By Lisa Yount
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Additional resources for Animal Rights
Public concern about the conditions under which animals are kept in laboratories and about the nature of the experiments carried out on them skyrocketed in the early 1980s because of two widely publicized scandals, both centering on videotapes made clandestinely inside laboratories by members of animal rights groups. The first of these horror stories began in May 1981, when Alex Pacheco, who had recently joined Ingrid Newkirk in founding PETA, obtained a volunteer position in the Edward Taub laboratory’s, part of the Institute for Behavioral Research in Silver Spring, Maryland.
One study estimated that 79 percent of the poultry, 68 percent of the eggs, and 39 percent of the pork produced worldwide during 1996 came from intensive farms. These large farms permit economies of scale and efficiency that make their survival possible on the low profit margin that exists in agriculture. Although interpretations of the conditions’ effects differ, the nature of the conditions under which animals are raised on intensive farms usually is not disputed. For instance, egg-laying hens are housed in wire cages with three to six birds to a cage, allowing each hen about 55 square inches of space.
In its August 2000 settlement, McDonald’s agreed to buy eggs only from producers who do not use starvation to force molting and who provide 72 square inches of space for each hen in a battery cage. Wendy’s also agreed to these conditions, as well as requiring that chickens be stunned with electricity before they are slaughtered. Meanwhile, in October 2000, United Egg Producers (UEP), a trade organization that represents 85 percent of egg producers in the United States, issued new guidelines that promised to gradually increase the size of battery cages by up to 40 percent, make debeaking less painful, and develop ways to force molting without starvation.
Animal Rights by Lisa Yount