Written by: Heather Clemenceau
For those of you who have forgotten, Hans Christian Andersen’s fable about The Emperor’s New Clothes involves an emperor commissioning two tailors to make him a set of clothes. According to the tailors, who set out to dupe the Emperor, the new clothes will be invisible to anyone who is either incompetent or stupid. And so the emperor parades about naked rather than admit to being incompetent or stupid, all the while being applauded on all sides by sycophantic courtiers and subjects. Everyone pretends to see the remarkable clothes. However, a child cries out, “he hasn’t got any clothes on.”
Whether clothing or facts – the invisible and non-existent look very much alike.
This parable is of course very similar to the viewpoint that Slaughterhouse Sue Wallis and Bill DesBarres, and the rest of their sycophantic followers in the United Horsemen’s Group and the Horse Welfare Association of Canada maintain – that everyone who cannot see their viewpoint must be an idiot or a knuckle-dragger of single-digit intelligence.
Like the Emperor, Wallis and DesBarres aren’t wearing any clothes (unfortunately, some visuals you can’t unsee, but if all else fails, perhaps a little steel wool and industrial bleach might be in order?) and to that end, she and Bill DesBarres have aligned themselves with professional lobbyists who will task themselves with the responsibility of convincing the gubbermint that Sue and Bill are indeed splendid “emperors” for the pro-slaughter cause! And if they can’t convince everyone, they’ll just attempt to force through pro-slaughter legislation no matter what the 80% have to say about it………. Wallis’ “brand” is underfire and she’s been publicly shamed on many issues. Recall that after Sue Wallis was summarily kicked out of Mountain Grove Missouri, she threw all her toys out of the pram and huffed, “Discussion’s over. Make all the noise you want. We’re going into business.” To that end, Wallis has apparently contracted with a couple of lobbyists who can pitch horse slaughter in a way that she and DesBarres are apparently unable to do (anyone who has followed my other blog post on Wallis knows that she is suffering from “hoof ‘n’ mouth” disease).
T. Howard Mains, Co-President – Tactix Government Consulting Inc.
Howard Mains is a maple syrup farmer who has made his entire career one of downplaying the risk of pesticides, herbicides, and dioxins in food, promoting Big Ag over organic farming, while making sure that government policies are aligned with the corporate objectives of companies such as Dow and Monsanto. He has “developed and implemented several product defence strategies,” which basically means that he makes his living defending the products of Big Ag and Big Chem by lobbying the government to convince them that products like herbicides typically containing dioxin, such as 2,4-d, otherwise known as Agent Orange, isn’t really all that bad. Mains is part of a group of American and Canadian lobbyists who assert that reviews by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, confirm that pesticides in approved uses pose no health threat. Now, I’m not in a position to claim what exposures to pesticides are or are not “safe,” but dioxins are among the most toxic chemicals ever made by man; they are chemically very stable and therefore break down extremely slowly in the environment. Furthermore, dioxins bioaccumulate – they collect in fatty tissue, and become concentrated in animals higher up the food chain. This fact is not in dispute.
Most people are familiar with the most dangerous form of dioxin used during the Vietnam War – defoliant Agent Orange. War veterans exposed to Agent Orange have developed chronic lymphocytic leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease and non-Hodgkins lymphoma and diabetes. Many children of veterans exposed have been affected by their parents’ exposure to the chemical and show a wide range of symptoms. But one doesn’t need to have been exposed to a massive overdose of dioxin in order to gain the attention of the Canadian Cancer Society; acting on the precautionary principle, the British Columbia and Yukon branches of the CCS have called for a moratorium on the cosmetic use of pesticides.
As a consumer (and a scientifically literate one at that), I can tell you that I no longer trust any government agency, particularly the CFIA, which, as we know, has been using the EU as a dumping ground for toxic horsemeat. The CFIA is hardly transparent or accountable as any Canadian horse advocate knows well enough by now, and the knowledge that Mains has or will be lobbying them on his own or on behalf of the IEBA (International Equine Business Association) as a front for Slaughterhouse Sue Wallis is hardly comforting. Curiously, Mains appears to be silent on the issue of Phenylbutazone and Clenbuterol recently found in horsemeat that originated from Canada, and the use of non-food animals in the food system. Perhaps we haven’t heard from him on the issue of horsemeat (yet) so long as payment from the IEBA or Sue Wallis is a prerequisite. Slaughter Spin-Meister Sue may not actually have any money to pay lobbyists or invest in her slaughter empire, even though she has maintained that she is actively engaged in renovating slaughter plants that she doesn’t actually own. What could possibly go wrong?
