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In brief

IVU News - Issue 3 - 1998

Thousands of Species Die as Fire Sweeps the Amazon Jungle

The green heart of the Amazon jungle, home to more than half the world’s animal and plant species, suffered one of its most serious ecological catastrophies on record after a devastating fire raged out of control for months destroying three million hectares of one of the richest habitats on the planet, killing countless animals and threatening others with starvation or extinction due to the irreparable loss of habitat for the area’s unique inhabitants and the rich biodiversity that sustained them.

The devastating fire in the Brazilian state of Roraima which raged through 37,000 square kilometres of upland savannahs and the tropical Amazon rainforest, destroying precious animal life and unique habitat, was intentionally started with strategically placed torches set by the criminal hands of ranchers who lit fires to clear the land and slash-and-burn farmers who hoped to claim ficticious losses and benefit economically from a level of environmental destruction comparable to that which destroyed 800,000 hectares of precious tropical forest in Indonesia. Both environmental catastrophes were the result of untrammelled human greed and the sinister clearing methods employed by logging companies to gain easy access to legal or illegal cutting areas. About half of Roraima (half the size of the United Kingdom or a quarter of Spain) consists of forest.

To appreciate the environmental impact of such massive destruction of life on the delicate ecosystem of the tropical forest, it is necessary to consider the enormous number of animals and plant species affected in the areas devastated by fire: a single tree can support 43 different species of ants, and 100 different species of trees may be found within a couple of hectares of forest.

Howard and Oprah Court Win

IVU President Howard Lyman and American television personality Oprah Winfrey were found not guilty by a federal jury ruling clearing them of charges of slandering the beef industry in a programme on mad cow disease, but concern remains about the “veggie libel laws” and loopholes in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s “mad cow” protection practices. In typical libel cases, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff, but with food disparagement laws the burden is on the defence, which could make consumers and educational groups afraid to engage in healthy debate on important topics. Since the judge ruled that the cattlemen didn’t have a case under the food disparagement laws, attention was turned away from whether or not such laws were unconstitutional.

Howard Lyman exposed the widespread practice of feeding animal remains to other animals, shocking Oprah Winfrey and millions of Americans, who were unaware that the FDA agency allowed the remains of pigs, horses and chickens (as well as blood and gelatin from any animal) to be fed to pigs, chickens and other animals.

Investors lured into Profitable Animal Breeding Schemes

The trade in exotic animal species reared for meat is growing at an alarming rate, helped by greedy investors unconcerned with the welfare needs of the increasing number of newly exploited species. European animal breeders such as Rainborough Ltd., based in Schiphol-Zuid, Holland, and The Emu Company Ltd. of Cyprus, are following in the footsteps of the Ostrich Farming Corporation (charged with fraud in 1995, after repeated sales of the same items to different investors). Ostriches, with a 30-year fertility cycle, are still being marketed by the Dutch company Rainborough Ltd. as an attractive source of expensive meat to hundreds of potential breeders in Spain, who get a number of newly hatched chicks every year as a form of interest on their investment. The powerful lure of an annual profit of 30 per cent. has motivated a number of farmers in Barcelona to enter the sordid business of artificially bred emus for meat, after a canvassing operation by The Emu Company. Such business ventures are not new in Spain, where the Iberian Pig Breeding Club sells newly born pigs to be returned to their purchasers as sausages, “cured” hams and other equally disgusting products after being factory fattened to order — as in all other cases, without regard for the welfare and interests of the victims.

Ostriches Rainborough contact details: 347 Freightway Flamingoweg 34, 1118EE Schiphol-Zuid, Netherlands
e-mail:; web page:

Chinese Herbal Cure for Drug Addiction through Belly Button

Chinese herbal doctors in the southwestern Guizhou province claim to have developed a medicine which if applied externally to the navel attacks the toxicity of drugs and breaks addictions to heroin, morphine, cocaine and other drugs. According to traditional Chinese medicine, the navel is connected with vital organs of the body and elements of the medicine can enter the body through the belly button.

Rat Snakes packed as Shrimps

snakes Thousands of Oriental rat snakes, a protected species, were intercepted by a Forestry Department official at Don Muang airport in Bangkok, Thailand. The snakes, packed as shrimps, were bound for the gourmet food trade and for traditional medicine shops in China, where they fetch incredibly high prices. Also, following a complaint about a foul odour emanating from a residence, a man was arrested by Bangkok police in a raid on a suburban house and charged with raising snakes for sale to restaurants in Thailand and abroad. Forestry department and zoo officials seized over 6,000 snakes found in 45 sacks and 120 boxes full of cobras, king cobras and pythons, as well as a large number of other reptiles destined for the meat and skin trades.

