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* Human ancestral diets changed substantially approximately four to
five million years ago with major climatic changes creating open
grassland environments.

* We developed a larger brain balanced by a smaller, simpler
gastrointestinal tract requiring higher-quality foods based around
meat protein and fat.

Journal Human Evolution
The human adaptations to meat eating: a reappraisal
Hladik C. M. 1 and Pasquet P. 2
(1) Laboratoire d'Ecologie, Éco-Anthropologie, CNRS (FRE
2323) and Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle, 4 avenue du
Petit Château, 91800 Brunoy, (France)
(2) Dynamique de l'évolution humaine CNRS (UPR 2147) 44,
rue de l'Amiral Mouchez, 75014, France
Received: 10 April 2001  Accepted: 28 December 2001


In this paper we discuss the hypothesis, proposed by some authors,
that man is a habitual meat-eater. Gut measurements of primate species
do not support the contention that human digestive tract is specialized
for meat-eating, especially when taking into account allometric factors
and their variations between folivores, frugivores and meat-eaters. The
dietary status of the human species is that of an unspecialised frugivore,
having a flexible diet that includes seeds and meat (omnivorous diet).
Throughout the various time periods, our human ancestors could have
mostly consumed either vegetable, or large amounts of animal matter
(with fat and/or carbohydrates as a supplement), depending on the
availability and nutrient content of food resources. Some formerly
adaptive traits (e.g. the "thrifty genotype") could have resulted from
selective pressure during transitory variations of feeding behaviour
linked to environmental constraints existing in the past.

'Frugivory is an intellectually demanding feeding behaviour demanding
the development of strategic planning, whereas the folivores feeding
behavior engages relatively simple tactics. According to Caroline E. G.
Tutin et al. 'Allometric analyses suggest a relation between brain size
(relative to body mass) and diet, with frugivores having relatively larger
brains . . . Maintaining a frugivorous diet presents huge intellectual
challenges of memory and spatial mapping compared with the relative
ease of harvesting abundant foliage foods.
Anthropologies 'Man The Hunter' concept is still used as a reason
for justifying the consumption of animal flesh as food. This has even
extended as far as suggesting that animal foods have enabled or
caused human brain enlargement. Allegedly this is because of the
greater availability of certain kinds of fats and the sharing behaviour
associated with eating raw animal food. The reality is that through
natural selection, the environmental factors our species have been
exposed to selected for greater brain development, long before raw
animal flesh became a significant part of our ancient ancestors diet.
The elephant has also developed a larger brain than the human brain,
on a diet primarily consisting of fermented foliage and fruits. It is my
hypothesis that it is eating fruits and perhaps blossoms, that has, if
anything, contributed the most in allowing humans to develop
relatively larger brains than other species. The ability of humans to
develop normal brains with a dietary absence of animal products is
also noted.
Given a plentiful supply of fruits the mother does not have to
risk expending much of her effort obtaining difficult to get foods
like raw animal flesh, insects, nuts and roots. Furthermore, fruits
contain abundant supplies of sugars which the brain solely uses
for energy. The mother who's genes better dispose her for an
easy life on fruits would have an advantage of those who do not,
and similarly, the fruit species which is the best food for mother
and child nutrition, would tend to be selected for. There is now
little doubt amongst distinguished biologists that fruit has been
the most significant dietary constituent in the evolution of humans.
What are the essential biochemical properties of human metabolism
which distinguish us from our non-human primate relatives? One,
at least, is our uniquely low protein requirement as described by
Olav T. Oftedal who says:

"Human milk has the lowest protein concentration (about 7% of
energy) of any primate milk that has been studied. In general, it
appears that primates produce small daily amounts of a relatively
dilute milk (Oftedal 1984). Thus the protein and energy demands
of lactation are probably low for primates by comparison to the
demands experienced by many other mammals." The nutritional
consequences of foraging in primates: the relationship of nutrient
intakes to nutrient requirements, p.161 Philosophical Transactions:
Biological Sciences vol 334, 159-295, No. 1270

One might imagine that given our comparatively 'low protein' milk,
we would not be able to grow very fast. In fact, as the image on the
right shows, human infants show very rapid growth, especially of
the brain, during the first year of life. Human infants are born a full
year earlier than they would be projected to, based on comparisons
with other animals. This is because of the large size their brains
reach. A human infant grows at the rate of 9 kg/year at birth, falling
to 3.5 kg/year a year later. Thereafter its growth rate is about half
that of a chimpanzees at 2 kg/year vs. about 4.5 kg/year. Humans
are relatively half as bulky as the other great apes, thus allowing
nutrients to be directed at brain development and the diet to be less
demanding. The advantages of such an undemanding metabolism
are clear. Humans delay their growth because they 'catch up' later,
during puberty as seen on the graph. Even so, the growth rate never
reaches that of a newborn infant who grows best by only eating
breast milk.
According to Exequiel M. Patińo and Juan T. Borda 'Primate milks
contain on the average 13% solids, of which 6.5% is lactose, 3.8%
lipids, 2.4% proteins, and 0.2% ash. Lactose is the largest
component of the solids, and protein is a lesser one'. They also say
that 'milks of humans and Old World monkeys have the highest
percentages of sugar (an average of 6.9%)' and when comparing
human and non human primate milks, they have similar proportions
of solids, but human milks has more sugar and fat whereas the non
human primate milks have much more protein. They continue 'In
fact, human milk has the lowest concentration of proteins (1.0%)
of all the species of primates.' Patińo and Borda present their
research in order to allow other primatologists to construct artificial
milks as a substitute for the real thing for captive primates. It is to
be expected that these will have similar disasterous consequences
as the feeding of artificial bovine, and other false milks, has had on
human infants.

