Archive for the ‘veterinary medicine and animal welfare’ Category

CRS — Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) and Related Non-Tariff Barriers to Agricultural Trade

April 17, 2014 Comments off

Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) and Related Non-Tariff Barriers to Agricultural Trade (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

Sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures are the laws, rules, standards, and procedures that governments employ to protect humans, animals, and plants from diseases, pests, toxins, and other contaminants. Examples include meat and poultry processing standards to reduce pathogens, residue limits for pesticides in foods, and regulation of agricultural biotechnology. Technical barriers to trade (TBT) cover technical regulations, product standards, environmental regulations, and voluntary procedures relating to human health and animal welfare. Examples include trademarks and patents, labeling and packaging requirements, certification and inspection procedures, product specifications, and marketing of biotechnology. SPS and TBT measures both comprise a group of widely divergent standards and standards-based measures that countries use to regulate markets, protect their consumers, and preserve natural resources.

According to the World Trade Organization (WTO), SPS and TBT measures have become more prominent concerns for agricultural exporters and policy makers, as tariff-related barriers to trade have been reduced by various multilateral, regional, and bilateral negotiations and trade agreements. The concerns include whether SPS and TBT measures might be used to unfairly discriminate against imported products or create unnecessary obstacles to trade in agricultural, food, and other traded goods. Notable U.S. trade disputes involving SPS and TBT measures have included a European Union (EU) ban on U.S. meats treated with growth-promoting hormones and also certain pathogen reduction treatments, and an EU moratorium on approvals of biotechnology products, among other types of trade concerns with other countries. Foreign countries have also objected to various U.S. trade measures.

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CRS — Air Quality Issues and Animal Agriculture: A Primer

April 17, 2014 Comments off

Air Quality Issues and Animal Agriculture: A Primer (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

From an environmental quality standpoint, much of the public and policy interest in animal agriculture has focused on impacts on water resources, because animal waste, if not properly managed, can harm water quality through surface runoff, direct discharges, spills, and leaching into soil and groundwater. A more recent issue is the contribution of air emissions from animal feeding operations (AFOs), enterprises where animals are raised in confinement. This report provides background on the latter issue.

CRS — Table Egg Production and Hen Welfare: Agreement and Legislative Proposals

April 17, 2014 Comments off

Table Egg Production and Hen Welfare: Agreement and Legislative Proposals/strong> (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

The United Egg Producers (UEP), the largest group representing egg producers, and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the largest animal protection group, have been adversaries for many years over the use of conventional cages in table egg production. In July 2011, the animal agriculture community was stunned when the UEP and HSUS announced that they had agreed to work together to push for federal legislation to regulate how U.S. table eggs are produced. The agreement between UEP and HSUS called for federal legislation that would set cage sizes, establish labeling requirements, and regulate other production practices. As part of the agreement, HSUS agreed to immediately suspend state-level ballot initiative efforts in Oregon and Washington.

The Voice of Emotion across Species: How Do Human Listeners Recognize Animals’ Affective States?

April 14, 2014 Comments off

The Voice of Emotion across Species: How Do Human Listeners Recognize Animals’ Affective States?
Source: PLoS ONE

Voice-induced cross-taxa emotional recognition is the ability to understand the emotional state of another species based on its voice. In the past, induced affective states, experience-dependent higher cognitive processes or cross-taxa universal acoustic coding and processing mechanisms have been discussed to underlie this ability in humans. The present study sets out to distinguish the influence of familiarity and phylogeny on voice-induced cross-taxa emotional perception in humans. For the first time, two perspectives are taken into account: the self- (i.e. emotional valence induced in the listener) versus the others-perspective (i.e. correct recognition of the emotional valence of the recording context). Twenty-eight male participants listened to 192 vocalizations of four different species (human infant, dog, chimpanzee and tree shrew). Stimuli were recorded either in an agonistic (negative emotional valence) or affiliative (positive emotional valence) context. Participants rated the emotional valence of the stimuli adopting self- and others-perspective by using a 5-point version of the Self-Assessment Manikin (SAM). Familiarity was assessed based on subjective rating, objective labelling of the respective stimuli and interaction time with the respective species. Participants reliably recognized the emotional valence of human voices, whereas the results for animal voices were mixed. The correct classification of animal voices depended on the listener’s familiarity with the species and the call type/recording context, whereas there was less influence of induced emotional states and phylogeny. Our results provide first evidence that explicit voice-induced cross-taxa emotional recognition in humans is shaped more by experience-dependent cognitive mechanisms than by induced affective states or cross-taxa universal acoustic coding and processing mechanisms.

