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Indybay Feature

Inside the California Egg Industry: An Undercover Investigation

by East Bay Animal Advocates
Ninety-five percent of all eggs in this country are produced by hens in cramped and unhealthy battery cages, in dark and rank warehouses holding up to 125,000 birds each. A significant share of the nation's eggs come from California's Central Valley.

East Bay Animal Advocates has produced a 6 minute documentary from undercover footage shot in such warehouses. Footage includes shocking conditions at egg facilities in Sonoma, Santa Clara, Merced and San Diego counties. After a screening in Oakland and Bay Area TV news coverage, Indybay viewers are the first to have internet access to the full video.

Anyone who is concerned with animal welfare, or even interested in learning about the conditions in which their eggs are produced, should watch this short video.
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The standard treatment of hens violates Section 597t of the California State Penal Code, which requires that confined animals have adequate exercise space.

In order to expose this blatant violation and publicly ask why local enforcement of 597t is largely absent in California, East Bay Animal Advocates (EBAA) invites everyone to share this video with friends and family and get involved in helping to end these terrible conditions for hens once and for all.

For more information, please visit:
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by Stephanie Bryant
While this is an important news piece, I think it would be more useful to consumers to show what humane egg-chicken rearing practices consist of. People who are disconnected enough from their food's production and who, for all practical purposes, perceive the egg as coming solely from a carton, do not necessarily know what a healthy, happy chicken looks like, or what normal animal behaviors have been affected by the industrialization of eggs.

Also, the video shows these terrible conditions, but to make this an effective piece, we need to know what the cost is in terms of our own health and consumption. For instance, the respiratory infections are treated with antibiotics, which then end up inside the eggs and chicken meat later.

Finally, calling elected representatives seems rather futile when, as stated in the video, there are already laws in place that go unenforced. Perhaps a call to enforcement is more pertinent? And how can consumers distinguish and choose eggs that are raised in a humane manner, short of raising the chickens themselves?

It's not that this is a bad piece, but rather that it seems to fall short of actually being able to make a change. If you want everyone to become vegan overnight, fine. But that's an unrealistic goal.
by Jeff 7
Thanks to the author of the video because at least they try to make things better and didn't just write a few emails or forum posts. I've never seen this before.
by Reduce animal suffering for humanely-raised eggs.
by overuse of anti-biotic/anti-viral
Another factor to factory farming is the overuse of both anti-biotics and anti-virals. Due to the crowded conditions of poultry in cages, there is an increased transmission rate of various diseases, both from bacteria and viruses. As viruses and bacteria mutate faster in greater population densisties, the factory farms are a likely source of mutations similar to the recent H5N1 aka avian flu..

more info on avian flu and factory farming;

No, stocking up on Donald Rumsfeld's Tamiflu product won't do people any good, though it will increase the already overstuffed pockets of big PHARMA magnate Don Rumsfeld..

People need to realize that we are what we eat. Consuming these factory farmed eggs can lead to greater health problems and decreased quality of life down the line. Nobody (besides Tamiflu profiteer Rumsfeld & Co.) wants to see an outbreak on avian flu H5N1, so let's cut back on the factory farmed eggs already..

turkey vulture
by protection is good
by isolating the poultry indoors, away from migratory birds who carry the virus.
by Susie
I don't eat very many eggs, but my husband does. And from now on, we'll spend the extra money to only buy certified range free hen eggs. Can that claim be trusted? I hope so. I am mostly vegetarian, no meat, fish, poultry. but I do eat products made with eggs on occasion, but will now try to exclude those also. I will contact anyone who can make this illegal in CA.
by Hex
> Factory farming protects against avian flu

antibiotics that they put in the hen's feed for higher profits under factory farm conditions causes poultry diseases that the antibiotics protect the poultry from, but which wild bird populations are not resistant to ;

the Finch disease which has killed millions of birds and which is spreading into other song birds is directly to blame for this ;

"Bacteria can easily mutate to highly antibiotic resistant forms very quickly that can over power the immune system and kill the victim."

The constant use of antibiotics causes "superbugs" - strains of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. These spread into wild bird populations and weaken their immunity thus allowing other pathogens to spread.

The flocks of wild birds you see around poultry farms are the vector...

by Donald Rumsfeld most likely profiteer
Thousands of chickens crowded together in US (and other) factory farms are overdosed on anti-biotics and anti-virals. These factors combine to influence microbes (virus, bacteria) to evolve at faster rate and alter their genetic code (increase resistance to anti-virals), mutating into newer and more deadly strains like the H5N1 aka "avian flu"..

