Date: August 7th, 2007

I am late sending it out, but I didn't want people to entirely miss yesterday's, Monday August 6, Wall Street Journal front page story on pig castration. It is available free on line (probably for a week from the date of publication) at http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB118633665599888561.html

The Wall Street Journal front page placements says a lot about how far we have come in the last few years in our battle to have animal issues taken seriously by society.

The article, by Joellen Perry and Mary Jacoby is headed, "These Little Pigs Get Special Care From Norwegians But Meat People Squeal, And a Lot of Other Folks Are Holding Their Noses."

It opens:
"OSLO -- Farmers have been castrating piglets for thousands of years, which is good for the people who eat them but not so good for the piglets."

"'Sometimes they get depressed,' says Bente Fredriksen, co-coordinator of a $13.8 million Norwegian research project looking into alternatives to castration. Studies by Europe's food-safety agency found castrated piglets suckle less and spend more time apart from their siblings.

"Responding to such concerns, and to animal-welfare groups' claims that the process causes piglets unnecessary pain, Norway's Parliament banned the castration of piglets starting in 2009. But that's causing a new constituency to squeal.

"To many people, the meat of uncastrated male pigs has an objectional taste known in the pig trade as 'boar taint.' And the ban could cost Norway's 3,000 pig farmers millions of dollars as they trash tons of boar meat many consumers won't touch, according to Animalia, a Norwegian meat-industry research group.

"The standoff has pushed this Scandinavian country to the forefront of a Europe-wide debate over piglet castration.

"In Holland, where the Party for the Animals won two parliamentary seats in 2006, major supermarkets in June said that in 2009 they'll stop selling meat from piglets castrated without anesthesia. Swiss lawmakers also recently made anesthesia mandatory beginning in 2009. British pig farmers have avoided castrating pigs for decades, voluntarily, in part because uncastrated males produce leaner meat; they say they slaughter pigs before they're old enough to develop the taint.

"U.S. pork farmers are watching warily. Animal-rights victories in Europe 'tend to heighten the debate here,' says Dave Warner of the National Pork Producers Council in Washington. America's 68,000 pork producers castrate about 50 million mostly unanesthetized piglets a year."

As most people are probably not aware that pigs are castrated without anesthetic, and that US animal welfare is so behind much of the rest of the world, it was heartening to see this article on the front page. The article goes on to discuss alternatives to pig castration, or to castration without anesthetic.

As the article does not mention the alternative of healthy diets free of pigs or other animal products, there is plenty of room for letters to the editor on that topic, and on all aspects of animal cruelty. If you express appreciation for the coverage while making the points you wish to make, your letter has a better chance of being published and of leaving the Wall Street Journal inclined to keep covering animal issues.

The Wall Street Journal takes letters at wsj.ltrs@wsj.com

Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor. Remember that shorter letters are more likely to be published. And please be sure not to use any comments or phrases from me or from any other alerts in your letters. Editors are looking for original responses from their readers.

My thanks to Jonathon Kaufelt for making sure we saw this.

Yours and the animals',
Karen Dawn

(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at http://www.DawnWatch.com. You may forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts if you do so unedited -- leave DawnWatch in the title and include this parenthesized tag line. If somebody forwards DawnWatch alerts to you, which you enjoy, please help the list grow by signing up. It is free.)

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Date: Tue Aug 7 11:02:04 2007

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