Investigating the Role of State Permitting and Agriculture Agencies in Addressing Public Health Concerns Related to Industrial Food Animal Production

February 27, 2014 Comments off

Investigating the Role of State Permitting and Agriculture Agencies in Addressing Public Health Concerns Related to Industrial Food Animal Production
Source: PLoS ONE

Industrial food animal production (IFAP) operations adversely impact environmental public health through air, water, and soil contamination. We sought to determine how state permitting and agriculture agencies respond to these public health concerns.

We conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews with staff at 12 state agencies in seven states, which were chosen based on high numbers or rapid increase of IFAP operations. The interviews served to gather information regarding agency involvement in regulating IFAP operations, the frequency and type of contacts received about public health concerns, how the agency responds to such contacts, and barriers to additional involvement.

Permitting and agriculture agencies’ responses to health-based IFAP concerns are constrained by significant barriers including narrow regulations, a lack of public health expertise within the agencies, and limited resources.

State agencies with jurisdiction over IFAP operations are unable to adequately address relevant public health concerns due to multiple factors. Combining these results with previously published findings on barriers facing local and state health departments in the same states reveals significant gaps between these agencies regarding public health and IFAP. There is a clear need for regulations to protect public health and for public health professionals to provide complementary expertise to agencies responsible for regulating IFAP operations.

Protecting Iconic Species for Future Generations: A New National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking

February 14, 2014 Comments off

Protecting Iconic Species for Future Generations: A New National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking
Source: U.S. Department of State

To protect threatened species like elephants and rhinoceroses for future generations, today the President approved a new National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking. The Strategy strengthens U.S. leadership on countering the global security threat posed by poaching and illegal trade in wildlife, which is decimating iconic animal populations. Because of the actions of poachers, today species like elephants and rhinoceroses face the risk of significant decline or even extinction. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Today, we are taking action to stop these illicit networks and ensure that our children have the chance to grow up in a world with and experience for themselves the wildlife we know and love.

The new Strategy establishes three strategic priorities: strengthening domestic and global enforcement; reducing demand for illegally traded wildlife at home and abroad; and strengthening partnerships with international partners, local communities, NGOs, private industry, and others to combat illegal wildlife poaching and trade.

Climate Change Increases Reproductive Failure in Magellanic Penguins

February 5, 2014 Comments off

Climate Change Increases Reproductive Failure in Magellanic Penguins
Source: PLoS ONE

Climate change is causing more frequent and intense storms, and climate models predict this trend will continue, potentially affecting wildlife populations. Since 1960 the number of days with >20 mm of rain increased near Punta Tombo, Argentina. Between 1983 and 2010 we followed 3496 known-age Magellanic penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) chicks at Punta Tombo to determine how weather impacted their survival. In two years, rain was the most common cause of death killing 50% and 43% of chicks. In 26 years starvation killed the most chicks. Starvation and predation were present in all years. Chicks died in storms in 13 of 28 years and in 16 of 233 storms. Storm mortality was additive; there was no relationship between the number of chicks killed in storms and the numbers that starved (P = 0.75) or that were eaten (P = 0.39). However, when more chicks died in storms, fewer chicks fledged (P = 0.05, R2 = 0.14). More chicks died when rainfall was higher and air temperature lower. Most chicks died from storms when they were 9–23 days old; the oldest chick killed in a storm was 41 days old. Storms with heavier rainfall killed older chicks as well as more chicks. Chicks up to 70 days old were killed by heat. Burrow nests mitigated storm mortality (N = 1063). The age span of chicks in the colony at any given time increased because the synchrony of egg laying decreased since 1983, lengthening the time when chicks are vulnerable to storms. Climate change that increases the frequency and intensity of storms results in more reproductive failure of Magellanic penguins, a pattern likely to apply to many species breeding in the region. Climate variability has already lowered reproductive success of Magellanic penguins and is likely undermining the resilience of many other species.

See also: Antarctic Climate Change: Extreme Events Disrupt Plastic Phenotypic Response in Adélie Penguins

Phasing Out Certain Antibiotic Use in Farm Animals

December 18, 2013 Comments off

Phasing Out Certain Antibiotic Use in Farm Animals
Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is implementing a voluntary plan with industry to phase out the use of certain antibiotics for enhanced food production.
Antibiotics are added to the animal feed or drinking water of cattle, hogs, poultry and other food-producing animals to help them gain weight faster or use less food to gain weight.