Patińo and Borda also present a table which compares primate
milks. This table is shown below and identifies the distinctive
lower protein requirements of humans.  [see link]

Undoubtedly these gross metabolic differences between humans
and other mammals must have system wide implications for our
metabolism. They allow us to feed heavily on fruits, and may restrict
other species from choosing them. Never the less, many nutritional
authorities suggest that adult humans need nearly double (12% of
calorific value) their breast milk levels of protein, although it is
accepted that infant protein requirements for growth are triple those
of adults. The use of calorific values might also confuse the issue
since human milk is highly dilute (1% protein), and clearly eating
foods that might be 25 times this concentration, such as meat, are
massive excesses if constantly ingested. Certainly the body might
manage to deal with this excess without suffering immediate
problems, but this is not proof of any beneficial adaptation. It also
needs to be pointed out that berries, such as raspberries, may yield
up to 21% of their calorific value from protein, but are not regarded
as 'good sources' of protein by nutritional authorites. There are
millions of fruits available to wild animals, and blanked
generalisations about the qualities of certain food groups, need to
be examined carefully, due to some misconceptions arising from
the limited commercial fruits which we experience in the domestic

The weaning of a fruigivorous primate would clearly demand the
supply of a food with nutritional characteristics similar to those
of the mothers milk. We must realise that supportive breast
feeding may continue for up to 9 or 10 years in some 'rimitive'
peoples, and this is more likely to be representative of our
evolutionary history than the 6 month limit often found in modern
cultures. This premature weaning should strike any aware
naturalist as being a disasterous activity, inflicting untold damage.
However, what we do know of the consequences is that it
reduces the IQ and disease resistance of the child, and that the
substitute of unnatural substances, like wheat and dairy products,
is pathogenic.

Finally we need to compare some food group compositions with
human milk in order to establish if any statistical similarity exists.
This would demonstrate that modern humans have inherited their
ancient fruigivorous metabolism. This data is examined below in
the final sections of the article.

* Anthropological evidence from cranio-dental features and fossil
stable isotope analysis indicates a growing reliance on meat
consumption during human evolution.

See below.

* Study of hunter-gatherer societies in recent times shows an extreme
reliance on hunted and fished animal foods for survival.

'Ethnographic parallels with modern hunter-gatherer communities have
been taken to show that the colder the climate, the greater the reliance
on meat. There are sound biological and economic reasons for this, not
least in the ready availability of large amounts of fat in arctic mammals.
>From this, it has been deduced that the humans of the glacial periods
were primarily hunters, while plant foods were more important during
the interglacials. '

* Optimal foraging theory shows that wild plant foods in general give
an inadequate energy return for survival, whereas the top-ranking food
items for energy return are large hunted animals.

'It has long been held that big game hunting is THE key development
in human evolutionary history, facilitating the appearance of patterns
in reproduction, social organization, and life history fundamental to
the modern human condition. Though this view has been challenged
strongly in recent years, it persists as the conventional wisdom, largely
for lack of a plausible alternative. Recent research on women's time
allocation and food sharing among tropical hunter-gatherers now
provides the basis for such an alternative.

The problem with big game hunting

The appeal of big game hunting as an important evolutionary force
lies in the common assumption that hunting and related paternal
provisioning are essential to child rearing among human foragers:
mother is seen as unable to bear, feed and raise children on her
own; hence relies on husband/father for critical nutritional support,
especially in the form of meat. This makes dating the first
appearance of this pattern the fundamental problem in human
origins research. The common association between stone tools
and the bones of large animals at sites of Pleistocene age suggests
to many that it may be quite old, possibly originating with Homo
erectus nearly two million years ago (e.g. Gowlett 1993).

Despite its widespread acceptance, there are good reasons to be
skeptical about the underlying assumption. Most important is the
observation that big game hunting is actually a poor way to support
a family. Among the Tanzanian Hadza, for example, men armed
with bows and poisoned arrows operating in a game-rich habitat
acquire large animal prey only about once every thirty hunter-days,
not nearly often enough to feed their children effectively. They
could do better as provisioners by taking small game or plant
foods, yet choose not to, which suggests that big game hunting
serves some other purpose unrelated to offspring survivorship
(Hawkes et al. 1991). Whatever it is, reliable support for children
must come from elsewhere.

The importance of women's foraging and food sharing

Recent research on Hadza time allocation and foraging returns
shows that at least among these low latitude foragers, women's
gathering is the source (Hawkes et al. 1997). The most difficult
time of the year for the Hadza is the dry season, when foods
younger children can procure for themselves are unavailable.
Mothers respond by provisioning youngsters with foods they
themselves can procure daily and at relatively high rates, but that
their children cannot, largely because of handling requirements.
Tubers, which require substantial upper body strength and
endurance to collect and the ability to control fire in processing,
are a good example.

Provisioning of this sort has at least two important implications:
1) it allows the Hadza to operate in times and places where they
otherwise could not if, as among other primates, weaned offspring
were responsible for feeding themselves; 2) it lets another adult
assist in the process allowing mother to turn her attention to the
next pregnancy that much sooner. Quantitative data on time
allocation, foraging returns, and changes in children's nutritional
status indicate that, among the Hadza, that other adult is typically
grandmother. Senior Hadza women forage long hours every day,
enjoy high returns for effort, and provision their grandchildren
effectively, especially when their daughters are nursing new
infants (Hawkes et al. 1989, 1997). Their support is crucial to
both daughters' fecundity and grandchildren's survivorship,
with important implications for grandmothers' own fitness.

