July 5, 2006

Doubts about USDA's animal ID program raised by opponents

Doubts about USDA's animal ID program raised by opponents
Date: Tuesday, July 04 2006

From Free Internet Press

In an effort to increase sales of meat products to foreign countries, and to supposedly pinpoint sources of contagious and infectious animal diseases, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is attempting to implement a program, found questionable by many, named the National Animal Identification System (NAIS).

The USDA claims that the NAIS will protect livestock from diseases and increase food safety by allowing the sources of diseases in livestock to be traced to the source of origin within 48-hours. That claim has been disputed by many people, including attorney Mary-Louise Zanoni, JD, PhD, who writes in her article "The National Animal Identification System: A New Threat to Rural Freedom," that the the NAIS will be far more expensive and less effective for protecting the food supply than testing every cow slaughtered for diseases such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

While the USDA's claims a desire to prevent diseases such as BSE from ending up in food, it's banned meat producers from voluntarily testing cattle for BSE. In March, Creekstone Farms Premium Beef, LLC, filed a lawsuit against the USDA in an attempt to challenge the USDA's ban on the voluntary testing.

Dr. Zanoni also writes that "Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the NAIS is its proponents' lack of concern for individual privacy and religious freedom. Consider that the NAIS plan is a compulsory registration with the government of all people who want to raise their own animal foods" and has warned mentions that the NAIS appears to violate several constitutional amendments, and has also written, with detailed explanations in a letter to the USDA, that the NAIS violates the first, fourth, fifth and fourteenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

The NAIS, if implemented, will violate privacy and the U.S. Constitution for such purposes as increasing international trade and complying with international treaties, despite a 1956 Supreme Court decision ruling that treaties can't supersede the U.S. Constitution.

The forces behind the implementation of the USDA's National Animal Identification System (NAIS) have been discovered to include not only corporate interests ranging from Monsanto, Cargill and the horse-slaughter industry, to Digital Angel and segments of the horse racing industry, but various U.S. government and international agencies ranging from the Department of Homeland Security to the United Nations' FAO. Critics of the NAIS have voiced concerns about political corruption being behind the implementation of the NAIS.

It's been learned that the USDA and other government agencies are proceeding with the NAIS as a result of orders from President G.W. Bush, as outlined in Homeland Security Presidential Directive 9 (HSPD-9), entitled "Defense of United States Agriculture and Food." That directive brings together the work of various government agencies including the EPA, USDA, HHS, DHS and FBI, which are all now responsible in one way or another for expanding their surveillance of farms. The NAIS has also been quietly implemented through state laws and state departments of agriculture, in cooperation with the USDA.

What some find to be the most discomforting aspect of the NAIS is its apparent purpose: to let the government know where all animals considered livestock are located so that it could carry out "depopulation" or "stamping out" procedures, which would begin with the quarantining of animals followed by the wide-scale killing of all livestock and other animals---possibly including wildlife, dogs and cats, according to the United Nations' FAO document entitled "Manual on Procedures for Disease Eradication by Stamping Out."

The USDA and state departments of agriculture have been found to be cooperating with international organizations such as the UN's FAO in connection with the NAIS. Such wide-scale killing would take place within a ten kilometer "zone" around the animal found to be afflicted with a contagious or infectious disease. During "depopulation," healthy animals would also be destroyed; owners of animals with certain diseases, who could be treated and returned to good health, would be given no treatment choices other than having their animals killed.

If the NAIS goes into effect as planned, the government will force livestock owners to have their animals identified in some way with RFID chips, such as ear tags or injectible chips. Horse owners, for example, would be required to have their horses injected with RFID chips, which would put some horses at an increased risk for developing cancerous skin growths called sarcoids. In addition, such injections could possibly result in skin infections, hematomas and abscesses. Other possible health-risks could result from chip migration within the horse's body.

Furthermore, due to the Animal Health Protection Act, Title 7, Chapter 109, of the U.S. code, which took over twenty years to be passed into law, the U.S. government will be able to seize, occupy and destroy private property and buildings in connection with the "depopulation" efforts.

