medication which probably isn’t the best idea since it creates a resistance the more you use antibiotics. Farmers and veterinarians agree that using antibiotics creates resistance so they are slowly phasing out antibiotic use for growth promotion. Although there has never been a case to occur where a human had a resistance to antibiotics from animal products; this is because of the extensive chain of events that would have to go on. The antibiotic resistant bacteria would need to leave the farm, survive harvesting, surviving retail, and then surviving preparation within the kitchen. The person then would need to get sick, get treated with an antibiotic, and then have treatment failure. Even if there was bacteria present in the meat, thorough cooking will kill both resistant and susceptible bacteria. This chain of events would be very hard to occur due to the small amount of antibiotics used when you compare a 1,200 pound animal to the average 150 pound human. This is why the use of human antibiotics is more risky than eating a burger.
I have been just looking around the PETA website for my animal welfare class and this video stood out to me for a few reasons. This video was about Why Should You Care about the mice and rats being used in experiments. The actions they are proposing in this video seem to be cruel, as they cut a little mouse and watch is squirm—it’s very unpleasant. To start though I think it is very important to first take into consideration where this video is coming from—is it credible and reliable? Well to start their allegations towards mice and rats are concerning those in the U.S. but isn’t it a little strange that the narrators voice has a British accent? This factor almost completely leads me to believe that they aren’t being truthful about where this video was being filmed. If they are making a case about the U.S.’s treatment of mice and rats in experiments shouldn’t that evidence be found here? This discounts a lot of their material! Well, the video goes on to appeal to our emotions by saying statements like, “ who cares if rats are affectionate or form lifelong relationships”…“who cares if they giggle when they are having fun”…“who cares if like dog and cats are good mothers that will rescue..”..These are just a few of the statements used to compel viewers to consider if they care. I have an issue with their wording because it is comparing rats and mice to humans, by saying that they are able to form lifelong relationship and all of the qualities listed are of humanlike qualities. They do this so when they announce how they are being treated then viewers will empathize towards them like they do to a human. Regarding the treatment of these rats and mice I feel it isn’t ethical to knowingly abuse them, but how are we to believe them in whether or not this is true based on their videos credibility. I believe it is ethical to use such animals to use in experiments if the suffering is minimized as much as possible while experimenting and when there is no other way to test in order to gain human benefits. I think when the experiments cross the line of inflicting pain for no reason, or just for pure enjoyment that is unethical.
I do know that scientists are encouraged to follow guidelines of the 3 R’s: Reduction, Refinement, and Replacement. Which is reduce the amount of animals used by improving techniques and refining the amount of suffering they incur with better living conditions and medical care, and then replacing them by using cell cultures instead of animals. Overall though, the issue of animal experiments is straightforward but we first have to consider if we believe animals have rights, and personally I don’t believe they do. Rights are inherited by our creator not given by the government or other beings. Our rights cannot be taken away from us as humans so comparing us to animals isn’t relevant because they were created completely different with different purposes. Our creator gave us the duty to take care of our animals and flourish from them so I believe it is our job to ensure that they are being handled correctly and humanly but as well, they are here for our benefit through feeding us and improving our livelihood.
Reading is beginning to change my life, throughout my time in college I haven’t always prioritized required readings but this year things have changed. Reading about things you genuinely care about completely changes the scenario; and I just love learning more about agriculture. This year in my animal welfare class we are reading, Compassion by the Pound, The Economics of Farm Animal Welfare by F. Bailey Norwood and Jayson L. Lusk. This book has honestly been the answer to so many lingering questions I have about agriculture in regards to practices and animal welfare. All of my beliefs have changed due to the facts presented in this book; I mostly appreciate this book due to the unbiased layout of information. They do a great job at telling both sides of the spectrum in every aspect of agriculture practices and relevant animal welfare issues. Just recently I read chapter 5 titled “Raising the Animal”, this chapter covers all of the different systems of raising birds, pigs and cows; and it completely blew my mind. I knew there were conventional and non-conventional systems but I had no idea the different varieties of each, as well I was pretty clueless on what actually went on in each system. For example, I always knew there was a huge debate on caged eggs vs. cage-free eggs but I didn’t know each side well enough to have an opinion. The biggest question presented in this chapter regarding birds was whether a hen is better off in a cage or cage-free system. After reading this, I realize that this is a tricky question to answer because a portion of it should be based on science but ultimately the opinion will be based off of someone’s idea of what is humane. Overall though, I had no idea the different variables that played a part in raising hens, who knew a pecking order was such a serious factor in cage vs. no -cage; since birds can only remember up to 30 other birds it’s important to separate them accordingly to prevent aggression creating a safer environment. I think one of the most interesting points I took away from this reading was how humans are the reason for caged eggs. Don’t get me wrong I think caged eggs are the most efficient and safe system for hens considering all facts and figures; but I find it funny how many people create such a drama about how “inhumane” it is, yet they fund it by demanding low prices. Farmer’s continue to produce caged eggs because we demand lower prices and to afford lower prices farmers have to use the caged eggs system; and today almost all hens are raised in a cage system in the US. At the end of the day it all comes down to the consumer and what we demand, because this is what drives farmers to produce goods. I guess this should encourage consumers to really consider what their purchases reflect and allow them to prioritize their beliefs if they are going to fight against such production systems.
