Summer 2000 Poultry Press Forced Molting
California Bill To Ban Forced Molting: Update
Poultry Scientist Calls Forced Molting "Completely Inhumane";
The Washington Post Shows "Cracks in the Egg Industry"

Unfortunately, the California Assembly Bill to Ban the Forced Molting of "Laying" Hens (AB 2141) was killed by the Assembly Agriculture Committee. However, this groundbreaking bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Ted Lempert (D/Palo Alto), was the first bill in the United States that would have banned the practice of starving hens to manipulate the economics of egg production, and it won't be the last. Poultry specialist Dr. Ian Duncan, from the University of Guelph in Ontario, flew to Sacramento as the guest of United Poultry Concerns and the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, to testify on behalf of AB 2141. Dr. Duncan called forced molting "completely inhumane."

AB 2141 received tremendous support from individuals and organizations in California and around the country. Thank you!


From left to right, back row: Karen Davis, Ph.D., President, United Poultry Concerns; Paula Kislak, DVM, Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights; Assemblyman Ted Lempert; Ian J.H. Duncan, Ph.D., Professor of Poultry Ethology, University of Guelph; Laurie Siperstein-Cook, DVM, Avian Specialist; Linda Barr, Legislative Assistant. Front: Linda Blair, Golden Globe-winning actress and lifelong human and animal rights activist.

The following organizations sent letters of endorsement (48 in all): Action Volunteers for Animals, Alley Cat Allies, American Humane Association, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Animal Activists of Central Florida, Animal Emancipation, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Animal People, Animal Place, Animal Protection Institute, Animal Rights International, Ark Trust, Asians for Humans, Animals & Nature, Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights (Co-sponsor), CA Citizens for Health Freedom, CA Federation for Animal Legislation, CA Lobby for Animal Welfare, Center for Animal Protection and Education, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Coalition for Healthy and Humane Business Practices, Committee for Children, Consumers Union, Contra Costa Humane Society, Doris Day Animal League, Farm Animal Reform Movement, Farm Sanctuary, Food Animal Concerns Trust, Fund for Animals, Government Accountability Project, Humane Education Network, Illinois PAC, In Defense of Animals, Jews for Animal Rights, Orange County People for Animals, People Against Companion Animal Slaughter, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Public Citizen, San Diego Animal Advocates, Senior Citizens for Humane Legislation, Society for Animal Protective Legislation-Animal Welfare Institute, Students for Animal Protection, The Assisi Animal Foundation, The Cat and Dog Rescue Association, The Humane Farming Association, The Humane Society of the United States, United Animal Nations, United Poultry Concerns (co-sponsor), Voices for Animals.

Washington Post article a first!

AB 2141 launched a front-page article in the Sunday, April 30 edition of The Washington Post. "Cracks in the Egg Industry: Criticism Mounts to End Forced Molting Practice," by Marc Kaufman, stated that "The practice of forced molting has been the subject of a little-known but passionate debate [that] has begun to draw increased attention. . . . [I]ncreasingly, health researchers, animal rights activists and now legislators are challenging the practice."

United Poultry Concerns set the wheels in motion for this landmark article back in November, with a News Release to Mr. Kaufman about forced molting. Thereafter, UPC provided information to him including documents we obtained through Freedom of Information Requests to the US Department of Agriculture.

While Mr. Kaufman could have reported solely on the fact that forced molting increases Salmonella in eggs, he responded to our urgings to stress the inhumaneness of depriving hens of all food for 5 to 14+ days. Mr. Kaufman flew to California and met with Assemblyman Lempert, who called forced molting a "horrible cruelty." He interviewed Teri Barnato, Executive Director of the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights (AVAR), who took him on a tour of several battery-hen complexes, which he had never seen before and where he took the photos that accompany his article in The Washington Post.

"Cracks in the Egg Industry" is the first major coverage ever to appear in the United States, and probably the world, regarding the practice of forced molting, which is banned on welfare grounds in the UK and the European Union.

AB 2141 produced a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times on Friday, April 28, "How to Defuse a Time Bomb: If you see an egg, move away from it immediately!" The ad, paid for by Animal Legislative Action Network and PETA, introduced thousands of readers to the cruel practice of starving hens for profit.

United Egg Producers Recognizes Growing
Resistance to Cruel Egg Industry Practices

United Egg Producers (UEP is the US egg industry trade group) has formed an animal welfare advisory committee to deal with the "new activism" that is threatening standard industry practices. Committee Chair Dr. Jeffrey Armstrong told the committee that "three priorities"--battery cages, forced molting, and debeaking--must be reconsidered in the light of growing public resistance to these practices.

Armstrong, head of the animal sciences department at Purdue University, said "disadvantages" of cages include "crowding and suppressed social behavior" of the caged hens.

Armstrong told the committee that the industry needs to focus on providing enough room for all hens to get easily to food and water, to preen themselves, and to sit at the same time.

Although Dr. Armstrong sent a letter on behalf of the UEP committee to CA Assemblyman Lempert opposing the bill to ban forced molting, the letter also states: "WE DO NOT BELIEVE THAT FEED RESTRICTION OR WITHDRAWAL TO INDUCE A MOLT SHOULD BE CONTINUED. . . . BEHAVIORAL AND IMMUNE SYSTEM MEASURES INDICATE THAT THE WELFARE OF THE HEN IS COMPROMISED WHEN FEED WITHDRAWAL OR RESTRICTION IS USED TO INDUCE A MOLT."

The UEP Animal Welfare Advisory Committee sounded warnings to the US egg industry:

  • Campaigns have been mounted by United Poultry Concerns and the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights to ban forced molting, including our petition to the FDA and thousands of letters being received by United Egg Producers.

  • A ban on battery cages in the European Union (by the year 2012) has encouraged US animal rights activists to target the US government and marketplace more aggressively.

  • Animal rights activists "are doing a better job" at getting their message before the general public and into schools.

  • A bill (AB 2141) to ban forced molting was introduced in the California legislature this year.

  • McDonald's Corp. is writing animal welfare guidelines for suppliers of animal-derived products including poultry and eggs.

  • For the past 2 years, the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights has introduced resolutions to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) urging the AVMA to oppose forced molting.
What Can I Do?

  • United Poultry Concerns urges all activist to keep up the pressure. Al Pope, president of United Egg Producers, told The Washington Post that even if the egg industry does not want to give up forced molting, "WE MAY NOT HAVE MUCH CHOICE." Urge United Egg Producers to eliminate forced molting, debeaking, and battery cages. Tell UEP that you are responding to the accumulating bad publicity about the cruelty and inhumaneness of the US egg industry.

  • Contact the corporate offices of your local supermarkets and grocery stores (store managers can provide you with the store's corporate office address) and ask whether their eggs come from hens who have been (a) force molted, (b) caged, or (c) debeaked. Make copies of the Questionnaire on p. 5 of this newsletter and mail it to them. Please send replies to United Poultry Concerns.

    Two major food chains to start out with:
    Safeway Inc.
    PO Box 99
    Pleasanton, CA 94566
    Jack Greenberg, CEO
    McDonald's Corporation
    1 Kroc Drive
    Oak Park, IL 60523

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