Related state laws exist in state governments as well, such as Title 3, Section 105, of the Annotated Code of Maryland. Title 3, Section 105, of the Annotated Code of MD, even without the NAIS being in effect, allows Maryland officials to violate the U.S. Constitution and conduct possibly unnecessary searches and seizures. That law allows government officials to enter anyone's property at any time, carry out any kind of testing on any livestock---whether necessary or not, or whether or not it will harm or kill the animals. The law's vagueness also allows government officials to kill, or in its words, "destroy," any animal with any contagious or infectious disease---that could include illnesses which are fairly minor and treatable.

Many owners of horses and small farms have been perplexed and angered by the government's attempts to foist the NAIS upon them. Questions sent in letters to politicians have resulted in vague answers and misleading information supplied to politicians by the FDA and state departments of agriculture.

Due to people having become aware of the NAIS, and not wanting that harmful burden placed upon them, a grassroots movement has sprung up across the nation to oppose the NAIS and related government policies.

The USDA, apparently displeased that a grassroots movement to oppose the NAIS has surfaced---and has been alerting people [to the] dangers and information pertaining to the NAIS which have been kept quiet, plans to spend $10 million dollars on pro-NAIS publicity to counter objections to the NAIS.

Some of the misleading information that's already been spread by the USDA, with the help of pro-NAIS interests, has included convincing many people that the NAIS is voluntary---that's a half truth; the NAIS is only voluntary until it goes into full effect, which is planned to happen in 2008. At the present time, people are being asked to voluntarily tell the government where their animals are located so that they can be assigned "premise IDs."

Horse owners have been astounded that some national associations, claiming to represent them, such as the American Horse Council (AHC), have been working against them in support of the NAIS, when there appear to be no legitimate reasons for the inclusion of horses in the NAIS, since horses aren't raised for food, or eaten as food, in the U.S. The USDA claims that horses can possibly spread some diseases to other livestock, or carry and spread certain zoonitic diseases to people. However, horses are no more more of a danger for spreading such diseases than wildlife or people who may carry diseases to other locations on their clothing, shoes and car tires, etc. Many of the claims made by proponents of the NAIS with regards to zoonotic diseases have been shown to be misleading.

Another reason for horses being included in the NAIS has been given by Colonel John Hoffman, Program Manager, Food and Agriculture, for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security---which has taken over some of the USDA's functions. He believes that horses need to be tracked and identified because, he says, "Until the 1980's, the Soviet Union continued to produce in its bio-weapons program a disease agent taken from horses but lethal to humans too." He's concerned that many horses are transported throughout the U.S. without being tracked. It's important to note that disease agents can come from a vast number of sources found throughout nature, not just from horses.

Some statistics pertaining to the American Horse Council have been researched by Karen Nowak, which inform us that that 57% of the AHC's 2005 board of trustees was directly involved in racing interests, which appear to support the NAIS, and there were more than twice as many involved in showing interests (15%) than recreational interests (8%). A study conducted by the AHC shows that only 9% of horses are used in racing and 29% are used in showing while 43% are used for recreational uses. Therefore the AHC is not representative the interests of most horse owners and is misleading politicians and others by claiming to represent most horse owners.

As to the Equine Species Working Group that's working with the USDA to determine what form of ID is to be used with horses, Ms. Nowak has reported that 50% of its members are connected with racing interests and 38% have direct ties to racing interests; 21% are involved in show organizations and 4% are involved in recreational uses of horses.

If the NAIS [goes]into effect as planned, every time that a horse leaves wherever it resides---whether that merely involves a ride down the road, or even just into the road or onto an adjoining property, going for a trial ride nearby, or a horse is trailered somewhere, the movements of the horse, and whomever the horse has been in contact with, will need to be reported to the government within 24 hours.

A goal of the NAIS is to track all movements of all livestock from birth to death. Companies such as Microsoft Corporation and Computer Sciences Corporation have been involved in the computer-related aspect of the NAIS for the tracking of animals.

According to the National Organic Farming Organization of Massachusetts, "The most immediate impact of mandating NAIS would be to put some small farmers out of business."

At this time, some small farms and horse owners have been putting plans on hold to expand their businesses and to breed their animals. Some are even questioning whether or not they will continue on with their farming and equestrian activities if the NAIS goes into effect. The effect of the NAIS on small farms and a large part of the equestrian community could be catastrophic and result in large fines, loss of property and seizures, or death, of animals which are regarded as long-time friends rather than just livestock to many.

Additional information about the NAIS cab be obtained from the following web sites:

Stop Animal ID


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