* Numerous evolutionary adaptations in humans indicate high reliance
on meat consumption, including poor taurine production, lack of
ability to chain elongate plant fatty acids and the co-evolution of
parasites related to dietary meat.

'Analyses of data from the China studies by his collaborators and
others, Campbell told the epidemiology symposium, is leading to
policy recommendations. He mentioned three:

* The greater the variety of plant-based foods in the diet, the
greater the benefit. Variety insures broader coverage of known
and unknown nutrient needs.

* Provided there is plant food variety, quality and quantity, a
healthful and nutritionally complete diet can be attained without
animal-based food.

* The closer the food is to its native state - with minimal heating,
salting and processing - the greater will be the benefit.


Anthropologists have long recognised that the diets of palaeolithic
and recent hunter-gatherers (HGs) represent a reference standard for
modern human nutrition and a model for defence against certain Western-
lifestyle diseases. Boyd Eaton of Emory University (Atlanta) put this
succinctly: 'We are the heirs of inherited characteristics accrued
over millions of years, the vast majority of our biochemistry and
physiology are tuned to life conditions that existed prior to the
advent of agriculture. Genetically our bodies are virtually the same
as they were at the end of the palaeolithic period. The appearance of
agriculture some 10,000 years ago and the Industrial Revolution some
200 years ago introduced new dietary pressures for which no adaptation
has been possible in such a short time span. Thus an inevitable
discordance exists between our dietary intake and that which our genes
are suited to'. This discordance hypothesis postulated by Eaton could
explain many of the chronic 'diseases of civilisation'. (1) This
review presents an anthropological perspective on what HG populations
may have actually eaten.

'Anthropologically speaking, humans were high consumers of calcium
until the onset of the Agricultural Age, 10,000 years ago. Current
calcium intake is one-quarter to one-third that of our evolutionary diet
and, if we are genetically identical to the Late Paleolithic Homo sapiens,
we may be consuming a calcium-deficient diet our bodies cannot adjust
to by physiologic mechanisms.

The anthropological approach says, with the exception of a few small
changes related to genetic blood diseases, that humans are basically
identical biologically and medically to the hunter-gatherers of the late
Paleolithic Era.17  During this period, calcium content of the diet was
much higher than it is currently.  Depending on the ratio of animal to
plant foods, calcium intake could have exceeded 2000 mg per day.17
Calcium was largely derived from wild plants, which had a very high
calcium content; animal protein played a small role, and the use of
dairy products did not come into play until the Agricultural Age
10,000 years ago. Compared to the current intake of approximately
500 mg per day for women age 20 and over in the United States,18
hunter-gatherers had a significantly higher calcium intake and
apparently much stronger bones. As late as 12,000 years ago,
Stone Age hunters had an average of 17-percent more bone density
(as measured by humeral cortical thickness). Bone density also
appeared to be stable over time with an apparent absence of

High levels of calcium excretion via renal losses are seen with both
high salt and high protein diets, in each case at levels common in the
United States.10,11
The only hunter-gatherers that seemed to fall prey to bone loss were
the aboriginal Inuit (Eskimos). Although their physical activity level
was high, their osteoporosis incidence exceeded even present-day
levels in the United States. The Inuit diet was high in phosphorus
and protein and low in calcium.20

Contrary to views that humans evolved largely as a herbivorous animal
in a 'garden of Eden' type of environment, historical evidence
indicates a very different reality, at least in the last four to five
million years of evolutionary adaptation. It was in this time frame
that the ancestral hominid line emerged from the receding forests to
become bipedal, open grassland dwellers. This was likely


by dietary changes and subsequent physiological and metabolic
adaptations. The evolutionary pressure for some primates to undergo
this habitat and subsequent diet change involving open grassland,
foraging/scavenging, related directly to massive changes in global
climatic conditions, primarily drier conditions followed by worldwide
expansion of the biomass of temperate climate (C4) grasses at the
expense of wetland forests, (2) accompanied by a worldwide faunal
change, (3) including the spread of large grazing animals. Thus, the
foods available to human ancestors in an open grassland environment
were very different from those of the jungle/forest habitats that were
home for many millions of years.

"Studies of frugivorous communities elsewhere suggest that dietary
divergence is highest when preferred food (succulent fruit) is scarce,
and that niche separation is clear only at such times (Gautier-Hion &
Gautier 1979: Terborgh 1983). - Foraging profiles of sympatric
lowland gorillas and chimpanzees in the Lopé Reserve, Gabon, p.179,
Philosophical Transactions: Biological Sciences vol 334, 159-295,
No. 1270


The lines of investigation used by anthropologists to deduce the
evolutionary diet of our evolving hominid ancestors are numerous: (i)
changes in cranio-dental features; (ii) fossil isotopic chemical
tracer methods; (iii) comparative gut morphology of modern humans and
other mammals;

Journal Human Evolution
The human adaptations to meat eating: a reappraisal
Hladik C. M. 1 and Pasquet P. 2
(1) Laboratoire d'Ecologie, Éco-Anthropologie, CNRS (FRE
2323) and Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle, 4 avenue du
Petit Château, 91800 Brunoy, (France)
(2) Dynamique de l'évolution humaine CNRS (UPR 2147) 44,
rue de l'Amiral Mouchez, 75014, France
Received: 10 April 2001  Accepted: 28 December 2001


In this paper we discuss the hypothesis, proposed by some authors,
that man is a habitual meat-eater. Gut measurements of primate species
do not support the contention that human digestive tract is specialized
for meat-eating, especially when taking into account allometric factors
and their variations between folivores, frugivores and meat-eaters. The
dietary status of the human species is that of an unspecialised frugivore,
having a flexible diet that includes seeds and meat (omnivorous diet).
Throughout the various time periods, our human ancestors could have
mostly consumed either vegetable, or large amounts of animal matter
(with fat and/or carbohydrates as a supplement), depending on the
availability and nutrient content of food resources. Some formerly
adaptive traits (e.g. the "thrifty genotype") could have resulted from
selective pressure during transitory variations of feeding behaviour
linked to environmental constraints existing in the past.

