The following article from the June 28th edition of the NYT exposes a continuing concern in the fight to prevent horse slaughter in the US (Also see NYT’s article from 2/28/13). Though the US Congress effectively banned horse slaughter for human consumption in a bill passed seven years ago, a portion of that bill that prevented the slaughter facilities from setting up and operating in the US lapsed in 2011. The Agricultural Department has effectively prevented any facility from operating by not providing meat inspection services, a requirement of the Federal Meat Inspection Act. A current lawsuit by the operators is trying to change all that. The USDA is required to provide meat inspectors by law, unless Congress votes to enact another funding ban.
Though some are opposed to the slaughter of horses on general animal welfare issues, others oppose it because of potential hazards to humans if the meat is consumed. The article itself states, “The Humane Society maintains a list of more than 100 drugs administered to horses, some of which carry labels stating they are not to be used in horses intended for human consumption. Bruce A. Wagman, a lawyer for Front Range Equine Rescue, a group opposing horse slaughter, said those drugs also posed an environmental hazard that the Agriculture Department was ignoring.” However, the opposite side of the story claims that horses are currently being slaughtered in Mexico and Canada, where the conditions may be inhumane. They advocate for the return of horse-slaughter to the USA, in hopes of making the process itself more humane. (Even though, it is hard to think of slaughter, in any sense, really being humane.)
Although the operators are promising to provide testing to prevent drugs from getting into the meat they slaughter, when did corporations primary concern become our welfare and not corporate profits? A big concern as identified in the 2/28/13 NYT’s article is that “The impending approval comes amid growing concern among American consumers that horse meat will somehow make its way into ground beef products in the United States as it has done in Europe. Major companies, including Tesco, Nestlé and Ikea, have had to pull food from shelves in 14 countries after tests showed that products labeled 100 percent beef actually contained small amounts of horse meat.”
Currently, the senate appropriations committee has advanced the bill that would ban funding for USDA horse slaughter inspection (once again making it impossible for horse slaughter to occur in the US). This amendment was approved by voice vote and is pending before the full senate. Congressman Jim Moran has written the Moran amendment, which would also prevent horse slaughter. This amendment is pending in the house. Further backing for the end of horse slaughter comes from New Mexico’s attorney general Gary K. King, President Obama, and actor Robert Redford. We will try to keep you up to date as this current law makes it way through the house and senate. For now though, the USDA is required to comply with current law and provide inspectors, thus allowing horse slaughter, until Congress acts.
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