Big Ag lobbyists like Howard don’t really seem to like vegetarians/vegans or people who want to live more organically or off the CAFO grid. That’s not to say that organic foods don’t come with some of their own issues, because of course they do. But Howard Mains thinks that anyone who doesn’t fall in line with Big Ag, CAFO thinking must subscribe to repeating scary campfire stories about chemicals and must by default be an anti-technology, anti-business, anti-progress ideologue whose diatribes are not based on science. The science actually proves that dioxin has been found in milk, cheese, beef, pork, fish, chicken, and other animals, as well as soil and sewage sludge. According to the FDA, although dioxins are environmental contaminants, most dioxin exposure occurs through the diet, with over 95% coming through dietary intake of animal fats. Agent Orange was widely used in Ontario on Crown land up until the 70s.
Howard Mains doesn’t discriminate only in favour of herbicides either. In a Power Point presentation of his own creation, Mains states:
“The current scientific evidence indicates that the general public need not be concerned as levels of BPA present in food do
not pose a health risk. ” I’m not sure what “scientific evidence” Mains attributes to this reasoning, since there is plenty of evidence that Bisphenols exert detectable hormone-like properties and the Pubmed database contains over 3,000 references to Bisphenols. Endocrine disruptors cause developmental, neurological, and immunological effects in both humans and wildlife.
Although Mains appears to be loathe to acknowledge it, casual use of phenoxy herbicides are directly correlated with environmental hazards.According to the Canadian Environmental Law Association, “Pesticides have been either associated with, or more often, are suspected as contributing to, impaired cognitive development in children, increased rates of cancer, brain tumours, asthma, and immune system problems.” Pesticides have been linked to breast cancer and non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas. A study by the Stanford University’s School of Medicine indicates Parkinson’s disease is linked to home pesticide use.
Toronto’s former Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Sheela Basrur, states, “The use of lawn care pesticides is a public health issue of growing concern. When risks to human health are unnecessary or uncertain, the wisest course of action is to substitute alternatives rather than incurring risks that may prove unacceptable in the long run.” The World Health Organization estimates that 220,000 people die every year from pesticide poisoning and three million people are poisoned. You have to connect the dots here – when governments are lobbied to accept the use of products that are not in the best interests of its
citizens, lobbyists have to accept some of the blame!
And although Slaughterhouse Sue and her United Horsemen’s followers are quick to complain about children’s anti-slaughter letter writing campaigns, Howard Mains has no qualms about employing children in his own Power Point presentations minimizing the impact of pesticide use.
Mains was also involved in a NAFTA Chapter 11 dispute against the former Quebec NDP Environment Minister Thomas Mulcair and the Province of Quebec when it came to banning sales of herbicide 2,4-D. Mains represented Dow AgroSciences and Monsanto, who are perpetually concerned about the economic issues surrounding a ban of their products, against the Province of Quebec.
The Dow AgroSciences case against Quebec was the result of changes to the province’s Pesticide Management Code, first tabled in July 2002, banning the use of several pesticides for residential lawn applications. Mains, representing Big Chem, challenged (or bullied?) the government to “prove that 2,4-D did not pose an unacceptable risk to human health or the environment, provided that the instructions on their label are followed, as concluded by Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency decision on the re-evaluation of 2,4-D.” Although the Government of Quebec had the right to regulate the sale and use of 2,4-D, they were LOBBIED and coerced to back down to Dow and Monsanto in this example. Mains was also part of a group of people working within the landscaping industry who had lobbied Quebec’s National Assembly to take 2,4-D off of its list of banned products.
For this and other reasons, a recent report released by the Union of Concerned Scientists gave Dow and Monsanto a stern talking-to about what the term “sustainable agriculture” actually means, and why what they’re doing isn’t it. Research also suggests that pesticides such as Roundup may also be linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and multiple myeloma. Unsurprisingly, Roundup/glycophosate wreaks havoc on beneficial insects, amphibians, and birds who are foolish enough to try to exist in their natural habitats. Take note, Howard Mains.
Knowing that most disease is idiopathic – without known cause or mechanics, it behooves governments to utilize the precautionary principle. Researchers investigating the long-term immune effects of dioxin have found that exposure to dioxin during development or while nursing diminishes the capacity to fight infection later in life. The study, published in Toxicological Sciences, reported that mouse pups born to pregnant mice that were exposed to a small amount of dioxins had fewer white blood cells that normally kill the flu virus and more of a different kind that increases lung inflammation.
The study entitled, “The aryl hydrocarbon receptor affects distinct tissue compartments during ontogeny of the immune system,” aimed to identify the critical windows of exposure where fetuses are most sensitive to dioxin’s harmful effects. Pregnant mice were given a dose of 1,000 ppt dioxin either during pregnancy, lactation, or throughout pregnancy and lactation. After dosing, mothers and pups were kept dioxin-free. Researchers then infected mothers and pups with a non-lethal dose of the influenza virus.