(iv) the energetic requirements of developing a large
ratio of brain to body size;

Fructose and carbohydrate.

(v) optimal foraging theory; (vi) dietary
patterns of surviving HG societies; and (vii) specific diet-related
adaptations. Findings from each of these fields reveal a changing
dietary pattern away from low-quality/highly fibrous, energy-poor
plant stables to a growing dependence on more energy-rich animal
foods, culminating in palaeolithic Homo sapiens being top-level
carnivores. (4)

Changes in cranio-dental features

Early hominid fossil remains already show clear cranio-dental changes
which indicate a move away from a specialised structure suited to
coarse foliage mastication to a more generalised structure indicative
of dependence on fruits and hard nuts but also incorporating changes
that indicate meat consumption. Such changes included a decrease in
molar teeth size, jaws/skull became more gracile, front teeth became
well buttressed and shearing crests appearing on teeth, all indicative
of less emphasis on grinding and more on biting and tearing of animal
flesh. (5)

Sure... Humans tear into bloody still-warm-from-the-kill animal flesh
all the time....  (I can just see it now, ball, you and the squirrel.... 

'Natural selection dictates that primate tooth shape should reflect the
mechanical properties of foods. As shown by numerous workers,
variations in tooth shape are a means of adapting to changes in the
internal characteristics of foods such as their strength, toughness, and
deformability (Lucas and Teaford, 1994; Spears and Crompton, 1996;
Strait, 1997; Yamashita, 1998). Clearly, foods are complicated structures;
thus it is impossible to describe all of the internal characteristics that
might have confronted the earliest hominids' teeth. However, another
approach is to describe the capabilities of those teeth.

For example, tough foods are sheared between the leading edges of
sharp crown crests whereas hard, brittle foods are crushed between
planar surfaces. As such, reciprocally concave, highly crested teeth
have the capability of efficiently processing tough items such as insect
exoskeletons and leaves, whereas rounder and flatter cusped teeth are
best suited for a more frugivorous diet. Kay (1984) has devised a
"shearing quotient" (SQ) as a measure of relative shear potential of a
molar tooth. He and colleagues have demonstrated that more
folivorous species have the longest crests, followed by those that
prefer brittle, soft fruits. Finally, hard-object feeders have the shortest
crests and bluntest molars (Kay, 1984; Meldrum and Kay, 1997).

Shearing crest studies have been conducted on early Miocene African
apes and middle to late Miocene European apes. Such studies show a
considerable range of diets very much consistent with microwear
results for these same taxa. For example, Rangwapithecus and
Oreopithecus have relatively long shearing crests suggesting folivory,
Ouranopithecus has extremely short crests suggesting a hard-object
specialization, whereas most other Miocene taxa studied, such as
Proconsul, and Dryopithecus have the intermediate length crests of
a frugivore (Kay and Ungar, 1997; Ungar and Kay, 1995). Thus,
shearing crest study results suggest that Miocene apes, especially those
from the later Miocene of Europe, show a substantial range of diets.

As for the early hominids, Grine (1981) has noted differences between
Australopithecus africanus and Paranthropus robustus in molar form,
such that the "gracile" species had more occlusal relief than did the
"robust" form, suggesting a dietary difference. While no shearing
crest length studies have been conducted on early hominids, all
australopithecines have relatively flat, blunt molar teeth and lack the
long shearing crests seen in some extant hominoids (e.g., Kay, 1985).
By itself, this indicates that the earliest hominids would have had
difficulty breaking down tough, pliant foods, such as soft seed coats
and the veins and stems of leaves -- although they probably were
capable of processing buds, flowers, and shoots.

Interestingly, as suggested by Lucas and Peters (in press) another
tough pliant food they would have had difficulty in processing is
meat. In other words, the early hominids were not dentally
preadapted to eat meat - they simply did not have the sharp,
reciprocally-concave shearing blades necessary to retain and cut
such foods. By contrast, given their flat, blunt teeth, they were
admirably equipped to process hard brittle objects. What about
soft fruits? It really depends on the toughness of those fruits. If
they were tough, then they would also need to be precisely
retained and sliced between the teeth. Again, early hominids would
be very inefficient at it. If they were not tough, then the hominids
could certainly process soft fruits.

In sum, Miocene ape molars show a range of adaptations including
folivory, soft-fruit eating and hard-object feeding. This range exceeds
that of living hominoids, and especially the early hominids. While
comparable shearing crest length studies have not been conducted
on early hominids, australopithecines certainly have relatively flat
molar teeth compared with many living and fossil apes. These teeth
were well-suited to breaking down hard, brittle foods including some
fruits and nuts, and soft, weak foods such as flowers and buds; but
again, they were not well-suited to breaking-down tough pliant foods
like stems, soft seed pods, and meat.


