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The Environment Ministry is increasingly seen as a Ministry

The Environment Ministry is increasingly seen as a Ministry that understands nothing about the environment, wild life, water preservation, pollution control. Almost every decision that comes out of it is a destructive one, and it works on the basis of politics rather than science.

Every vested interest in India has understood this and is trying to take advantage. Every local animal / environmental officer has, by now, lost interest in his duties and takes/gives orders that are bad in law and environment. This makes me so frightened for India.

The Chief Wildlife Warden of Andaman and Nicobar islands, the man who is supposed to be protecting the wild animals on the islands, has actually written – the first time in India’s history that a CWW has done so – to the Ministry of Environment, asking to kill the salt water crocodiles on the grounds that a few tourists have been attacked.

Salt water crocodiles are severely endangered and have been given the highest protection in the Act – Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972. This Tarun Coomar wants this protection removed so that he can kill them.

One interesting aside is that crocodile skin sells for lakhs. It is smuggled outside the country and sold to make handbags and shoes. Many requests for “culling” have usually got this background and, no doubt, someone is doing business there as well.

Why do I say this? Because the proposal has no basis in science or fact. The Chief Wildlife Warden is lying through his teeth.

Records reveal that only 23 attacks by salt water crocodiles have taken place  in the last 13 years, and none of them have been in a single place. They are spread out over the vast archipelago.

In truth, the tourism industry wants the land to build hotels and take over the beaches. So the LG and the CWW  take on the role of “ facilitation agents”.  Even the figures they have given, of the number of Salties, are far more than what actually exist (and that too, without a head count). Field biologists state that the numbers, being published by the administration at Andaman and Nicobar islands, have been falsely stated at 1,700 . There are only about 500 individuals. Are these 500 crocs, spread out and so vital to the survival of the inhabitants of the ocean, going to be killed so  hoteliers can destroy the coast?  

Here is the proof of  “ facilitation” . The “Expert Committee” set up by the local administration to find a “solution” to these rare crocodile attacks has no scientific people on it, no field researchers, no environmentalists. But one of the members is the head of  the Andaman Association of Tour Operators. This is his statement “The fear has impacted both the tourism and fisheries industries, which are our main source of revenue” said M. Vinod. “Can you imagine a tourist visiting an island destination and not going onto the beach and indulging in water sports?” And if an entire species has to be wiped out so that a tourist can go water skiing, so be it ?

Saltwater crocodiles are millions of years old. They are the largest of all living reptiles and can reach 7 metres in length.  They are found in small groups in South-east Asia, Northern Australia. In India they are native to the Sunderbans, Bhitarkarnika in Odisha, and  the mangrove forests of the Andaman and Nicobar islands. They swim long distances. Though they spend much of their time in the water, they must come ashore to warm up in the sun and to nest. 

Females lay about 50 eggs at a time, of which only one or two survive even though the mother looks after the nest carefully. Overheating, flooding and predation by lizards, dogs and feral pigs claim a high proportion of victims. Once they have reached maturity their only enemies are each other and humans.

Before the Act was made in 1972,  they were poached for their skin, meat and as trophies. The species was reduced to 31 individuals when the Government of India launched a special conservation effort in 1975 , Project Crocodile, and they were given ‘Schedule 1’ protection . 

While the preservation of the species, in the Andaman and Nicobar islands, is counted as a success story, the fact is that salt water crocodiles have taken decades to even reach these small numbers. It has taken almost 45 years to grow to about 500 animals. Now, if killing takes place (and if my suspicions are right, they will kill 300 and then claim they have killed 30) they will never revive again, because the gene pool is already stretched, they are all related to each other and, as hotels and tourists fill up the beaches, more and more eggs will be lost.

The move has attracted international concern. There is a great deal of literature on how to deal with man-crocodile conflict, and wildlife agencies are happy to provide the information – except that the local government doesn’t want to know.

This is what can be done easily to protect humans and salties:

 

a.   Make a thorough study to conduct a risk assessment in the areas where crocodile-human conflicts have occurred.

b.   Geo-tag the crocodiles to understand, and/or track their movement patterns.

c.   Create safe swimming zones, creating exclusive crocodile zone (wilderness areas where crocodiles take precedence),

d.   Identify rogue crocodiles and put them into captive animal shelters (tourists pay to watch crocodiles as in Australia),

e.   Coexistence zone (where people can be helped with enclosures, fish disposal areas, etc.) and exclusive tourist zone, where there is proper netting for people to swim with regular patrolling and monitoring.

f.     Put up warning signs at crocodile conflict zones.

g.   Raise awareness among local communities, so that they do not see crocodiles as a threat, and secure and monitor tourist bathing areas on a regular basis.

Every year, from 1986, there is no more than one attack annually – if you go by government figures from 1986.  But  the number of tourists has increased enormously - from 4,30,000 in 2016 to 5,00,000 in 2017. This has led to unplanned and haphazard growth and  increased activity along the coastline. Most attacks occur in narrow creeks near which human and crocodile populations overlap. Even after a number of warning signs, tourists invade restricted areas. No attempt has been made to regulate tourist behaviour. Beaches abroad have life guards. We have none in the islands. We don’t even have wildlife rangers to patrol the crocodile areas.  And these crocodile areas are shrinking rapidly, with  human settlements increasingly taking over the crocodile's land.

Most importantly, the attacks take place in the monsoon season which is the breeding season. This clearly shows that there is human encroachment on crocodile territory when a croc is at its most defensive, with males vying for females. Crocodiles are not human hunters.

Local tourist operators claim that there are far more crocodile sightings in human areas round the coast. The dumping of untreated kitchen waste, including raw chicken, fish and meat, by hotels and eateries that have mushroomed along the coast, has never been as rampant as it is now. Such practices  draw the creatures. Has the local administration done anything to restrict this?  Illegal slaughterhouses throw blood and offal straight into the waters. This will draw more crocodiles around the area.

Culling is going to have no effect on the human crocodile conflict. Crocodiles are territorial. If an adult male is killed, the vacant area will fill up with other adult males.

Salties are an important check on rodent populations, which are actually dangerous  on an island ecosystem and have been brought in by ships. They also prevent illnesses spreading through insects. For example, river blindness among humans was caused by slaughter of crocs, whose young fed on snails which harboured the parasite responsible for the malady.

Salties prevent overpopulation of fish species in coastal regions and wetlands, which is pivotal in keeping these aquatic ecosystems healthy and balanced. Reduction of crocodiles in the Nile has led to great losses in the fishing industry, as there has been a boom in the population of the carnivorous fish and disease carrying fish, which were kept under control by crocs.

Salties play a role in clearing dead animals/fish/offal, keeping the area clean and disease free.  

Crocodile excrement fertilizes the coastal land and waters. The nutrient content of their faeces feeds the invertebrates and the fish. This allows smaller aquatic organisms to thrive. Only when these organisms thrive the bigger fishes can live. Crocodile excreta also helps in the growth of healthy corals.

Down-listing the animal under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and removing the safeguards of a Schedule I species, will severely jeopardize the fate of this species across the country, as it could open up the flood gates for other states (like Sundarbans in West Bengal, Bhitarkarnika in Orissa) to seek permission for culling of salt water crocodiles on similar grounds, depending on which crocodile skin traders have moved in, and how much they pay the local officers.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in,www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

A restaurant in Lokhandwala, Mumbai  has a large cage at the entrance with two pygmy monkeys in it.

A restaurant in Lokhandwala, Mumbai  has a large cage at the entrance with two pygmy monkeys in it. I sent a member of the state animal welfare board to arrest the owners. The forest department refused to help saying there was no law to confiscate foreign monkeys or arrest the owners. These smugglers will continue to display these severely endangered monkeys till I find a way to shut them down.

Last month a “pet fair” took place in Pune. It displayed exotic birds, fish and pedigreed dogs. It had no permissions and yet the police and the forest department took no action. Why? Because they claim there is no law that protects foreign species in India. The smugglers who ran the fair looked on smugly as animal activists cried themselves hoarse. The new Chairman of the Animal Welfare Board had given them permission – which has never been given before – to hold the "exhibition".  As long as they did not sell foreign animals they could display them. So they secretly sold the animals in black. 

Three months ago a person’s house was raided in Bangalore. He was found with three ball pythons. The forest department refused to register a case saying there was no law which covered foreign snakes. The man absconded with the snakes and released them in the open, while the inspectors were still arguing.  So, now you have exotic snakes in the wilds in Bangalore. In Uttar Pradesh a man recently died of snake bite – from an African pit viper brought illegally into this country as a pet and then released when the owner got bored.

Go to a normal illegal petshop – illegal because no shops in this country are licensed to sell animals. You will find dozens of exotic species. From macaws to snakes and snails and spiders. Look at the Net – hundreds of exotic fish, birds, animals, are for sale. Macaws from Bolivia, Argentina and Mexico, fish and  turtles from all over the world, fox squirrels, ferrets, frogs, snakes, sharks, monkeys, lizards and iguanas. One businessman in Chennai was found with two chimpanzees in his garage.

How did these get into India? There is a direct nexus between smugglers and our Indian customs departments. They come in containers from Singapore and pass easily through customs at the ports, specially Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai. The smaller animals come even through airports. Bangalore is notorious for its customs officers. One woman officer from the Northeast was caught running an illegal smuggling ring herself, in which her partner would go to Thailand, pick up animals and bring them in, on the days she was on duty. After I complained, she was removed from there but still holds her job somewhere and is probably doing the same thing.

The fault is with the Ministry for Environment, which ceased to exist as a functioning body 20 years ago and is now just another dead body whose officials go abroad once a week to waste India’s money. The Wildlife Crime Bureau, which was invented to fight these kinds of crime, has repeatedly asked the Ministry to amend the laws and put the smuggling/sale/buying of exotic species as a criminal offence. They do nothing. In order to delay any action, and perhaps protect smugglers, they keep making committees to review the Wildlife Protection Act 1972. (During Jairam’s time, no matter how he poses as a great environmentalist, he refused to take action and stop illegal bird markets on the written “recommendation” of 22 large criminal smugglers who protested, some from jail itself, that it would hamper their right to earn money !). Dr Manmohan Singh put Sunita Narain, who took years and did nothing of any value. 15 years have passed and now another committee has been made under Dr Rajesh Gopal.  He himself says that it will go nowhere .

In the meantime smuggling and transactions of foreign species worth 8-10 crores take place EVERY DAY. You can go to jail for keeping a rosy ringed parakeet or a myna in your house. Not if you keep Cockatiels, African Grey Parrots or Lorikeets.

All these exotic species, that are smuggled into India, are endangered species of which there are only a few thousand left. They are banned for capture in their own countries and are on the prohibited list of CITES. The International Union for Conservation of Nature ( IUCN) lists all of them as endangered species. The Military Macaw is found only in a few miles of forest between Argentina and Mexico. Even the Lovebirds are little parrots brought in from Australia. They die en route in the thousands. The rest last less than a year, as they cannot take any temperature variations and no form of cold. Yet you continue to buy them. Australia has put them on the endangered species list and no one in that country can buy them. But China and India are swallowing them wholesale. Some buy to keep them for a few months till they die . Others buy out of pity and "release" them. Thousands of miles away from home, they die in foreign skies.

According to a correspondent who posed as a buyer in 2013 : In Mumbai, Mausam Patel’s Baba Aquarium proudly sells soft-shelled turtles. "This is imported from China. We can ship them to any part of India" he said. This turtle pair costs Rs. 4,000. When asked about legalities of importing these turtles, he said, "Importing requires permission. That we have ways to deal with. Once they reach India, There's no problem." S.Siva, has posted more than 40 different types of macaws on his website for sale. Some of them include Yellow Collar macaw, Scarlet Blue Gold and Blue Gold macaws. “Each pair of macaws costs 2 lakh. While openly advertised, the trade is entirely in black.”

A reporter from The Sunday Guardian recently contacted an online seller who openly displayed pictures of exotic wild animals - iguanas, chameleons, snakes, monitor lizards, spiders - and guaranteed home delivery after half payment. In fact, if you joined his club, you would get one exotic wild animal every month. The price of an iguana is about Rs 18,000, while a Tarantula costs Rs 16,000. Chameleons are sold at a price of Rs 12,000.

The Zoological Survey of India, the Central Zoo Authority, the wildlife department of each state, the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, sit by and watch silently. No action is taken on this massive criminal activity because the Ministry for Environment and Forests will not make rules.

In Delhi, the Capital of India where all the lawmakers live, you can get anything easily. We have one Chief Wildlife Warden whose entire office consists of two inspectors and none of them will stir out of their offices no matter what the crisis. I can pick up any exotic species I want – from Tarantula spiders, black squirrels, rattlesnakes from the American desert, any kind of wild cat, turtle or emu. There is a person in Mehrauli, who partners a politician, who sells these from his basement. When he was raided, the forest department refused to arrest him on the grounds that all these were exotic.

“This trade in wild animals, their articles, trophies cured/uncured etc., is in complete violation of national and international guidelines such as CITES and legislations such as the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 etc.

None of the dealers have any licences, permits - and they don’t need them because all the authorities look the other way using the loophole in the Wildlife Act 1972.

We have signed the CITES treaty but we still don’t have an office 40 years later and the Customs people, who are raking in the money, refuse to learn or apply it. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) makes the trade of foreign birds and animals illegal, but the forest departments and Customs are blasé about it. Their attitude is that India signs treaties  because it looks good. Honouring them is irrelevant as the world is happy simply when the treaty is signed.

We need rules on exotic species and we need them NOW. We need a strong CITES division. We need to catch and sack corrupt customs officers. We need to strengthen the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau. There are three nations that are destroying all the species of the world by encouraging and allowing foreign species to come into their countries: America, China and India.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in,www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Imagine a new human mother who has a viral infection.

Imagine a new human mother who has a viral infection. Would any doctor allow her own baby to drink her milk? Of course not. When you drink milk, have you ever thought of the health of the cow that this milk came from? 

According to veterinary studies, one of the most common diseases that cattle have is parainfluenza3, a viral disease. The PI3 virus infects the upper respiratory mucosa. While fatalities are rare, they predispose the animal to other recurrent infections. How many cows have you seen with a runny nose? Probably none because no one looks at cows? But if you go to the commercial dairies around India you will see the classic respiratory signs of cough, fever, discharge from nose and eyes, increased respiratory rate and difficult breathing. There is no specific anti-PI3 therapy. Medicines are given for the secondary bacterial infections that follow. All the while, milking goes on.

Does this happen only in India? No, studies done by Reisinger et al.  Bakos and Dinter, Abinanti et al. , and Gale and King,  confirm the virus in cattle in their own countries. In Japan, Inaba etc. have shown that the virus is widely disseminated among cattle in Japan. These results are not very different from those reported by Hoerlein et al.  in the United States and Bakos and Dinter in Sweden.

Now, come to the next step : scientists have found the virus not just in nasal discharges but in milk. In studies done by Inaba, the virus was isolated not only from nasal secretions but also from the milk of naturally infected cattle. At one farm the virus was recovered from milk in 14 of 58 cows (24%), while nasal secretions were positive for virus in 14 of 50 animals (28%). This finding suggests that milk also plays a role as the source of infection. The virus invades the mammary glands, multiplies there and is excreted in milk. 

Is the virus zoonotic? Probably. So, when you drink milk, you stand a strong chance of getting your runny nose/fever and cough from it.

Is that the only danger lurking in milk?

Mastitis is an inflammation of the mammary gland and udder tissue, and is a major pandemic disease of dairy cattle. Milk-secreting tissues and various ducts throughout the udder can be damaged by bacterial toxins. Severe acute cases can be fatal, but even in cows that recover there are changes in the secretion of milk from the mammary glands.

Mastitis can be kept away if the milkers use good hygiene, good housing management, and good nutrition to promote cow/buffalo health. Is there a single animal in the dairy industry in India that is kept properly? Inspections of all the dairy nagars (land that has been given to cattle owners for the purpose of providing milk) across India show that cows stand knee deep in slush which is a combination of their own excreta, urine and water from the sewage pipe; most of them have runny noses and fever and almost all have mastitis brought on by bad, fermented, old hay, both used as bedding and food, the humidity and the filthy hands that push and pull at their teats twice a day. Most of them have sores on their teats and bellow with pain during the milking. No dairy inspector has ever been to these cattle sheds, and they are so easily bribed that their money is sent home – the same way as the vets attached to slaughterhouses get their monthly payments. Mastitic cows need specialized handling, Veterinary care and medicines and clean surroundings. This costs the owner too much, so he takes out milk till the day it becomes obvious that there is far too much blood in it. And then he sells the cow for slaughter.

Abroad, the milk is sometimes thrown away when it is discovered to be contaminated with parainfluenza and the bacteria from mastitis. In India we check for neither.  

Mastitis is a scourge in every country and there is no vaccine for it. Abroad, entire herds are killed. It has made no difference to the spread of this disease.

The most obvious symptoms of clinical mastitis are abnormalities in the udder, such as swelling, heat, hardness, redness, pain and fever, sunken eyes, diarrhoea and lack of appetite. The milk is watery with flakes, clots, or pus.

The changes in milk constituents are caused by infection-fighting white blood cells attempting to eliminate the infective organisms, which may further be responsible for producing toxins which damage the milk-producing glands within the udder. There are changes in the protein composition in milk, with low quality blood serums leaching into it; casein, an important protein found in healthy milk, is significantly reduced in mastitic cows. An important complication is that casein is closely linked with calcium levels in milk production.

The pH of milk, normally around 6.6, can increase to 6.8 or 6.9 in mastitic cows. The presence of blood enzymes in milk from mastitic cows can affect the taste, and its ability to be made into other dairy products such as cheese or yoghurt.

An important paper, which should be sent to every government division in charge of dairy inspection, is called  “Public health hazard due to mastitis in dairy cows “ by K. G Abdel Hameed , G Sender , Korwin-Kossakowska  of South Valley University, Qena, Egypt and Polish Academy of Sciences Institute of Genetics and Animal Breeding, Jastrzębiec,  Poland.

Milk from cows with mastitis, mixed into bulk milk, enters the food chain and poses a threat to human health. Milk and other dairy products are infected with Staphylococcus aureus and  Streptococcus agalactiae – both the most common agents for mastitic infections.

704 mixed milk samples were collected from 275 cows kept in two herds in 2004/2005. One herd was kept very well and the other not so well, but not badly.  The animals were milked twice a day and the milk mixed. The quality of milk was found within European standards as per their tests. The samples were analysed for the presence of S. aureus, Str. agalactiae and other mastitis-causing organisms. 16.6% contained S. aureus and 1.4 % contained Str. Agalactiae.  4.7% contained Str. dysgalactiae, 2.9% contained Escherichia coli and 14.7% contained other mastitis-causing organisms. Both herds were afflicted equally by sub-clinical mastitis attributed to S. aureus.

This is good milk. Find a single herd in India that is kept even semi-well.

If the cow has severe clinical mastitis, abnormalities of milk are easily seen and this milk normally would not enter the food chain. But when milk of cows with sub-clinical mastitis, i.e. with no visible changes, is mixed into bulk milk, it enters the food chain and can be dangerous to humans. Milk and other dairy products are frequently infected with S. aureus which cause nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps, when ingested by humans and are responsible for staphylococcal food poisoning outbreaks [Kluytmans et al. 1997]. These toxins cannot be destroyed by heating or drying [National Mastitis Council 1996]. Str. agalactiae is considered a major cause of elevated Somatic ( pus) cell count (SCC) in milk. As SCC rise because of mastitis, milk quality decreases due to the drop in lactose and casein. In humans, Str. agalactiae has been described as a common reason for invasive infections in babies, but it also causes infections and mortality in adults, specially diabetics, pregnant and post-partum women, and immunocompromised patients [Schuchat 2001, Lerner et al. 1977].

