Posts Tagged ‘factory farming’

The Horsemeat scandal: why did it touch a nerve?

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn last week’s post, I looked back to the amazing revelations two years ago this week that horse DNA had been found in beef products sold in UK supermarkets.

Some of the controversy that accompanied the horsemeat scandal was no doubt caused by the UK’s special affiliation with equines. The idea of slaughtering these animals for meat has long been disturbing to British sensibilities.

A Spring day in 1911 at the bustling Belgian port of Antwerp; an English nurse, in her early fifties, Ada Cole, stood silent by the dockside scarcely believing her eyes. A cargo ship had pulled alongside and began to unload a slow procession of tired, worn-out horses which then shuffled along on their final journey.

These were English horses, exported to Belgium and forced to walk four and a half miles from the docks to be pole-axed at the slaughterhouse. It was a distasteful sight and locals would draw their curtains in protest. It was telling that this was done out of the sight of the horse-loving British people.

Review of my international guest posts in 2014

Monday, January 19th, 2015
David Bilchitz

David Bilchitz

The publication of Farmageddon at the beginning of 2014 opened the door to a new international audience for our message to end the cage age for farmed animals. I travelled throughout the world to places like China and Argentina researching the global impact of industrial agriculture for Farmageddon. Now my travel is very much aimed at building an international movement against factory farming. Here I look back at some of my guest postings from around the world in 2014.

I was honoured to meet Professor David Bilchitz, director of the South African Institute for Advanced Constitutional Human Rights and International Law, who sees no place for factory farming in South Africa.

Factory farming is devastating for animal welfare. It treats animals ‘like units in an industrial process’, said the famous South African author J M Coetzee. It has no regard for their intrinsic value and does not respect their basic rights to bodily integrity and to live in an environment in which they can flourish. Arguably this runs counter to the essence of the new [South African] constitutional framework which requires a concern for those who are weakest and most vulnerable. And, finally, it is devastating for the environment through a range of effects it causes.

Angus McIntosh

Angus McIntosh


Horsemeat scandal two years on – lessons learned?

Thursday, January 15th, 2015
Do consumers really know what they are eating?

Do consumers really know what they are eating?

Two years ago today, the biggest food scandal in the UK since the BSE crisis, hit the headlines.

The horsemeat scandal of 2013 heightened consumer fears over not knowing the full story of what is in the food we buy. Horsemeat had been switched for beef, leaving the horse-loving nation of Britain stunned and distrustful.

Europe’s food industry became engulfed in a rapidly unfolding saga that quickly degenerated into a furious blame-game. Keen to avoid taint from the torrent of revelations, UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, blamed supermarkets, who blamed their suppliers, who pointed to distant traders in far-away lands. Consumers were left baffled and angry.

The alarm was first raised by the Irish Food Safety Authority and supermarket giant Tesco was one of the first to be involved; an ‘Everyday Value’ beef burger from the store contained 29% horsemeat. The offending burger was manufactured in Ireland from meat thought to be of Polish origin.

Other supermarkets were affected, with horsemeat also being found in beef products from discount supermarkets, Aldi and Lidl. Within days, 10 million burgers – enough calories to feed a million people for a day – had been removed from shelves by worried retailers.

Future-proof our farming

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

In Cheshire, on Bickley Hall Farm, I looked into ‘future farming’ – a farming system using low levels of pesticides, with cows, kept naturally on permanent pastures. This was benefitting not only the cows, but the local wildlife too and involved the local community.

Richard Gardner, from Cheshire Wildlife Trust talked to me about the farm where the conservation herd live. They manage 350 hectares of meadow and pasture – creating the right mix of habitats. Richard also discussed this natural way to farm with other farmers and landowners.

Managing livestock in this low input way – means there is no need for artificial fertilisers, and birds and mammals thrive in the area. Richard said: “think about where your food has come from”.

The land, and the cows, were managed sympathetically at Bickley Hall Farm. Long may it continue.

For your copy of ‘Farmageddon: The true cost of cheap meat’, click here.

Did you see who we had as guest blogger for 2014?

Monday, January 12th, 2015
Jonathon Porritt

2014 guest blogger, Jonathon Porritt

This last year has been an incredibly busy and productive one for Compassion, with the publication of my book, Farmageddon: The true cost of cheap meat, the release of ground-breaking videos like ‘Secrets of Food Marketing’ and ‘Chicken factory farmer speaks out’, and the launch of our ambitious campaign to End the Cage Age.

As well as news, comments and updates, I have been really excited to host a wonderful array of special guest articles in 2014, each one giving their own personal take on factory farming and the issues it raises. Here we look again at some highlights:

Emma Silverthorn, granddaughter of dairy farmer and Compassion founder, Peter Roberts, was one of our first guest blogs of the year. Reflecting on the publication of Farmageddon and its meaning for their family, she wrote:

Emma Silverthorn

Emma Silverthorn

In the early 1960s, as Philip describes in Farmageddon’s Preface, a man from the farming ministry knocked on my grandparent’s door and told them to ‘boost business’ by moving into ‘intensive chicken rearing’. Thus, the seed was planted that led to their outrage that became their lifelong campaign. Peter momentarily weighed up the pros and cons of such a system. Nan instinctively said no.

Writer and commentator, George Monbiot, looked back to when he was 18 and a holiday job on an intensive pig farm:

George Monbiot

George Monbiot

[A]nd the things I witnessed there will never be erased from my mind. I’m aware that Compassion and your book bridge the issues: connecting the farming of livestock with the great web of damage to the natural world this does, and that it’s time I created the mental space to start engaging with it.


Farmageddon on film

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About Philip Lymbery

Philip Lymbery is Chief Executive Officer of Compassion in World Farming and co-author of Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat. He is an internationally respected authority on the impact of industrial agriculture on people, animals and the planet.