'There appears to be no threshold of plant-food enrichment or minimization
of fat intake beyond which further disease prevention does not occur.
These findings suggest that even small intakes of foods of animal origin are
associated with significant increases in plasma cholesterol concentrations,
which are associated, in turn, with significant increases in chronic
degenerative disease mortality rates. - Campbell TC, Junshi C. Diet and
chronic degenerative diseases: perspectives from China. Am J Clin Nutr
1994 May;59 (5 Suppl):1153S-1161S.'
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Posted: Jan 28, 2008 4:04am
Jun 3, 2006
An impassioned video attempts to get us to re-think our attitudes towards the rearing and consumption of meat:

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Posted: Jun 3, 2006 11:36am
Feb 11, 2006

Comments on NAIS "Draft Program Standards" and "Draft Strategic Plan"

By Mary Zanoni, Ph.D. (Cornell), J.D. (Yale)
Feb 6, 2006, 18:25

I have carefully examined the Draft Program Standards (Standards) and Draft Strategic Plan (Plan) issued by the USDA (the Department) on April 25, 2005, in furtherance of the Department's proposed National Animal Identification System (NAI. Many aspects of the Standards and Plan appear to create insurmountable legal, fiscal, and logistical problems. The comments below address five categories of problems:

1. Constitutional infirmities of the proposed program;
2. An enormous economic cost to animal owners, the States, the Department, and, ultimately, to American taxpayers and consumers for a program likely to be ineffectual;
3. Weaknesses in the stated rationales for the program;
4. A lack of consideration of alternative, far cheaper and more easily administered measures which would more effectively protect animal health and food security; and
5. A lack of notice and an opportunity to be heard for medium-scale, small-scale, and home farmers, and for other citizens owning livestock solely for their own use or pleasure, in the Department's process thus far.

1. The Standards and Plan Violate Many Provisions of the Constitution.

First Amendment Violations - Many Christians (as well as persons of other religious beliefs) cannot comply with the Department's proposed program because it violates their First Amendment right to free exercise. For example, the Old Order Amish believe they are prohibited from registering their farms or animals in the proposed program due to, inter alia, Scriptural prohibitions.

The way of life of these devout Christians requires them to use horses for transportation, support themselves by simple methods of dairy farming (most ship milk to cheese producers, since their faith prohibits the use of the technologies required for modern fluid milk production), and raise animals for the family's own food.

The proposed NAIS would place the Amish and other people of faith in an untenable position of violating one or another requirement of their most important beliefs. Further, it is not unlikely that enactment of the NAIS as presently proposed would force the Amish and other devout people to seek migration to another nation. It would greatly injure the status of our country among the community of nations if the Department's actions were to result in the forced migration of such simple, devout, and peaceful people.

Fourth Amendment Violations - The Department proposes surveillance of every property where even a single animal of any livestock species is kept; and to require, at a minimum, the radio-frequency identification tagging of every animal. (Standards, pp. 3-4, 6, 17-18.)

Perhaps the Department had in mind as its model large commercial facilities where thousands, or in many cases tens of thousands, of animals are housed or processed. However, aside from large livestock businesses, there are also tens of millions of individual American citizens who own a pet horse, keep a half-dozen laying hens, or raise one steer, pig, or lamb for their own food.

In these instances, the "premises" that the Department plans to subject to GPS satellite surveillance (Standards, p. 10) and distance radio-frequency reading (Standards, p. 27) are the homes of these tens of millions of citizens. The government is not permitted to use sense-enhancing technologies to invade the privacy of citizens' homes. Kyllo v. United States, 533 U.S. 27 (2001). The sanctity of the home is entitled to privacy protection in circumstances where an industrial complex is not. See Dow Chemical v. United States, 476 U.S. 227, 238 (1986).

Therefore, the Department should abandon its present proposals, insofar as they entail enormously intrusive surveillance against unsuspecting innocent citizens who have done nothing more than to own an animal (a common form of personal property under the American system of law).
Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment Violations - The proposed NAIS is the first attempt by the federal government at forced registration in a huge, permanent federal database of individual citizens' real property (the homes and farms where animals are kept) and personal property (the animals themselves). (Standards, pp. 8-13; Plan, pp. 8, 12-13)

Indeed, the only general systems of permanent registration of personal property in the United States are systems administered by the individual states for two items that are highly dangerous if misused: motor vehicles and guns. It is difficult to imagine any acceptable basis for the Department to subject the owner of a chicken to more intrusive surveillance than the owner of a gun.

For example, whereas the owner of a long gun generally can take the gun and go hunting beyond the confines of his or her own property without notifying the government, the Department proposes that the chicken owner, under pain of unspecified "enforcement," must report within 24 hours any instance of a chicken leaving or returning to the registered property. (Standards, pp. 13, 18-19, 21; Plan, p. 17.)

Even more important than the trammeling of basic property rights under the program is the insult to fundamental human rights, which must remain free from government interference.

* See; Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558, 565 (2003).
* These fundamental human rights include decisions about nutrition and bodily integrity.
* See also; Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Dept. of Health, 497 U.S. 261 (1990);
* See also; Rochin v. California, 342 U.S. 165 (1952).

Surely it is overreaching for the Department to propose, as it has, the constant surveillance of one's home and animals when the citizen is only attempting to raise food for the household or for a limited local area, and there is no intention of distributing the food on a wider scale.

The foregoing numerous constitutional infirmities are bound to enmesh the Department and state governments in extremely costly litigation for years to come. Therefore, please reconsider the Department's plans to institute a program so at odds with fundamental American values.

2. Practical and Cost Impediments to Enforcement.

As discussed more fully below (see no. 5, Lack of Notice), most owners of a small number of livestock are not even aware of the USDA's proposals at present (see, e.g., "Helping to Head Off A Livestock I.D. Crisis," Lancaster Farming, May 28, 2005, p. A38, discussing difficulties of informing all farmers of the NAIS requirements).

The Department does not plan to issue "alerts" to inform livestock owners of the requirements until April 2007, only eight months prior to the date when it will be mandatory to submit the GPS coordinates of one's home and the RFID of one's animal to the USDA database. The final rule governing mandatory home and animal surveillance will not be published until "fall 2007" (Plan, p. 10), leaving only a couple of months, at best, for notification and compliance before January 2008.