Another public health concern are the antibiotic residues in milk due to extensive use of antibiotics in the treatment and control of the disease. The careless use of antibiotics, often done even without consulting doctors, results in residues in foods which can lead to severe reactions in people allergic to antibiotics and, at low levels, can cause the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.

In fact, when clinical mastitis is detected, the cow is given an intramammary infusion of antibiotic, and her milk must be kept out of the food supply. Selling milk contaminated with antibiotics can lead the producer abroad to lose his permit. Not so in India where there are no permits to begin with.

Should you be drinking this milk, no matter what label the company has?

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in,www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

In an earlier article I talked about the miraculous effects of Panchgavya on crops.

In an earlier article I talked about the miraculous effects of Panchgavya on crops. Dr K. Natarajan, who has written the book after years of experimenting with it, has also written a chapter on its effects on animals. After the studies on plants, his team started on animals and humans. For those who did not read the previous piece, this is how to make it.

Panchgavya consists of five products from the cow : dung, urine, milk, curd and ghee. Dr Natarajan has added some more ingredients. So this is what his panchgavya recipe is :

Fresh cow dung 5 kg, cow urine 3 litres, cow milk 2 litres, cow ghee ½ kg, cow curd 2 litres, sugarcane juice 3 litres, tender coconut water 3 litres, 12 ripe bananas and toddy, or grape juice, 2 litres.  This gets you 20 litres of panchgavya.

Take a wide mouthed mud pot, concrete tank or plastic can. No metal containers. Put in fresh dung and ghee first and mix twice daily for 3 days. On the 4th day add the rest of the ingredients and stir twice daily for 15 days. After the 18th day keep in the shade and cover with a mesh to prevent flies. If you don’t have sugarcane juice, add 500 gms of jaggery dissolved in 3 litres of water. If you don’t have toddy, put 2 litres of tender coconut water in a closed plastic container for 10 days. It will ferment and become toddy. This panchgavya can be kept for six months, and when it becomes thick, water can be added to keep it liquid.

Typically, Dr Natarajan, being a scientist and not an animal welfare person, did his experiments with animals grown for meat and milk, and worked in factory farms that grow these animals commercially.

Pigs were fed panchgavya mixed with drinking water at the rate of 10 ml to 50 ml per pig. They became healthy and disease free and (I do not approve of this) the owners reduced the feed with no effect on their well being. The same things happened for goats and sheep who were given 10-20 ml daily.

Chickens were given 1 ml per bird per day and became disease free. They laid bigger eggs for longer periods, and the weight gain in broilers was impressive. They did not need antibiotics or growth hormones.

Panchgavya was applied daily, mixed with fresh cow dung, in fish ponds. It increased the growth of algae, weeds and small worms, increasing the food for the fish. However, fresh water had to be added at regular intervals to the pond, as the growth of weeds/algae decreased the oxygen available for the fish. In ten months each fish grew to 2-3 kg and the mortality of fingerlings decreased.  

According to Dr Natarajan, he did not want to give panchgavya to the cows, as it was part of their own excreta. However, his team mixed it in the feeding trough, with animal feed, and water at the rate of 100 ml per day per cow. The cows became healthier with increased milk which had an increased fat content. Problems, like retained placentas, mastitis and foot and mouth disease, disappeared and the skins of the cows became glossier.

Some farmers spray urea on paddy straw (hay) before storing . These farmers in Tamil Nadu, where storing is known as “staking”, store the paddy straw in layers and spray urea on each layer before putting the next one on, till a height of 10 feet. It is then covered with palm leaves to protect from the rain. Instead of the urea, Natarajan’s team sprayed a 3% solution of panchgavya, layer after layer and allowed the stored hay to ferment. The cows were given a choice of which hay to eat. They always chose the sprayed hay to the unsprayed/ urea sprayed hay. The stored hay can be kept upto a year.

Dr Natarajan has recommended another veterinary product that can be made at home.

Gomati Sangeevi (Herbal antibiotic).

Add 300 grams of fresh neem bark (after discarding the dried outer layer), 200 gms of green leaves of the jackfruit, to  5 litres of water and boil in a mud pot till it is reduced to 2.5 litres. After filtering, the red concoction can be used as oral medication for cattle. Cattle should be given 500 ml at one time on appearance of symptoms and repeated if the symptoms persist. 500 ml as a onetime dose to be given to other animals in the vicinity as a onetime measure. Calves get half the dose.

According to Dr Natarajan panchgavya is an elixir of many microorganisms, bacteria, fungi, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, amino acids, vitamins, enzymes, unknown growth promoting agents, micronutrients, antioxidants and immunity enhancers. When taken orally by animals it stimulates the immune system and produces antibodies, acting like a vaccine. It is especially helpful in digesting and curing constipation.

He has also experimented on dogs but, alas, no findings have been recorded. His number is 09443358379 for anyone who is interested in learning about panchgavya.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in,www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

I checked into an ayurvedic centre in Haryana for a week.

I checked into an ayurvedic centre in Haryana for a week. Clean, spartan and strict, it was the ideal place for me…. Except for the flies. I was covered with oil or mud for the better part of the day and showered three times but it seemed to me that I had become a target for all the flies of the district. No one else seemed to have a problem. But walking, sleeping, being massaged or eating, I was brushing away the House Fly, Musca domestica, and its more ubiquitous cousin the Bush Fly, Musca Vetutissima.

Why do flies sit on humans? It is so energy expensive for them. They are brushed away a thousand times, swatted, hurt, killed. Why don’t they sit on animals, or furniture? (They do sit on animals, but only those that are hurt and cannot defend themselves.) Since the common housefly doesn’t have any interest in sucking blood, (feeding on open wounds is a different story), you think they’d fly away from humans. After all, we’re a lot larger and more intimidating swatters.

The Fly has a very soft, fleshy, sponge-like mouth and when it lands on you and touches your skin, it won't bite, it will suck up secretions on the skin.  It is interested in sweat, proteins, carbohydrates, salts, sugars and other chemicals and pieces of dead skin that keep flaking off. This type of fly also gets its nutrients from sitting around the eyes of livestock. It is hard to get it from anywhere else on hairy animals, which is also why they land more often on human skin which is comparatively less hairy.

Here are some reasons why they land on humans:

* They are attracted to carbon dioxide which human beings breathe out.

* They are attracted to the heat of the warm body, to sweat and salt, and the more the person sweats the more flies they attract.

* Flies feed on dead cells and open wounds .

* Oil is an important food for flies . Oily hair  is an attractant.  

* Less hairy skin gives the fly spaces to vomit. A fly vomits on solid food to liquefy it. The house flies taste with their feet so if there is food on the skin, and space to liquefy it,  they will land there.

* Some body-odours are more attractive to flies than others. This is apart from the quantity of carbon dioxide that is emitted.

Houseflies are scavengers .The human body, like some of their favourite food sources -- faeces, food and rotting flesh -- radiates a sense of warmth and nourishment. With a voracious appetite, aided by an excellent sense of smell and a pair of complex eyes that covers half its head, the fly lands on us because it is  constantly on the hunt for a warm place to eat, defecate, vomit and lay eggs.

In order to make the area in and around your home a “no fly” zone take basic preventative measures. If you have a dog make sure you do not leave its faeces out in the open, as dog faeces serves as both buffet and egg depository. Don’t leave food out for too long, pay special attention to kitchen utensils and surfaces, empty your garbage cans regularly and keep an eye out for organic rotting matter. Don’t leave food in pet bowls after they have eaten. Wipe down trash cans from the outside as well. Net all the windows and shut the doors. Check for cracks and holes (particularly around window screens) that they might be using. Unhygienic rubbish tips are a prime fly-breeding site, but if garbage is covered by a layer of soil, preferably daily, this can be avoided.

But why are certain people singled out?

Could it be the scent in the soap or shampoo? Apparently, sweet fruity smells attract flies because they like sugar. Maybe your skin, mouth and nostrils are moister than others. It is also claimed that flies and gnats migrate to the taller persons in a group. You don’t have to sweat a lot - just more so than the rest of the people in your house to make it more likely for them to land on you.

Fruit flies are slightly smaller than the common house fly. They are not interested in human smells but in yeast, so they are attracted to things that are fermenting and  can ferment, like sugar, fruit and, of course, actual yeast. So, if you drink alcohol and hang around with people who don’t, or if you use grooming products with alcohol in them, you will attract fruit flies. Don’t eat fruit outside? Switch your soap if it is fruit smelling. But apart from swatting and waiting for winter , there is little you can do.

Blowflies, also known as bottle flies, have metallic green or blue bodies, are large, and make a buzzing sound when they come near. They are really a nuisance for me because they lay their eggs on animals, and my hospitals get thousands of animal patients every week suffering from maggot infestation. There are other flies as well: the Drain fly found in sewage beds whose wings are densely covered in hair and held tent–like over the body when at rest;  the Flesh Fly, whose three-striped body looks like a chequer board, lays its eggs on decaying meat or fish or animal flesh.

Swatting a fly is so difficult. Their eyes allow them to see all around and they have a sixth sense about danger. According to the California Institute of Technology flies fly within 100 milliseconds of recognizing a threat.

Flies have been around since before humans. In the Biblical plague of Egypt, flies represent death and decay. The Philistine God Beelzebub's name, (often equated with Satan), means Lord of the Flies. In Greek mythology Zeus sent a fly to bite Pegasus, the winged horse, causing his rider Bellerophon to fall back to earth when he was attempting to fly to Mount Olympus the home of the gods. In the Red Indian Navajo religion Big Fly is an important spirit.

Many scientists have tried to find out how to use flies constructively. Suggestions range from mass rearing them and using them on animal manure garbage dumps. (Flies are recyclers. They eat scraps and then excrete and turn it into a substance plants can use). Or harvesting their maggots and feeding them to animals. Both these ideas seem insane to me.

Ogden Nash's poem sums up our irritation with this being "God in His wisdom made the fly / And then forgot to tell us why.” Perhaps to keep human populations down by spreading diseases that range from dysentery to typhoid and cholera. During the Second World War the Japanese, under Shiro Ishii, used special Yagi bombs on China. The bombs contained flies coated with cholera bacteria. The bombs thrown in Baoshan in 1942 and Shandong in 1943 killed over 4 lakh people.

Anyway now that I am back, my fly demons seem to have lessened. So maybe it was the oil.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in,www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

A recent book I have picked up, from the The Other India Bookshop

A recent book I have picked up, from the The Other India Bookshop, is a manual on Panchgavya by Dr. K. Natarajan.

Dr. Natarajan has studied the effects of panchgavya for decades and has used it across India to treat plants, animals and human beings. He says that the basic preparation should be fine tuned for maximum efficiency. He has already won the  prestigious Srishti award for his bio pesticide (ease of preparation and lack of side effects)  and has made excellent immunity boosters for cattle. He has two herbal medicines for diabetes and arthritis.

Panchgavya has come a long way from 1998, when it was innovated by scientists for the first time. Now students have their PhDs and M.Phils for scientific research in "itr". Thousands of farmers use it daily. The manual is extremely interesting. It not only gives detail of what panchgavya is, and how to make it, but it gives the names and details of how it is used in different places all over India, and empirical evidence on the difference it makes immediately to the soil and to the body.

India has gone through a deeply troubled phase in agriculture. For centuries, we ate organic, good, seasonal food and fruit. Then, in 1960 the government was enamoured of the idea of doubling everything overnight. In the “Green Revolution” pesticides and chemicals were introduced and pushed through all the publicity media and scientific institutions. In ten years most of the food we ate had disappeared and was replaced by standardized, low level, unhealthy grains. As the years went on the ground became soaked with chemicals and urea, and had become so thirsty that we started overusing water, and then electricity, simply for irrigation. By 2000 India realized that, while we were importing millions of tonnes of poisons to put on the land, nothing had increased except cancer. The Green Revolution had failed totally and farmers were in despair. Very slowly, farmers started to go back to what they knew best – organic farming. Tiny steps were taken to replace chemical fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides, with organic manure. But nothing was available to replace growth promoting hormones and immunity boosters, and to bring sustained higher productivity. So farmers, and some scientists, started experimenting with medicines mentioned in the Vrikshayurveda, and panchgavya was the result.

Panchgavya for farmers consists of five products from the cow: dung, urine, milk, curd and ghee. These, which when mixed appropriately, have excellent, almost miraculous, results. Dr. Natarajan has added some more ingredients. So, this is what his panchgavya recipe is:

Fresh cow dung, 5 kg; cow urine, 3 litres; cow milk, 2 litres; cow ghee, ½ kg; cow curd, 2 litres; sugarcane juice, 3 litres; tender coconut water, 3 litres; 12 ripe bananas, and toddy or grape juice, 2 litres. This gets you 20 litres of panchgavya.

Take a wide mouthed mud pot, concrete tank, or plastic can. No metal containers. Put fresh dung and ghee in first and mix twice daily for 3 days. On the 4th day add the rest of the ingredients and stir, twice daily, for 15 days. After the 18th day keep in the shade, and cover with a mesh to prevent flies. If you don’t have sugarcane juice add 500 gms of jiggery dissolved in 3 litres of water. If you don’t have toddy, put 2 litres of tender coconut water in a closed plastic container for 10 days. It will ferment and become toddy.

This panchgavya can be kept for six months and, when it becomes thick, water can be added to keep it liquid. It contains all the nutrients necessary for plant growth, and these have been verified by labs and farmers across the country.

Add three litres to every 100 litres of water, filter, and spray it on all crops. It can also be used through drip or flow irrigation.

It should be used to drench seeds in for 20-30 minutes before planting. Then it is sprayed 20 days after planting, and after every 15 days in the pre flower phase, once in 10 days at the flowering stage and once when the pod matures.

This is the effect it has on some fruits (the details of others are given in the book).

Mango: dense flowering fruit every year instead of alternate years, flavour and aroma enhanced.

Lime: flowering round the year, plump fruit with strong aroma. Shelf life extended by 10 days

Guava: bigger, tastier. Shelf life extended by 5 days.

Banana: bunch size becomes uniform and harvesting can be done a month earlier.

Turmeric: yield enhanced by 22% with extra long fingers. Reduced pest and disease.

Jasmine: Continuous flowering throughout the year . Exceptional aroma.

Vegetables: Yield enhanced by 18 % and doubled in cucumber. Extended shelf life and strong flavours.

Paddy: 300 grains per earhead. Harvest advanced by 15 days. Percentage of broken rice reduced during milling. Grain weight increases by 20%.

Panchgavya has been investigated on sugarcane, mustard,  groundnut, jowar,  bajra, ragi , maize, wheat, sunflower and coconut . In all of these, panchgavya acted as a growth stimulant and pest inhibitor.

Plants sprayed with panchgavya produce bigger leaves, sturdy side shoots from the trunk, and the roots are profuse, dense and go deep, making the plant take the maximum nutrients and water. A thin oily film  forms on the leaves and stems, reducing evaporation of water and allowing the plants to withstand long dry periods. Irrigation can be reduced by 30%.

Normally, yield falls when the farmer moves from chemical to organic farming, and this is the main reason why farmers fear the shift. If he uses panchgavya , the yield remains the same, the first year itself. The harvest is advanced by 15 days in all the crops.

Panchgavya increases shelf life, so selling and storing becomes easier.

I would suggest that you cut this out and share the information with the farmers you know. Let them try this out on a small part of their farms and see if it works. If it does, it will definitely make them richer and the consumers of their produce, healthier. Or, try it on your garden and the trees outside your house.

Get the book. Contact Dr. Natarajan at 09443358379.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in,www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Millions of animals are torn open every year in laboratories because people

Millions of animals are torn open every year in laboratories because people – and those in government- feel safer knowing that almost everything that reaches us has been tested on an animal before. 

The point is – does it make you safer? Imagine inventing a medicine for a bird. It is only tested on birds. Could it be given to a dog ? Then why should medicine tested on a rat be given to a human?

The human body is extremely complex. Humans differ from other animals anatomically, genetically and metabolically, meaning data derived from animals cannot be extrapolated to humans with sufficient accuracy. When a drug, or other medical treatment, is developed, it must be tested in an entire living system. Using another species is using the wrong system. These basic differences, when applied to an entire biological system become even greater. Even when genetically modified, there is no single animal model that can accurately mimic the complex human situation. There are far too many unknown variables that cannot all be accounted for. Dr John McArdle, head of critical care in Hartford Hospital says: ‘Historically, vivisection has been much like a slot machine. If researchers pull the experimentation lever often enough, eventually some benefits will result by pure chance.’ Pre-clinical testing needs to be conducted in such a way that eliminates the risk of species differences.  Good, relevant, and efficient science is what we must ask for, because we get medicines faster and cheaper. How could drugs, or products, tried out on animal bodies possibly be predictors of their effect on human bodies?

Each year, more than 100 million animals—including mice, rats, frogs, dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, monkeys, fish, and birds—are killed in just U.S. laboratories for curiosity-driven experimentation, and chemical, drug, food, and cosmetics testing. Multiply this with every country including India, Nepal and Bangladesh.(India, by the way, has not got a single patent from any testing till date, nor discovered any cure to any disease. That doesn’t stop the government from earmarking 100 acres in Telengana to be used to grow animals for testing).

While scientists may gloss over their lakhs of failures, the factual history clearly shows that animal testing is not much more than a trial and error method. Throughout history, all experiments on animals for human benefit have failed miserably. They have taught us close to nothing about how certain drugs interact with human bodies, and have led to two possible outcomes – either humans are exposed to dangers not predicted in animals, or we are left wanting of important medical breakthroughs because they do not pass at the stage of animal testing.

Look at some statistics from the American Federal Agency for Food and Drug Administration. The Agency has officially stated that 90% drugs demonstrated to be successful in animal tests have failed at the stage of human trials. This means that despite animal tests, in almost all cases, humans have been exposed to drugs with huge potential risks to their health. This not only questions the efficacy and the fundamental argument for using animals, but critically raises the question about all the drugs that failed in animals which might have worked in humans. How many discarded cures exist that might have worked for cancer?

One of the most well-remembered examples of this is the Thalidomide disaster in the 1950s and ‘60s. Thalidomide was an over-the-counter drug that had been proven to be safe during animal testing and was marketed as a sleeping and anti nausea pill. Within a year thousands of babies (I personally know one victim in Delhi), delivered by women who had taken the drug, were born with severe defects such as missing or shortened limbs. These deformities were linked back to Thalidomide, and the drug was banned.

There are many such examples – Clioquinol, an anti-diarrheal drug was shown to be effective in rats, cats, dogs and rabbits, but caused blindness and paralysis when tried on humans; Methysergide, a medicine for headaches, caused the scarring of hearts, kidneys and abdominal blood vessels in humans despite having been demonstrably safe during animal tests. The list is endless.

On the other side of the coin, failed animal tests can also leave us bereft of potential discoveries leading to major medical progress. For example, positive pressure ventilation is an essential technique used to keep a patient’s lungs from collapsing during surgery. This technique was discarded initially as it had not worked on animals. When it was tried directly on humans it became a major scientific breakthrough.