This week I keep thinking about my time in Haiti in 2012, since 3 of my church friends were just accepted to spend the summer in Haiti serving a children’s orphanage. On our mission trip in Port Au Prince, Haiti we served a community that lived at the speed of love, time was nonexistent which was such a blessing to experience. On this mission trip I experienced a culture beyond my comprehension, and I was faced with the sight of abject poverty Children ran around without shoes and were barely clothed; but nothing seemed to faze them. Their way of life was simple but pure; almost likethe life we are called to live in the bible; obviously minus all of the malnutrition and corruption.
The community leaders of Chadirac were coffee farmers so in the mornings we would help pack bags with soil and plant coffee trees. This was by far one of my favorite activities, I loved helping them and seeing how important agriculture is for their community; despite how different it looks from our ways. The best part of working hand and hand with the Haitians and their children; was it brought fun and laughter into working regardless of the language barrier. In the beginning it was very frustrating to use their production processes because it was very inefficient; but we gradually started showing them assembly lines to process through more bags. Although now I understand that malnutrition and constant heat was a barrier for their productivity, in addition to the strenuous labor they had to accomplish daily. By the end of the week we had planted enough coffee trees to produce coffee for the next 40 years.
I feel the time I spent in Haiti really opened my eyes to a different world, because I went into the experience thinking I was going to change lives but little did I know they changed my life. As Americans we think we live the dream; but do we really? After seeing the hearts of many Haitians and there compassion for us, I began to consider the option that we are the poor ones while they are greatly rich. Their abundant joy came from their complete trust in our Creator and their lives were of testimony of that. This experience has inspired me to continue leading a life that is not about me but about people who are in need. I am passionate about making connections that will in turn affect the way I view the world, because I don’t want to be oblivious to the ongoing need in our world. I also want to be open to other cultures by experiencing them through traveling the world and challenging my own views along the way. I’ve realized over the last few years my heart is set on traveling but I am unsure if this is just a season of life I am in or if it will be something I make a career of—I guess time will tell!
Last week in my Public Relations course we had the privilege to hear from Lynzee Glass the managing editor for Ozarks Farm & Neighbor; which is a newspaper targeted to farmers and ranchers. This newspaper has been around for 16 years in Missouri but also produces publications for Northwest Missouri, Arkansas, and Eastern Oklahoma. The sole purpose of her presentation was to explain their struggles with social media based off of their average readers. OF&N utilizes Facebook and Twitter, although this wasn’t the easiest transition due to their staff with very traditional ways. So far they have reached 1,400 Facebook followers, but the problem at hand is this number doesn’t reflect their 58,000 subscribers. Their average reader is males between the ages of 35-65 who run a cow/calf operation; because this is solely an educational paper.
Since it is important to stay up to date with social media in the realm of advertising your product they decided to target a different market to direct viewers to their website. Through Facebook they have been able to grab a newer, younger audience and get their name out there at the same time. Since this paper is only distributed every 3 weeks there is news that doesn’t make it into their newspaper but is now posted onto Facebook. As well, this is free publicity for their newspaper and at the end of the day their main goal is to direct people to their site for profit from ads.
Lynzee talked about how utilizing social media has improved OF&N’s popularity within the younger generation. The most important positive factor from social media is the ability to communicate with other companies at ease. She explained how even though their Twitter doesn’t have many followers, they find it very beneficial because of their direct communication with companies like Angus Association, Farm Bureau…and companies alike. Since she is the editor it is her job to help compile ideas to write about, and with these sources she is able to ask questions about particular issues to incorporate in their newspaper.
I really enjoyed listening to Lynzee speak about OF&N because it gave me a different perspective of the problems associated with older companies with an older subscribers. It is great evidence that companies can transform and meet the public where there at, even if it isn’t traditional to their product.