Nestlé, the largest food company in the world by revenue, has announced industry-leading changes to its animal welfare program intended to eliminate “many controversial-yet-currently-standard practices within its worldwide food supply chain.”
Not surprising, but the the “Big Business” has pledged to overhaul the following practices: “confinement of sows in gestation crates, calves in veal crates and egg-laying chickens in cages; the forced rapid growth of chickens used for meat products; and the harsh cutting of the horns, tails, and genitals of farm animals without painkillers.” Furthermore, Nestlé will begin promoting the Meatless Monday movement on its Lean Cuisine product packaging.
Many companies have been threatening agriculture with these retorts for some time so this isn’t a shock to us. Today’s agricultural industry and food producers are taking steps towards the best animal welfare practices they can. And those farmers and ranchers are the ones who know best why they use what practices they use and can defend that to Big Businesses like Nestlé.
However, as I kept reading about these new change, I had to shake my head.
“With these new animal welfare reforms, Nestlé has promised to usher in the end of “selective breeding practices that compromise the health of animals in order to achieve accelerated growth,” and move the global company away from a production system ‘that is callous and unforgiving toward animals.’”
This comment was from none other than Wayne Pacelle of HSUS (ahem…gives less than 1% of its income to animal shelters…ahem). The same Pacelle that stated that cattle ranchers are ok and are treating their animals ok, but other livestock producers are not. He is again making the public think that whatever we are “pumping” into our livestock to make them grow faster is what is really happening.
Think again and let me take you back to your high school science class when you talked about the Punnett Square and genetics. When you cross the mother’s genes with the father’s genes you get your offspring. By selective breeding practices, farmers can choose which traits they’d like to have (it might be calving ease, ribeye area or maternal traits). So they choose that sire with the best traits and continue breeding for those traits. That is selective breeding.
This is the same with all of the livestock species industries: cattle, hogs and poultry. No, chicken producers are not doing anything to make the chicken’s breast bigger than choosing the best genetics to grow what consumers are demanding. Same with leaner hogs.
Nestlé has obviously been influenced by HSUS in order to phase out production livestock. But I still believe in the American farmer and rancher and that in the end, consumers will understand that what farmers and ranchers – the true livestock experts – are doing is the right thing.