The citizens apt to own small numbers of livestock are rural dwellers who have chosen their way of life partly as a means of escaping excessive corporate and government bureaucracy. These factors suggest the likelihood of a noncompliance problem of heroic proportions.

In addition, the proposals call for an animal owner to report, within 24 hours, any missing animal, any missing tag, the sale of an animal, the death of an animal, the slaughter of an animal, the purchase of an animal, the movement of an animal off the farm or homestead, the movement of an animal onto the farm or homestead. (Standards, pp. 13, 18-19, 21.)
The Department plans to demand the following actions by all animal owners according to the stated timeline:

* January 2008: All premises registered with enforcement (regardless of livestock movements).
* January 2008: Animal identification required with enforcement.
* January 2009: Enforcement for the reporting of animal movements." (Plan, p. 17; emphasis added.)

Moreover, the NAIS will "prohibit any person" from removing an I.D. device, causing the removal of an I.D. device, applying a second I.D. device, altering an I.D. device to change its number, altering an I.D. device to make its number unreadable, selling or providing an unauthorized I.D. device, and "manufacturing, selling, or providing an identification device that so closely resembles an approved device that it is likely to be mistaken for official identification." (Standards, p. 7.)

Thousands of enforcement agents would have to be employed to find the potentially tens of millions of unregistered premises and violations of the animal identification and animal tracking requirements. Indeed, beyond the expense, the specter of these government agents entering onto citizens' property to find possible unregistered homes and animals brings to mind the actions of a frightening police state, not the actions of a government agency whose mission should be to assist rural people, not to hunt them down.

The proposed NAIS makes clear that animal owners will have to pay the costs of registration and surveillance of their homes, farms, and livestock. ("[T]here will be costs to producers, private funding will be required..." (Plan, p. 11) "Producers will identify their animals and provide necessary records to the databases... All groups will need to provide labor..." (Plan, p. 14.) In fact, the financial and labor requirements for animal owners would be huge. Livestock owners, even the owner of one pet horse who takes rides off the property, would have to invest in RFID reading devices and software to report information. The Standards and Plan do not enlighten us about the amount of these costs.

Many rural people do not have (and do not want) computers at home and even those who have them often cannot get high-speed connections. Even if some system of written or manual reporting were allowed as an alternative, this would only greatly increase the labor required for citizens who elected it. Indeed, with or without access to technology, the labor requirement would be huge.

Consider a small-to-moderate size dairy, milking 160 head. A total of about 150 cattle (75 bull calves, 50 cull cows, and 25 excess heifers) would leave such a farm each year. The farmer would be required to report each tagging of an animal and each event of an animal shipped off the farm (300 reportable events).

Plus let's assume that the farmer has 50 growing heifers outside during pasture season, and, as heifers are prone to do, they breach the fence and go off into the neighbor's fields twice during the season, and the farmer has to herd them back. This results in an additional 250 reportable events - 50 instances of heifers having to be tagged (strictly speaking, the rules would require tagging before they leave the farm -- (Plan, p. 8) -- one hopes the enforcement agents might overlook the technical violation of the farmer perhaps not being able to tag them until they are herded back), plus 100 instances of individual heifers leaving the farm, and 100 instances of individual heifers returning to the farm.

The farmer now has at least 550 total reportable events, or an average of over 1.5 times per day, 365 days per year, that the farmer must interrupt his or her other work and submit data on premises identification, animal identification, and an event code to the USDA's database. Further, the animals shipped from this farm would generate at least an additional 600 reportable events per year for other stakeholders (i.e., 75 bull calves into and out of the auction house, then onto a veal farm, off the veal farm, and to a slaughter facility (375 events); 50 cull cows into and out of the auction house, then to a slaughter facility (150 events); and 25 heifers into and out of the auction house, then onto new farms (75 events).

Thus, only one modest-sized farm would generate well over a thousand events per year requiring recordkeeping and reporting.

Indeed, the only economic advantage of the NAIS is an advantage to the corporations that manufacture high-tech tags, ID equipment, and the vast amount of hardware and software required for the system. This "advantage" is totally outweighed by the economic costs to both large and small segments of the livestock industry and the social and civil-rights costs to small producers, home farmers, and non-farming animal owners. The Department's mission should be to protect and foster agriculture, not to protect and foster manufacturers of tagging and computing equipment.

3. Infirmities in Supposed Justifications.

The primary justifications given by the Department for the NAIS are animal health issues, specifically, foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). (Plan, p. 1.)

There has been no FMD in the United States for over 70 years and the possibility of its reintroduction is speculative. Of course, FMD is a viral disease exclusively of cloven-hoofed animals and does not infect humans. Moreover, FMD is primarily an economic disease. Animals may become temporarily lame or refuse to eat because of the lesions caused by the virus, but nearly all animals recover within a few weeks.

Thus, the primary effects are a setback in weight gain for animals produced for meat, reduced lactation in dairy animals, and restrictions on exports for countries where FMD is present. NAIS proponents need to carefully consider whether a disease, of no risk to humans, not present in the United States and only of temporary effect to animals, can possibly justify a gravely flawed system such as the proposed NAIS.

There have been only two known cases of BSE in the United States. There have been no cases of humans contracting, while within the United States, the related condition of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The Department has put into place all necessary safeguards and assures that the American beef supply is safe and that transmission of BSE prions to humans cannot now occur in the United States. After the banning of meat and bone meal from ruminant feeds in 1997, any possible instances of BSE would now occur only in relatively old cattle.