"The conditions in modern intensive poultry farms could not be more different than those found in nature. Almost all the chickens bred for meat in North America are the same breed. They are bred specifically to crave food and to grow at an accelerated rate. They are fed a carefully constructed diet, complete with antibiotics for disease control, and are kept in sheds with near-continuous artificial light. They spend their entire short lives eating, sleeping and defecating in the same, confined space and are sent to slaughter at between 34 and 42 days old.

Research (not to mention common sense) tells us that these conditions are unhealthy and stressful for the birds. Metabolic disorders, lameness and skin diseases are common amongst broiler chickens and stress from their artificial environment can impair their immune systems.

Each of these factors makes the intensively-farmed chicken population a jackpot for a virus. The cramped quarters makes transmission from host to host extremely easy. The diversity that is key to the survival of wild bird populations does not exist and chickens' immune systems are compromised, rendering them susceptible to infection."

There are many valid assertions that the CIA, Mossad, or other covert military intelligence groups (US military bioweapons lab at Ft. Detrick Maryland) can tamper with genetically engineered bacteria/virus for potential use as military weapons. It only takes one error for an experimental virus to be unleashed into the world..

List of existing/proposed bioweapons labs in the US;

However, it is almost inevitable that viruses and bacteria will naturally evolve and mutate their genetic makeup to either resist anti-biotics/virals or host immune system. These problems will continue to result in more deadly strains of bacteria/viruses until we cease and desist from factory farm operation. There are alternatives, try permaculture minus the animal cruelty and mutant viruses..

Avian flu factsheet;

We all know who gonna profit from the spread of avian flu among the general public. None other than the prime shareholder of avian flu "antidote" Tamiflu's manufacture (Gilead Sciences) himself, Mr. Donald Ruuuuuumsfeld!!

"Gilead Sciences

"Rummy was Chair of the Board of Directors at Gilead Sciences until named to the Bush cabinet and, like [Vice President Dick] Cheney, still has ties that bind to the 'old company.' Now isn't it an 'amazing coincidence' that the drug Tamiflu ( patented by Gilead Sciences is being pushed by the National Institutes of Allergies and Infectious Diseases as the NUMBER ONE choice for flu, which, wonder of wonders, is sweeping through in one epidemic after another," Free Market News related ( October 21, 2005, from a January 2004 web posting."

Meanwhile in Saddam's courtroom..

Saddam knowingly smiles in court as he remembers the clandestine handshakes with old Donny boy as Don visited Iraq as Ronny Reagun's envoy (Rumy then CEO of Serle pharmaceuticals) to provide Saddam with chemical weapons that Saddam used against the Kurds while Rumsfeld turned his head away with a wink and a nod and up the chimmney he flew with a clatter..

"Soon thereafter, Donald Rumsfeld, the head of the multinational pharmaceutical company G.D. Searle & Co. at the time, was dispatched to the Middle East as a presidential envoy. His December 1983 tour of regional capitals included Baghdad, where he was to establish "direct contact between an envoy of President Reagan and President Saddam Hussein." Rumsfeld met with Saddam, and the two discussed regional issues of mutual interest, shared enmity toward Iran and Syria, and discussed U.S efforts to find alternative routes to transport Iraq's oil. Rumsfeld made no reference to Iraq's chemical weapons."

Saddam wisely keeps his mouth shut in the KKKangaroo (no offense to marsupials) court trial as he awaits his promised prison island of exile supplied by former CIA benefactors. Maybe old Donny can sneak on over for a few rounds of golf with his old buddy Saddam when nobody is looking.)

Whaddya say we put Donny Rumsfeld on trail next to Saddam for providing Saddam with the weapons he used in the ethnic cleansing campaign against the Kurds??
by get your facts straight
Avian flu is is found primarily in free range birds. Free range birds are the problem, especially because the very birds that get bird flu live in such close proximity to people, especially in live bird markets crowded with shoppers, and on family farms. In the relatively few cases where factory farmed birds somehow become infected, exposure is limited to that particular factory and the tiny handful of workers.
by Hex
Global Poultry Industry is the Root of the Bird Flu Crisis

March 2, 2006

A new and extremely important report has come out today from GRAIN, about the mistaken policy analysis and debate surrounding the current Bird Flu crisis.

While panic in the media and at government levels is focused on the threat from migratory birds and small-scale free-range poultry operations, the real reason for the development and spread of the disease has been quietly ignored.