The cage ball valve, used in heart surgery, has a similar story. Didn't work in animals but works on humans. Albert Sabin, the inventor of the polio vaccine, publicly stated that work on the vaccine was long delayed because of misleading experimental models of the disease in monkeys.

Here are statements made by medical and scientific professionals:

Regarding Fleming’s use of penicillin in a human patient, after finding it ineffective in rabbits and dangerous to guinea pigs and hamsters: “How fortunate we didn’t have these animal tests …for penicillin would probably never have been granted a license, and possibly the whole field of antibiotics might never have been realized.” – Howard Florey, co-discoverer and manufacturer of penicillin.

“Uncritical reliance on the results of animal tests can be dangerously misleading and has cost the health and lives of tens of thousands of humans.” – Handbook of Laboratory Animal Science.

In fact, most major discoveries that have come about without any animal testing involved. Heart pacemakers were never tested on monkeys. They were derived from experiments made to keep the electrical activity of the heart going during surgery on humans. Similarly, cardiac catherization for diagnostic purposes was only tested on a human body. Even the technique of bypass surgery was discovered by using a portion of a human’s vein to replace obstructed segments. Anti-foaming agents, that are used to stop blood from bubbling when oxygen is added, were developed to initially stop milk from foaming and were adapted to use in open heart surgery. The technique of cardiopulmonary resuscitation was devised by practicing on human cadavers. Anaesthesia was only first tried out on humans to show its success.

This is not to say that we should indiscriminately start testing on humans. There are new technologies that give far better predictive results than animal testing, such as  microfluidic chips and microdosing. These techniques analyse the effects of drugs on an entire human living system, eliminating error caused by species differences, and resulting in data that is relevant to humans. Systematic reviews, conducted in the areas of toxicity testing and biomedical research, have shown that alternatives are far more predictive of human outcomes than data obtained from animals.

In the past, much research has been based on animals because we didn’t know any better. Today we are far more aware of the dangers of extrapolating from one species to another and we have scientific research methods – mass spectrometry, genome mapping, innovative imaging techniques and highly developed computer models capable of simulating parts of the human body as mathematical equations and three-dimensional graphical models.

Terminally ill patients don’t care whether a cancer drug works on a mouse, or that some disease can be cured in another species. Such claims only taunt them with false hope. They need real cures based on real science – not misleading and antiquated animal experiments. According to the Scientific American magazine “To the 2.6 million people around the world afflicted with multiple sclerosis, medicine has offered more frustration than comfort. Time after time, researchers have discovered new ways to cure laboratory rats of experimental induced encephalomyelitis, the murine model of MS, only to face obstacles in bringing the treatment to humans.”

Not only are the new techniques more accurate. They are much cheaper. A non-genotoxic cancer risk test on an animal costs about $700,000, whereas the same test done in using an in-vitro method costs only $22,000.

However, despite these facts and available alternatives, the myth of the necessity of animal testing continues. This is perpetuated by those who profit from it, and also by those who have been conditioned into thinking it is true. It is time to start raising questions to the so-called ‘expert’ scientific community and policy makers. Why are we wasting billions of rupees killing millions of animals in testing when it isn’t leading to any medical advancement? Whose money is it? Whose health is it?

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in,www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Claudius Galenus, known as Galen, was a Greek physician/surgeon  in the

Claudius Galenus, known as Galen, was a Greek physician/surgeon  in the Roman empire who was physician to several Roman emperors. He, unfortunately, influenced the development of various scientific disciplines, including anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacology and neurology, in European medical science for 1300 years, till proper scientists found that everything he said was “incorrect” or rubbish.

Galen's anatomical reports, based mainly on dissection of monkeys and pigs, remained uncontested until 1543, when printed descriptions and illustrations of human dissections were published in the seminal work De Humani Corporis Fabrica by Andreas Vesalius, who had conducted dissection on human cadavers which turned out to be completely different. Galen's theory of the circulatory system remained unchallenged until ca. 1242, when Ibn al-Nafis published his book Sharh Tashrih al-Qanun li’ Ibn Sina (Commentary on Anatomy in Avicenna's Canon), in which he reported his discovery of pulmonary circulation, proving Galen completely wrong.

Galen's principal interest was in human anatomy, but Roman law had prohibited the dissection of human cadavers. Because of this restriction, Galen performed anatomical dissections on living and dead animals, as he believed that these were the same as humans.  His anatomical experiments on animal models led him to propound on the circulatory, nervous, respiratory systems and other structures-  all of which turned out to be entirely incorrect. Galen killed thousands of people using the theories deduced from killing thousands of animals.

Unfortunately, while all these theories, gleaned from killing animals, were proved wrong, his legacy of testing on animals remains prevalent till today, even though it has been proven again and again that animal-based experiments have not contributed to science, but rather have hindered scientific and medical progress. As a matter of fact, most of the major life saving devices and procedures came without anything to do with animals. Take the heart, for example:

Dogs’ coronary arteries differ from humans. They have smaller connections with one another and the left coronary artery dominates, while in the human the right artery dominates. The conduction system has a different pattern of blood supply. Dogs’ blood coagulates differently from humans. Their reaction to shock is different. After massive blood loss, a dog’s intestines are congested, while in the human we see pallor and ischemia (lack of blood supply). But we continue to experiment on dogs.

Here is a list of major discoveries made without animal experimentation:

ANESTHESIA-

Ether was discovered by Valerius Cordus in 1540, when he mixed alcohol and sulphuric acid. Called “sweet oil of vitriol”, Medical students used ether to get high in “ether frolics”. Dr. Crawford Long, a surgeon, noticed that people with bruises who had taken ether were insensitive to pain. He tried it on a patient during surgery.

HYPOTHERMIA- (cooling the body before surgery)-

In 1757 observation of persons exposed to cold for long periods showed that they could survive, and was written about by the Swedish Academy of Sciences. In 1798 Dr. James Currie had human volunteers take prolonged baths in cold water. He discovered that their heart rate was reduced. This information is now used to reduce the heart rate in patients before surgery.

POSITIVE PRESSURE VENTILATION- (blowing air into the lungs during surgery)-

Dr. Ferdinand Sauerbrach created positive pressure ventilation to keep the lungs from collapsing during surgery, but withdrew the technique when it proved harmful to animals. In 1891 American surgeon George Fell decided to use it anyway, and used it successfully.

HEART LUNG MACHINE-

Dr. Jack Gibbon tested it on cats, then humans. The humans died. Then other doctors perfected it while using it on human patients. Dr. Anthony Andreason created the low flow theory – that less blood would have to be used than the amount in the body, by observing that war injured soldiers could survive on less blood than originally thought.

HEART PACEMAKERS-

Grew out of ventricular septal defect surgery. To prevent deaths during heart surgery, due to stoppage of electrical activity, the pacemaker was developed to keep the electrical activity going and to keep the heart from giving out.

ARTIFICIAL HEART VALVES-

The cage ball valve was almost withheld from human patients because it killed dogs in the lab. Drs. A. Starr and L. Edwards found that it worked on humans.

BLOOD TRANSFUSIONS-

In 1667, Jean Dennis transfused blood from animals to humans and killed people. Blood typing was discovered by an American scientist without animal experiments, and that led to successful blood transfusions.

CARDIAC CATHERIZATION- (for diagnostic purposes)-

First used by Dr. Forsmann on himself. He put a catheter through his own arm and advanced the tip to his heart, observing it through a fluoroscope.

BYPASS SURGERY-

In 1961, in France, Dr. Kunlin used a portion of a person’s vein to replace obstructed segments. This gave birth to bypass surgery for different parts of the body.

CALCIUM ANTAGONISTS- (used to treat high blood pressure)-

It was discovered to lower the blood pressure when given to patients to reduce heart pain (angina).

BUBBLE OXYGENATOR-

C. Walton Lillehei developed it through learning what happened to patients during surgery when the heart lung machine was used and complications arose. He decided to use the disposable sheet oxygenator, so that blood would not become contaminated.

ANTI-FOAMING AGENTS- (used to stop blood from bubbling when oxygen is put into it)-

Was developed to stop milk from foaming, and adapted to use in open heart surgery.

COARCTATION OF THE AORTA- (twisting of the aorta that prevented blood flow)-

Clarence Crafford put a clamp on the ruptured aorta and discovered that he could still perform surgery on the aorta without the patient dying. He discovered this by accident on a patient.

MITRAL STENOSIS- (defective heart valve)-

Dr. Henry S. Souttar, London Hospital, 1925, put his forefinger through the heart’s mitral valve and widened it. In 1949 Dr. Dwight E. Harking decided to use that same technique which is called finger fracture angioplasty.

BLUE BABIES- (Fallot’s Tetrology – Four heart defects that lead to blue baby syndrome)-

Dr. R. C. Brock of Guy’s Hospital developed a technique of surgery to overcome this problem, without any animal experiments (British Medical Journal 6/12/48). Another technique was developed by British surgeons N. R. Barrett and Raymond Daley of St. Thomas Hospital (British Medical Journal 4/23/49).

CARDIOPULMONARY RESUSCITATION-

Kouwenhoven, Jude and Knickerbocker devised this technique through practice on cadavers.

CLOSED CHEST CARDIAC RESUSCITATION-

Dr. Paul Zoll used this technique (electric shock) as early as 1956.

ELECTROCARDIOGRAM-

Brown and Mac Millan, Toronto, began investigating arrhythmia disorders directly on patients. Converted an old encephalogram to an electrocardiogram to monitor heart rhythm disorders.

DIGITALIS-

Dr. Thomas Lewis, Great Britain --- “The most essential information, the profound effects which digitalis is capable of exerting in auricular fibrillation, could not have been won through observation on the frog or normal mammal, but only, as it was won, by observation on patients.”

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in,www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Research has revealed that there is a colony of cockroaches on the moon

Research has revealed that there is a colony of cockroaches on the moon, the descendants of the cockroach that went in Apollo 11. You don’t believe me? Didn’t you read it in the papers?  A magazine article? On WhatsApp? It is probably true, otherwise why would so many people write about it.

That is how the human mind works. When a person hears the same information several times, no matter how absurd it is, the mind starts convincing us of its truthfulness. WhatsApp forwards are a classic example of this, where, if misinformation is circulated a number of times, it takes on the status of truth. This is called the illusory truth effect.

Researchers, led by Liza Fazio at Vanderbilt University, have shown that when one hears something for the second or third time, the brain responds faster to it. This faster response is wrongly considered by the person to be a signal for the information being true. Gord Pennycook, a psychologist at Yale University, studies the spread of misinformation, and has shown through experiments that when participants were told something and then told the same thing the next day their familiarity with the news led them to rate it as being true. The frustrating truth about the illusory truth effect is that it happens to us unthinkingly. Even people who are knowledgeable about topics can fall prey to it, specially if it is reinforced by an equally lazy “mentor” type like a teacher/doctor/parent. In 2015, Fazio and co-authors published a paper that found that prior knowledge about a topic doesn’t inoculate you to the effect.

The illusory truth effect has been studied for decades. Typically, experimenters in these studies ask participants to rate a series of trivia statements as true or false. Hours, weeks, or even months later, the experimenters bring the participants back again for a quiz. On that second visit, some of the statements are new and some are repeats. And it’s here that the effect shows itself: Participants are reliably more likely to rate statements they’ve seen before as being true — regardless of whether they are. When you’re hearing something for the second or third time, your brain becomes faster to respond to it. “And your brain misattributes that fluency as a signal for it being true,” says Fazio “The more you hear something, the more you’ll have this gut-level feeling that maybe it’s true.”

People often pass on information without validating its source. The internet is full of amazing seeds that make you lose weight immediately, miracle hair oils and, of course, cancer cures. Studies have shown that fake information tends to circulate much faster than real information, and is remembered and believed by people for a longer period of time. This is especially true when the information encountered is in line with our beliefs or desires. E.g. immigrants are the cause of all social and economic issues, women are bad drivers, the British are responsible for all of India’s problems, drugs must be tested on animals before being ready for human consumption and so on.

Does that last one sound familiar? Many of you might be thinking “But of course drugs have to be tested on animals. Scientists have been doing so for 100 years, so it must be necessary.”

While we expect politicians to tell lies, no one exaggerates and twists truth as much as the so called scientist. 100 years later we are no closer to even discovering what causes cancer – much less what cures it. But tests on over 50 million animals go on annually and, in order to justify this , things are periodically put into the papers that a cure is just round the corner. We have not even been able to deal with teenage acne, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer's – all of which are on the rise – but scientific misinformation goes on to keep us from questioning the huge amounts of money given by governments and charities to pay salaries.

Animals are completely different from humans –anatomically, genetically and metabolically – even their basic cellular structures. So, even if a particular medicine or procedure is effective or safe on an animal, it may have adverse effects on humans. Even more importantly, human diseases occur naturally, while experiments on animals involve an artificial re-creation of the disease in the animal, which is inevitably inaccurate. Giving a rat diabetes, by destroying its pancreas and then injecting it with drugs to see its effect on the disease, has no bearing at all on the human condition. Rats have been genetically modified to be cancer ridden. Not one experiment on them has shown the way forward to curing the disease in humans.

Data derived from testing on animals cannot be accurately extrapolated to humans. The American Federal Agency for Food and Drug Administration has confirmed that nine out of ten drugs, shown to be successful in animal tests, have failed in human trials. E.g. a drug named Cylert was passed through animal tests and proposed to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. However, when administered to children it had disastrous effects, causing liver failure in 13 children, 11 of whom either died or had to undergo liver transplants. Vaccines tested on animals pass the tests. The same vaccines given to children in India have caused so many recent deaths.

Clearly, animal testing is not just a waste of time and money, it also has the potential of huge damage to humans.

The flipside is equally dangerous – there are drugs that fail animal testing but could potentially be very useful for humans. E.g. the path-breaking drug penicillin was found to be ineffective on rats and rabbits and had a deadly effect on guinea pigs and hamsters. Scientists were discarding it. However, since passing animal testing was not considered mandatory at that time, it was tested directly on humans and opened up the entire field of antibiotics for human welfare. Because the scientists are so stubborn about animal testing, there may be a number of potential cures that have never reached us.

Despite common sense telling us that a rat is not a monkey is not a human, animal testing has been mandatory for decades and is allowed, even encouraged, by non scientific people who falsely believe it to be useful. This is a real life example of the illusory truth effect.

New technologies have now been developed, which are more effective ways of predicting effects on humans. We have mass spectrometry, genome mapping, innovative imaging techniques and highly developed computer models capable of simulating parts of the human body, to name just a few. In-vitro experiments, using human blood and tissue to determine toxicity. have 2-3 times more accurate results than animal testing. Research on humans, such as clinical studies by analyzing a patient’s condition and responses to treatments, provide vital information, and have given us treatments for childhood leukaemia, thyroid disease, current HIV and AIDS therapies and many more. Similarly, autopsies have given critical information about human bodies and their interaction with a variety of drugs and procedures.

Even though we encounter new and valid information, we continue supporting the pointless practice of animal testing, under the false belief that it is useful to medical research. Scientists, universities and big pharmaceutical companies have been perpetuating this belief systematically for years, as it helps them accumulate huge research funding and cover up their inaction and inefficiency. Companies that earn millions selling harmful products like cigarettes, sugar, colas, genetically modified foods, polluting cars etc., benefit by influencing research and hiding the real effects of their products on people by saying that their products are safe based on ‘successful’ animal tests.

This age, more than any other, is, on one hand, victim to an overload of information, giving us little time to go into details. On the other, it is easy to expose fraud which has been posing as science. I would encourage you to read up on the failure and potential disasters of animal testing, because it is not about the animal’s life: it is about yours.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in,www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

When you buy German cars you have given your consent to them for all the monkeys

When you buy German cars you have given your consent to them for all the monkeys and humans they have maimed and killed. It has now been discovered that German automakers funded studies that had humans and monkeys inhaling diesel fumes. Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler have been exposed in a report published by the New York Times, and various German papers, about a 2014 study carried out by the  European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector (EUGT)- a group owned by the car industries - with the aim of defending the use of diesel which had been classified in 2012 as carcinogenic. The animal experiments were done at the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute (LRRI) in New Mexico, and the human ones in Aachen University Hospital, Germany, where the health effects of toxic "short-term nitrogen dioxide inhalation by healthy people" were studied. Nitrogen dioxide is a gas found in diesel fumes. The University Hospital has apologized saying that the experiments were done “to optimize safety for truck drivers, mechanics and welders.” Monkeys were put into airtight chambers and they had to inhale the exhaust of the cars, for hours, till they died. German Environment Minister, Barbara Hendricks, said later, she was "horrified" by the news. Volkswagen has promised an inquiry into the scandal and has asked for “forgiveness for this bad behavior and for poor judgment.” BMW  and Daimler, which owns Mercedes Benz, while agreeing that they commissioned the studies, claim they did not know animals had been used." Daimler said  it was "shocked by the extent of those studies and the way they were carried out." Such an experiment was abhorrent and superfluous. "We are convinced that the scientific methods chosen at the time were wrong. Germany's Green party has promised to take up this matter with the administration of Chancellor Angela Merkel. When tests on animals and people showed the opposite of what they wanted, these car industries put a software device to cheat pollution tests about their emissions.

The Dutch are probably the only people not scandalized. Dutch researchers have been performing tests "for years" on humans and animals to study the effects of diesel fumes. The Dutch National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) "is involved in research in which volunteers are exposed to diluted emissions from a diesel engine" for hours and this includes people who are sick and those with heart problems. Dutch researcher Nicole Janssen told the Dutch daily NRC that between 2010 and 2015 a large research project into air pollution was carried out. "I myself have carried out tests for the RIVM. With mice, rats, and occasionally with people," says toxicology professor, Paul Borm.

Practically every industry has experimented with animals – even when it is not necessary. The sugar industry used  a trade group called the Sugar Research Foundation in the 1960s, funded a research project on animals to disprove the allegation that there was a connection between sugar and heart health. Thousands of animals were fed only sugar and then dissected to see what the impact was on their hearts. But when the research indicated that sugar might promote not only heart disease but also bladder cancer, the industry group ended the study and never published the results. So the animals suffered and died needlessly. The same sugar industry then employed scientists to prove that artificial sweeteners were carcinogenic, and these were banned on shaky evidence. Again hundreds of animals were killed. The tobacco industry did the same, making thousands of animals smoke cigarettes, or be exposed to cigarette fumes, in order to try and prove that cigarette smoking was not injurious to health.

Industries that make a fool of people into buying what they do not need, or what is bad for their health, use animal suffering to manipulate science.  The industry that uses animals the most is the cosmetic / beauty industry. And the biggest experimenters on animals are L'Oreal, Estee Lauder, Procter & Gamble, Clorox, Johnson & Johnson, S.C.Johnson, Colgate-Palmolive, Reckitt Benckiser, Church & Dwight, Unilever, and Dial/Henkel. What is even more frightening is that companies that experiment on animals buy small niche companies that don’t experiment on animals, and then use those as a cover to hide their own malevolence. For instance, The Body Shop is frequented by customers who want to make an anti – animal testing statement. But The Body Shop is owned by L’Oreal which has the worst ethics when it comes to animal testing, and is making no effort to change its policies. Tiny brands, like Burt’s Bees (owned by Clorox) and Tom’s of Maine (owner: Colgate-Palmolive), are touted as cruelty free.