Elephant Remains found in Thai National Park

Mae Yom National Park officials in Thailand found the remains of a 50-year old elephant — believed to have been owned by an illegal logging operator — whose tusks, tail and sex organs had been removed. The animal, suffering from overwork and a severe shortage of food and water, was thought to have wandered from the work site in search of food. Some villagers said that the elephant was on amphetamines, given by the logging operator to make it work longer hours hauling logs out of the forest. In another shocking incident, highlighting the increasing loss of habitat of Asian elephants and their dependence on human protection for survival, a pregnant female elephant was killed and her body burnt with tyres after she entered a field plantation to eat pineapples.

Sponsor a Billboard Vegetarian Campaign by PETA in America

“Beverly Hills” star Jennie Garth and Frida bring a clear and touching vegetarian message to Americans, thanks to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).


Spanish VIA Digital Entices Customers with Bullfight Propaganda

Toro de Osborne At a time when bullfights should be seen as increasingly unaceptable, both ethically and politically, and when the Spanish Government has spared the remaining 97 sheet metal model bulls from a 1957 publicity campaign to advertise the wines of the Osborne family, known supporters of bullfights — the structures were to have come down as part of a law banning roadside publicity. The aim of VÍA Digital’s nationwide media campaign in support of bullfighting is to atract new business with the promise of yet another bloody season of bullfights for armchair aficionados.

bullfight The bullfight season, broadcast by Gran Via channel, consists of an initial daily ration of four hours of bullfight programming — a prelude to a full thematic bullfight channel — showing bullfight-related programmes produced by the public channel Televisión Española (TVE), as well as some of the 2,000 Spanish bullfights planned for 1998, with disturbing close-ups of tortured, choking bulls with punctured lungs, gasping for air and bleeding to death before a “live” audience of mediocre politicians and aristocrats and make-believe intellectuals with the regular patronage of the king’s mother and the occasional appearance of King Juan Carlos himself, both passionate supporters. The fair of San Isidro, named in honour of the patron saint of Madrid, is the start of the main bullfighting season which runs from May until the autumn.

Write, fax or e-mail Via Digital and tell them how you feel about their promotion of bloody bullfights:
Via Digital, C/ Vigilio 2, Ciudad de la Imagen, Edificio 1, Carretera de Boadilla del Monte km 2,200, 28223 Pozuelo de Alarcón, Madrid, Spain.
Tel. +34-91-512 9200 Fax +34-91-512 9244. E-mail:

Bananas and Potato Vaccines?

Animal experiments, coupled with the profit motive and an arrogant desire to improve on nature for the sake of so-called disease prevention, may lead to compulsory medicated vaccinations for everyone, in the guise of bananas or potatoes, before the end of the century.

Offal in pigs’ diet prompts European Study of Health Risks

pigs Investigators at the Animal Health Centre in Valdeolmos, Madrid, are trying to determine if BSE is likely to occur in pigs the way it did in cows. Spain has the second largest pig population in Europe —28 million animals — many of whom eat a mixture of slaughterhouse offal from sheep and cows mixed with their feed, similar to that which caused the outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle.

Worldwide Increase in Transgenic Crops

According to an estimate by French seed manufacturers, between 1997 and 1998 agricultural land use for transgenic or genetically modified crops will increase from 14.2 million to 35 million hectares worldwide, with 88 per cent. of the land situated in the United States, 6 per cent. in Latin America and 6 per cent. in Asian countries. By the year 2000 these crops will cover 60 million hectares: 81 per cent. in North America, 8 per cent in Central and South America, 10 per cent. in Asia and 1 per cent. in Europe. Of this year’s crops, 15 million hectares of soy will be planted in the USA and 2 million in Argentina. Other modified crops include transgenic rapeseed (grown in Canada) and corn, of which some will be planted in France.

International Tribute to Linda McCartney’s “Go Veggie” Message

The sad news of Linda McCartney’s death brought vegetarians and non-vegetarians together in asking for a lasting and fitting tribute to her family’s call to “Go Veggie”. Thanks to Linda’s promotion of vegetarianism and animal rights issues, tributes were organised worldwide. Tens of thousands of school children had vegetarian lunches on 30th April in Rome, Italy, while in Canada the Winnipeg Vegetarian Society invited restaurants to offer only vegetarian dishes to their guests on that day.

Contributions to IVU News are welcomed. Material published does not necessarily reflect the views of the editor or the policy of the International Vegetarian Union.