Because all uses of antimicrobial drugs, in both humans and animals, contribute to the development of antimicrobial resistance, it is important to use these drugs only when medically necessary. Governments around the world consider antimicrobial-resistant bacteria a major threat to public health. Illnesses caused by drug-resistant strains of bacteria are more likely to be potentially fatal when the medicines used to treat them are rendered less effective.

Acculturation – Perceptions of breed differences in behavior of the dog (Canis familiaris)

December 11, 2013 Comments off

Acculturation – Perceptions of breed differences in behavior of the dog (Canis familiaris)
Source: Human-Animal Interaction Bulletin

This study borrows the concept of acculturation from Social Anthropology to explore human perception of breed behavior in domestic dogs. A core component of acculturation studies is the contact hypothesis. This concept proposes that once culturally diverse individuals come into contact with each other and are able to develop an understanding of their differing cultures, prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination should be reduced resulting in more positive interactions in the future. Accordingly it is hypothesized that people with more limited contact with dogs will be more likely to accept breed stereotypes and less likely to recognize the significance of individual variation within breeds. Items within a survey were developed to investigate if personal perception of breed-typical behavior is associated with the informant’s experience with dogs. This was tested with reference to response to three statements premised on somatotyping assumptions (the tendency to link behavior with certain types of physical characteristic). The results were consistent with the prediction that level and quality of contact are major influences on the tendency to believe popular breed stereotypes, despite scientific evidence which challenges the justification for such generalizations. These results are of scientific, ethical, and practical significance since they suggest breed stereotyping in dogs is a similar phenomenon to the racial stereotyping of people.

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The Urbanization of the Eastern Gray Squirrel in the United States

December 9, 2013 Comments off

The Urbanization of the Eastern Gray Squirrel in the United States
Source: Journal of American History

The urbanization of the gray squirrel in the United States between the mid-nineteenth century and the early twentieth century was an ecological and cultural process that changed the squirrels’ ways of life, altered the urban landscape, and adjusted human understandings of nature, the city, and the boundaries of community. Squirrels were part of the new complex of human-animal relationships that emerged in the American city at the turn of the twentieth century as laboring animals were replaced by machines, and as dairy, meat, and egg production and processing were shifted to the urban margins. Accounts of urban squirrels in newspapers, magazines, scientific journals, diaries, and other sources provide evidence of these changes and of the development of a new understanding of community that crossed species borders to include some types of animals and exclude some types of humans. These sources help explain why Bailey and many others saw the eastern gray squirrel not merely as an interesting object of nature study but also as a morally significant member of the urban community

Replicability and Heterogeneity of Awake Unrestrained Canine fMRI Responses

December 5, 2013 Comments off

Replicability and Heterogeneity of Awake Unrestrained Canine fMRI Responses
Source: PLoS ONE

Previously, we demonstrated the possibility of fMRI in two awake and unrestrained dogs. Here, we determined the replicability and heterogeneity of these results in an additional 11 dogs for a total of 13 subjects. Based on an anatomically placed region-of-interest, we compared the caudate response to a hand signal indicating the imminent availability of a food reward to a hand signal indicating no reward. 8 of 13 dogs had a positive differential caudate response to the signal indicating reward. The mean differential caudate response was 0.09%, which was similar to a comparable human study. These results show that canine fMRI is reliable and can be done with minimal stress to the dogs.

See: Multi-Dog Study Points to Canine Brain’s Reward Center

Canaries in the coal mine: a cross-species analysis of the plurality of obesity epidemics

December 3, 2013 Comments off

Canaries in the coal mine: a cross-species analysis of the plurality of obesity epidemics
Source: Proceedings of the Royal Society

A dramatic rise in obesity has occurred among humans within the last several decades. Little is known about whether similar increases in obesity have occurred in animals inhabiting human-influenced environments. We examined samples collectively consisting of over 20 000 animals from 24 populations (12 divided separately into males and females) of animals representing eight species living with or around humans in industrialized societies. In all populations, the estimated coefficient for the trend of body weight over time was positive (i.e. increasing). The probability of all trends being in the same direction by chance is 1.2 × 10−7. Surprisingly, we find that over the past several decades, average mid-life body weights have risen among primates and rodents living in research colonies, as well as among feral rodents and domestic dogs and cats. The consistency of these findings among animals living in varying environments, suggests the intriguing possibility that the aetiology of increasing body weight may involve several as-of-yet unidentified and/or poorly understood factors (e.g. viral pathogens, epigenetic factors). This finding may eventually enhance the discovery and fuller elucidation of other factors that have contributed to the recent rise in obesity rates.

