BBC Documentary Reveals Health Impacts of Meat

Despite trying to remain impartial throughout, the first part of the BBC’s documentary ‘Horizon: Should I Eat Meat?’ (18 August) showed in no uncertain terms that current meat consumption levels in the UK are unhealthy, especially those of processed red meat such as bacon and sausages.

Animal Aid has been saying for some time, that meat – particularly processed red meat – is linked to numerous health problems including cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer. Their report No Safe Limit lists numerous scientific studies that have linked processed red meat to bowel cancer, as well as respected medical organisations that agree with the findings. This is why we are calling for health warnings to be issued on processed red meat products and for their sale to be limited to adults only, just as with tobacco.

However, the most startling outcome of the documentary was the effect a high-meat diet had on the presenter, Dr Michael Mosley. Switching to a diet that included 130g of red meat every day for just a month caused Dr Mosley’s cholesterol, blood pressure and body fat to increase dramatically. This is all the more alarming given that 25 per cent of the UK’s adult male population consumes at least 130g of red meat every day, which can be as little as one sausage and two slices of ham.

Whilst the documentary focused only on red meat, it is clear from recent news stories that poultry meat also poses serious health risks. Articles revealing that two-thirds of chicken meat sold in British supermarkets is contaminated with potentially lethal campylobacter, as well as a Guardian investigation into poor hygiene at poultry plants, show that it is not necessarily a safe alternative.

Those on a plant-based diet, on the other hand, have consistently lower levels of obesity, cardiovascular disease, stroke and some types of cancer.

To read Animal Aid’s report into  click this link: http://www.animalaid.org.uk/images/pdf/booklets/NoSafeLimit.pdf

Article taken from: http://www.animalaid.org.uk/h/n/NEWS/news_veggie/ALL/3136/

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Take Action: EU Study on Welfare of Dogs and Cats in Commercial Practices

The European Commission has commissioned a “Study on the Welfare of Dogs and Cats Involved in Commercial Practices“, to collect and analyse information on European breeding, keeping and trade of dogs and cats, and import and export to third countries. The study focuses on the economic development of the sector, functioning of the EU internal market, protection of EU consumers (both from financial damage and health risks), and welfare of dogs and cats.

photo (8)

Carried out by the IBF Consortium, the study is taking place now and will run until 6 February 2015. It covers a geographical scope based principally on European dog and cat populations and on the volumes of animals traded in the EU (as notified through TRACES), taking account of the main destination and dispatching countries for both dogs and cats. The UK is one country which has been selected for this study, along with Belgium, Italy, Spain and several more.

The study concerns the “welfare of dogs and cats involved in commercial practices”, which includes activities related to commercial breeding, keeping and distribution (domestic sale, intra-EU trade and import/export) of dogs and cats, including the adoption of stray animals (rescue centres) as well as retailing (pet shops and suppliers of goods), sheltering and boarding (kennels and catteries). It excludes related services such as veterinarians, dog trainers, sitters, walkers, and manufacturers of feed and equipment for dogs and cats. The study will concentrate on business operators having these activities as a main source of income, while not excluding other operators and non-profit organisations (e.g. NGOs engaged in stray dog and cat population control and adoption programmes) which may have an impact on this market.

Please help the EC to gather important information by participating in this easy, online survey. Your answers will be of great value for influencing legislation and decision making concerning dog and cat welfare in commerce across Europe.

Take the survey here: http://sancodogandcat.izs.it/limesurvey/index.php?r=survey/index/sid/962528/lang/en

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Breeding Bird Survey results show species decline across UK

The latest annual report of the joint BTO, JNCC and RSPB Breeding Bird Survey is now available.

tawny owl

The report contains trends of 112 species of common and widespread bird and mammal species across all habitats and areas of the UK during the period 1994-2013. These trends are the key metrics needed for assessments such as those featured in last year’s State of Nature Report, RSPB’s annual The state of the UK’s birds report, Wild Bird Indicators and Birds of Conservation Concern‘s red, amber and green lists.

The report reveals the species that are thriving, but also highlights the declines in some of the UK’s greatest conservation priorities.

One of the greatest conservation successes is the nationally threatened red kite, which is listed as an ‘amber’ species for priority concern by JNCC. These beautiful birds are reported to have increased in population by 805% in less than 20 years, which is welcome news for a species thought to have only 1,600 breeding pairs in the UK.

The other big ‘winners’ include woodland birds such as great spotted woodpeckers (+139% since 1994), nuthatches (+91%), blackcaps (+137%), and wetland breeders such as greylag geese (+203%), gadwall (+107%) and tufted duck (+42%). However, many of our farmland birds continue to struggle, with further declines in grey partridge (-56%), skylark (-24%) and corn bunting (-39%). Turtle doves have shown the greatest decline of all, falling by 88% – that’s a halving in numbers every six years, a truly terrifying rate of disappearance.

