Last Updated: Friday 10 July 2015

Modem abattoirs: blood sport

Of late, there has been a spurt in media attention on cruelty towards animals in slaughterhouses all over the country. Animal welfare groups, too, have voiced their concern.

Nevertheless, those who have the welfare of animals in mind fail to send a clear message about a complete ban on such killings; they merely suggest that no cruelties should be inflicted. This is a half-hearted approach, making it easier fo r the government propaganda machinery and other vested interests to talk of setting Lip large mechantoirs all over the country.

One of the arguments forwarded by the pro-abattoir lobby in support of mechanised abattoirs is that mechanisation will yield "hygienic" meat. But how can meat be classified as "hygienic" or "unhygienic"? Western countries have spick-and-span slaughterhouses. Despite this, they are becoming increasingly aware that meat-eating is the source of several serious diseases such as heart, lung and kidney diseases and cancer.

It is also argued that no cruelty will be inflicted on animals in modern abattoirs. This is pure mockery. How can people, so concerned about animal welfare, forget that forcibly taking the life of an innocent animal is a heinous act in itself?

Yet another specious argument is that modern abattoirs will not add to pollution. Presently, as the discharge of effluents from abattoirs takes place in the open, within the public gaze, the polluting conditions are noticed and talked about. But can. modernisation ensure that abattoir floors will be washed clean of the animals' blood? Is it possible that carcasses need no longer be disposed off? All these will happen, and on a larger scale, the only difference being that all the discharge will now be kept away from the public eye. Maybe the effluents will be discharged underground, and not in nearby nallahs or rivers. To cut a long story short, instead of polluting the water above the surface, the effluents will now pollute the subsoil water.

Thus, most of the pro-modern abattoir arguments are absolutely without any substance. They are extended with the ulterior motive of creating an atmosphere which will result in immense profits for those involved in the meat trade. ...

A hedge in hand

With reference to your article, Exit, Green Fences (August 15, 1994), hedges are not merely reservoirs ofbiodiversity and good by themselves; they are also abundantly useful to the farmer, for a variety of reasons.

Hedges tend to harbour a large number and variety of spiders which prey upon and exterminate a multitude of crop pests, a gift extended gratis to the farmer. As physical barriers, hedges are instrumental in limiting the spread of disease and pests from one field to another, and thus preventing or reducing crop losses. Apart from this, the voracious birds also feed on insects in the hedges and minimise crop damage. Bees, buzzing abundantly among the wild flowers, help in pollination and increase the yield. Lastly, hedges prevem topsoil erosion by wind and water.

The root of the matter is that hedges are more useful fo the farmer than the ecologist. Once the farmer realises importance of having hedges, thcur maintenance will cease to be a problem, This is thq message that must be con= veyed to him, for no government incm. tive, subsidy or platitude is going to save the hedge. ...

Heated questions

I attended the press conference organised by the Centre for Science and Environment in Bombay on Septernba 10, 1994.

I was impressed by the facts and ures about rising temperatures on (mw planet.

However, I wonder how manv organisations and individuals are $tocerely trying to save the earth? What steps have our legal luminaries, ric* industrialists and the elite in genera taken to provide justice? What have health authorities done to prevent & ness'caused by modern toxic drup. increasingly becoming the scourge a modern society? ...

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