The Month in a Minute: March

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From endangered shark DNA found in pet food to microplastics found in humans, here are the top stories from March:  

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Here are some of the stories that caught our attention this month:

Animals in the Media 

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority found no fault in a new television advertisement by animal advocacy organization Viva!. The ad promotes a vegan diet by encouraging viewers to make the connection between the food they eat and the animals killed for it. 

Critics argued against octopus farming because it targets an “exceptionally intelligent animal.” 

“My first job was slitting the throats of chickens at a slaughterhouse. It changed me forever”: The San Francisco Chronicle published an account from a former slaughterhouse worker, in support of AB-2764, the bill that could prohibit the construction and expansion of factory farms and slaughterhouses in California. 

Industry News 

U.S. and Japan announced an agreement that will allow American farmers and ranchers to help meet Japan’s growing demand for U.S. beef. In return, Japan agreed not to impose higher beef tariffs in the future. 

A new metric for the potent greenhouse gas methane could allow the agricultural sector to claim it is “climate neutral” without significantly cutting emissions. 

The U.S. beef industry emerges from Biden’s climate pledges “relatively unscathed.” 

The FDA has determined that genetically engineered cattle–who are bioengineered to have shorter hair–pose a “low risk” to those who eat them. This is the first time the FDA has made a low-risk determination on a bioengineered animal used for human consumption.

Advocates are calling for the ban of “cruel” killing methods on U.S. farms as avian flu continues to spread. France’s decision to allow some farmers to asphyxiate poultry flocks has also come under fire from farm unions and animal activists who say the practice is cruel and unacceptable. Meanwhile, in the UK leading disease experts say production of free-range chickens and eggs may “no longer be feasible” due to a dramatic escalation in avian flu outbreaks. 

Ukraine conflict prompts a global animal feed shortage, and some farmers in southern Europe fear livestock culls may be imminent, highlighting the need for dietary change.

The International Egg Commission unleashed “Vision 365,” a new 10-year plan to double egg consumption globally with the message of an egg a day for every person. 

The cost of food is the highest it’s been in 40 years. The biggest food price hikes are in meats, with pork and beef up 14 percent to 20 percent compared to this time a year ago. 

Oatly’s competitors—including these dairy giants—have stepped in to fill the gaps as Oatly struggles to meet demand. 

Health

Consumers should be choosingchickpeas over chickens” for their health and the environment, according to Dr. Shireen Kassam. 

Bats were once considered a sign of good fortune in Chinese culture but have since been shunned or even killed for fear they might be carrying a disease

Five major fast-food chains still use antibiotics in their meat. 

Studies and Reports 

Professor Jennifer Jacquet examined the top 35 meat and dairy companies—which together, account for a large percentage of greenhouse gas emissions—and found that half aren’t even measuring their impact.

A new study by Feedback Global revealed that millions of tons of fish caught in the global south are being fed to farmed salmon sold for human consumption in wealthier nations. 

Researchers find endangered shark DNA in dog and cat food. 

Despite nearly a third of shark species nearing extinction, Spain supplied 51,000 tonnes of shark fins from 2003 to 2020, says IFAW. A new report reveals European countries dominate half of the Asian shark fin trade. 

The latest IPCC report highlights the need to transform world food systems. The report suggests that a shift to a plant-based diet has the potential to reduce food production emissions. 

Law

Dutch parliament approved cultured meat tasting in The Netherlands. 

The USDA approved faster processing speeds at three pork plants. 

The UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya, called for a “historic” treaty on plastic waste, which centers on single-use plastics and neglects the biggest plastic polluter in the ocean: dumped fishing gear. In March, scientists also discovered microplastics in human blood for the first time.  

The UN Environment Assembly also adopted a historic resolution acknowledging that good animal welfare benefits human health and the environment.

A 30-year-long fishing dispute fizzles out as the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case. The protracted legal battle between two Indigenous communities now has nowhere to go. 

Technology

North Carolina State’s Department of Poultry Science relaunched its infamous “Nuggets on Mars” program after a long COVID delay.

Something Different

A growing force in the climate movement: moms.