“These results illustrate how dioxin exposure in the womb, and/or during nursing, can permanently impact the development of the immune system. They also reaffirm the significance of the impacts of early exposures to harmful chemicals which can result in long-term changes that affect normal biological responses later in life. One notable aspect of this study was that changes in immune response were observed even though the pups were exposed a few times to a low-level dose of dioxin. This means that short-term exposures (as opposed to long-term, continuous exposures) can have significant long-term impact, especially if these exposures occur during important early developmental stages.”
True to form, any lobbyist defending 2,4-D, pesticides, or even phenylbutazone use, would claim that much of animal research isn’t translational to humans. I guess that’s why research shows that cell phone microwaves cause long term memory loss in rats or phenylbutazone use can cause serious side-effects in horses, but neither of these things harms people. Evidently, we are of a different, more bullet-proof mammalian stock.
Thank you Sir, may I have another? Certainly, dear reader; this brings us to our second IEBA co-conspirator, Steve Kopperud:
Steve Kopperud, Executive Vice President – Policy Directions Inc.
Steve Kopperud is executive vice president of Policy Directions Inc., a Washington, DC government affairs/specialty communications company specializing in animal production agriculture, nutrition, agribusiness, biotechnology, animal health and welfare, food, farm policy, trade and ag research and human health-related issues. Kopperud was senior vice president of the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), for nearly 18 years prior to joining Policy Directions. Kopperud considers himself an authority on “animal activist assaults on animal agriculture and food technology.” He coordinates the Washington, DC-based Farm Animal Welfare Coalition (FAWC), a national coalition of farm, ranch and input organizations involved in livestock/poultry production. Kopperud again continues along the theme of scientifically unenlightened consumers as “liabilities” along with the ever-present threat of animal and environmental activism. Steve has made it his life’s mission to protect Big Ag and biomedical research from animal rights and environmental “radicals.” I daresay, if Slaughterhouse Sue ever decides to leave her semi-literate poet hubby for a guy in Washington, Steve would be the ideal partner – he hates anyone who strives to preserve the environment as much as she does!
In his capacity as VP of the AFIA, Kopperud wrote:
“AFIA’s goal is to ensure this rewrite of programs touching AFIA members most directly is rational and economical, while ensuring basic income protection for farmers, a future for appropriately funded ag-research, a continued priority on federal programs promoting exports, a rewritten conservation title that puts arable land back into protection, a permanent disaster program that keeps the feed industry in the delivery system and public recognition that the “demands” of animal rights groups are self-serving and out of touch with feeding America and the rest of the planet.” Holy crap – that’s one sentence – it’s a tragedy when bad things happen to good sentences! Note to Steve – when the “demands” are made by increasingly larger and better organized groups, you can be sure that those “out of touch” groups are actually becoming the norm. Corporate accountability is the way of the future. Get used to it.
Kopperud is regularly quoted by Humanewatch followers of Rick Berman. Suffice it to say the Humane Society of the United States has been on his radar screen for many years. He writes:
“The greatest sin of HSUS is its arrogance. The organization and its leaders honestly believe because they deem a practice to be “wrong” or “unacceptable,” the world must stop and embrace that definition.” Steve is hard at work countering ethical vegetarianism, because anyone who cares about the planet, the environment, and animal cruelty is anathema to the organizations he represents. So again, he is the ideal foil to Slaughterhouse Sue in that you can count on him to downplay, ignore, and spin any of the well-known issues that animal welfare advocates have about horses and horsemeat. Assuming that the IEBA truly gets off the ground and doesn’t get spun into some new business entity by Wallis, it will be Kopperud’s role to oppose and marginalize any persons or any groups who promote horse welfare. Indeed, he believes that animal abuse does not exist in any food production system. As we know, Big Ag in various States in the US seeks to make it a crime in MN, Iowa and FL to document by camera or video even illegal agricultural activity. These bills supported by Big Ag (Monsanto specifically in Iowa) and were obviously unconstitutional, self-serving and though thankfully defeated. If Big Ag wants to win the “food movement” back, trying to toss people in jail for documenting even illegal dangerous activity where our food is made is not the way.
Kopperud targeted much of his remarks against HSUS for its work toward the U.S. horse slaughter ban. “The unintended consequences of this national campaign to ban horse slaughter waged by HSUS is that we now have over 110,000 neglected and abandoned horses in this country. There has not been one word from any activist organization as to how we will care for these animals,” Kopperud said. “HSUS, with their leader Wayne Pacelle, is a very savvy organization. ” HSUS frustrates the lobbyists because they won’t come out to play. Kopperud and the rest of the lobbyists want HSUS to be in the shelter business, which is why Rick Berman and Humanewatch constantly rag on them re: shelter donations. If HSUS would just “know their place,” the people the lobbyists represent could just continue to breed too many dogs for the market just like the AQHA overbreeds for the market. Not to be out done, Kopperud also blasted the Quizno’s sandwich shop chain for its recent move to sell products from crate-free pork and free-range eggs as part of a green initiative, saying the firm caved in to pressure from PETA on these issues. Kopperud wants all animal-exploiters to work together.