Early Stage Animal Hoarders: Are These Owners of Large Numbers of Adequately Cared for Cats?

December 3, 2013 Comments off

Early Stage Animal Hoarders: Are These Owners of Large Numbers of Adequately Cared for Cats?
Source: Human-Animal Interaction Bulletin

Animal hoarding is a spectrum-based condition in which hoarders are often reported to have had normal and appropriate pet-keeping habits in childhood and early adulthood. Historically, research has focused largely on well-established clinical animal hoarders with little work targeted towards the onset and development of animal hoarding. This study investigated whether a Brazilian population of owners of what might typically be considered an excessive number (20 or more) of cats were more likely to share the commonly reported psychological and demographic profile of animal hoarders than owners of 1-2 cats drawn from the same population. Psychological traits measured were attachment to pets (Lexington Pet Attachment Scale, LAPS), anxiety and depression (Hospitalized Anxiety and Depression Scale, HADS), and hoarding behavior (Saving Inventory-Revised, SI-R). Owners of 20 or more cats were significantly older, scored significantly higher pet attachment scores, and displayed significant positive relationships between hoarding behavior and anxiety. Such a profile demonstrates greater similarities to clinical animal hoarders than to typical cat owners on these particular measures, although additional disparities with clinical animal hoarders exist in the areas of functioning, veterinary care and home organization. Taking this information together, the studied population may represent the understudied group of early stage animal hoarders. However, external factors such as culture and societal animal control policies should not be overlooked as alternative explanations for pet keeping at levels that might be considered excessive.

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Localized Hotspots Drive Continental Geography of Abnormal Amphibians on U.S. Wildlife Refuges

November 21, 2013 Comments off

Localized Hotspots Drive Continental Geography of Abnormal Amphibians on U.S. Wildlife Refuges
Source: PLoS ONE

Amphibians with missing, misshapen, and extra limbs have garnered public and scientific attention for two decades, yet the extent of the phenomenon remains poorly understood. Despite progress in identifying the causes of abnormalities in some regions, a lack of knowledge about their broader spatial distribution and temporal dynamics has hindered efforts to understand their implications for amphibian population declines and environmental quality. To address this data gap, we conducted a nationwide, 10-year assessment of 62,947 amphibians on U.S. National Wildlife Refuges. Analysis of a core dataset of 48,081 individuals revealed that consistent with expected background frequencies, an average of 2% were abnormal, but abnormalities exhibited marked spatial variation with a maximum prevalence of 40%. Variance partitioning analysis demonstrated that factors associated with space (rather than species or year sampled) captured 97% of the variation in abnormalities, and the amount of partitioned variance decreased with increasing spatial scale (from site to refuge to region). Consistent with this, abnormalities occurred in local to regional hotspots, clustering at scales of tens to hundreds of kilometers. We detected such hotspot clusters of high-abnormality sites in the Mississippi River Valley, California, and Alaska. Abnormality frequency was more variable within than outside of hotspot clusters. This is consistent with dynamic phenomena such as disturbance or natural enemies (pathogens or predators), whereas similarity of abnormality frequencies at scales of tens to hundreds of kilometers suggests involvement of factors that are spatially consistent at a regional scale. Our characterization of the spatial and temporal variation inherent in continent-wide amphibian abnormalities demonstrates the disproportionate contribution of local factors in predicting hotspots, and the episodic nature of their occurrence.

Regulations Concerning the Private Possession of Big Cats

November 12, 2013 Comments off

Regulations Concerning the Private Possession of Big Cats
Source: Law Library of Congress

This report surveys the different legal approaches taken by twenty-one countries and the European Union in regulating the private possession of big cats. All the countries surveyed are members of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Among them, China, India, Malaysia, Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam are tiger range countries where tigers still exist in the wild. China, India, and Russia were found to designate wild tigers as state property

Why Are Jerky Treats Making Pets Sick?

November 7, 2013 Comments off

Why Are Jerky Treats Making Pets Sick?</strong>
Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration

If you have a dog or cat that became ill after eating jerky pet treats, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would like to hear from you or your veterinarian.

The agency has repeatedly issued alerts to consumers about reports it has received concerning jerky pet treat-related illnesses involving 3,600 dogs and 10 cats in the U.S. since 2007. Approximately 580 of those pets have died.

To date, FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) has conducted more than 1,200 tests, visited jerky pet treat manufacturers in China and collaborated with colleagues in academia, industry, state labs and foreign governments. Yet the exact cause of the illnesses remains elusive.