The dove’s rival for the unwanted distinction of ‘fastest decliner’ is willow tit (-83%), indicating that while some woodland birds may be flourishing, all is not well amongst our trees.

Unfortunately, it’s also been a bad year for breeding birds. Of 112 species for which the BBS reports trends on, 76 declined between 2012 and 2013. Of the 36 species to have shown significant changes between the years, a staggering 34 (94%) are in decline.

The full report gives trends for the UK and for many birds, for the UK’s constituent countries and English regions. It also gives updates on the UK’s mammals — it may come as a surprise to many that the Breeding Bird Survey is the best monitoring scheme for our mammals!

The Breeding Bird Survey relies on volunteers and some areas and habitats are surveyed less than others. The BTO are always looking to improve coverage in the more poorly-covered areas; the  survey offers a great way to get out and about, enjoy some bird watching and contribute to conservation at the same time! The survey involves two early-morning visits to a randomly located one km square recording all birds seen or heard while walking across the area. The BTO website has full details on how to take part in the survey.

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Badger cull legal challenge in Somerset and Gloucestershire fails

Badger walking in undergrowth

A High Court bid to halt this year’s badger culling, which will take place without independent monitoring, has failed.

The Badger Trust argued the “controlled shooting” in Gloucestershire and Somerset should only take place with independent observers overseeing it. Defra lawyers said the monitoring was only intended to run in the first year.

Dominic Dyer, of The Badger Trust, said the group was “considering its options” following the ruling. Mr Dyer called on Environment Secretary Liz Truss to halt the culls or reinstate monitoring.

He added the High Court ruling “does not detract from the serious public concerns over the continuation of the cull”.

A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) spokeswoman said: “We are pleased that the judge has found in our favour. We have always been clear that the independent expert panel’s role was to oversee the six-week pilots in the first year of the culls only. This year we have made changes to monitor effectiveness and humaneness and the culls will be independently audited.”

Defra is testing whether the shooting method can be rolled out to other parts of the country to tackle tuberculosis in cattle.

The government and farmers insist that culling is necessary to tackle TB in livestock. More than 26,000 cattle were slaughtered in England last year because of the problem.

But opponents say it is inhumane and ineffective, and alternatives such as vaccination should be pursued.

Mr Justice Kenneth Parker, sitting in London, dismissed the application for a judicial review of the cull, due to start its second of four years this autumn.

David Wolfe QC, appearing for The Badger Trust, argued that Defra had not simply “moved the goalposts” but was also “sacking the referee”.

But the judge said he rejected the claims that a legitimate expectation had arisen of independent monitoring. The trust was ordered to pay £10,000 towards Defra’s legal costs. It can still ask the appeal court to hear the case.

Last year, an independent panel said controlled shooting could not deliver the level of culling needed to bring about a reduction in bovine TB and was not humane. The 2013 cull saw 921 badgers killed in Gloucestershire and 940 in Somerset. This year, the minimum number of badgers to be culled is just under 1,000.

The maximum number of badgers that can be culled has been set at 1,091 in Gloucestershire and 785 in Somerset.

Article taken from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-28982297

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Time to vote for Britain’s national bird

France’s football and rugby shirts are adorned with the strutting Gallic cockerel, Australians have shown their sense of humour with the comical emu and New Zealand’s national bird, the Kiwi, needs no further introduction. Some nations see birds as powerful symbols of patriotic pride. Like the USA, both German and Russian national crests carry eagle motifs.

Although the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has more than a million members and, as a nation, we spend more than £300million a year feeding tits, finches and thrushes in our gardens, it does seem incongruous that Britain has never adopted any of the 590-plus species recorded on our shores as a national emblem.

Now a ballot is being prepared to invite Britons to select an avian symbol to represent England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

This weekend sees the official launch of the National Bird Vote and, during the next eight months, we are being asked to choose a bird that represents all that is great about Britain.

The vote is being launched at Birdfair, the annual gathering of conservationists, birdwatchers and nature lovers at Rutland Water. The first stage will see the public choosing from a shortlist of 60 birds, to eventually whittle down to six finalists. Then, in the New Year, people will be able to vote for their number one choice, with the winner being announced next May.

Among the shortlisted birds are garden visitors such as the blackbird, house sparrow and starling along with some of our mightiest birds of prey such as the golden eagle, the osprey and the peregrine falcon. Birds enshrined in literature are also featured. Shelley’s skylark and Keats’s nightingale are joined by the cuckoo, kingfisher and tawny owl, the ominous night hunter described by Shakespeare in both Julius Caesar and Love’s Labour’s Lost.

The regal mute swan, comical puffin, cheeky magpie and diminutive wren are also in the initial group along with the red grouse, the only bird which does not turn up anywhere else in the world.

One of Britain’s leading ornithologists, TV presenter David Lindo, is the expert behind the public ballot. David, known throughout the birdwatching community as the Urban Birder, first thought of celebrating a national bird when he was at primary school in Wembley, north London.

