Letters To The Editor


July 17, 2006

Poultry producers seek new methods

Paul Shapiro's column "Eastern Shore birds deserve a better end" (Opinion

Commentary, July 12) challenged the Delmarva Peninsula's poultry industry to take the lead in adopting a new technology in processing plants to kill chickens that become part of the American diet.

Like the rest of the industry, Delmarva's poultry companies continue to study the effectiveness of the gas stunning method Mr. Shapiro suggests. But at this time, there is no clear consensus that gas stunning is more humane than properly used electrical stunning.

Gas stunning, like electrical stunning, is used to render the birds insensitive to pain prior to slaughter. Both methods still require a slaughter step.

Gas stunning partially asphyxiates the birds by replacing oxygen with nitrogen or carbon dioxide to render them unconscious prior to slaughter.

With gas stunning, there is the risk of stressful suffocation or that the birds may recover before slaughter.

We believe that this technology and other emerging technologies are worthy of continued study and review.

However, the research to date is incomplete and inconclusive on whether they are more humane than conventional methods or what the effects might be on food safety and product quality.

Animal welfare remains a top priority for our growers and poultry companies.

So when better systems are available, you can rest assured that Delmarva's poultry industry will be giving them serious consideration.

Bill Satterfield

Georgetown, Del.

The writer is executive director of the Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc.

Gas stunning offers humane alternative

Most people are horrified to learn that chickens, turkeys and other birds are subjected to painful electric shocks in U.S. slaughter plants ("Eastern Shore birds deserve a better end," Opinion

Commentary, July 12).

The shocks are designed to immobilize - not stun - the birds before their throats are cut. Research shows that the practice is extremely inhumane and is a big reason that millions of birds are scalded alive each year.

By contrast, controlled-atmosphere stunning, which is based on the use of inert gases such as nitrogen, eliminates a huge amount of suffering. Rendered unconscious by the gas, the birds never wake up again.

For this reason, switching from electric shocking to gas stunning should be supported by the poultry industry.

Karen Davis

Machipongo, Va.

The writer is president of United Poultry Concerns, a nonprofit organization that promotes compassionate treatment of domestic fowl.

Don't participate in animal slaughter

While I can appreciate the efforts of animal advocates to reform gruesome chicken slaughter methods, I believe that, ultimately, the best way to help these animals is to simply leave them off our plates ("Eastern Shore birds deserve a better end," Opinion*Commentary, July 12).

Most chickens bred for meat are raised on factory farms where they endure filthy, crowded conditions and never experience green grass beneath their feet or the sun shining overhead. It's a miserable life, and they meet an equally miserable death.

The system in which chickens are raised, transported and killed is horrendous - but we don't have to participate in it.

By going vegetarian, we can spare these birds - and other farm animals - a lifetime of pain and suffering.

Sarah Farr

Silver Spring

Roads won't be safer until we enforce law

Finding ways to reduce the carnage on our roads is an overdue and vital mission. But to leave enforcement out of the mix of solutions seems to relegate this effort to wishful thinking ("Campaign to reduce highway deaths begins," July 13)

Certainly "emphasis areas" such as "prevention of impaired driving, better use of data, engineering improvements, increased use of passenger belts and other safety devices, improving driver competency, preventing aggressive driving and improving emergency response" will all help the cause, if they are taken seriously.

And, as the final quotation in the article notes, "Thinking you can do it just through enforcement is not going to work."

But, on the other hand, if these initiatives are not backed by rigorous enforcement of existing traffic laws, they are doomed to failure.

Dennis Kaplan


President caused carnage in Iraq

Day after day the carnage in Iraq continues, as warring sects and fanatic insurgents kill innocent men, women and children, seemingly at will ("At least 60 killed in Iraq violence," July 10).

Neither Iraqi nor American troops appear to be able to secure Baghdad, let alone other areas of the country. Meanwhile, more American soldiers have been charged with the rape and murder of Iraqi citizens ("U.S. soldiers are charged," July 10).

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