The GRAIN report shows that emergence of bird flu follows the global poultry industry's movements - and NOT migratory bird movements. The large-scale, confined, and frankly disgusting, factory farming conditions that characterise the global poultry industry are likely to be the real cause of the mutation of bird flu into its deadly form. The widespread movements of the industry's chickens and hatching eggs, are likely to be the cause of its spread.


1. Report Says Global Poultry Industry is the Root of the Bird Flu Crisis

Press Release from GRAIN. Date: 27 February 2006

Small-scale poultry farming and wild birds are being unfairly blamed for the bird flu crisis now affecting large parts of the world. A new report from GRAIN shows how the transnational poultry industry is the root of the problem and must be the focus of efforts to control the virus.[1]

The spread of industrial poultry production and trade networks has created ideal conditions for the emergence and transmission of lethal viruses like the H5N1 strain of bird flu. Once inside densely populated factory farms, viruses can rapidly become lethal and amplify. Air thick with viral load from infected farms is carried for kilometres, while integrated trade networks spread the disease through many carriers: live birds, day-old-chicks, meat, feathers, hatching eggs, eggs, chicken manure and animal feed.[2]

"Everyone is focused on migratory birds and backyard chickens as the problem," says Devlin Kuyek of GRAIN. "But they are not effective vectors of highly pathogenic bird flu. The virus kills them, but is unlikely to be spread by them."

For example, in Malaysia, the mortality rate from H5N1 among village chicken is only 5%, indicating that the virus has a hard time spreading among small scale chicken flocks. H5N1 outbreaks in Laos, which is surrounded by infected countries, have only occurred in the nation's few factory farms, which are supplied by Thai hatcheries. The only cases of bird flu in backyard poultry, which account for over 90% of Laos' production, occurred next to the factory farms.

"The evidence we see over and over again, from the Netherlands in 2003 to Japan in 2004 to Egypt in 2006, is that lethal bird flu breaks out in large scale industrial chicken farms and then spreads," Kuyek explains.

The Nigerian outbreak earlier this year began at a single factory farm, owned by a Cabinet minister, distant from hotspots for migratory birds but known for importing unregulated hatchable eggs. In India, local authorities say that H5N1 emerged and spread from a factory farm owned by the country's largest poultry company, Venkateshwara Hatcheries.

A burning question is why governments and international agencies, like the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, are doing nothing to investigate how the factory farms and their byproducts, such as animal feed and manure, spread the virus. Instead, they are using the crisis as an opportunity to further industrialise the poultry sector. Initiatives are multiplying to ban outdoor poultry, squeeze out small producers and restock farms with genetically-modified chickens. The web of complicity with an industry engaged in a string of denials and cover-ups seems complete.

"Farmers are losing their livelihoods, native chickens are being wiped out and some experts say that we're on the verge of a human pandemic that could kill millions of people," Kuyek concludes. "When will governments realise that to protect poultry and people from bird flu, we need to protect them from the global poultry industry?"

[1] The full briefing, "Fowl play: The poultry industry's central role in the bird flu crisis", is available at Spanish and French translations will be posted shortly.

[2] Chicken faeces and bedding from poultry factory floors are common ingredients in animal feed.

GRAIN is an international non-governmental organisation (NGO) which promotes the sustainable management and use of agricultural biodiversity based on people's control over genetic resources and local knowledge.

Devlin Kuyek, GRAIN, in Montreal
Tel: +1 514 2737314
Email: devlin [at]

by just wondering
Does anyone else agree with GRAIN on this, or are they the only ones who believe this?
by Hex
it's been an ongoing issue 'round microbiology circles for years about how excessive use of antibiotics cause superbugs and lower immunity allowing diseases that wouldn't normally be a problem to develop and spread

besides that study is the most comphrehensive and extensive to date not to mention latest

the poultry industry is going to have a hard time trying to discredit it, besides which the problem will continue to get worse as testament to this man-made disaster unfolding..

This is true. But is there any actual evidence that this is the case with Bird Flu? If so, where is it?
by Hex

> that this is the case with Bird Flu?

no not directly since it's a virus

and there's some dispute about the source, whether natural or man-made (many people suspect it came from a bio-warfare lab) - I don't have any data on that specific point, it can be very hard to determine anyway as genome decoding requires expensive lab equipment and processes, even then you may not find the tell-tale signs of gene manipulation or be able to tell it from natural mutations - in fact the line between natural and artificial mutations blur
by Hex

"On present understanding, H5 and H7 viruses are introduced to poultry flocks in their low pathogenic form. When allowed to circulate in poultry populations, the viruses can mutate, usually within a few months, into the highly pathogenic form. This is why the presence of an H5 or H7 virus in poultry is always cause for concern, even when the initial signs of infection are mild."

as you can see here, industrial poultry practices "breed" the virii into the dangerous types that cause what we know as "bird flu"

again large poultry farms are the source..

