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June 1, 2009 -- Vegparadise News Bureau


Eggs 101 Is Positively Eggsasperating


American Egg Board members ended up with egg on their faces after the November 2008 election. Over 63% of the voters in California voted "yes" on Proposition 2 labeled Standards for Confining Farm Animals. When signatures were gathered for this initiative, it was titled Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, but evidently "cruelty" was too strong a term to be placed on the initiative, so it was changed to Standards for Confining Farm Animals. The law as passed carries the title, Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, and goes into effect in 2015.

Eggs 101: a Video Project The proposition and resulting act prohibited the confinement of certain animals (calves, pigs, and chickens) in a cage that prevents them from turning around, lying down, standing up, and fully extending their limbs. The measure dealt with three kinds of housing: veal crates, sow gestation crates, and battery cages. Since California veal and pork production are insignificant or nonexistent in California, battery cages for egg production became the big issue on this contentious ballot measure.

Millions of dollars poured into California from the animal agriculture industry to defeat the proposition. Most of the more than $8 million dollars raised came from outside California. The American Egg Board wanted to contribute $3 million to the NO on 2 campaign but was stymied by a lawsuit initiated by Californians for Humane Farms against Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer who did not see a problem for the board to make this sizable contribution.

Judge Marilyn Hall Patel of the United States District Court, Northern District of California ruled that the United Egg Producers had violated the Egg Research and Consumer Education Act and the Commodity Promotion, Research, and Information Act by funneling contributions to the NO on 2 campaign.

Typically, huge amounts of money raised to defeat a proposition will succeed in its purpose. The egg producers raised twice the money collected by the Humane Society of the United States, but in this case, California voters ignored the barrage of No on 2 ads and sided in favor of the chickens against cruel and inhuman practices. Eggs 101: a Video Project

What Eggsageration!
During the election campaign the poultryites launched a fear campaign by predicting that passage would kill off egg production in the state. The California Poultry Federation claimed, "Moreover, if Proposition 2 wins and these methods are banned, it won't improve animal welfare standards, but it would put California consumers at risk by replacing their safest, healthiest, most affordable sources of eggs - ones from local farms - with eggs from other states and countries. In a market-driven global economy, Proposition 2 will only serve to move egg production out of state, and out of country, where animal welfare standards are lower than in California." The group also stated the campaign is being promoted by a "vegan-led national organization--a group that has no personal stake in the availability, safety, or quality of eggs."

The egg industry may have lost the skirmish over Proposition 2, but the war to keep a substantial number of eggs in the American diet is not over. The industry's next step was to win the minds of young people with a media blitz directed at that impressionable group. What better way than to flood the country with Eggs 101: A Video Project, a film designed to show how important eggs are to nutrition and health and how humane the industry is in raising egg-laying hens.

The Documentary Eggstravanza
In the film two high school students have as their project the task of researching an industry that has undergone changes over recent years and explaining the reasons for those changes. Students Kenlyn Peters and Josh Pan are the lead characters in this 28-minute documentary that explores the changes in the egg industry. Eggs 101: a Video Project

This slick, professionally created documentary produced, written, and edited by Todd Grimes cleverly masquerades as a student video project but is light-years above the quality of any amateur production.

An Eggsercise in Enlightenment
To create the aura of an educational film as opposed to a propaganda piece, the filmmakers provide much information that may not be common knowledge. As an example, how many people are aware that chickens with white feathers lay white eggs, and those with brown feathers lay brown eggs or that the eggshell is principally calcium carbonate?

In among this factual information are biased statements like: "Eggs contain the highest quality protein of any food." In an effort to distance themselves from beef producers, the egg people claim, "The egg is a nutrient-dense food with no hormones."

At no time in the film is there mention of cholesterol (212 mg in one large egg) or salmonella, if an egg is not thoroughly cooked.

