In the first month of 2023, major climate stories abounded, including a first in 15 years: The EPA committed to studying pollution from factory farms to determine whether regulation changes are needed. January brought other promising news as the FDA announced the federal agency will no longer require all drugs to be tested on animals — a change to a mandate that has been in place since 1938.
Watch all this and more in our January media recap:
Meanwhile, Veganuary’s growing popularity and the soaring cost of animal-based foods prompted some restaurants to remove meat dishes from their menus.
In the E.U., 83 percent of food-related greenhouse gases were shown to result from meat, egg and dairy production, compared to 17 percent for the production of all vegetables and legumes. And, in U.S. climate news, scientists warned that Utah’s Great Salt Lake is expected to dry up in five years, due to the unsustainable use of water to grow hay and alfalfa to for farmed animal feed.
Here are the rest of the stories that caught our attention this month:
An investigator’s footage revealing the grim reality of slaughterhouse gas chambers invalidates industry assertions that the practice reduces animal suffering, as some pigs were shown struggling for almost a minute.
A report detailed how factory farming ramps up agriculture’s use of toxic herbicides and insecticides for animal feed, threatening biodiversity. In 2018, showed the growing of corn and soy for farmed animals accounted for an estimated 235,976,274 pounds of pesticides used by the U.S.
Farm Action, a group representing farming interests, urged the FDA to investigate rising egg prices, arguing that what companies are calling inflation could be artificial price gouging.
In the wake of the acquittal of Direct Action Everywhere investigators, a Utah bill would prohibit as a defense that farmed animals were removed because they are sick, injured “or a liability to the owner.”
In Iowa, campaigners rallied to demand a moratorium on new and expanding factory farms — and more than 27,600 turkeys were culled on a poultry farm as bird flu continues to spread.
JBS, the world’s top meat producer, has been accused of misleading investors with claims of sustainability.
In Hawaii, state officials temporarily shut down an octopus farm for operating without permits.
As the mortality rate amongst Scotland’s farmed salmon doubled, the industry placed the blame on jellyfish and animal advocates pointed to overcrowding and disease on fish farms.
A proposal from a Wyoming legislator and rancher suggested the capture and slaughter of U.S. wild horses — long a target of ire from the ranching industry — for human consumption both within the U.S. and in other nations.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is now seeking public comments on proposed revisions to the state’s wolf population management program, including the goal to “direct greater harvest pressure” on wolves in? “those areas which have been historical areas of wolf/livestock conflict.”
CRISPR technology is getting closer to ushering in a new era of gene-edited farmed animals, but is that good news for animal welfare? It’s complicated.
Bloomberg declared that “there’s never been a better time to try plant-based eggs” as the price of conventional eggs continued to climb.
Climate & Environment
A report from the American Meteorological Society found that 80 percent of extreme weather events over the past two years, including droughts, flooding and heatwaves, are linked to climate change.
Environmentalists voiced outcry over the EPA’s new proposed standards that support biogas from farmed animal waste and other biofuels they believe are not true climate solutions.
A first-of-its-kind study determined that pesticides are an overlooked contributor to climate change, which the researchers believe will increase the use of pesticides while decreasing their efficacy.
Research concluded that labels showing the climate impact of foods could encourage consumers to opt for more sustainable dishes over those containing beef.
Analysis by the Guardian revealed that a plan by the U.K. government is failing to address the land impact of animal agriculture — which accounts for 85 percent of U.K. land used for food production. That’s a problem because, as George Monbiot wrote — “[p]erhaps the most important of all environmental issues is land use,” and declared organic beef and lamb from pasture-raised animals to be the most harmful farm products.
Also from the Guardian came an investigation that showed over 90 percent of carbon offsets offered by leading firm Verra — some used to declare projects carbon neutral — are “worthless.” Plus reporting on the “high-tech” Floating Farm, which brings dairy farming to sea as “the climate crisis is pushing farmers to reconsider how — and where — they produce food.”
Researchers from the University of Adelaide analyzed dishes labeled “fish and chips” in South Australian restaurants, and found that 23 percent of samples contained meat from threatened shark species — including shortfin mako and smooth hammerhead sharks. Just 27 percent of analyzed samples contained meat legally labeled.
New research concluded that along with agriculture, which is a leading cause of deforestation, forests are facing “fierce threats” from multiple other industries.
And, Germany looks to shift towards plant-based eating in an effort to combat climate change, as the city of Edinburgh also addressed the environmental crisis by becoming the first European capital to sign onto the Plant-Based Treaty.
Amid a mink farm outbreak and a strain of avian influenza that can be transmitted between mammals, fear is rising that the highly virulent flu could spillover into the human population.
For the first time in nearly 30 years, the FDA is updating its standards for the use of the word “healthy” on food labels, establishing that foods must be within certain levels of fat, sodium, cholesterol and more.
In Tennessee, over 267,000 birds were culled due to avian flu in one week alone, and health concerns are rising as their bodies pile up to await composting.
Global pollinator losses are causing 500,000 premature deaths annually due to the resulting 3-5 percent drop in the production of fruits, vegetables and nuts.
The Association of Health Care Journalists emphasized that the reporters should ‘closely follow’ updates on avian flu, “which could worsen this spring as birds migrate north with warming weather.”
The U.S. veterinary community continued to be divided over intensive agriculture’s use of ventilation shutdown plus to cull farmed animals en masse, as a new study revealed a dramatic rise in this controversial practice.
The federal government launched an investigation to determine whether 50 children found working in slaughterhouses have been trafficked.
The federal farm bill is set to be renewed this year, and NPR explored “what’s at stake.” And in Nebraska, proposed changes to the state’s “right to farm” legislation could shield farms from nuisance lawsuits filed by community members over odors, pollution and more.
In Spain, authorities have seized a livestock ship carrying cattle, aftering discovering nearly 5 tons of cocaine aboard.
An investigative story by Grid detailed how the fur industry is selling products labeled as “faux fur” that are actually made from animals.
Scientists called for an end to the use of macaques in experimentation at Harvard Medical School after it was revealed that researchers had sewn shut the eyes of infant monkeys.
Meanwhile, U.S. authorities continued to allow the import of macaques from Cambodia, despite the fact that pathogenic agents were being brought into the country with the primates.
Researchers found that dolphins have turned to “shouting” to be heard over the din of ocean noise pollution — and that an inability to hear each other could impact their feeding and health.
A wave of pet store bans are boosting longtime efforts to end puppy mill breeding operations, but the battle is not yet won.
A study found that altruistic behaviors shown towards other species, even from a young age, may have played a role in helping humans thrive.
Sentient Media editorial team.