An experimental investigation into the effects of traffic noise on distributions of birds: avoiding the phantom road

November 7, 2013 Comments off

An experimental investigation into the effects of traffic noise on distributions of birds: avoiding the phantom road
Source: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

Many authors have suggested that the negative effects of roads on animals are largely owing to traffic noise. Although suggestive, most past studies of the effects of road noise on wildlife were conducted in the presence of the other confounding effects of roads, such as visual disturbance, collisions and chemical pollution among others. We present, to our knowledge, the first study to experimentally apply traffic noise to a roadless area at a landscape scale—thus avoiding the other confounding aspects of roads present in past studies. We replicated the sound of a roadway at intervals—alternating 4 days of noise on with 4 days off—during the autumn migratory period using a 0.5 km array of speakers within an established stopover site in southern Idaho. We conducted daily bird surveys along our ‘Phantom Road’ and in a nearby control site. We document over a one-quarter decline in bird abundance and almost complete avoidance by some species between noise-on and noise-off periods along the phantom road and no such effects at control sites—suggesting that traffic noise is a major driver of effects of roads on populations of animals.

See: Negative Effects of Road Noises On Migratory Birds (Science Daily)

FDA issues proposed rule to help ensure the safety of food for animals

October 28, 2013 Comments off

FDA issues proposed rule to help ensure the safety of food for animals
Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today issued a proposed rule under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) aimed at improving the safety of food for animals. This proposed regulation would help prevent foodborne illness in both animals and people and is open for public comments for 120 days. The proposal is part of the Food Safety Modernization Act’s larger effort to modernize the food safety system for the 21st century and focus public and private efforts on preventing food safety problems, rather than relying primarily on responding to problems after the fact.

The proposed rule would require makers of animal feed and pet food to be sold in the develop a formal plan and put into place procedures to prevent foodborne illness. The rule would also require them to have plans for correcting any problems that arise. The proposed rule would also require animal food facilities to, for the first time, follow proposed current good manufacturing practices that address areas such as sanitation.

Workforce Needs in Veterinary Medicine

October 23, 2013 Comments off

Workforce Needs in Veterinary Medicine
Source: National Research Council

The U.S. veterinary medical profession contributes to society in diverse ways, from developing drugs and protecting the food supply to treating companion animals and investigating animal diseases in the wild. In a study of the issues related to the veterinary medical workforce, including demographics, workforce supply, trends affecting job availability, and capacity of the educational system to fill future demands, a National Research Council committee found that the profession faces important challenges in maintaining the economic sustainability of veterinary practice and education, building its scholarly foundations, and evolving veterinary service to meet changing societal needs.

Many concerns about the profession came into focus following the outbreak of West Nile fever in 1999, and the subsequent outbreaks of SARS, monkeypox, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, highly pathogenic avian influenza, H1N1 influenza, and a variety of food safety and environmental issues heightened public concerns. They also raised further questions about the directions of veterinary medicine and the capacity of public health service the profession provides both in the United States and abroad.

To address some of the problems facing the veterinary profession, greater public and private support for education and research in veterinary medicine is needed. The public, policymakers, and even medical professionals are frequently unaware of how veterinary medicine fundamentally supports both animal and human health and well-being. This report seeks to broaden the public’s understanding and attempts to anticipate some of the needs and measures that are essential for the profession to fulfill given its changing roles in the 21st century.

“They Have Made the Problems Worse” — Analysis of impact of Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production finds Administration and Congress have exacerbated problems in the food system

October 22, 2013 Comments off

“They Have Made the Problems Worse” — Analysis of impact of Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production finds Administration and Congress have exacerbated problems in the food system
Source: Johns Hopkins University

Five years after the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production (PCIFAP) released its landmark recommendations to remedy the public health, environment, animal welfare and rural community problems caused by industrial food animal production, a new analysis by Johns Hopkins University Center for a Livable Future (CLF) finds that the Administration and Congress have acted “regressively” in policymaking on industrial food animal system issues. The original report, Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America, was released in April 2008 and detailed myriad problems caused by the present industrial food animal production model. CLF began its analysis, Industrial Food Animal Production in America: Examining the Impact of the Pew Commission’s Priority Recommendations, late last year.

Robert S. Lawrence, MD, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, which produced the report, said, “There has been an appalling lack of progress. The failure to act by the USDA and FDA, the lack of action or concern by the Congress, and continued intransigence of the animal agriculture industry have made all of our problems worse.”


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