These are some of  the face and hair brands that test on animals: Almay, Artistry (Amway), Avon, Bobbi Brown, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Chanel, Clinique, CoverGirl, Dior, Estee Lauder, Flirt, Givenchy, Guerlain, Helena Rubinstein, L’Oreal, Lancôme, MAC, Mary Kay, Max Factor, Maybelline, Rimmel, Revlon, Shiseido, Tom Ford, Yves Saint Laurent, Avene, Bain de Soleil, Bioderma, Biotherm, Bliss, Clarins, Clean & Clear, Clearasil, Garnier, Kiehl’s, L’Occitane, La Mer, Mederma, Neutrogena, Nivea, Noxzema, Oriflame, Ponds, Vaseline, Vichy, Walgreens, Yves Rocher, Clairol, Fekkai, Head & Shoulders, Herbal Essences, Kerastase, Natural Instincts, Nexxus, Nice ‘n Easy, Pantene, Sunsilk, TRESemmé, Vidal Sasson, Dial, Dove, Ivory, Johnson’s, Lux, Wella.

One would have thought that razors and hair remover companies would not need to experiment on animals, but these companies still slice and dice animals to see whether their razors are sharp enough: Bic Corporation, Braun, Gillette Co., Nair, Schiek, Veet.

So do these brands: Band-Aid, Pampers, Savlon, Vaseline, Vicks.

And so do these sanitary napkin companies. Which towel absorbs the most blood. Test on cutting an animal and then seeing the blood: Always, Carefree, Femfresh, Stayfree.

These are only a few. None of them needs to test on animals, as none of the animal tests are reliable. In fact, statistics show that 90% of all animal tests are rejected. So why do companies test on animals? I will tell you next time. But first, why do you buy products that are tested on animals? Stop any that are on this list – including your next foreign luxury car .

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in,www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

When I bite into a bar of chocolate, I think of calories.

When I bite into a bar of chocolate, I think of calories. I don’t think of rat hair and faeces. But perhaps I should.

The American Food and Drug Authority, the regulatory body for food standards in the United States, publishes something called the Defect Levels Handbook. This sets permissible limits for “natural or unavoidable defects in foods that present no health hazards for humans”. The contents of these ‘natural and unavoidable’ defects is probably to protect manufacturers from being sued.

          The FDA Handbook allows the average chocolate bar (about 100 grams) to have one rodent hair in it. This 100 grams is also allowed to contain up to 60 insect fragments. Legally.

Insects – either whole, body parts, larvae or mites – are the most common permissible defect, allowed in 71 foods. You will find them in peanut butter, paprika, oregano, cinnamon, bay leaves and many more foods. Oregano can have up to 300 insect fragments, with ground oregano allowed up to 1250 fragments. Tomato juice is allowed to have 10 fruit fly eggs or one maggot for every 100 grams. About 20 maggots or 75 mites are permissible in 15 grams of dried mushrooms. 5% of a can of cherries can also contain maggots.

In figs, interestingly, the FDA specifically only allows insect heads – up to 13 heads for every 100 grams of fig paste. Why only heads? God knows! (Because the FDA probably doesn’t).

However, what the FDA does know quite clearly, is the number of insects and rodent hairs that would make the perfect combination in food. It allows every 100 grams of peanut butter to have up to 30 insect fragments and one rodent hair. 50 grams of cinnamon is allowed 400 insect fragments and 10 rodent hairs. Paprika can contain 75 insect fragments and 11 rodents hairs for every 25 grams.

          Cinnamon, paprika, oregano, thyme, sesame seeds (til), fennel seeds (saunf), ginger and other spices often contain another ingredient – animal or mammal excreta. FDA allows about 20 milligrams of this in 1 kilogram of cocoa beans.  ‘mammalian excreta’ is another name for mouse faeces. Every kg of wheat is allowed to have an average of 9 faeces pellets. Even popcorn can have 1 pellet per subsample (the FDA handbook does not define the size of the subsample).

          Mould, a type of fungus is also a commonly permitted contaminant in most fruit, vegetables, butters and jams. Up to 20% of paprika is allowed to be mouldy. 5% of a packet of bay leaves (tej patta) and 3% of a can of frozen peaches is also allowed to have mould in it. Blackcurrant jam is high on the list, with 74% of it permissibly mouldy. Low levels of mould are also allowed in tomato ketchup, tomato juice and canned tomatoes.

If all this weren’t enough, the FDA handbook also has a provision for the presence of ‘foreign matter’ in select foods. This includes objects such as stones, sticks, jute bags and even cigarette butts! This , strangely enough, fits into “natural or unavoidable defects in foods that present no health hazards for humans”.

If you are appalled by the low quality demanded of American packaged food, let us shift the focus to our own country. The Indian version of the FDA is the FSSAI – Food Safety and Standards Authority of India. It follows similar standards but makes them so confusing that no one bothers to read them. Instead of putting them out clearly in one handbook, it hides them in different rules for different foods.

When describing permissible food defects, FSSAI uses a term called ‘extraneous matter’. This is defined as “any matter contained in an article of food which may be carried from the raw materials, packaging materials or process systems used for its manufacture or which is added to it, but such matter does not render such article of food unsafe”.

FSSAI does not clearly define permitted contaminants in one handbook or document. It is, however, hidden in the fine print of their numerous rules and regulations.

For instance, FSSAI requires de-shelled peanuts to only be ‘practically’ free from matter such as stones, dirt, clay etc. Further, 5% of the total packet is permitted to be damaged. 2% of most dry fruits and nuts can permissibly be ‘damaged or discoloured’ which includes damage by insects.

With dry apricots, FSSAI states that they should be free from living insects, but goes on to allow a ‘reasonable’ amount of insect debris, vegetable matter and other objectionable matter. Up to 3% of supari can also be damaged by mould and insects.

A packet of wheat flour (atta) can contain up to 2% ash. Paushtik atta (which means healthy or nourishing) can have a little more ash – 2.75%. Whole grains of wheat, maize, jawar, bajra, rice and most lentils including chana, rajma, moong, masur, urad etc. are permitted 1% extraneous matter, which includes 0.1% impurities of animal origin. These essentials, which every household in our country consumes on a daily basis, is allowed to contain metallic pieces, sand, gravel, dirt, pebbles, stones, lumps of earth, clay, mud and animal faeces and hair.

Sugar, refined sugar, bura and misri are permitted to have 0.1% extraneous matter, while this is permitted up to 2% in the case of jaggery. If you were impressed by this accuracy, honey, on the other hand, only needs to be visually inspected to ensure that it is free from mould, dirt, scum, the fragments of bees and other insects etc.

Similarly, one of India’s favourites – tea – is required by FSSAI to only be free from living insects, moulds, dead insects, insect fragments and rodent contamination which are “visible to the naked eye.”

FSSAI also allows most types of salt and spices, such as jeera, elaichi, laung, dalchini, red chillies, haldi, black pepper, dhania, methi etc., to contain 1-2% extraneous matter. This includes dust, dirt, stones and lumps of earth. One official told me that some years ago, when India needed dals immediately, they imported them from Burma.  The dal came full of stones. Instead of making a fuss, the FSAAI  checked with their ministry and simply changed the rules to allow more stones.

So the quality of food is decided by corporations and regulatory bodies created to protect them. Who protects the consumer?

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in,www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Every country is replete with innovations in policy:

Every country is replete with innovations in policy: things that make life better for everyone. If we had a team in Niti Ayog, whose only job was to look through the Net and find these new strategies, then they could pass them on to the ministries.

Perhaps the most important decision that was made in any country in 2017 was that the British government made CCTVs mandatory in all slaughter houses. Millions of animals are treated terribly before they are killed. I made a film on the way animals were treated in the Idgah slaughterhouse in Delhi . The judge fainted and the slaughterhouse closed down. But there are 15,000 more that behave as badly. Animals are kicked, punched, beaten, burnt with cigarettes, given electric shocks, even sexually molested before they are cut. Thousands of lactating mother buffaloes are cut illegally. And, before they are cut, their teats are cut first so that there is evidence for the importer that the meat came from a pregnant, or lactating, animal. Little babies are cut , dragged by their tails and jumped on so that their ribs and legs break. Human children aged 4 cut goats with razor blades, letting them bleed to death in piles. Pigs are beaten to death routinely, as the sellers believe this makes the meat softer. In one video, taken in a slaughter in Kerala , iron rods were used to kill calves . They were hit several times and then the rods were inserted into their throats. I showed the film to the CM and he immediately ordered an “enquiry”. Under new rules, CCTV will be mandatory in abattoirs in the UK – a good first step to prevent the very worst cases of abuse. This should be made mandatory in India as well.

Here is a new way of dealing with the overflow of dogs and cats on the street. We have a law that orders sterilization of all dogs. Few municipalities do it – even the ones that do it , do it in fits and starts, allowing litters to be born and starting the process over and over again. In the meantime, the breeding of dogs has been made illegal, but pedigreed dogs are sold in the thousands by illegal breeders and are found in every pet shop . If we could get rid of the foreign pedigreed dog market, we could find all our Indian dogs homes.

In 2017, California passed a law, A.B.485, that pet stores will only sell puppies, kittens and rabbits from shelters and rescue centres. Violators will be fined $ 500 and shut down. This effectively puts an end to commercial animal breeders and brokers, and to the terrible practice of puppy mills which house animals in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions without adequate food, water, socialization or veterinary care.

California is the first state to pass such legislation, though it is following dozens of its own cities and jurisdictions, which have passed similar measures on a smaller scale.

The pet trade has predictably protested, saying that “ it would jeopardise jobs”. But since here  it does not employ anyone, and is a messy business which operates by a person buying a few dogs and multiplying them  in his own house without any standards being adhered to and then putting them in illegal pet shops, it will put no one out of business.

In any case, how will it make a difference whether the dogs come from breeders or shelters? People who like paying money for buying dogs, because they think they get “better” animals, will do it anyway. The shops will continue to be in business. 70% of all dogs that are sold by breeders suffer from incurable illnesses, and 30% die in the first week of parvo or distemper. If the dogs are from shelters then they are bound to be disease free.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals  had this to say “By cutting off the puppy mill pipeline that moves cruelly bred animals from across the country into California pet stores, A.B. 485 will also help prevent California consumers from being duped into purchases that contribute to unconscionable animal ‘production’ and suffering.” 

In another development, Trip Advisor, which is one of the largest travel sites in the world and its booking service Viator, will no longer sell tickets to hundreds of attractions where travellers come into contact with wild animals, or endangered species, held in captivity. The attractions include elephant rides, swimming-with-dolphin experiences and the petting of endangered species like tigers, circuses with animals etc.

The decision has been applauded by all wildlife preservation groups, which say dolphins and elephants held in captivity for entertainment purposes suffer severe physical and psychological damage. TripAdvisor also announced the creation of a wildlife tourism education portal, in partnership with leading animal protection organizations, that will inform the site’s users, who review attractions, and general visitors about animal welfare issues so that they can make more informed choices about their holidays. I hope this means that no tourists come for those dreadful elephant based festivals in Kerala, where every year we lose elephants who run amok because of their suffering and sometimes people are killed as well. I also hope that the Pushkar mela goes unattended since it stopped being a mela many years ago and is now just a market where camels are sold for illegal slaughter to a mafia group of U.P. smugglers.

Last October, Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit released a study on wildlife tourism. Among its many findings was that between two million and four million tourists per year pay visit attractions that are considered harmful to animal welfare. Animal welfare groups are hoping these changes – TripAdvisor has 350 million visitors a month -create a ripple effect throughout the travel booking industry. TripAdvisor and Expedia already do not allow bookings that involve killing or injuring captive animals for blood sport, like Spanish bullfighting for example, but TripAdvisor has gone one step ahead for more commonly seen animal amusements.  

Scotland, Ireland, Romania and Guatemala have banned circuses with animal acts. India had banned most in 1990 when I was Minister for Environment but, even now, several circuses are using elephants and others use horses, dogs and birds. The Central Zoo Authority is closing them down one after another.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in,www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

The medical use of Ketamine Hydrochloride is as an anaesthetic

The medical use of Ketamine Hydrochloride is as an anaesthetic used in medical procedures, or surgery. It is a white crystal that can be used as a recreational hallucinogenic anaesthetic (and is used for date rape). It is banned in this country for open sale as it is a party drug. Unfortunately, the veterinary hospitals have suffered as a result of this recent ban, because we now have to use much more expensive anaesthetics when we operate on animals.

Like all drugs it has major side effects. An allergy to it may result in tightness in the chest or throat, trouble breathing, swallowing, or talking, hoarseness or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat. Sometimes it can cause a loss of appetite and nausea. It can cause urinary tract damage from the kidney to the bladder.

It induces a dream-like feeling, jerky muscle movements, drowsiness, confusion, unusual thoughts. The effects don’t last long, but until they wear off, ketamine can cause a loss of feeling in the body and paralysis of the muscles. It can also lead you to experiencing a distortion of reality, giving you a floating or detached feeling, as if the mind and body have been separated, with some people feeling incapable of moving. It causes  headaches, confusion, agitation, panic attacks, and impairment in short and long term memory. Frequent use is sometimes associated with the development of depression. Studies show that frequent anaesthesia drugs in young children may lead to long-term brain problems. This may also happen in unborn babies if the mother ingests ketamine during the third trimester of pregnancy.

Ketamine can be injected, mixed into a drink, or snorted up the nose. And now you can eat it in your chicken as well.

Consumer groups in America have filed a case against the third largest chicken company (with a sale of more than 2.8 billion dollars), after the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) scrutinized 69 poultries and found 82 “unconfirmed residues” in the chicken, including ketamine, antibiotics, pesticides and growth hormones in the chicken. The company sold its chicken – as most poultries do – as 100% natural . The company not only sells chicken under its own label but supplies to different distributors who sell under different labels, and thousands of stand alone restaurants . And now India is allowing the import of this chicken.

No one knows why the poultries were using ketamine. Was it to sedate the animals before slaughter or before live transport?  Was it to make the consumer feel “high” or “satiated” after eating the chicken?

These are the same poultries that refused to reduce antibiotic use because “ raising chickens without antibiotics would lead to a high number of chicken deaths”. So, they admit that their chickens are so badly kept in filthy, inhumane, factory farm conditions  that they are in a permanent state of illness that needs antibiotics. All over the world consumers are becoming resistant to antibiotics. Normal infections have escalated into a new world of superbugs that doctors have no tools to fight. All investigations show antibiotics, used on animals bred for slaughter, as the main culprits. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2013’s  report links two of 18 antibiotic-resistant bacterium to the use of antibiotics in animals.

Ketamine wasn't the only problematic substance found in the chicken: What were the other 82 "unconfirmed residues" -

Eleven antibiotics were found; chloramphenicol, a powerful antibiotic that can trigger bone marrow suppression in humans, prohibited for use in animals that will become food; amoxicillin, known as a "medically important for humans" not approved in poultry. Desethylene ciprofloxacin, a "medically important antibiotic for humans"; Prednisone, a steroid; Ketoprofen, an anti–inflammatory drug; Butorphanol, an opioid analgesic, The pesticides Abamectin and Emamectin were detected. Two substances, banned in chicken production, included the synthetic growth hormones Melengestrol acetate and Ractopamine. Three instances of penicillin residue were detected, for which the residue regulatory limit is zero. Consumers eating the chickens are also eating steroids, recreational and anti inflammatory drugs and prohibited antibiotics. All these can make people very sick.

This is far from the first time unlabeled human drugs have been found in meat. The New York Times reported  that most chicken feather-meal samples, examined in one study, contained Tylenol, one-third contained the antihistamine Benadryl, and samples from China actually contained Prozac and the antihistamine Hydroxyzine. The FDA has caught  many hatcheries injecting antibiotics directly into chicken eggs. The largest poultry seller in the US was caught injecting eggs with the antibiotic gentamicin.

In 2013 the FDA issued new antibiotic regulations. Has it made any difference to the use of antibiotics in chickens?

No.  

Antibiotic use is on the rise. They are simply relabelled. “Growth promoters” (meaning antibiotics and hormones) has been removed from labels, but the drugs are still routinely used for the new indication of "disease prevention."

Even after the guidance was published, a Reuters investigation found all the poultry factory farm companies using antibiotics, hormones and pesticides pervasively, completely ignoring the regulators. Records showed the antibiotics bacitracin and Monensin are added "to every ration fed to a flock grown early this year."  Also caught red-handed using antibiotics, was the fried restaurant chain that is so popular in India.

But antibiotics are the least of the unlabeled drugs and chemicals lurking in chicken. According  to the Associated Press, U.S. chickens continue to be fed with inorganic arsenic to produce quicker weight gain with less food and enhanced colour. This arsenic goes into the human body.

The effects of ketamine are more pronounced when eaten with alcohol. So, people who eat chicken nuggets while drinking may have a trance like confused reaction that is not caused by the alcohol alone.

 

Most people do not realize that big pharmaceutical companies all have a veterinary division in which they make hormones, antibiotics etc. for animals raised for food. They never advertise this. And until a crisis happens the media do not report it. But the danger to human beings is acute.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in,www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

The world is getting hotter. The gap between the need and availability of freshwater is widening every day.

The world is getting hotter. The gap between the need and availability of freshwater is widening every day.

Despite finding ourselves in such a situation, we continue to propagate practices that waste trillions of litres of water every day. One of these, which I have been focusing on, is the humungous wastage of water in the meat industry. I have given you the statistics of the water that goes into the production of beef and poultry. Now come to pork.

Pigs need vast amounts of water to drink and wallow in. The average water footprint of pig meat globally is 5,988 litres/kg, meaning that much water is used to produce 1 kilo of pork on our plates. The production of pork uses five to twenty times more water than the production of grains and cereals (1500-2000 litres/kg), potatoes (387 litres/kg) and tomatoes (214 litres/kg).

Despite this, pork production is being increased in India. As per statistics of the Indian Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fishing, the production of pork in India has increased by 21% (81,250 tonnes) between 2015-16 and 2016-17. In 2017, an estimated 1.2 crore pigs were slaughtered in India. The import of pork has also been increasing annually by about 11% since 2010.

More Indian producers have adopted the western industrial method of animal production. This is the format of more animals, faster growth and shorter meat-to-market time. Large numbers of animals are bred in one facility, where they are fed grains and pumped with growth promoters, before being slaughtered for their meat. These industrial systems use more water than traditional grazing systems, thus increasing the stress on local water resources.

An increasing number of live pigs are being imported into India, as they are larger than local pigs and produce more meat. These pigs can weigh up to 300 kgs and yield about 180 kgs of pork per animal. If the average global water footprint of pork is 5,988 litres/kg, it takes about 10-11 lakh litres of water to raise a single such pig for its meat.

The largest proportion of water, about 67% or 7 lakh litres, is spent in growing food for breeding one pig. Pigs have a high feed conversion ratio, which is the amount of food needed by the animal in order to be ready for killing. Pigs are generally given concentrated feed, which again takes a particularly large amount of water and land to produce.

On-farm water use in piggeries is estimated at 33% of the total water footprint, or about 3.5 lakh litres per pig. Pigs drink an average of 25 litres of water a day, depending on the weather and their size. Pigs require upto 75 litres of water per day for drinking and washing down. This requirement goes up even more if the pig is diseased, the feed is insufficient, the sow is lactating, or if the environmental temperature is high.