Eggspect a Neat and Clean Henhouse
The film traces the change from raising chickens outside to the present indoor cage system. Birds are healthier inside because they are not exposed to changing temperatures and predators. Spread of disease from outside carriers like rodents and even humans is reduced. The hens' diet is controlled and they are not exposed to contaminants they faced outdoors. As a result of the changes to a battery cage system the mortality rate of hens has dropped to 5%. Instead of each hen laying 180 eggs a year when they were outside, in cages the number jumped to 250, or close to one egg each day. Eggs 101: a Video Project

The rosy scenario depicted is far from the reality that occurs in so many egg farms. According to the film, neither hens nor eggs came in contact with waste. In her book Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs, Karen Davis tells a different story with cages that are often stacked in layers up to the ceiling with excrement from the chickens falling on the birds below. The "controlled diet" often includes chicken manure, road kill, factory wastes, and euthanized pets. Chickens are given antibiotics to stimulate growth and reduce disease among the birds, but the drugs put humans at risk for antibiotic resistance. Pathogens like Salmonella and E. coli flourish in this battery-cage environment.

Kenlyn and Josh had the opportunity to visit Creighton Brothers in Warsaw, Indiana to view one of the rooms of the four-building complex. Before entering the cage room, they had to don coverall jumpsuits to prevent human contamination of the room that contains a computer to control temperature, ventilation, and lighting. Cages were stacked four deep in long rows in a facility that appeared neat and well maintained.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, information in this video is a finely tuned myth. On most poultry farms hens are packed into cages where they can hardly move. The tips of their beaks are burned off so they will not peck at each other. Male baby chicks are smothered in plastic bags or thrown live into a grinder.

One investigator for Mercy for Animals reported odor of feces and ammonia so strong it was difficult to breathe in barns that were infested with mice and maggots in 100-degree heat during summer months in California. The policy at a facility in Norco, California was to kill the hens when they were one year and nine-months old. They were placed in a barn and exposed to pungent carbon dioxide to terminate them. Eggs 101: a Video Project

Eggsterminate the Vegan Agenda
The American Egg Board has launched a program that "will serve as a counterpoint to the extensive material issued by opponents of intensive animal agriculture. These organizations have targeted future consumers at the school level to adopt a vegan agenda," says Joanne Ivy, president of the organization.

The AEB has distributed 40,000 copies of Eggs 101 DVD to middle schools, high schools, public libraries, retailers, and university food science departments nationwide. Ivy boasts that the DVD has received a Bronze Award in the education program section of the 2008 Telly Awards.

Telly Awards are presented by a New York organization to honor outstanding local and regional television commercials and productions, and non-broadcast video productions. Evidently, each of the silver and bronze categories has multiple winners and finalists. The Telly Awards web page lists thousands of winners each year. Between 7% and 10% of over 13,000 entries from around the world achieve the silver while between 18% and 25% receive the bronze. The website does not list bronze winners for any year. Up to 1/4 of the entries can win a bronze award by just signing up. Eggs 101: a Video Project

Persons wanting to view the DVD may find it at a local library, and if they can't find it at the library, they can purchase a copy at Amazon for under a dollar.

Eggscitement on the Horizon
The American Egg Board has created a glossy piece of propaganda in its efforts to convince the American public of the value of eggs and the industry that produces them. At the same time, the egg people are waging war on vegans who are threatening their survival. The film is artfully done and, no doubt, will be shown in a number of classrooms around the country by teachers who are oblivious to the propaganda message. Even PBS station WFWA-DT or PBS 39 in Fort Wayne, Indiana participated in the project.

Fortunately, Proposition 2 is a harbinger of what will occur in other states as the public becomes more aware of the inhumane practices followed in the egg industry and in other factory farm animal agriculture. Vegetarians in Paradise feels that Eggs 101 does not even deserve a phony bronze Telly Award. Instead, we dishonor Eggs 101 with a special Sleaze Omelette Trophy for being a low-standing pseudo documentary.


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