Lobbyists and the Fortune 500 companies they represent would like to deny you your free speech rights as well. In a letter to Consumer Reports, Kopperud has defended the industry’s rationale behind food disparagement laws, claiming that they “do not repress free speech, but rather compel a speaker to think twice about opportunistic or false statements and the damage such rhetoric can do. . . . Food disparagement laws, as tools to make more honest our national discussion of food safety, are the ultimate consumer protection.” The AIF speaks more bluntly in literature aimed at farmers: “Animal rights activists . . . threaten the survival of today’s farmers and ranchers. . . . It’s time to fight back! . . . ”
Lead by lobbyists, the food industry has worked quietly state-by-state while avoiding a controversial national debate. So far, thirteen state legislatures have approved product disparagement laws–Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Texas. Other states are considering similar measures. Do you believe that, based on Sue Wallis’ alignment with Kopperud, she would really implement CCTV in horse slaughterhouses? I wouldn’t bet a kidney on it and I don’t give a shit what Temple Grandin thinks will happen either.
Further, Steve Kopperud, coordinator for the Food Industry Dioxin Working Group is afraid the media will have a field day with the EPA limits. And then what might happen? “You will have a whole lot of folks running in circles saying there’s nothing safe to eat, it will scare the crap out of people.” Boy, it doesn’t take much for the food industry to freak out over potential government action!
Members of the The Food Industry Dioxin Working Group (hint – they will not be advocating on your behalf):
American Farm Bureau Federation
American Feed Industry Association
American Frozen Food Institute
American Meat Institute
Corn Refiners Association
International Dairy Foods Association
National Chicken Council
National Grain & Feed Association
National Meat Association
National Milk Producers Federation
National Oilseed Processors Association
National Pork Producers Council
National Renderers Association
National Turkey Federation
Pet Food Institute
United Egg Producers
What do all these individual issues have to do with horse slaughter? Lobbyists for horse slaughter will do for horse slaughter what they are trying to do for CAFOs – normalize them or portray them as animal-friendly mom and pop establishments, employing “best practices,” animal welfare, and professional business ethics, while they are nothing whatsoever like that. Always remember that it costs them money to adhere to standards, just as it would cost a lot of money to slow down the dis-assembly line of horses or any other animal, as an attempt to make the process more “humane.” It costs money to implement and audit CCTV cameras (not that they want anyone to see what’s going on to begin with), otherwise, the industry could have done it already! The horrors of horse slaughter and drug contamination will be downplayed or proclaimed to be non-existent. There is no traceability in Canadian or American horses and no way to guarantee horses are drug free – not that either of those issues matter to lobbyists for Slaughterhouse Sue and Bill DesBarres. Lastly, if lobbyists are pitching drug-tainted meat to sell to consumers, well, that in my opinion is some pretty dirty lobbying.
Does Canada even take food safety seriously? Apparently not, what with Gerry Ritz’ comments at the listeriosis scandal whereby he joked that 22 people had died – On September 17, 2008, Agricultural Minister Gerry Ritz made national news when comments he made on an August 2008 conference call with government officials were made public. Ritz was quoted as saying, “This is like a death by a thousand cuts. Or should I say cold cuts.” Then, when told of a death in PEI, Ritz said, “Please tell me it’s (Liberal MP) Wayne Easter.” Ritz apologized for his remarks, but various groups called for his resignation. Jack Layton responded by saying, “Canadians are dying because of the mismanagement of our government… there should absolutely never be that kind of humour…. It illustrates the government is not taking this matter as seriously as they should.” A spokesman for Prime Minister Harper released a statement saying Ritz’s comments were tasteless and completely inappropriate. Stephen Harper refused to seek Ritz’s resignation.
This is a moral and ethical imperative that both Canadians and Americans must address without delay in their respective countries The Europeans have been well-justified in placing restrictions on Canadian and American-produced meat products, such as hormone-laced beef, Ractopomine-treated pork, and chlorine-washed chickens. It’s time for them to stop imports of drugged-up horses, where the food safety case is even more obvious, at a time when Canada is cutting back funds for inspections to pre-listeriosis times. Civic action, such as all our efforts-to-date, has helped to transform the policies of some of the world’s biggest corporations. Canadians don’t want their horses butchered, shrink-wrapped, and air freighted to Europe. It’s a barbaric, unsafe, discredited business.