By Hwaa Irfan
It seems that officials in Amsterdam have got nothing beneficial to do, in regards to the socio-economic climate of Holland, than to prevent Muslims and Jews from slaughtering meat in the ways of Islamic and Judaic religious practices, with a new bill in the limelight that will force Muslims and Jews to raise their cost if living to import halal/kosher meat or to eat the meat that is available in Holland, or to go without eating meat at all (which is not a big deal)!
That may have been a long sentence, but so is the sense of exasperation at the small mindedness of it all. Cruelty to animals many will shout, but the following represents the real cruelty…
Factory farming is the mainstream means of supply meat on our tables. Too many consumers do not question the nature of the meat that they eat, and do not respect the sanctity of their bodies enough to consume the following which represents cruelty to animals from conception to the supermarket shelves…
Factory farming is the commercial raising of thousands of animals in unnatural confined conditions. In the U.S., which provides the worst meat on the supermarket shelves, the number of animals have decreased, but the major 4 food companies produce 81% of cows, 73% of sheep, 57% of pigs, and 50% of chickens. 10 billion animals are now killed in US factory farms every year. It is the advantage of the commercial farmer to reduce the living space as much as possible, but for the livestock it means living in filthy, unhygienic, stressful, unventilated conditions which increases the likelihood of sick. Factory farmed fowl live entirely in the dark, and pigs have been known to resort to self mutilation out of aggression as they cannot cope with living in confined spaces.
USDA allows livestock to enter the food supply that have lesions, and pus filled wounds. That pus can be found in milk, which the dairy industry allows for according to a ‘somatic cell count.’
This can contain ground up parts of other animals, and animal waste, a far cry from what constitutes the natural diet of any livestock.
In weight, 50mn pounds of antibiotics are produced in the U.S. annually, of which 20mn are given to animals, 80% of which targets rapid growth, and the remaining 20% is used to control the diseases, which are a product of commercial factory farming. The massive increase in antibiotics for livestock has given life to generations of disease-breeding bacteria, which in turn breed antibiotic resistant bacteria. One result of antibiotic resistant bacteria is MRSA (Methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus), which kills more people than AIDS in developed countries.
SEX HORMONES are used to force cattle and poultry to develop against the natural order of their bodies in order to increase profit by forcing cattle and poultry to grow faster and bigger. The Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences estimated the annual cost of treating
antibiotic-resistant infections in the U.S. to be U.S$30bn.
Hormones not produced by the body lead to obesity, infertility, diabetes, dwarfism, gigantism, kidney disease, hypertension, precocious puberty, hypoglycaemia, masculinisation of females, feminization of males, cancer, Bovine Leukemia, Bovine Immunodeficiency Virus, and Milk Fever from calcium deficiency. The high amount of ammonia present in their confined living conditions due to standing and living in their waste causes respiratory diseases, skin infections, and depression.
Where slatted floors are in place to allow for the removal of waste, for pigs this unnatural flooring that they are confined to causes physical deformities, and genetically modified broiler chicken have great difficulty in walking.
Sex hormones are used to bring livestock to heat so that they can breed all at the same time, to cause abortions in heifers due to be slaughtered, or to increase milk production – either way, the hormones get passed onto the consumer through the meat and all by-products. For example, 20% of broiler chickens are contaminated with Salmonella, and 80% are contaminated with Campylobacter, a common cause for food borne illnesses in the U.S.
All the above represents the most cruel form of slow death one can experience, added to which animals are inadequately sedated, which constitutes another drug on the table of consumers, or inadequately stunned before being scorched in water, and are sometimes dismembered while still conscious in order to keep up with the production line. In the U.S. alone 90,000 calves and cows are slaughtered every 24 hours, 14,000 chickens are slaughtered every minute, 10bn other creatures are slaughtered every year.
This level of commercial farming is actually unnecessary, force-breeding more meat than we as humans naturally need – the average American consumes twice their own weight in meat, when our digestive systems are not designed to consume so much meat. Dosed up with sex hormone, antibiotics, pesticides, and any other medication, the fat, liver, and kidneys of livestock become saturated with these drugs. This includes fish from fish farms, and the additional trauma of genetic engineering of livestock. Food borne illnesses and deaths in the U.S. has quadrupled within the last 15 years. For example an USDA 2000 report stated that 89% of American beef patties contain traces of E. Coli!
Commercial factory farming is one of the greatest pollutants to the environment. Here are a few facts from the Natural Resource Defence Council:
- California officials identify agriculture, including cows, as the major source of nitrate pollution in more than 100,000 square miles of polluted groundwater.
- In Oklahoma, nitrates from Seaboard Farms’ hog operations contaminated drinking water wells, prompting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to issue an emergency order in June 2001 requiring the company to provide safe drinking water to area residents.
- In 1996 the Centres for Disease Control established a link between spontaneous abortions and high nitrate levels in Indiana drinking water wells located close to feedlots.
- High levels of nitrates in drinking water also increase the risk of methemoglobinemia, or “blue-baby syndrome,” which can kill infants.
- Animal waste contains disease-causing pathogens, such as Salmonella, E. coli, Cryptosporidium, and fecal coliform, which can be 10 to 100 times more concentrated than in human waste. More than 40 diseases can be transferred to humans through manure.