Water is also used in maintaining the farms and cages where pigs are kept in preparation for slaughter. As part of the slaughter process, pigs are usually stunned electrically, then cut to bleed to death, after which they are scalded in large amounts of extremely hot water to remove their hair and skin.

After scalding, the animals are immediately chilled to maintain the quality of their meat, which also involves large amounts of water. The removal of internal organs again requires water for cleaning purposes, as does the cutting stage. This combined ‘service water’ use is estimated to be about 85,000 litres per pig. More water is used in post-farm activities, which include the stages of pork processing, packaging, distribution and consumer use.

Apart from direct use, it is important to recognize that the production of pigs, right from the feed growing stage till their packaging, pollutes innumerable litres of water with fertilizers, antibiotics, organic and inorganic matter from the pig farm and so on. Not enough care is given to the treatment and disposal of water from piggeries to help reduce the water pollution in the surrounding area. This water pollution is included in the total water footprint of pork.

What you are eating is not pork chops but vast amounts of water. While I cannot convince everybody to turn vegan, I think it’s only fair for each of us to consider just how much meat we consume every day, and how much we could cut down on. Even one less pork chop, can save more than 900 litres of water.

Let us learn from Cape Town.

Cape Town in South Africa is a rich city of 4.5 million people. It has run out of water. Severe restrictions have been put on every resident. From February 2018 not more than 50 litres, for bathing, eating, washing etc, is allowed per person. Water for flushing, showers, gardens, carwashes, are banned. On June 4th 2018, or Day Zero, all municipal water will stop and be rerouted to 149 emergency pickup points, and people will have to queue for 25 litres every day. Water supply will only be maintained in hospitals.

Cape Town is a test case for what happens when climate change, extreme inequality, and political dysfunction collide. It is a forerunner for the cities of India.

Cape Town has highways, shopping malls, restaurants, slaughterhouses, high-rises. As the water diminished, no attempt was made to stop the large water guzzlers – the meat production industry, the bottled water/cola manufacturers. Cape Town’s water comes from six dams. Rainfall patterns have changed due to global warming. Most of the dams are now in desertified areas. Theewaterskloof Dam, the biggest feeder, is currently at 12.5 percent of its capacity.

By February 2018 the agricultural sector has incurred R14 billion (US$1.17 billion) in losses due to water shortage. Capetown farms, which contribute 23 per cent of South Africa’s agricultural output and are the main employer in rural areas, are closing down orchards, fields and vineyards. Livestock herds have been slaughtered, fruit trees felled. So far 37,000 jobs have gone, and an estimated 50,000 have been pushed below the poverty line due to job losses, and inflation due to increases in the price of food. 

Tourism is in sharp decline. Businesses are relocating, so other jobs are disappearing. Families that can, are leaving the city. A breakdown in the sanitary system is leading to an outbreak of disease and civil unrest. The army has been put on alert.

Is this the first time that a large modern city has run out of water? In 2008 Barcelona came close. Sao Paulo, the large city in the Western hemisphere is almost there, three years ago supplies ran so low that  the pipes sucked up mud and the flow of water to homes was cut to twice a week The government of Indonesia is considering evacuation of parts of Jakarta, which has run out of potable water. Melbourne, in Australia, says its water could run out in a decade – and even London has warned that demand is close to capacity and the city faces future supply problems. Military strategists talk of water, not oil, as the potential trigger for 21st Century conflicts, while the United Nations has warned water scarcity could displace 700 million people by 2030.

The Earth has run out of miracles where water is concerned. It is time for politicians and administrators to take stock of how much water we have and when will the Earth come to Ground Zero. I predict ten years. In India, Hyderabad will be the first.

While policy changes will happen only when we reach crisis point, it is our personal choices that can have the most significant and immediate impact. Water is life. You mustn’t play with water. Cutting back on meat is the first solution.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in,www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

So many companies test on animals. Even those that don’t need to do so.

So many companies test on animals. Even those that don’t need to do so. For instance, perfume companies by now have isolated all the ingredients needed to make a perfume. It is simply a matter of mixing them. But they continue to spray the perfume in rabbits’ eyes, slice their skins open and rub it in, and other terrible tests. This is done by perfumers like Aramis, Balenciaga, Bvlgari, Cacharel, Donna Karan, Dunhill Fragrances, Elizabeth Arden, Gucci Fragrances, Hugo Boss, Jo Malone, Lacoste Fragrances, Marc Jacobs Fragrances, Michael Kors, Missoni, Ralph Lauren Fragrances, Tommy Hilfiger, and Kenzo.

Toothpaste companies make animals eat their products to see after how many toothpastes the animal dies. Does it prove anything ? Has any human ever eaten five toothpaste tubes of goo? Or even one? But Aquafresh, Close-up, Colgate, Crest, Listerine, Mentadent, Pearl Drops, Sensodyne, Signal, Old Spice, Right Guard, continue to test.

The animal testing and experimentation industry is everywhere. It is secretive, pervasive and profitable. Most of you don’t even know that the products that you buy have so much suffering in them. But why this needless exploitation of animals in research, product testing and education? India used to buy over 1 crore frogs a year for school dissection. When the government banned this, it made no difference to the quality of education. Kerala teachers insisted that they should kill something, so, for years the frog suppliers turned into cockroach suppliers, until one chief minister stopped this as well. Zoology teachers insisted on the killing of 1000 + animals during the course of 3 years. When it was stopped, the teaching improved – but every now and then some zoology teacher will insist on trying to restart this. Ask the suppliers of animals where the nexus is, and they will point their fingers at the teacher. Rabbits used to be tested in the making of injections – even though these are machine made. When then government banned it, the same injections continue to be made. The government pesticide council has ordered that the testing of animals till they die is to be stopped. This will have no impact on the pesticides at all. Thousands of soaps and perfumes do not test on animals, and they are just as good. It has been found that 90% of the medicines tested on animals have failed . So why does this carry on?

It is a well entrenched business mafia that continues to insist on animals being experimented on. It hides in the garb of science. It is an international, government-sanctioned and -funded, multi-billion rupee business. To give you one example: Raids done by my organization ten years ago found a dealer in Agra who had over 20,000 dead animals in his house as specimens. He was a retired forest officer. Most of them were wild protected species; crocodiles, snakes, bats, every kind of mammal. The police found, through his computer, that he was selling to certain labs in Delhi University. When the wildlife department passed laws saying that no school/college will keep specimens, it was the illegal buyers in this list (who are teachers) that took delegations to ministers to protest.

One researcher in JNU killed a rat a day for over 10 years to prove that when rats were asleep, they were not awake. His salary was huge and he lived rent free at the university as a scientist. There are thousands like him. India has a CPCSEA committee that regulates the experiments on animals . I created this body and it was supposed to stop duplicative and unnecessary experiments. It has gone into the hands of people who pass every kind of experiment for a fee. If they stopped an experiment, the researcher would lose his grant, so it is easier to split the money in advance.

It is simple to get grants for experimenting on animals. Governments, and private research centres, give them. For instance, in America 47 % of the grants given by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have an animal research-based component. In 2015, this came to well over $10 billion in funding for projects that included animal experimentation. So, scientists band together and professional lobbying organizations craft, and market, sophisticated campaigns to defend and promote even more animal research.

Who benefits?  The salaries of researchers and technicians, who carry out animal experiments, provide financial incentives. Universities and other academic institutions profit from the percentage of “overhead” that they receive from the grants for animal experiments from the government. Unthinking politicians and clever bureaucrats allow laws mandating the testing of pharmaceuticals, chemicals, drugs, to assess safety and efficacy. The defence ministry allows testing of guns and gases on animals, the carmakers allow diesel testing on animals, the ministry of agriculture allows it for pesticides, the Consumer Product Safety Councils allow it for products, and FSSAI allows it for foods. Everyone benefits – except the millions of animals that suffer and die needlessly.

Who else benefits? NGOs posing as charities that raise billions of dollars from well-meaning people, hoping to find cures for virtually every human disease —even when animal models for human diseases fail to predict what is safe or effective for people after decades of funding.

Animal breeders profit handsomely from breeding and genetically engineering animals, from mice to primates. Recent prices quoted from one animal supply company’s catalogue identified White Rabbits as high as $352 each, Beagles from China for $1,049 and some primates costing more than $8,000 each.

Suppliers, of food, cages and equipment related to animal-model research, have a lucrative business. Veterinarians, employed to supposedly care for research animals, are paid highly to ignore the suffering and give their stamps of approval.

Pharmaceutical companies fuel the animal research “machine” by conducting animal studies before moving to the real research on human beings. If the humans suffer or die – as they often do, the company protects itself legally by saying that trials did OK on animals. These corporate giants use animal studies as a legal safety net by telling courts that they did what the law requires—prove the safety of a drug in animals—and therefore are not liable when a drug harms a human.

Even the media profits from the “publish or perish” mentality within the scientific community to justify animal research by using the results of animal tests to announce “medical miracles,” which help them sell more journals, newspapers and increase TV ratings. On an average there are three stories a week on how testing on rats has shown every kind of cure – from miracle hair growth by using an oil used for cooking fast food, to a cancer cure. Two days later this is forgotten and the cure is never heard of again.

Government is made largely of politicians and bureaucrats who go with the flow. This government endorsed a proposal made by the last: to put Rs 200 crores into 100 acres of land in Telengana to grow animals for research. If I asked them for the same money for better sanitary towels, the answer would be that it is a waste of money.

Anyone opposing experimentation wilts under opposition from these businesses. I have faced it many times. At the moment I am trying to get capsules made vegetarian. The entire gelatine industry is opposing this. So, media articles come out regularly, from so called independent journalists, saying that vegetarian capsules are bad and expensive. The committee to regulate this is full of industry people. It will happen – but it will take me and you some time to wade through the vested interests. The government mandated a red /green dot (veg/nonveg) on household products. Immediately the “beauty council”, which is a conglomerate of companies who produce everything from soap to house cleaners, went to court and got a stay. It has been four years now and not once has it come up in court !!! So you can imagine how many people have been “influenced”.

Some animal tests take months or years to conduct and analyze (e.g., 4-5 years in the case of rodent cancer studies), at a cost of hundreds of thousands—and sometimes millions—of dollars per chemical examined. The inefficiency, and exorbitant costs associated with animal testing, makes it impossible for regulators to take up the potential effects of 100,000+ chemicals currently in commerce worldwide, or the more than 1 million combinations of these chemicals to which humans are exposed to every day.

In contrast, computer modelling techniques are lightning-fast, and many cell-based in vitro methods are much more accurate —all at a much lower cost than animal tests. 

It is time we looked at smarter science that is human-relevant and can provide safer and more effective solutions to human health needs. This investment, in better more humane science promises, rather than in animal testing, will pay huge dividends in smarter, better solutions for people and animals.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in,www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

California has a very interesting political system.

California has a very interesting political system. This allows organisations and individuals to bypass politicians and put potential laws directly to a vote by the general population – as long as they can get enough signatures to support the measure in the first place. This makes sense to me, because, in India, we are at the mercy of politicians who will rarely do anything in public interest, or even think about issues that affect people adversely and need to be corrected. Instead, they will come up with grandiose schemes that never get implemented and, even if they did, are so poorly conceived that they destroy far more – the damming and linking of rivers, the MNREGA scheme, the badly conceived feeding of children which has led to widespread malnourishment, the giving of forests to supposed tribals without verification, the lack of maintenance of heritage and complete ignorance of the value of museums, the lack of a trained teaching system for farmers, and using a defunct system called Krishi Vigyan Kendras, which do nothing and never did… I can think of a million things. The reckless import and use of pesticides and urea is top of my list, along with the export of meat, as that is destroying the country’s forests and water systems. The slaughterhouse export trade is run by NRIs and foreign nationals who loot India. Also on my list is the agriculture ministry’s refusal to even see that animals / fish / birds, grown for meat that are kept badly, injected with hormones, pesticides and antibiotics and eaten by humans, will make the human population ill– as we can see in the steeply rising statistics of people who are going to hospital every day.

So many people campaigned for NOTA on the ballot paper – None Of The Above. It has resulted in nothing. No one makes the trek to a booth to not vote. They stay at home if they don’t like any of the candidates. There is a movement, that comes in fits and starts, on the right to recall an elected person. This will result in mayhem if it ever happens, because anyone who loses an election will spend a lot of money getting signatures. Then there is the movement that women should get one third of the seats by law. None of these movements actually will bring about change to make governance participatory.

What is needed is what California is doing.  Even if we go halfway and take the route, that if an issue can generate enough interest through people signing a minimum of a mandated X votes , then it deserves to be put into Parliament, or the state assembly, and voted on. Let us see where our elected representatives stand on the matter.

At the moment California voters are on the street for an issue we have been fighting here for some years, both in the ministries and courts; which is, to Change the factory farm system so that animals, grown for meat, are not caged for their entire lives.

Is this an issue for just “animal lovers” as we are called? No. It is an issue of health that should be understood and pushed with your local MLA, MP and municipal chairman. Birds, pigs, cattle – especially poultry – are stuffed into small cages. They cannot even raise their wings, so small is the space and so large the number of birds in each cage. To prevent them from fighting for space, owners of poultries cut off their beaks and toes without anaesthesia. They cannot stand without pain but there is no space to sit. They stand in their own faeces, covered with mites that suck their blood. They get very, very sick immediately and are then kept alive with antibiotics, hormones and pesticides. All these go into the meat when the bird is killed and has created major sickness in humans, starting with the superbug which is untreatable, and going on to cancer, epilepsy, kidney failure and every other major disease. This could all be prevented if the birds were allowed to roam freely in the sun with natural food (instead of spoilt grain, cardboard, the dead bodies of fellow chickens and marble mixed with veterinary drugs), given fresh sources of water and allowed to live naturally before being killed. It takes the same space that the poultry now has .

The same problem is with piggeries. The pig is an intelligent and emotional animal and locking her up in a small crate and feeding her badly with only disgusting restaurant waste, inseminating her forcibly and then taking away the babies, makes her very sick. She gets worms, serious illnesses, and all these are passed on to the consumer of pork. Veal is from baby calves who are locked into tight crates so that they cannot move and then starved to death so that they become anaemicand their meat turns white. They are killed in six weeks.

In California, hundreds of volunteers are on the street going from door to door collecting signatures from the mandatory 3,65,000 signatures. They have, by law, a finite time to collect the signatures . Some of them eat meat – they simply don’t want to be sick from it.  The new law, if it comes into being, will ban the sale of all eggs, pork or veal from a caged animal – if campaigners can get enough signatures. If passed, it would be the most progressive farm animal welfare law and the most progressive human health law in the world.

The new measure would ban cages of any kind for hens, gestation crates for mother pigs, so narrow they can’t turn around, and veal crates for calves, which restrict movement for their entire lives. By the end of 2019 all hens would have to be cage-free – living, at minimum, on an open barn floor or in an indoor aviary with multiple levels for birds to go up and down.

It would have national implications, applying not just to in-state famers but to any farmer doing business with the world’s sixth largest economy.

The deadline is May 1st and they have 2 lakh signatures so far.

This is history in the making. It will put California ahead of the European Union, which banned battery cages for poultry in 2012 across Europe– and even cage-free leaders such as Germany and the Netherlands..

In 2008 California passed Proposition 2 in 2008 which banned battery cages and said animals must have space to turn around, lie down and stretch their limbs. In 2016,  Massachusetts made history with the first sales ban on products from confined animals, which passed by a landslide 78%. California is now working to top that .

And India?? Sigh!! Committee after committee has been formed from BIS to FSSAI, the Health ministry, the Drug Controller of India. Each one agrees that something has to be done. But they pass it on to another committee. There is no political will and, in the absence of a clear order, no bureaucrat will move. On top of that there are lobbies of slaughterhouses that will pay bureaucrats and politicians not to change the filthy unhealthy status quo. I wish politicians would put human health on the top of their agenda – everything else would fall into place.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in,www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

An interesting scientific experiment took place last year. Two reasons.

An interesting scientific experiment took place last year. Two reasons.  One is because it is about the air expelled from the anuses of living beings, popularly known as farting. The other, because the scientists investigating asked the public to send them information through a twitter handle called #doesitfart. The information has been printed in a book with the same name. 

Fart, also known as flatulence, describes gas generated or held in the stomach or intestines and expelled through the anus. The scientific study of farts is called flatology Those who have the talent to fart at will are known as flatulists (or comedians).

Few people, and even less scientists, have been brave enough to even talk about this issue. It is usually a matter for pre-teenage boys’ jokes. But the study of the diet and digestive systems of animals is an important part of understanding how they survive and even how they affect climate change.

The data gathering mission was spearheaded by Daniella Rabaiotti, a Ph.D student at the University College of London, a member of  the Zoological Society of London, and environmental researcher. She was asked whether snakes fart, and wrote asking a colleague, David Steen, a biologist at Auburn University. “Snakes sometimes discharge faeces and musk as a defensive strategy, and this is often accompanied by what I would consider classic fart noises,” he said. Rabaiotti decided to make a large study of different animals. From there #DoesItFart was born.

Hundreds of biologists, researchers, wildlife enthusiasts and laypersons have written in from all over the world. Nick Caruso, a PhD student at the University of Alabama, created a spreadsheet. Each entry was submitted to researchers to verify.

Here are some interesting details about gastric gases and how they are discharged out of the posterior portal:

Guinea pigs produce clouds of brown mist that “stink to high heaven.” Lions fart and so do Orangutans. Bobcats are supposed to be the smelliest with their “squirrel-based farts” (I doubt that they would be smellier than the person who sits next to you on a plane or in a closed car) They are in close competition with woodlice who excrete ammonia. The dog and the cat also emit gases (and often take the blame for their owner’s bad stomachs).

Here are some of the entries: “Do chimpanzees fart? Yes. “Worst when eating figs. So loud and frequent we locate them in forest occasionally by following the farts; Even worse when eating Cynometra seeds!” wrote University of Kent evolutionary anthropology Ph.D Adriana Lowe. Bats do, according to David Bennett, a PhD at Queen Mary University of London. And the bigger they are, the harder they honk.
Tapirs? Most mammals pass wind and some insects as well. Birds do not pass gas, They don’t have the same gas-producing bacteria in their gut that are found in mammals and other farting animals, and food passes quickly through a bird’s digestive system, which leaves no time for a build-up. Marine invertebrates such as oysters, whelks, salamanders, mussels and crabs do not fart either. The Pogonophoran Worm, the Jellyfish, Corals and Sea Anemones cannot fart as they lack anuses. If we count air coming out of the siphons of squid/octopus/cuttlefish as farting, yes, they do. Frogs can, and do, fart quite often and rather pungently. Rats can fart but they can’t burp. Turtles fart, and their farts smell incredibly bad.

It’s not only interesting which animals fart, but how they do. This is what the spread sheets say-

"The copperhead snake elicits a small squeak, so small that you think you may be mistaken, until it hits you. Very dry with a slight hint of stalemusk. The orangutan does it often and happily. The millipede emissions are of the silent but deadly variety (methane and hydrogen sulfide. Whereas most animals that fart have soft, fleshy derrières, millipedes have hard valves that probably act as silencers !)" Seal farts smell like lutefisk which is a Nordic dish made of lye that can drive anyone else out of the house. The Burmese Python "Thick and meaty? If it were a colour it would be brownish-yellow." "Spotted Hyenas are especially bad after eating camel intestines."