He later organised a vote among his classmates, who went on to pick the humble house sparrow. Now, more than 40 years on, he has organised a team of experts to create an electoral mechanism in which voters can pick their six favourites before deciding on the eventual National Bird next year.

Importantly, what I am doing is not getting people to support their favourite bird, but to vote for the one they feel represents the best attributes of Britain

TV presenter David Lindo

“When I was six, I told myself that when I grew up I would organise a vote for everyone to decide the country’s favourite bird,” said David. “A couple of years ago I realised that while other countries have a national bird, here in Britain we still do not have one.

“With a General Election taking place in 2015, there seems no better time to ask the public to choose a bird that embodies all the best things about our country. Importantly, what I am doing is not getting people to support their favourite bird, but to vote for the one they feel represents the best attributes of Britain. All 60 birds on our shortlist have a degree of Britishness about them, even those who only visit us in the summer. Take the cuckoo, it spends only a small part of its life here but it is enshrined in our literature and folklore.

At the other end of the scale, when you look at our birds scientifically, there are surprises about some of those we regard as fundamentally British. For instance, many robins that begin their lives here go on to migrate south for the winter, only to be replaced by robins that come from Europe to escape the cold. Each bird we have chosen in the initial group has its own character, from the fabled golden eagle, majestic, proud and ferocious, to the wren, which although small in size, has a loud voice and stands up for itself.

Lots of the elements in each of the birds represent how we want Britain to be seen by the rest of the world. By getting people’s minds focused on what wonderful bird life we have here in Britain, I hope it will also lead them to understand the importance of conservation. With this in mind, we will be engaging with schools throughout the vote, asking children to draw pictures and write poems about the birds as well as making ballot boxes which can be turned into nesting places for birds once the election is concluded. The result will coincide with the outcome of next May’s General Election and it is hoped the new Government will listen to the people and enshrine the public verdict with the official unveiling of Britain’s National Bird.”

The announcement of Britain’s public vote comes as a new book, National Birds Of The World by Ron Toft, looks at the 100 countries which have adopted a wide variety of species, from condors to tiny hummingbirds as patriotic emblems.

Writing in the foreword, the BBC’s Springwatch presenter Chris Packham says: “I think it would be a good idea if nations, states and regions now selected a bird in some kind of conservation crisis.

“This would draw attention to its plight and perhaps also help fuel its protection. This certainly helped the North American bald eagle when its numbers had become precarious. Maybe it would do the same for others. So forget the robin, how about having the lapwing as the British national bird?”

For more details of how to take part in the vote, see votenationalbird.com

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Take Action: Ask Your MP to Support Battery Cage Ban for Game Birds

Every year, an unbelievable 50 million pheasants and partridges are reared for the shooting industry in Britain. These ‘game’ birds are born and raised in tiny confined laying cages where they are viewed as nothing more than commodities for the so-called ‘sport’ of shooting them from the sky. For many of these birds their lives are utterly miserable from start to finish – not only are they brought into the world to provide some sort of sick entertainment value, but the conditions they are kept in for their short lives are horrific.


Animal Aid reports that caged pheasants suffer high levels of stress, feather loss and wounds to their backs and heads. Many of these desperate birds lunge repeatedly at their cage roofs in a vain attempt to escape their miserable fate. The charity is calling for MPs across the UK to recognise this horrific treatment and implement a ban on battery cages for pheasant and partridge production.

Each battery cage holds one male and up to ten female pheasants for the duration of their ‘useful’ lives. Partridges are kept in very similar contraptions. A lot of the birds are forced to wear face masks to combat aggression; an unsurprising side effect resulting from their cramped, stressful conditions. A lot of the birds are so desperate to escape the cages they repeatedly fly up into the cage roof, which then results in what the industry calls ‘scalping’. The birds can’t win. Once they’re finished being of breeding value, they’re killed. Quite simply an economic commodity from start to finish, with absolutely no interest taken in the fact they are beautiful, sociable birds.

A recent report by the Scottish Gamekeepers Association found that shooting was worth £32 million to the Scottish rural economy annually. It seems incredulous to think that birds which bring so much money to people by being plucked by a bullet from the sky, cannot be afford simple care such as adequate, comfortable housing. In fact if you really think about it – would free range kept birds not at the very least provide more of a challenge to shooters? It’s meant to be a ‘skill’ after all, so the hunters claim. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could back this up for once and put their money where their trigger happy fingers are?

Please take a moment to contact your local MP and ask them to pledge their support for a ban on the use of battery cages for the breeding of pheasants and partridges. You will also be able to check there whether your MP has already signed up. Let’s get the plight of these poor birds on our politicians’ agendas for once. It’s time this horrific industry started paying for its partridges.

Related post: https://catdraggedin.co.uk/2014/08/13/favourable-prospects-for-annual-grouse-slaughter-as-hen-harrier-numbers-fall/

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