- In May 2000, 1,300 cases of gastroenteritis were reported and six people died as the result of E. coli contaminating drinking water in Walkerton, Ontario. Health authorities determined that the most likely source was cattle manure runoff.
- Manure from dairy cows is thought to have contributed to the disastrous Cryptosporidium contamination of Milwaukee’s drinking water in 1993, which killed more than 100 people, made 400,000 sick and resulted in $37 million in lost wages and productivity.
- In this country, roughly 29 million pounds of antibiotics — about 80 percent of the nation’s antibiotics use in total — are added to animal feed every year to speed livestock growth. This widespread use of antibiotics on animals contributes to the rise of resistant bacteria, making it harder to treat human illnesses.
- Large hog farms emit hydrogen sulfide, a gas that most often causes flu-like symptoms in humans, but at high concentrations can lead to brain damage. In 1998, the National Institute of Health reported that 19 people died as a result of hydrogen sulfide emissions from manure pits.
Livestock pollution and water pollution
- Huge open-air waste lagoons, often as big as several football fields, are prone to leaks and spills. In 1995 an eight-acre hog-waste lagoon in North Carolina burst, spilling 25 million gallons of manure into the New River. The spill killed about 10 million fish and closed 364,000 acres of coastal wetlands to shellfishing.
- From 1995 to 1998, 1,000 spills or pollution incidents occurred at livestock feedlots in 10 states and 200 manure-related fish kills resulted in the death of 13 million fish.
- When Hurricane Floyd hit North Carolina in 1999, at least five manure lagoons burst and approximately 47 lagoons were completely flooded.
- Runoff of chicken and hog waste from factory farms in Maryland and North Carolina is believed to have contributed to outbreaks of Pfiesteria piscicida, killing millions of fish and causing skin irritation, short-term memory loss and other cognitive problems in local people.
- Nutrients in animal waste cause algal blooms, which use up oxygen in the water, contributing to a “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico where there’s not enough oxygen to support aquatic life. The dead zone fluctuates in size each year, extending a record 8,500 square miles during the summer of 2002 and stretching over 7,700 square miles during the summer of 2010.
- Ammonia, a toxic form of nitrogen released in gas form during waste disposal, can be carried more than 300 miles through the air before being dumped back onto the ground or into the water, where it causes algal blooms and fish kills.
The Nature of Halal Meat…
The rules that govern halal meat are similar to that of kosher meat. Ritual slaughter represents a controlled and none frequent method of providing meat, a portion of which must go to the poor and hungry. In terms of the diet of Prophet Muhammed (SAW) in the traditions, the references to meat far outweigh the references to other foods. However, with globalization and the take up of mainstream lifestyles as dictated by secular developing countries, Muslims increasingly move away from the examples we are supposed to present.
In Islam eating is an act of worship, as all things we do are an act of worship. The most well known requirement to make meat halal is the pronouncement of the Creator’s name over the animal at the time of slaughter. The cutting instrument must be very sharp to ensure instant death without suffering.
With respect to the animals, Prophet Muhammed (SAW) forbade the injury or killing of an animal after it had been caged or bound (al-masbura), to being used for targeting after being caged or bound (mujaththam), or for amputation of part or whole of a limb, whilst still alive (al muthla), and the beating of animals (Bukhari 65: 8 #1922). Prophet Muhammed (SAW) also objected to the use of animals for sport. In fact, the only times in which humans can hurt animals is if they are a threat to human life, or if they provide humans with needed transport or food.
The act of zabah, animal sacrifice, is only offered every ‘Eid ul Ad’haa, which follows not long after the holy month of Ramadhan, which is probably why the Dutch are suddenly ‘eager’ in this time to frustrate religious worship. The sacrifice of ‘Eid ul Ad’haa, is in commemoration of the sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim/Abraham (SAW), whose preparedness to sacrifice his son, demonstrated complete trust in our Creator.
The sacrifice of ‘Eid ul Ad’haa is only for those families which can afford it (i.e. they have an income above normal household expenditure). This sacrifice is to be divided into thirds, with ⅓ for relatives, ⅓ for the poor, and ⅓ for the family – all in equal share. In this manner, the sanctity of creation is respected. If one pays someone else to carrying out zabah one must be present, and not be removed from the slaughter as many of us are when we buy from the supermarket shelves, breaking the partnership with life.
The sacrifice of ‘Eid ul Ad’haa represents a controlled consumption of meat whilst respecting animal life.
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the
way its animals are treated. I hold that, the more helpless a creature, the
more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man.” –Mohandas Ghandi
Developed secular societies have invested far too much that has caused far too much damage to all forms of life, disrespecting all forms of life, for far too much unsustainable profit, but before casting aspersions to animal cruelty, the question should be asked what is the most compassionate way to produce food that is healthy, and causes no harm, from the land/sea/air to the table!?
“Disturbing Facts on Factory Farming & Food Safety.” http://www.organicconsumers.org/Toxic/factoryfarm.cfm
Hari, J. “Factory Farming Is Manufacturing Superbugs — and Endangering Us All.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/johann-hari/factory-farming-is-manufa_b_878872.html
Tagliabue, J. “Bill on Humane Slaughter Yields New Front for Muslim Tensions.” http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/27/world/europe/27amsterdam.html?_r=1
“What’s Wrong With Factory Farming.” http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/pubs/FactoryFarmingFactSheet.pdf