Herrings communicate with each other by expelling air through their anuses producing pulses of sound that is too high for their predators to hear. 
Honey badgers emit smelly, suffocating secretions and gas from their anal glands, which they then use to mustard-bomb unsuspecting bee hives. This causes the bees to flee their homes and leave the honey behind for the honey badger.

Some snakes, like the Sonoran Coral Snake, also weaponize their farts and use them to scare off unsuspecting predators.

The gases vary in different species. Most farts contain hydrogen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen and sulphurous gases (with the latter responsible for much of the smell), but scientists are concerned about another common component, methane, since it is a potent greenhouse gas. According to a paper published in the latest issue of the Journal of Experimental Biology, nearly 30 percent of Earth's methane emissions originate from plant eating animals grown for meat. According to the EPA, cows are among the top methane makers. Cows release an estimated 551 to over 1,100 pounds of methane per day. Goats produce a lot of methane in their stool, farts, belches and even breath. In 2015, an airplane in Singapore was forced to make an emergency landing when the smell of goat farts was mistaken for smoke in the cargo hold. The flight was diverted, inspected and delayed for hours, according to the Daily Mail. NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Science determined that a pig emits about 3.3 pounds of methane per year and a sheep produces 18 pounds of methane. A horse can produce 45.5 pounds of methane gas per year, but amounts vary. A lactating mare, for example, only releases 34 percent of the methane released by a lactating dairy cow. While elephants are not ruminant animals, they do produce an incredible amount of gas, however. According to the International Elephant Foundation, a car "could travel 20 miles on the amount of methane produced by one elephant in a single day."

Each adult person emits about a third of a pound of methane per year, according to the Goddard study. That is a fraction of what cows produce. The United Nations, however, estimates that there are at least 7 billion people on the planet now, so total methane output stacks up by sheer numbers alone.

Termites may be tiny, but they are mighty methane emitters. While an individual termite cannot produce much gas, a study published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, from Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, determines that termites contribute methane "that accounts for at least 5% of all global emissions." Other researchers say that the percentage is much higher. According to Rentokil the pesticide company, cockroaches release more methane in relation to their body size than any other creature they’ve ever had to deal with.

A methyl mercaptan gas leak at a Dupont facility in Texas killed people . Farts contain not just methyl mercaptan, but other asphyxiants like flammable methane, nitrogen and dimethyl sulphides. The amounts depend on your diet. However, since each fart has only 110 millilitres of gas you cannot make a homemade weapon

Have fun! At least it’s a novel way to introduce children to serious science.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in,www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Personally I find the thought, of eating an egg, revolting.

Personally I find the thought, of eating an egg, revolting. It is the period blood of a hen and, if you break the egg and expose it to air for a few minutes, it will smell the same as the blood on a sanitary towel. Why would I want to add cholesterol to my daily diet?

But eggs are used in so many things that, even if you don’t eat them directly, you probably will be ingesting them in some form.

Egg shells are powdered and used for fortification of breads and confectioneries, fruit drinks, crackers, condiments. If you see “fortified” on any of these – or glazing on bread – know that this is egg.

Egg membrane protein is used as an ingredient in many cosmetics as a softener. Egg yolks are used in shampoos and conditioners and, sometimes, soaps. Cholesterol, lecithin, and some of the egg’s fatty acids, are used in skin care products, such as revitalizes, make-up foundations and even lipstick.

Louis-Désiré Blanquart-Évrard invented a process using albumen, in 1850, for photographic printing in the 19th century. Paper was laid on a mixture of albumen and salt. When it dried, it made a glossy coated paper. It was so popular that commercial producers of paper kept chickens on site!

Painters used eggs as binders for applying pigments. The pigment colour was produced by ground-up materials found in nature—everything, from lapis lazuli to the tiny bodies of scale insects, was crushed and mixed with egg yolk to produce egg tempera. Egg albumen is still used by artists as a binder for pigments, as an ingredient of waterproof glue, and as a varnish

Avidin is a protein of egg white. It is extensively used in biotechnological applications, particularly in medical diagnostics, as in the Elisa test.

Lysozyme, an enzyme found in egg white, is used for the ripening of certain European-type cheeses. Lysozyme inhibits the growth of Clostridium tyrobutyricum - a bacterium which can be present as a contaminant in milk. A more recent use of lysozyme is in wine preparation as a substitute for sulphites. Lysozyme is used in processed foods to extend the shelf life by inhibiting or destroying spore forming organisms.

Lysozyme is used as an antimicrobial agent in pharmaceutical products.

Liposomes, fatty droplets found in eggs, are used as a controlled delivery mechanism for various drugs. Immunoglobulin yolk (IGY), a simple egg-yolk protein, is used as an anti-human-rotavirus (HRV) antibody in food products.

Shell-membrane protein is being used experimentally to grow human skin connective tissue cells for severe-burn victims and, in Japan, is being used in cosmetics (Antigen specific immunoglobulins (IgYs) from eggs are planned to be used for preventing dental caries: candies, chocolates and gums containing anti-Streptococcus mutans (a bacteria involved in tooth decay) from eggs have been used in Japan.

Ovotransferrin or Conalbumin is another protein of egg white which has been used to remove iron from drinking water. Ovalbumin is the predominant protein in egg white and is utilized in the diagnostic industry.

For more than forty years, fertile eggs have been used as a culture medium for the influenza virus to produce vaccines. The influenza virus is injected into the developing embryo. For three days it multiplies in the egg. The egg is then broken, the fluid extracted and the virus used as vaccine. Egg yolk is added to agar cultures to grow microorganisms bred in laboratories. Fertile eggs are used to preserve bull semen for artificial insemination.

Egg white has been used in the manufacture of edible packing films, for ingredients in the food, chemical and pharmaceutical industries

It is eggs in food that are the biggest problem for a vegetarian. Pastas and bread, confectionary - most of them have egg in them. In fact, make sure you buy unglazed bread. Sponge cakes, meringues or soufflés have whisked egg white. Eggs bind loose crumbly ingredients together, so they are used in patties, croquettes, fritters and fillings. Whipped egg is used as a thickening agent in pie fillings, custard sauces and baked custard. Mayonnaise is made of egg yolk. Pastries use egg white in the crusts. Eggs are put in commercial ice creams, baby food, sauces and dairy products . Egg powders are a key ingredient in meat production (sausages, hamburgers, hams) as well as vegetarian preparations (soya sausages, hamburgers).

Avoiding eggs and meat has become a minefield. Irresponsible and insensitive, so called scientists work with egg industries to find newer ways to use their product. Tall claims are made, but the amount of suffering that is caused is unimaginable. For instance, work is underway to genetically alter chickens so that they produce eggs containing a large quantity of human serum albumin  (HSA), a protein used in saline drips in hospitals. Currently the protein is taken from human blood plasma. Using transgenic chicken, research is also being done by commercial companies to produce egg antibodies to combat hepatitis and cancer.

It has been claimed by the egg industry itself that the content of the egg can be changed by simply changing the diet of the hen. This is what they say: "With adjustments to the diets of the laying hen the profile of fatty acids, fat-soluble vitamins, and minerals such as iodine, fluorine, manganese, and B vitamins, can be changed. Using a flax-based diet or rapeseed or fish oils in the feed, eggs can be enriched with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Vitamin E in eggs can be added as well as iodine levels. Research is being done to add conjugated linoleic acids (CLAs)."

If this is true, then the rubbish fed to hens in India – cardboard, powdered granite, dead mashed bodies of other hens, pesticides like fipronil, to name a few ingredients , must have had the effect of making eggs almost valueless or dangerous to health. Our FSSAI should investigate the quality of eggs on the market.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in,www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Last year I went to the house of the head of a group of Jains in Nagpur.

Last year I went to the house of the head of a group of Jains in Nagpur. Along the way I was told how religious his family was, how they all ate before sunset and no root vegetables. I entered the main living room. The huge rug I was stepping on was made of patches sewn together of horse-skin. Young horses are killed for their skin in the United States and the skin stripped off. The skins of different colours are patched together and  made into carpets for rich and senseless people. My host kept insisting it was fake until I showed him the leathery skin the hair was attached to.

Something like that has been exposed in England recently. People buy coats with fur linings  and fur lined boots for their children, keyrings and hairclips with colourful bobbles, shoes with pompoms, soft toys. The buyers believe that since the items are cheap and colourful, the fur is acrylic.

Not true.

An investigation by Humane Society International (HIS)has found that a large number of items are not fake or faux fur, but real fur.

HIS found many shops with no-fur policies selling fur items.  Fluffy “faux fur” clips sold by Boots were made from mink; pompom keyrings from Tesco and gloves from Fat Face were made of rabbit fur. Urban Outfitters was selling sweaters with real fur labelled as “faux.”  Missguided was found to have cat fur lining their shoes. Real fur was being sold as fake at House Of Fraser, Lily Lulu, Amazon and ASOS, labelled as faux fur. Neiman Marcus was called out for selling three pairs of boots touted as being made with fake fur, except it was real. When a buyer took home a “faux fur” pompom keyring from TK Maxx, she grew suspicious.  The retailer reassuring her that the pom-pom had “been investigated by our internal trading standards department” and that they had “been assured that this item is in fact faux fur”. HIS revealed that the pom-pom had actually been made with rabbit fur. Investigators found that TK Maxx was selling jackets made of fox fur. Mink fur earrings, rabbit fur shoes with pompoms and keychains, fox fur hats, fox fur trims and chinchilla fur scarves, were all on sale, advertised as faux fur by Amazon, Boohoo, Miss Bardo, Not On The High Street and Etsy, and through Groupon. Last year, HSUS filed an enforcement petition to the Federal Trade Commission; Neiman Marcus, Kohl’s and Nordstrom were among the 17 retailers named in the report for selling garments that were falsely advertised or labelled as faux fur. Forever 21 has also been the subject of an investigation by ‘Good Morning Britain’.

All these shops had advertised a strict No Fur policy.

Most consumers believe that since pompoms and trims/linings are so cheap, they cannot be fur. The truth is that the appalling conditions that animals suffer on fur farms mean real fur can be produced and sold more cheaply than faux fur.

The life of an animal is worth nothing when the animal is badly kept, hardly fed, forcibly made to reproduce and killed within a few months. Fur farms have millions of animals kept in small wire cages, and Poland, China, France, Finland follow no rules in the sheer viciousness and cruelty of their operations. As writer Tansy Hoskins said in The Guardian, "Fur farms involve 75 million animals kept in tiny cages, many of which become infected with disease, suffer horrific injuries and go mad from grief and stress." They are denied the chance to run free, are often fed on waste, and receive little veterinary care. Animals, that would usually spend hours cleaning themselves in the wild, are left in filthy conditions, and often end up mutilated. It all ends with a brutal death: electrocution, gassing, or even skinning alive. PETA has released an exposé narrated by Paloma Faith containing footage taken on hundreds of supposedly "high welfare" fur farms in Europe, all showing animals who have been driven insane by the cruelty. We've seen foxes with skinless paws forced to live beside their decomposing cage-mates, and minks with untreated wounds, one so severe that his brain was visible. Countless animals have resorted to self-mutilation and cannibalism.

These are just some of the stomach-churning scenes that are documented time and time again. You can see these dreadful farms exposed by undercover operatives on the You Tube. In China, the world's largest exporter of fur, you can see cats, rabbits and dogs being skinned alive. An investigation, earlier this year into fur farms in Finland, revealed foxes who have been reared to be grossly obese – some weighing roughly five times what they would in nature –struggling to breathe, let alone stand up. Larger bodies mean more fur and therefore greater profits.

The skins of coyotes, chinchilla, mink, foxes, rabbits, raccoons, dogs and cats are sold at dirt cheap rates. Consumers want faux fur to look like the real thing – but they don’t want real fur. So the retailers sell the hair of these dead bodies as fake!  Fur is no longer just full length mink coats, or fox scarves. It is more deceptive – dyed bright colours, turned into cute pompoms or as trim on hoods or shoes. Often sold for under £10, it is sneaked into accessories. Among the items HSI found for sale are £5 pom pom keychains made from rabbit fur; a parka with raccoon dog fur trim for £35; and a knitted hat with a marmot fur bobble for £3.50. Since there is no legal requirement to label animal fur in all products, this cheats consumers. People expect real fur to come in the form of full mink coats or fox fur scarves. What they don’t expect is that it will be dyed bright colours, fashioned into pompoms or trims, attached to accessories like hats, gloves and shoes, sold at very cheap price and, of course, mislabelled as faux.

Ironically, premium-grade faux fur is expensive. So the easy alternative for sewing factories is to use real fur, as it is cheaper to buy small scraps of real fur than lengths of high quality faux fur.

If retailers like Boots and Tesco can tell lies, selling real fur as faux fur, consumers have to become their own fur detectives.

Here are some tips to all those Indians who will be going abroad to shop.

Look at the tips: The tips, of the hairs in real fur, taper and have pointed ends, whereas the hairs on faux fur are blunt. Hairs on real fur will also be different lengths, while faux fur tends to be more uniform. Hold up the hair against a white surface.

Look at the base: Part the hair to see how it is attached. Animal fur has a leathery backing because it’s attached to the animal’s skin, whereas faux fur will have a material woven backing. Real fur is often completely smooth at the base. Like human skin.

Burn it: Perhaps not in the shop. Try it on something you already own. Trim a few hairs and set fire to them. Real animal fur singes and smells like human hair burning. Faux fur melts in a sticky way, cooling to form hard plastic balls, and will probably smell plasticky. If it smells like burnt paper, burns like paper and become a light, fluffy gray ash, this means the faux fur is cotton, linen or rayon based.

Don’t look at the price : Real fur is cheaper than fake. Smaller bits of fur and fur trims are cheap as they are the discards of dead animals, so don't let the relatively low price of a garment fool you.

Do not buy anything with “fake fur” online : EU regulations state that “textile products” containing fur should be labelled as containing “non-textile parts of animal origin”. However, online products are exempt from that requirement as are footwear and accessories. And although it is illegal to mislead consumers (by claiming that a real fur product is faux fur) retailers are very rarely prosecuted, with most instances being put down to “honest mistakes”.

Feel the fur. Fur feels very soft to the touch, falls in a smooth and sleek line, passes through your fingers as if you're petting a cat. Faux fur feels coarse and rough to touch, can be sticky to touch in humid weather, and  might have the same feel as a stuffed toy animal. It might stick to your hands if it's made out of a plasticky material (only works if your hands are sweaty).

Stick a pin into the item (through the fur and its lining). If it goes through easily, this suggests it is faux fur because the pin is sliding through a synthetic base. If it is hard to push through, or resists completely, it is likely to be real fur, as you're trying to push through the leather lining to which the fur remains attached.

Why are you buying fake fur? There is nothing elegant or humane about stealing the skin of another being – or even pretending to do so. Buying something that has real fur in it, even if it’s “mostly” faux, means one more animal was skinned alive, or anally electrocuted, for the sake of “fashion.”

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in,www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Is it possible to be vegan in a world which is now totally dependent on truly useless things made from animals?

Is it possible to be vegan in a world which is now totally dependent on truly useless things made from animals? I asked myself this question when handed a toothpick on an airline meal. To think that a living, breathing, magnificent tree, lord of the rain, home to thousands of other beings, has been chopped to gouge out waste from my teeth, makes me very sick.

Every vegetarian is careful about checking that their food does not contain any animal products. Some will not even eat in restaurants where meat is served. However, we fail to look at the other ways in which we are eating and using animal products in our daily lives. For instance, the company Vanras has100% vegetarian stamped below its plates (as against bone china plates made from bone)! Ever thought about checking a shampoo bottle for a ‘100% vegetarian’ stamp?

Animal glands and organs are frequently found in daily-use products. These include endocrine glands, brains, livers, lungs, pituitary glands, pancreas, stomachs, kidneys, ovaries. Brains, nervous systems and spinal cords are a source of cholesterol. These are used as emulsifiers in cosmetics and for the synthesis of vitamin D3. Duodenum substances, taken from the digestive tracts of cows and pigs, are added to vitamin tablets and some medicines. The ovaries of pregnant sows are a source of extracting progesterone and estrogen to treat reproduction related problems in women. Heparin, which is used to thin blood and delay clotting during surgery or transplants, is extracted from the liver, lungs and lining of the small intestines of pigs and cattle. Insulin, used for diabetes injections, is taken from the pancreas of pigs and cows. According to the Diabetes Forecast magazine more than two tonnes of pig pancreas were needed to extract eight ounces of purified insulin. Prednisone and cortisone are extracted from animal bile produced by the gall bladder. Ground liver from cows, pigs is mixed with acidified hot water and turned into liver extract which is used by the pharmaceutical industry as a source of Vitamin B 12 and a nutritional supplement. Glucogen, extracted from the pancreas, is used to increase blood sugar in alcoholics. Melatonin, extracted from animal pineal glands, is being evaluated for the treatment of insomnia. Bile, from cattle and pigs, is sold either dry or in liquid form and is used for the treatment of indigestion, constipation and liver disorders.

The list is endless. Adrenaline is made from the adrenal glands of pigs, cattle and sheep.  Hyaluronic, acid used in cosmetics, comes from the fluids round animal joints.

 Even the perfume industry uses animal organs. Musk, which forms the essence of high end perfumes, is made from the musk pouch of the Himalayan Musk Deer. The deer is killed and the dried gland is cut into small pieces and soaked in alcohol. Castoreum is a paste that is taken from a gland found between the pelvis and tail of a killed beaver. In perfumery, castoreum has been used as the leather scent, evocative of fine leather upholstery, or in classic leather-themed perfumes. So, when the upholstery of your new Mercedes smells of leather, it may be a dead beaver’s glands. The anal glands of the African civet cat give out a rich smelling secretion when it is beaten, so the animals are caged and brutalised for years by perfume manufacturers. These days civet paste from farmed animals in Ethiopia are imported into Europe and the United States, traditionally shipped in the horns of zebu cattle. Each dried horn holds about five hundred grams of paste, the amount one civet can produce over a period of about four years. In India, I caught the priests of Tirupati temple holding civets illegally in cages , beating them to extract paste which was sold to devotees for Rs 500+ to put on the Devi. Ambergris comes from the digestive system of the sperm whale and is used as a fixative for perfumes. Though it is illegal, many whales are murdered for it.

Many moisturisers contain cerebrosides and arachidonic acid.  Cerebrosides are fatty acids and sugars found in the covering of nerves and brain tissue of animals. Arachidonic acid is found in the liver, brain, glands and fat, of animals and used in skin creams. Lecithin, from animal tissues, is used in lipsticks, eye creams, hand creams, lotions, soaps, shampoos and other cosmetics.

Oleic Acid, taken from animal fats and oils, is used in the production of nail polish, soap, creams, lipsticks, permanent wave solutions and a number of skin products. You may have read/heard the names keratin and provitamin B-5 in a number of shampoo and conditioner advertisements – both come from animals. Keratin is a protein that comes from the ground-up horns, hooves, feathers, quills and hair of various animals. Oleyl alcohol is extracted from fish and used for softening fabrics and as a detergent,

Shark liver oil, known as squalene, is used in lubricating cream, lotion, lip balm, sunscreen and hair dye. Collagen, taken from the cells of fish, is used in a number of anti-aging creams and masks. Even animal placenta is widely used to make skin creams, shampoos and face masks.