Obviously, the number of such cattle diminishes yearly and even assuming the longest potential lifespan of cattle; any slight possibility of BSE in the U.S. cattle herd will disappear in about 12 to 15 years. Thus, BSE is a very low-incidence, self-limiting, rapidly disappearing disease in the United States. BSE has not resulted in transmission of a single case of human disease in the United States. BSE is, rather than a health threat, primarily an economic problem affecting exports and imports of cattle and beef. It is apparent that the Department's position that sufficient controls are in place is correct. Thus, as with FMD, BSE cannot justify the creation of a huge, permanent, expensive, and intrusive NAIS.

A further asserted justification is the risk of "an intentional introduction of an animal disease." (Plan, p. 7.) Far from preventing deliberate interference with the livestock industry or food supply, the proposed plan creates numerous new opportunities for mayhem. The Department's own proposals suggest that the counterfeiting and theft of tags will quickly become a problem. (Standards, p. 7.)

Application of counterfeit tags could easily mask the introduction of a sick animal into a facility containing thousands or tens of thousands of other animals. Consider also the scenario in which someone brings a sick animal to a slaughter facility and falsely reports its farm of origin as a large operation with tens of thousands of animals in production. The resulting baseless scare has the potential to create a huge disruption of food supplies and the profitability of animal agriculture, regardless of whether the hoax might ultimately be discovered.

4. Lack of Consideration of Alternate Methods.

As discussed above, the NAIS is a violation of civil rights, extremely expensive and burdensome, likely to be ineffective, and not justified by human health, animal health, or food safety considerations. Given these numerous and probably insurmountable flaws, the Department should carefully consider alternative methods that would be much more successful in accomplishing the stated objectives.

The security of America's food supply and the resilience of livestock in the face of diseases are best served by the decentralization and dispersal of food production and processing, and of the breeding and maintaining of livestock. If more citizens could depend on food raised and processed within, say, 100 miles of their homes, the danger of large-scale disruptions would be minimized, the costs of transport would be less affected by volatile fuel prices, and any food-borne diseases that might occur would be contained by the natural geographic limits of the system.

Similarly, if animals, such as cattle, for example, are kept in small herds of, say, ten to a hundred animals, infectious diseases will have much more difficulty in spreading beyond a discrete geographical area. In this regard, the NAIS would actually be counterproductive, since it would tend to drive more small producers and small processors out of business. Thus, the Department should consider an approach and programs to support and promote smaller, local herds and local food processing.

Smaller herds would also entail the possibility of many more closed herds than our agricultural model supports at present. Especially in dairy operations, where artificial insemination is the norm, only modest government incentives would be necessary to encourage small and medium sized producers to maintain closed herds. In the case of beef cattle, and of other species not commonly using AI, a state-level program requiring vet checks and recordkeeping for new animals introduced to herds would be obviously far simpler, as well as more effective, than the proposed NAIS.
Another contribution the Department could make to food safety and animal health at low cost would be the encouragement of integrated producer/processor operations. Despite economic and marketing forces that are stacked against them, many small producers throughout the United States still process and market their own dairy products, or raise meat that is processed on site or at small local slaughterhouses and distributed directly to consumers or to local retail outlets.

Consumers love not only the high quality of such products, but also the assurance that comes from actually knowing the farmers who, for example, finish their steers on grass and have the butchering done at a local small business. Very modest programs of financial incentives and encouragements to the streamlining of federal and state permitting procedures would help this hopeful segment of our nation's agriculture to flourish.

Many recent developments in the agricultural sciences have demonstrated time and again that the least-cost and least intrusive method is the most effective and protective of health. For example, leading-edge research now rejects the routine deworming of all cattle and sheep, in favor of eliminating parasite-susceptible individuals as breeding stock. The once-heralded approach of routine deworming, it turns out, only resulted in resistant super-parasites and perpetuation in the gene pool of animal families naturally subject to the largest infestations.

Similarly, in recent years our thinking has done an about-face on the subject of routine use of antibiotics in the feed of beef steers and dairy heifers, and in udder infusions for dry dairy cows who exhibit no clinical mastitis. Once heralded as a means of increasing weight gain and providing extra insurance against fresh-cow mastitis, those routine uses of antibiotics in healthy animals are now rejected because they are known to produce resistant super-bacteria that may cause not only animal infections, but human infections.

Unfortunately, it takes years for knowledge gained in the latest research to reach the farmer, and the inappropriate overuse of anthelmintics and antibiotics is still very common. Thus, another low-cost and simple initiative the Department could undertake would be an intensive educational initiative to end the inappropriate use of drugs in animal agriculture.

The foregoing are just a few of the many possible more effective animal-health and food-safety initiatives to which the Department could devote its finite resources. It is appropriate for the Department to study fully these alternatives before concluding that a bloated NAIS bureaucracy is our only alternative.

5. Lack of Notice and an Opportunity to be Heard for Small Farmers and Animal Owners.

The original impetus for a nationwide animal I.D. program came from a private membership group, the National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA). (Plan, pp. 1, 4.) The members of the NIAA include such well-known industry entities as Cargill Meat Solutions, Monsanto Company, Schering-Plough, and the National Pork Producers Council.

Further, of those NIAA members listed as "National Associations and Commercial Organizations," nearly 25% appear to be manufacturers and marketers of identification technology systems. In April 2002, the NIAA "initiated meetings that led to the development of" the NAIS. (Plan, p. 1.) The NIAA "established a task force to provide leadership in creating an animal identification plan." (Plan, p. 4.) The NIAA already had been promoting animal I.D. for months before the Department, through APHIS, became involved in the effort. Moreover, the Department says that "[t]he development of [the Draft Program Standards] was facilitated by significant industry feedback." (Standards, p. 1.) Essentially, a private group has dominated animal I.D. thinking and has dictated the NAIS plan now being proposed by the Department.

