- Amid the heat and dirt of a cattle ranch in the far north
of Montana last week a grotesque and painful struggle was taking place.
This remote region, a place of tough, pragmatic people, has become a testing
ground for cattle farming methods which are so brutal they shock even the
beef barons of America's Mid West. On this particular ranch, thousands
of cattle had been corralled into a series of steel pens, called feedlots,
around 200 to each. There was no shade, no shelter and no grass on the
ground, only dust. On one side of each feedlot was a trough containing
- All of the cattle were enormous--the result
of the grain diet and a series of steroid hormone implants inserted under
the skin behind their ears. At least one of the hormones is feared to cause
cancer in humans.
- Because the cattle were carrying so much weight,
and because their digestive systems are designed for grass not grain, some
of the cattle's internal organs had fallen out. And because it would be
too expensive to call a vet out to treat these problems a couple of sweating,
panting farm hands in cowboy hats were going from cow to cow prising their
organs back inside and stitching up the cows.
- As (former beef rancher, now vegan) Howard
Lyman explains: 'You get paid by the pound, after all. And cattle don't
win any prizes for keeping their figures.' (www.madcowboy.com -ed)
- 'I spent countless hours stuffing 25lb of cow
back inside the animal and then sewing the wound, the whole force of a
600lb heifer straining against me.'
- Already this year Europe and the United States
have gone to the brink of an all-out trade war over bananas and crossed
swords over the issue of the labelling of GM foods. Now the new battleground
is hormones in beef.
- Next Tuesday the European Union will impose
a new ban on all imports of American beef, believing that even stocks labelled
steroid-free are frequently full of hormones.
- The Americans plan to retaliate by imposing
125 million POUNDS-worth of import duties on European products as diverse
as pears, chewing gum and motorcycles.
- AS the trans-Atlantic dispute threatens to
degenerate into all-out trade war, the Daily Mail has investigated the
many bizarre and potentially dangerous ways in which American farmers are
fooling around with nature.
- WHAT we discovered will make any British consumer
think twice before they bite into another American steak or burger.
- At roughly the same time that the two Montana
cowboys were going about their unedifying task, a herd of dairy cows 900
miles to the east in Cedar Falls, Iowa, was undergoing its fortnightly
injection of a genetically engineered growth hormone called Bovine somatropin
(BST) Some research claims the hormone has been blamed for wiping out almost
20 percent of some herds. The cows' immune systems become impaired, increasing
their vulnerability to severe bladder and udder infections.
- It is also claimed that BST also weakens their
skeletons by draining calcium from their bones. Many cows which survive
are unable to stand because their bones are too weak.
- BST, which manufacturer Monsanto insists is
safe, is another drug that has been linked to cancer in humans. However,
it boosts milk production by up to a quarter. And when the cows have been
pushed to the limits of their endurance, the farm hands follow up the hormone
jabs with large doses of antibiotics to try to ward off infection.
- The statistics are indeed terrifying. At least
one in six farmers injects his cows with genetically engineered growth
hormone. Around 90 pc of the 29 billion lb of beef consumed by Americans
each year comes from cattle which have been fattened by hormone implants.
For pork, the figure is almost 100 percent.
- 'There are some really terrifying things happening
in the American food industry', says Ronnie Cummins, director of the country's
Pure Food Campaign. 'But there has been very little research carried out
here into the effects of hormones and even less reporting on television
or in newspapers.
- 'One reason why the U.S. does not want hormonal
beef to be labelled as such if it goes on sale in European supermarkets
is that people over there wouldn't buy it. But the second is that people
here would start asking, "Well, why don't we have the same labels?"
And they really can't afford for that to happen.'
- The American meat industry today is a far cry
from the Wild West days when cattle were allowed to roam free on the range.
- Calves are allowed to run with their mothers
for six to 11 months and then herded into feedlots. There are now 42,000
feedlot ranches in the major cattlegrowing states and around half the country's
100 million cattle are confined within them.
- Some farmers using feedlots have begun research
trials adding cardboard, newspaper and sawdust to the feeding programmes
to reduce costs. Other factory farms add manure from the chicken houses
and pigpens making the United States the only Western nation where it is
legal to feed raw manure to cattle.
- Farmers are even reported to have experimented
with cement dust, which is said to have produced a 30pc faster weight gain.