"The current outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza, which began in South-East Asia in mid-2003, are the largest and most severe on record. Never before in the history of this disease have so many countries been simultaneously affected, resulting in the loss of so many birds.

The causative agent, the H5N1 virus, has proved to be especially tenacious. Despite the death or destruction of an estimated 150 million birds, the virus is now considered endemic in many parts of Indonesia and Viet Nam and in some parts of Cambodia, China, Thailand, and possibly also the Lao People’s Democratic Republic."

once more it's POULTRY, not wild birds, where the disease begins, becomes dangerous and spreads

"What are the implications for human health?

The widespread persistence of H5N1 in poultry populations poses two main risks for human health.

The first is the risk of direct infection when the virus passes from poultry to humans, resulting in very severe disease. Of the few avian influenza viruses that have crossed the species barrier to infect humans, H5N1 has caused the largest number of cases of severe disease and death in humans. Unlike normal seasonal influenza, where infection causes only mild respiratory symptoms in most people, the disease caused by H5N1 follows an unusually aggressive clinical course, with rapid deterioration and high fatality. Primary viral pneumonia and multi-organ failure are common. In the present outbreak, more than half of those infected with the virus have died. Most cases have occurred in previously healthy children and young adults.

A second risk, of even greater concern, is that the virus – if given enough opportunities – will change into a form that is highly infectious for humans and spreads easily from person to person. Such a change could mark the start of a global outbreak (a pandemic)."

that chicken and those eggs we take for granted at the grocery store could end up killing billions of people just like it now kills billions of birds

by Hex

"As outbreaks of avian influenza in wild swans in Europe are reported, global poultry markets have witnessed immediate and dramatic consumer responses, an increased number of trade bans and sharp reductions in prices."

they only talk about wild birds and have nothing at all to say about where the flu actually comes from or how they spread it around by using infected materials like poultry feathers/feces in poultry feed

that hundreds of millions of poultry have already died from it, etc

by Crazy Chicken Lady
You can read it online for free:

It seems to be very well researched and has quotes from top scientists around the world. Here are some recommendations for it:

"I wouldn’t hesitate to say that you have succeeded in producing a “best seller” in the field of scientific books. Congratulations!"
—Nikos Charisis, DVM, World Health Organization Veterinary Officer

"It is an important contribution for all those engaged in trying to prepare for a pandemic flu."
—Didier Houssin, MD, Chief Medical Officer and National Flu Coordinator of France

“[O]ne of the best-researched and documented books on the coming pandemic published to date. It is clearly written and in a form that is accessible for the non-scientist. Dr. Gieger has the admirable ability to make the complex medical and scientific minutiae understandable. This text provides the reader with an excellent background on the current situation and how we arrived here... This book is a must read for those wanting to get a grasp of the risk we face from the coming pandemic. It is well written and highly informative. I recommend it to anyone interested in becoming better informed about this threat to humankind.”
—Grattan Woodson, MD, FACP, Author of The Bird Flu Preparedness Planner and The Bird Flu Manual

“Dr. Greger does an excellent job. His writing is lucid and sensible, and his research complete. Bird Flu is a timely work and will be an excellent resource for scientists and laypersons alike.”
—Earl Brown, PhD, Professor of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology, University of Ottawa

"Michael Greger has taken on the formidable task of reviewing and synthesizing the many factors contingent upon chicken production that have brought us to the influenza threat the world now faces. Drawing upon scientific literature and media reports at large, Dr. Greger explores the hole we have dug for ourselves with our own unsavoury practices. . . . Michael Greger has achieved much in this volume. He has taken a major step toward balancing humanity’s account with animals."
—Kennedy F. Shortridge, PhD, DSc(Hon), CBiol, FIBiol, Professor Emeritus at the University of Hong Kong

"I like its solid design, its broad scope and the extensive research you performed for it..."
—Jan C. de Jong, PhD, Senior Investigator, National Influenza Centre, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, Netherlands

"Your contribution to research is commendable…."
—Colonel George W. Korch, Jr., Commander, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases

"Many congratulations in writing a book that is at the same time so meticulously reseached and so completely readable - I stayed up late with it last night, and will be doing so the rest of the week! It's a really great book and will certainly be recommending it to colleagues."
—Caroline Lucas, MEP, Member of the European Parliament
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