Chitosan, extracted from shrimp and crabs, has a wide range of applications in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries as a preservative. Rennet, which is extracted from the inside of a goat, calf or sheep’s stomach, is used to make cheese. Lipase, from the tongue glands of calves, kids and lambs, is used for the same thing and in cosmetics. So is pepsin which comes from a pig’s stomach.

Knowledge is needed before one can stop being a predator on this planet. When something is advertised as “natural sources” it usually means animal sources.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in,www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Organic farming for me is as important as animal welfare.

Organic farming for me is as important as animal welfare. Both save thousands of species and make the world a better place for humans. When I became minister for Women and Children, we started a new project: we hold an annual Mela in Delhi Haat, the best location, for 15 days, in which 300 women organic farmers are called from all over India to sell their produce. This year we sold Rs 2 crore worth. We also send 50 women to a huge organic mela in Ahmedabad organized by Srishthi and now we are preparing for one in Mumbai in February.

I also make sure that one or more women organic farmers, or groups, get the highest award for women in India, the Nari Shakti award. In 2016 the best exhibition I went to was one of wandering pastoral tribes in India and the NGOs that conserve their cultural forms, camels and their milk. The best exhibition I went to this year was a huge organic one in Noida which had more than 700 companies, institutions, NGOs and individuals taking part. It was organized by OFAI which is headquartered in Goa and headed by Dr Claude Alvares. I bought a beautiful pair of earrings for my sister made of red ratti (used to weigh gold at one point) and white Vaijayanti seeds made by a farmer’s wife. The Sikkim pavilion was the most impressive and the Chief Minister of Sikkim should get a Bharat Ratna for the work he has done to make the whole state organic. There were hundreds of varieties of rice, including one that you don’t have to boil, just simply pour hot water on. I saw vegetables that I have never seen before – huge long, white, aubergines (baingan), every variety of kaddu , cucumber and chilli. I saw red potatoes and at least 50 varieties of rajma ranging from white to purple. When I ate the lunch thali of village vegetables, I thought I’d died and gone to Food Heaven!

I would like you to know these women, who have changed thousands of lives by simply collecting old seeds of long forgotten vegetable varieties.

The Vanastree Malnad Garden and Seed Savers Collective in Sirsi, Karnataka is run by women. They have documented 120 varieties of vegetables, from the tiny sparrow ladies fingers (bhindi) to old varieties of sugarcane. All these are heritage seeds . You can get in touch with them at sunitasirsi@gmail.com..

Annadana is a Karnataka NGO started by Sangita Sharma. For the last few years it has been practicing and teaching sustainable farm practices and conserving over 200 old vegetable seeds. She realized that seed corporations and agricultural institutes were blasting seeds with toxins, chemicals and pesticides, contaminating all food. So she decided to start collecting, growing and distributing seeds to farmers. So far she has distributed 3 lakh free seed packets to marginal farmers and is selling them at a low cost to garden enthusiasts. She has a training programme, called Seed to Seed, on soil health management. Her core group now is 18 farmers who teach. You can contact them at info@annadana-india.org

Niranjana Maru is from Wardha and has formed an NGO called Chetana Vikas. They have a demonstration farm of trees, grasses, tubers and fodder  and concentrate on wasteland regeneration through teaching a mixed cropping system to local farmers. You can write to her at chetanavikaswda@gmail.com

Sabarmati Tiki is the daughter of Prof Radhamohan who bought degraded land in Nayagarh and, despite people calling his mission impossible, decided to regenerate it. He named the farm “Sambhav” or “Possible”. Sabarmati and her team grow 314 traditional rice varieties at the farm and distribute the seeds to farmers in Orissa. Contact her at Sabarmati@gmail.com

Pebble Garden is a land regeneration project started by Deepika Kundaji on 7 acres of laterite soil which was severely eroded with no topsoil. She and her partner set out to bring the old forest back, created water bodies, built up the soil by putting organic mulch  and neighbourhood kitchen waste. Today the land grows 80 varieties of vegetables, herbs and medicinal plants, many of which are endangered and never seen in markets. The seeds of these plants are shared with other farmers and seed savers. Contact her at pebblegardenforest@gmail.com

Mohinee Bhiste comes from Raigarh, Nainital and is part of a network of women farmers called Jan Prerna Sangathan. In 2009 she and her friends started exploring traditional seeds. They have made a bank of seeds of local wheat, millet, maize, barley and vegetables, where farmers can take freely provided they return double the quantity after the harvest. You can contact them at 09568254945.

And who can forget the contribution of Dr Vandana Shiva, who has been writing and working for non violent farming and biodiversity since 1984. She has been actively involved in conserving 5,000 crop varieties, among them 3,000 kinds of rice, 150 kinds of wheat, 150 kinds of rajma and the rest vegetables and pulses. They have their own seed bank of 45 acres in Sherpur, Uttarakhand. I buy a lot of my monthly rations from Navdanya. You can contact her at Dehradun@navdanya.net

This year for Diwali, I didn’t give useless mithai / statues / ganeshes / dates or badams as gifts. I filled baskets of organic grains, pulses, jams, pickles, brought from small organic farmers from all over India, and gave these. Needless to say each recipient was more than happy. After all, each one of us likes to eat well and the taste of organic wild rice, for instance, is  incredible! We also like to feel safe – that our food is not giving us cancer. And we can only do that if we go forward to insisting on nonchemical, non-poisonous food. If you know any farmers, try to make them switch. As starter gifts, you can buy seeds from these women and give them to farmers.

Two Hindi proverbs say : kathiya gehu kargi dhan, jo bove vah chatur kisan. Farmers who grow Kathiya wheat and Kargi rice (both organic old varieties) are clever (because both can grow in dry, rain fed, conditions.

Kodau kare bhale mein chote, chote bade bhartev pet: Kodo, a millet, may be small in size but it feeds everyone from children to the elderly under adverse conditions.

Shamika Mone has written a Source Book on India’s Organic Seeds . You should definitely buy it from OFAI, Mapusa, Goa myofai@gmail.com

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in,www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

ANTIBIOTICS AND METHANE

ANTIBIOTICS AND METHANE

 

While carbon dioxide is often painted as the main criminal in climate change, a far more deadly, and less talked about gas, is methane. UN’s Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change estimates that methane accounts for approximately 16% of total greenhouse gas emissions. Despite a relatively smaller portion, methane is much more harmful for climate change.

Methane is a super-insulating gas – making the earth much warmer than carbon dioxide can. It is more potent than carbon dioxide in capturing the sun’s radioactive force and traps more heat in the atmosphere. Scientists have calculated that its ‘global warming potential’ may be 28 times more than that of carbon dioxide.

Carbon dioxide emissions have not increased since 2013. Yet the temperature in 2017 has gone up by another 1 % .  The reason is a startling rise in the emission of methane. In the early 2000s, methane concentration in the atmosphere was rising annually at about 0.5 parts per billion (ppb). In 2007 methane started rising rapidly, and in recent years it has spiked to annual increases of 9.9 ppb and 12.5 ppb. The current atmospheric concentration is 1,853 ppb.

Methane is not produced in by factories or cars. It is produced by meat eaters. Animals reared for meat and milk are the major contributors of the gas-  chickens, cows, goats, sheep, pigs. All plant eating animals emit methane gas in the form of burps and gas through the anus.  The Journal of Animal Science says that cows produce between 250 and 500 litres of methane gas every day – which is huge.

Every year the number of animals, kept for killing by humans, rises. In 2017, 70 BILLION animals were killed for food. With huge numbers of cattle being reared for meat and dairy, methane production has gone up exponentially. Recent estimates show that the livestock industry alone annually produces a quantity of methane which equals 2.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide.

India, China and Brazil together are the top producers of meat and dairy. Brazil and India are in the top three largest exporters of beef in the world. India is also the largest producer of milk in the whole world. More milk is produced in India than all the European Union countries combined. Between the three of us we create 70% of the methane being released into the air (the other methane producers are coal and rice, and China and India are number one in both) .

The sheer number of animals is destroying the planet as we know it. You eat meat and a tsunami destroys parts of the Philippines. You eat meat and a cyclone hits Sri Lanka or Tamil Nadu. The connections have to be made.

But I come back to the point of this article. If the sheer numbers of cattle were not enough, there is another factor that is creasing the amount of methane that the cattle emit: antibiotics.

Most meat/milk producing animals are grown in huge factory farms . You can call them dairies and ranches but they are holding prisons for animals. The animals are overcrowded, badly fed, treated with the utmost violence. As a result, most of them – from chicken to cattle – are ill. The cattle industry grows every year, and the techniques to extract the largest possible profit are also becoming more sophisticated. It is common practice to regularly inject cattle with antibiotics, specially tetracycline, to help them grow larger, gain weight quicker, and mitigate diseases they have picked up through bad sanitation and  food in the factory farm. Livestock animals are fed 80% of the world’s antibiotics.

There are a number of problems with this – it builds antibiotic resistance in animals and humans consuming the meat or dairy. But my purpose in this article is different. The problem with antibiotics most relevant to our discussion is the fact that they increase the level of methane emissions from cattle.

Research conducted at the University of Colorado in Boulders shows that antibiotic treatment more than DOUBLES the methane production of the animal. If a cow is producing 500 litres, it now produces 1000 litres of methane every day. The study indicates that tetracycline treatment reduces the natural bacteria in the stomach of cows and encourages the growth of methanogenic archaea – methane producing microbes – in the intestinal tract, altering the balance permanently.

The dung of cows treated with tetracycline had a different microbial balance, leading to the production of nearly 50-80% more methane than the dung of non-treated cows. Both the dung and burps of antibiotic-fed cows have been observed to have high methane content.

On one hand the world is looking for ways to reduce methane production by promoting renewable sources of energy, introducing energy efficient devices, setting safety parameters for landfills, checking natural gas leaks and finding ways to reduce coal.

On the other hand we are feeding increasing amounts of antibiotics to cattle, dangerously increasing their levels of methane emission. More than 1.4 billion cows are being bred globally to feed humans. Animal agriculture as a whole, which includes over 10 billion animals, now contributes 20% of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the world.

Millions of dollars are being spent by researchers in New Zealand on developing a vaccine to help reduce the burping of cows! German scientists are breeding a genetically modified cow who will produce less methane. Why not consider the simple option of keeping cattle better, improving the feed and holding conditions in factory farms so that antibiotics are not needed or used. The methane emissions will immediately come down by half.  

The problem is that the meat and dairy industry want to increase their profits TODAY. Less money spent on welfare of the animals and more spent on cheap antibiotics that keep them alive till they are killed makes more money today. They would much rather put money into a genetically modified cow who is bigger and fatter with bigger teats and shorter legs .

A 2006 United Nations report indicates that more greenhouse gases are produced by raising cattle than cars and trucks combined.

The core of the problem lies in the fact that we have allowed businessmen to get away with enormous cruelty for almost a century now. Naturally this will start to affect us as well , if you believe in the law of Karma.

Removing antibiotic usage from the animal rearing industry will reduce methane. But it can only be done if the cattle themselves are well treated, allowed to roam free, given good food. The best way to remove methane is, of course, to stop eating meat. And the demand reduces, so will the supply.

Methane stays in the atmosphere for a much shorter time than carbon dioxide. If we were to stop producing it, it would disappear from the atmosphere in 4-9 years and global warming would come to a halt. It all depends on what you eat and how little you care about your own survival.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in,www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

If you were an alien that dropped in on the planet and you heard that most people

If you were an alien that dropped in on the planet and you heard that most people on the planet had access to less than a bucket of water a day, because other people used ridiculous amounts of water to grow, feed, clean and kill animals so that they could eat them – when they didn’t need to – what would you say? In the cult book, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, the Universe has decided that Planet Earth must be flattened and removed to make way for a highway. We don’t have to wait for the universe to kill us – we are doing this to ourselves every day.

The meat industry uses a third of the world’s freshwater directly or indirectly. The global production of meat is moving towards doubling, from 229 million metric tons in the year 2000 to a projected 465 million metric tons by 2050. The burden on this planet’s water resources is already unsustainable. To understand the gravity of this situation, consider this fact – if every country in the world were to follow the high meat consumption patterns of America, the world would have already run out of water in the year 2000.  However with India and China becoming increasingly non vegetarian, we are going to run out of water in another 25 years – and many of you will be alive to see this.

40 billion animals are killed every year. The largest number of victims of this annual massacre are chickens, so while they are smaller than cattle, they make up in sheer numbers.

Poultry is a booming industry in India, with chicken meat being projected to the masses as a cheap and nutritious food. One kg of chicken in India can be bought for as less as Rs 100, which is sometimes cheaper than even dal! For some reason it is seen as aspirational – with families declaring their status by eating chicken, rather than beef or mutton, as they climb the social ladder. Foreign fast food chains are popularizing it – except, what you eat in most of them is not chicken but a kind of pink slime which is architecturally made to look like chicken. The Global Agricultural Information Network says that the consumption of processed chicken in India is rising rapidly at 15-20% per year. In 2017 chicken production increased by 7%, reaching 4.5 million tonnes. According to the Indian Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, an estimated 238 crore chickens were slaughtered for their meat in 2016-17 in India. About 70% of this poultry production is controlled by large companies, which run hatcheries, feed mills and slaughter facilities – using huge amounts of water at every stage of production.

Water is used for producing the grain feed for chickens, for their drinking, maintenance of their surroundings, for killing and cleaning the birds and then processing their meat. Poultry creates a huge amount of water pollution at different stages of production, so that water cannot be recycled, used for crops, or drunk. It is full of antibiotics and pesticides and creates a massive health problem if anything is grown with it. These two factors combined – water used and water polluted – create the high water footprint of poultry.

238 crore birds  means more than double the population of India. If each simply took one litre a day, even then it means 238 crore litres daily – more than is available to the humans in all the villages of North India. But it is NOT one litre a day, or 365 litres a year. It is far, far more.

Poultry birds consume corn, soybean meal, pearl millet, broken wheat and broken rice – mostly concentrates, which are grown with artificial irrigation. On an average, the production of one kilogram of these concentrates requires 1000 litres of water. If poultry birds were being fed the natural way, by being allowed to graze, the concentrates required would be 40%, but the modern industrial poultry confines them to small cages where they have to be fed 70% concentrates in the bird feed. Since most farms use chemical fertilizers to expedite the growth of feed, they pollute many more litres of water in the process, adding to the water footprint.

In a poultry facility with 1000 birds, approximately 400 litres of water is  used daily for drinking purposes. Modern broiler houses, which have cramped cages with birds in spaces that they cannot even raise their wings, need cooling systems to keep the hot, irritable birds alive. These cooling methods utilize large amounts of water during hot weather. More water is also used in clearing the excreta and shed feathers of the birds, and cleaning the area.

Birds are stunned in huge electric water baths before being killed. These use a large amount of water and have to be changed frequently as the birds defecate and urinate as they die. Their bodies are dipped into boiling water for the process of scalding – to help remove feathers. After this, the body is again dipped in cold water to maintain the quality of its skin.

Thousands of litres of water go into evisceration – the removal of the internal organs of the bird, to make it ready for consumption. Water is used in the cleaning and sanitation of equipment and facilities, and for cooling the compressors and pumps. Just the processing of the dead body is estimated to take 35 litres per bird. Multiply 238 crores by that.

The wastewater let out from these processing plants contains pollutants and suspended matter. This is usually not treated properly before being let out, and it pollutes the water in the surrounding areas making it unfit for any other use.

On an average, an estimated 4,325 litres of water goes into the production of just one kilogram of chicken meat. When you eat a kg of chicken, you are drinking 4325 litres – more than one village gets in Uttar Pradesh in a week. This compares to 322 litres for one kg of vegetables, 962 litres for one kg of fruit and 1,644 litres for a kg of cereals and grains.

India has the best vegetarian food in the world, the largest array of vegetables and grains. Pulses and soya are good alternative sources of protein, which require much less water. One gram of protein from chicken uses 34 litres of water for its production. The same gram of protein from pulses uses only 19 litres of water.

India is not in a position to be indulging in water wastage for this kind of luxury. Water shortage, drought and famine are a present reality for us. Richer countries are importing virtual water from us in the form of chicken and eggs, but it will be developing countries like ours that will first see the effects of a world without water.

No, you cannot do what Israel is doing: using machines to turn the ocean water into drinking water. The oceans are being rapidly drained of fish and already there are a large number of dead zones in the ocean where nothing grows – you can look these up on Google. The water is dead and no one can use it for anything. If you want to turn into an environmentalist and humanitarian, don’t do anything more than stop eating meat.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in,www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

I’ve heard many people suggest that fish is much healthier than red meat and chicken.

I’ve heard many people suggest that fish is much healthier than red meat and chicken. Non-vegetarians are encouraged to make the move to fish and seafood. Some time ago I published a chart which showed that, calorie for calorie, fish was heavier than meat, and its fat content was higher. Also much higher are the pesticides, PCBs (the most carcinogenic of all chemicals) and human faeces content (as shown by the Indian Institute of Oceanography).

Breeding fish for human consumption, or aquaculture, is a fast-growing industry around the world. In India, fish production has increased by 11-fold .We have become the second largest producer of fish in the world, after China. In 2015-16, an estimated 10.4 million tonne of fish was produced in our country, making up about 6.4% of the world’s total production. India is the highest exporter of fish exports and our exports of fish and related products are increasing at over 14% annually – twice the pace of other countries.

Fish farms, encouraged by the government‘s policy of Blue Revolution, are popping in all parts of the country, breeding both freshwater and saltwater fish. As the oceans and rivers lose their fish, 40% of commercial fish now come from aquaculture.

How do these farms operate? There are no vets, no training systems to the villages that change their community ponds to privately managed fish farms. The villager, who is given the pond, is never educated about the anatomy of the fish, what it feeds on in the wild and what it can digest, its diseases, sanitation of the pond, maximum stocking numbers etc. All that is desired from him is that he grow the most and the largest fish quickly. The result is that fish growers feed the animals badly (many of them feed them human faeces only) and rely on unnatural methods, such as chemically formulated feeds, antifungals, agrochemicals and antibiotics. Formalin and malachite green are chemicals used as disinfectants in the ponds. They are known to be toxic, but no one has banned them in India.

Fish are living beings and require the same thing as we do to stay well - wholesome, natural, pesticide free, non-poisonous food and water. In the absence of that, they fall ill. Antibiotic use has increased substantially in fish farms and hatcheries to overcome the sanitary shortcomings and the resultant bacterial infections.

Fish are usually bred in filthy tanks or net cages. The overcrowding, and the inability to recognise and isolate diseased fish (after all there are NO fish vets in our country), encourages the quick spread of disease. In order to control and prevent this, prophylactic antibiotics are administered either by treating the water, or mixing in  the food, or giving them injections. All scientific reviews across the world have shown that this leads to elevated levels of antibiotic residues, antibiotic resistant bacteria, persistent organic pollutants, metals, parasites and virus in aqua-cultured fish and shellfish

Many antibiotics administered to the fish stay in their systems till they are killed. Some antibiotics are non-biodegradable and remain in the water for months. When fish die, they are mashed and thrown into the water to feed other fish. Unconsumed food and fish faeces fall to the bottom of the water body and leach into the ground.  Commercial ponds for fish are almost never drained or cleaned. When one batch of fish is taken out and killed, the antibiotics in the water affect the next batch of fish in the same tanks.