Moreover, the Department asserts a "broad support for NAIS" (Plan, p. 1) when there is no such support. The Department says that it conducted "listening sessions" for six months (June-November 2004) on NAIS. However, only 60 comments were apparently made during these six months of sessions. If the Department had made a truly widespread attempt to determine citizens' views on animal I.D., surely it would have received far more than 60 comments on an issue that affects tens of millions of Americans.

The Department relies upon the NIAA's survey of itself as supposed evidence of public support. (Plan, p. 7.) The Department quotes responses from the survey and cites the National Institute for Animal Agriculture as its source. However, when one visits that page, one finds a statement by the NIAA that the survey is not scientific, that the survey's results are intended for use by NIAA members only, and that any reproduction of the survey is prohibited.

Thus, the Department is presenting as "evidence" a private, unscientific report that the public is forbidden to quote in opposition. To correct this gross violation of normal agency procedure, the Department must immediately publish this entire NIAA survey in the docket and issue a press release specifying that the public is permitted to use the survey freely in studying the relationship of the NIAA to the genesis of the NAIS. This is not only a spurious example of "public support" but also an affirmatively misleading rationale for a mandatory NAIS. It tells us nothing about truly public support to say that the NIAA, an organization of the largest livestock businesses and manufacturers of identification equipment, considers mandatory I.D. to be good for its own private interests.

One further troubling instance of the failure to consider the needs of the larger public deserves mention. The NIAA lists as public institutional members some state departments of agriculture and animal health commissions. These include representatives of several states with significant populations of members of plain faiths, e.g., Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Missouri, Iowa. Yet it appears no consideration whatsoever was given to the fact that the NAIS as proposed would violate the right of these citizens to practice their religion without government hindrance.

Thus, the NAIS is not the result of any true consensus or concern for the welfare of the citizenry as a whole. Rather, the NAIS is the predictable result of allowing a small coterie of financially interested "stakeholders" to create the agenda for animal identification.

NAIS Information RFID Information
National Animal ID Run Amok Group Fears RFID Chips
USDA Launches National Animal ID Site Tracking School Kids
Animal Identification Directory National Animal ID Run Amok
Roll Out Official NAIS ID Numbers RFID Protects Elk Herds
Why You Should Oppose NAIS NH: Approves 'Tracking Device'
Agriculture unveils draft for animal ID system Fingerprint Check Coming
The National Animal Identification System (NAI RFID And The Apocalypse
USDA Awards $14.3 Million Satan's Micro Minions
Comment Period for Animal ID Extended Raise an Alarm
USDA Unveils Multi-Year Draft Strategic Plan
TX: Premises & Animal Identification
What Now?
NAIS Discussion
Sign The Petition


The NAIS proposals as embodied in the Standards and Plan are unworkable because of economic costs, the huge burdens of reporting, and enormous and needless complexity. Their justifications based on animal diseases and food safety would not be served but in fact would be harmed by the NAIS. The Department has failed to consider numerous alternative methods that might actually further animal health and food security without the vast problems of the proposed NAIS. The Department has limited any input on the NAIS chiefly to a small group of parties with a preexisting bias toward mandatory animal ID; the Department did not make its plans known to small farming interest groups and did not seek any input from such groups. Last, and first, the most fatal flaw of the proposed NAIS is its disregard for fundamental human rights enshrined in our Constitution: the right to religious freedom, the right of property ownership, the right of privacy.

Not since Prohibition has any government agency attempted to enshrine in law a system, which so thoroughly stigmatizes and burdens common, everyday behavior and is so certain to meet with huge resistance from the citizens it unjustly targets.

Therefore, the Department should:

1. withdraw the present Standards and Plan as failing to embody a fair or workable system;
2. reconsider whether, particularly in light of the present effective measures against BSE, any animal I.D. scheme is warranted at present;
3. consider implementing the low cost and easily undertaken measures that would more effectively protect animal health, human health, and the food supply;
4. review its procedures for development of programs such as NAIS to correct the limitation of input to self-selected groups and the failure to notify the vast majority of affected parties; and
5. institute procedures to assure that, in the future, proposed programs will not be permitted to threaten the constitutional rights of citizens.

Very truly yours,

Mary Zanoni, Ph.D. (Cornell), J.D. (Yale),
Executive Director of Farm for Life™
Reliable Answers: News and Commentary

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Posted: Feb 11, 2006 10:12am
Dec 10, 2005
Name: Bulgaria
Type: Tribute (for the living)
To Honor: Other
Location: , Bulgaria

Television channels must not show any psychological or physical violence against humans or nonhuman animals in Bulgaria.

Bulgarian Council for Electronic Media (CEM) (which is in charge of controlling the contents displayed in the media) has banned violence from television from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. CEM has commented that the rule is an attempt to stop the negative influence that television can have on children.

This will include giving information in detail regarding crimes, as well as broadcasting images that might promote the consumption of drugs, among other images.

Those channels that break this new rule would have to pay a fine which could be of up to 7 600 euros. The Association of Bulgarian Broadcasters (ABBRO) has accused this decision to be an interference of the CEM in their work which means actual censorship and goes against the right of the public to be informed and the media to do their job freely.

This measure does not forbid harming animals, but simply doing it in such a way that can be violent (at least for children). In any case, it is interesting to note the fact that the CEM has implicitly assumed that it is not only humans that can be the victims of violence, since other animals can be so as well, which implies that they are sentient beings as humans are.

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Posted: Dec 10, 2005 10:19am


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