Two things result : the fish become immune to particular antibiotics and so more and more intense combinations have to be tried out on them to keep them alive. These transfer through their meat to the eater. But the vegetarian falls prey as well. The water leaches onto the land that grows vegetables and grains. Those coastal aquaculture farms in Orissa send the contaminated water out into the sea. The antibiotics are washed out to distant places and eaten by other fish including shellfish. So, even people selling wild fish to consumers are selling contaminated dead bodies.

Many antibiotics used to treat fish are also used for the treatment of human diseases. Oxytetracycline, sulfamerazin, flumequine, sarafloxacin, erythromycin and ormethoprim, for example, are used to treat bacterial infections, skin ulcers, diarrhoea, septicaemia, kidney disease etc. in salmon, catfish, trout and other commercially-raised fish. In regulated countries, like Italy, investigations show that trout and seabass have concentrations of antibiotics between 250 to 600 milligrams per kg. In India which is entirely unregulated, the concentrations will be much higher.

Till today, nowhere in the world and least of all in India are there any standard disease prevention and treatment regulations for aquaculture. Since there are no antibiotics specifically designed for fish, human antibiotics are used. In the United States, it is estimated that 150 pounds of antibiotics are put into every acre of pond. Norway uses natural structures like fjords for salmon farming and from there the antibiotics spread into the ocean.

When humans eat antibiotically infested meat, then their bodies become resistant to these medicines. A team of British and Irish scientists has documented that fish pathogens, such as Aeromonas, can transmit their antibiotic resistance to human pathogens such as E.coli. E.coli and salmonella bacteria are now resistant to trimethoprim, sulphonamide and streptomycin – all previous front runners in combating these two infections that take an increasing number of human lives every year – and the reason is fish . Scientists have demonstrated that the bacterium that was responsible for the Latin American epidemic of cholera in 1992 was antibiotic resistant as a result of heavy use in the Ecuadorian shrimp industry.

The use of quinolones has been restricted for use in aquaculture-industrialised countries because they are vital for human infections. They are not biodegradable and remain in the ground for years. However, quinolone use is totally unrestricted in India, China and Chile. For example, in Chile 10-12 metric tonnes  of quinolones are used for humans and 110 tonnes are used in aquaculture annually. In China and India quinolone resistance has emerged as an important  public health problem.

Apart from building drug resistance, the consumption of antibiotics has other serious repercussions on humans. It alters the flora in our bodies, creating the risk of bacterial infections. (In layman terms, when you take antibiotics over a period of time, do you not notice the change in faeces? This shows that the flora in your intestines has changed and digestion is different). Humans become vulnerable to allergies. These remain undiagnosed because you are unaware of the antibiotics that you have been eating. Over a period these make the body vulnerable to major diseases like cancer. For example, the residue of chloramphenicol in food can result in aplastic anaemia, leading to serious bone marrow diseases. Nitrofuran antibiotics are known to cause cancer.

We are all vulnerable to the fish farm antibiotic epidemic that is being inflicted on us in the name of money. You will eat them directly through fish or fish products. You will drink them in the water that comes from underground sources that have been contaminated with discarded water from the fish ponds. You could irrigate your crops with water not knowing that it has been the recipient of antibiotic rich fish water. This water may also be consumed by other animal species, the meat or milk of which humans then consume. Antibiotics affect all the flora and fauna around the fish farms and alter the ecosystem. Nobody is safe anymore. First you eat the fish. Then it eats you.

 The World Wildlife Fund Salmon Aquaculture Dialogue commissioned a report on chemical use in salmon farming across the world. The committee of expert scientists found “…this use of large scale antibiotics can only be explained by excessive prophylactic (preventive) use. This is in general the result of shortcomings in rearing methods and hygienic conditions that favour animal stress, opportunistic infections and their dissemination.”

It is time that we understand what we are doing in the name of boosting the economy. There is no point making money if most of it is going to create hospitals to treat "untreatable" disease.

If we are going to continue with this unsustainable blue revolution (the Green revolution has been an unqualified disaster. No pests were eliminated and the ground is now contaminated beyond repair. Each farmer is in debt due to his utter dependence on pesticide, fertilizer and huge amounts of water) we need to get the fundamentals right. Instead of trying to reach goals of More, Bigger, Faster, we need to put our attention on how to make sanitary conditions better, stop the overcrowding, create fish veterinarians and inspectors, ban antibiotics. Until this is done, stop eating fish, and the next time you hear someone rave about how fish is  healthy, share this with them.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Recently the Hyderabad based Muslim seminary Jamia Nizamia, started in 1876

Recently the Hyderabad based Muslim seminary Jamia Nizamia, started in 1876, issued a ban on Muslims eating prawn, shrimp, and crabs, calling them Makruh Tahrim (abominable)
According to Islam, there are three categories of food : Halal (allowed) , Haram (prohibited, Makruh (strictly to be avoided as abominable)

Most Muslims eat meat, every kind. In fact the religion defines itself by the eating of meat – even though the Holy Prophet was a vegetarian. However, most Muslims have no idea of what they are allowed to eat. The maximum they know is that butchery is divided into two – Muslims eat Halaal and non-Muslims eat Jhatka. (It is another matter that the animals slaughtered in India are neither halaal nor jhatka and make a mockery of both religions) If you have Muslim acquaintances, you could pass this on to them.

There are four categories of food -

1.  Halal - lawful.

A halal slaughter involves a sharp knife. The animal should not see before it is slaughtered; the animal must be well rested and fed before slaughtering, and the slaughtering may not take place in front of other animals.  The jugular vein of the neck should be cut in order to drain all the blood of the live animal and the butcher should invoke Allah's name saying "Bismillah" in order to take the animal's life to meet the lawful need of food. Only vegetarian animals are allowed to be killed. Birds that eat seeds and vegetables are permitted. Birds that eat forbidden items like insects are only permitted if insects are not a major part of their diet. Insects such as Locusts are permitted, all others forbidden. Fruits and Vegetables must be inspected before eating to see that they have no insects. Fish killed by removal from water, or by a blow, are permitted. Shellfish are forbidden. Cheeses coagulated with acid or vegetable enzymes are permitted. Grains are permitted, provided they have not been prepared using animal fats or other forbidden ingredients. Vinegar which is not made from fermenting alcohol is permitted.

2.  Haram - forbidden, unlawful.

Haram is an Arabic term meaning "forbidden".

Acts that are haram are prohibited in the religious texts of the Quran and the Sunnah. If something is considered haram, it remains prohibited no matter how good the intention is, or how honourable the purpose is. 

In Islamic law, dietary prohibitions are said to help with the understanding of divine will.

Muslims are prohibited from consuming flowing blood. Meats that are considered haram, such as pork, dog, cat, monkey, or any other haram animals, can only be considered lawful in emergencies when a person is facing starvation and his life has to be saved through the consumption of this meat. However, these meats are NOT considered a necessity or permissible if his society possesses excess food. All carnivores with fangs such as lions, tigers, wolves, dogs, cats are haram. All birds with talons such as  hawks, falcons, vultures, eagles are haram. Domesticated donkeys are haram. Animals which are commanded to kill such as mice, scorpions, snakes, are haram. In fact all reptiles, amphibians (frogs) and rodents are haram. Any animal that has died before being slaughtered in the Islamic manner, or has not been properly slaughtered, is haram. Animals that are slaughtered in the name of anyone but Allah are prohibited.

Intoxicants, or Khamr, are prohibited in Islam. The Prophet forbade the trading, export, import, gifting of intoxicants, even with non-Muslims. It is not permissible for a Muslim to work in, or own, a place that sells intoxicants. This is not just alcohol but intoxicants, such as tobacco, paan, dokha, and khat. A Muslim is not even allowed to sit at a table where alcohol is being served. Heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and any other substances which cause intoxication, are also forbidden.

Nutmeg, asafoetida, vanilla extract and gelatine are also forbidden, either due to being intoxicants containing alcohol (vanilla extract) or other forbidden items such as pig parts (gelatine). This actually rules out most confectionary, as it contains nutmeg, vanilla extract and gelatine.

Anything made from a human part is haram. (But all commercial biscuits use melted human hair called L Cysteine. And most of the world’s supply comes from the Hindu temple of Tirupati where the hair has been consecrated to the Hindu goddess).

Carnivorous animals, birds of prey and land animals without external ears (i.e. snakes, reptiles, worms, insects etc.)  Since all birds eat insects as the larger part of their diet , this  should technically rule out all of them including chickens. But only Muslims run roadside chicken shops. Foods contaminated with blood or by-products, or any of the above products, is illegal.

3.   Mashbooh, Mushtabahat - questionable or doubtful.

There is a grey area called mushbooh. If one does not know the Halal or Haram status of a particular food or drink it should not be consumed.

4.   Makrooh - inappropriate, distasteful or offensive.

Although makruh actions are less severe than haram, it is recommended to avoid performing them. This will give a Muslim a better chance of reaping Allah's rewards.

Makruh food, determined by the Quran, states that man should only eat pure food, and anything that is impure is regarded as makruh. This includes food that is spoiled or rotten. Into this comes now prawn , shrimp, crabs – all of which are carrion eaters.

So, a Muslim should look out for :

Soup stock made of bones as these are likely to have pig in them, unless specially stated. Any cosmetic (lipstick etc.), or food dye of a pink/red colour as these are usually made from crushed and dried female insects called Cochineal beetles. Lard, which is usually fat from swine  and is used in pastry. Gelatine, which is obtained by boiling the bones, and other waste parts of animals, and forms the basis of most sweets and jelly.

I am not even going into the emulsifiers used in food like Diglycerides and others (E470 to E483) which can be obtained from pork, or non-halal sources, or magnesium stearate which is used in medicine tablets. Even digestives have pepsin: a digestive enzyme made from pig stomachs.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

When was the last time you saw or even heard a frog ?

When was the last time you saw or even heard a frog ? Twenty years ago. One of the reasons why we have so many mosquitoes is because we have killed off their main predators – the frogs. For many years we exported millions of frogs' legs to France, cut from living frogs. By the time the government banned it, the creatures were already in steep decline. Then came the pesticide onslaught, the drying up of wetlands, water contamination, the invasion of human settlements into the Western Ghats and they are almost gone. In the 1950’s gynaecologists would inject African Clawed frogs with a pregnant woman’s urine and if she was pregnant the frog would ovulate and produce eggs in a day. Between the 1940s and 1970s, hospitals imported the frogs in great numbers. Toads from the Bufo genus were also used, which led to the term "Bufo test." Millions died.
Is there any creature left that is not misused by the human? The Waxy Monkey Tree Frog of South America has, on its back, a substance called Dermorphin, 40 times more potent than morphine in blocking pain and creating a feeling of euphoria. The mafia in the racehorse industry use it to prod their horses into going faster, inspite of the severe whipping by their jockeys. The blood of 30 horses, tested recently in the US, showed this illegal substance.

A hundred years ago scientists, experimenting with skin grafts for humans, used to cut patches off living frogs and try to graft them onto human wounds. Not one worked but imagine the agony that this little creature went through.

Pilibhit was full of frogs. They crossed the road to mate and we would often stop the cars and wait for the suitors to cross before we proceeded. Once I found my security guard, a six foot warrior from Haryana frozen after a meeting. He pointed trembling at his feet. A frog sat comfortably on his shoe.

No more. I haven’t seen a frog in the last three years.

Frogs cannot survive climate change of any kind. Their eggs have no shells and are extremely vulnerable  to sunrays which cause mutations. Amphibians are considered important indicators of ecosystem health because their porous, absorbent skin makes them highly susceptible to pollution and climate change. Many frog and amphibian species around the world have suffered die-offs in recent years because of a lethal fungus that infects their skin and spreads quickly between geographic areas. The chytrid fungus is worse than the bubonic plague. Unfortunately, the pet industry (and earlier the medical industry)– which has done more to destroy entire species than any other – took the African Clawed Frog  in the 1970s all over the globe. This frog carries the deadly fungal infection chytridiomycosis which has wiped out frogs everywhere. In a recent report on the sharp decline of the frogs in the US, researchers found that frogs have been disappearing from their habitats at the rate of 3.7 % a year.

You will be sorry your children never saw them. They are remarkably wonderful beings, both clever and beautiful. India and South America have the most and we are still discovering new species every few months. India has tiny purple ones that fit on your thumb. For sheer cuteness, our show-stealer might be the "foot-flagging frog," that sticks out its back foot and waves it like a hitchhiker to tell females he is available. They are smart, with beautiful colours and scientists have just discovered that many of them speak a proper language.

Even a developing frog embryo in its jellylike mass is a clever being. If a predator comes, the red eyed tree frog embryo detects the threat simply from the vibration and drops out of its egg  to safety within a few seconds – even though the official hatching is still a few days away. The embryo knows the difference between the vibration of a raindrop, a leaf and a snake, wasp or fungus ! His mother has chosen a strategic spot – a leaf that overhangs water so as the frog hatches it can go straight in as a tadpole.

The frog is a fascinating parent. Male Darwin frogs in Chile swallow their children in the tadpole stage, incubate them in their vocal sacs and then spit out as fully formed froglets. These unique creatures are now vanishing because Chile’s forests are being cut down at an alarming rate to supply the wood/paper industry. One of the two species has not been seen since 1980 and is marked as extinct. The other is less than 2000. Another unique species of Australian frog – last seen in 1985 and now declared extinct- were gastric brooders. The female swallowed fertilized eggs, turned her stomach into a uterus and gave birth to froglets through the mouth. Timber harvesting and the chytrid fungus are the culprits again. This phenomenal reproduction will never evolve again in any species.

The first frog, who lived 70 million years ago, was a predatory creature known as the devil frog. Called  Beelzebufo ampinga (after the devil Beezelbub!), he lived in what is now Africa, and had  a massive globular head, sharp teeth, spiky flanges protruding from the back of its skull and plate-like armour down its back. The frog's spiked body armour may have helped it fend off the dinosaurs and crocodiles that prowled during that time. He hunted by hiding and pouncing on small mammals.

The mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs paved the way for frogs to explode in numbers and diversify. According to the American Museum of Natural History, which is updated in real time, as of April 2015, there are 6,482 species in the Anura order (frogs and toads). But for each species that we discover – and we discover them every year– several are wiped out. Even the ones we discover have only a few representatives left. Just enough for the universe to show us what we are losing.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

In today’s newspapers I read that doctors in the US have advised that men who want


In today’s newspapers I read that doctors in the US have advised that men who want children should freeze their  sperm before they are 25, as one in 6 men become infertile very quickly. In a previous article, I had discussed the studies that prove animal fats are related to decline in semen quantity and quality. While this may have seemed like enough reason for men to stay away from meat and dairy, there are still more compelling factors.

Fat-soluble oestrogen – the primary female sex hormone – is present in very high concentration in dairy and other animal products like eggs. In fact, milk and dairy products are the largest source of dietary oestrogen for humans. They account for 60-70% of the estrogens consumed. This has a ‘feminizing’ effect on men. Studies have shown that men who consume more milk and dairy products have higher levels of estradiol, a ‘female’ hormone. This can lower the body’s production of testosterone – the primary male sex hormone – with the effect of raising voice pitches, increasing male breasts and erectile dysfunction.

Modern dairy farming practice is even worse for men. Over 75% of commercial milk originates from pregnant cows – a time when their oestrogen levels are markedly high. With years of genetic tampering, cows and buffaloes now give milk throughout their pregnancy. Further, most milk producers make their animals pregnant within a couple of days of their giving birth, to maximize production. The cow is thus pretty much always pregnant, producing oestrogen high milk through the year. There was a time when 3 litres of milk in a native cow was considered excellent. Now, the cow/buffalo owner aims for up to 15 litres a day, and abroad this goes up to 24 litres per day. This is far from natural.

The whey of milk from non-pregnant cows has about 30 pg/mL of estrone sulphate – a natural steroid found in oestrogen. This increases to 151 pg/mL during early pregnancy and goes up to 1000 pg/mL at the last stages of the pregnancy. Milk particularly holds high levels of steroids from oestrogen, twice as much as is found even in the plasma of the animal (which means her milk is worse than her meat for men).  The average range of healthy estradiol levels in men is usually 10 to 40 pg/mL. Estradiol  is a steroid, an oestrogen, and the primary female sex hormone. It is used to treat symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, and vaginal dryness, burning and irritation.

The increased oestrogen levels in pregnant cows are essential to sustain the new life in their wombs and when they are young. However, most calves of dairy cows are separated from the mothers soon after their birth and bottle fed with powdered milk, or the milk that is considered unfit for humans. The milk, along with its high oestrogen content intended for the growth of the baby in the womb and the baby calf, is diverted to humans instead.

Meat is another major source of oestrogen in our diet. This is more prominent in modern animal farming practice, where it is common to give cattle food, injections or subcutaneous implants of oestrogen, often in combination with other hormones. This encourages early maturity of animals, increases their weight faster so that slaughterhouses can kill them sooner, thus increasing production and profits.

Xenoestrogens – chemicals with demasculinizing, or feminizing effects, are found in animal fat and cannot be removed by washing and cooking. Through consumption, these accumulate in human fat.

A study by Maruyama et al. in 2010 shows that dairy food intake has also been related to decreased secretion of LH, FSH and testosterone in men. LH and FSH work together to regulate the development of the sex glands and sperm production. Both together stimulate the production of testosterone. A Japanese study conducted with men and pre-pubertal boys, found that drinking cow's milk resulted in increased serum oestrogen and progesterone levels. This increase suppressed GnRH secretion from the brain, in turn resulting in lowered testosterone secretion in the men and boys. The study found the intake of milk, and other dairy products, is associated with higher levels of estrone, estriol and pregnanediol in boys . Excess oestrogen can delay attainment of puberty in the case of boys, and speed it up for girls.

In 2013, Afeiche et al., at the University of Rocehster, conducted a study with young, physically active men as subjects. It was found that the more these men consumed dairy food, the lesser the number of their sperm and the lower was this sperm’s activity. A study done in 2014 by Schisterman et al. came to the same conclusion.

As males grow older, there is a reduction in the amount of testosterone produced by the testes, while estradiol levels continue to remain high. While a certain level of estradiol is necessary for vascular health, excess levels can have a negative impact. Excess oestrogen can manifest itself in symptoms such as developing breasts, excess abdominal weight, tiredness, loss of muscles mass and emotional disturbances.

In a study conducted in the USA with approx. 40,000 men visiting a sperm lab, it was found that an increase in semen quality was associated with a decrease in mortality, pointing to the fact that semen quality may therefore be an important marker of overall male health. This is not to be taken lightly. Apart from the ‘feminizing’ effect that dairy and meat can have on men, they also increase the chances of testicular and other kinds of cancer, due to increased levels of oestrogen.

Studies show that high level of oestrogen can increase the risk of heart disease. Conversely, there are numerous studies indicating that higher testosterone levels can drastically reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease among men.

If you are worried that giving up milk will affect calcium intake, think again. Green leafy vegetables not only contain more calcium than milk, this calcium is also absorbed much more easily into our bodies through vegetable consumption.

So, if you find that your body looks less and less like that of a male, and you have a problem sexually, stop consuming extra oestrogen.  This means cutting out animal fats, such as milk, milk products, eggs and meat, from the diet. Cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli and cauliflower, contain indole-3-carbinole, which is effective in reducing the oestrogen levels in the body. Other effective foods are mushrooms, pomegranate, red grapes, seeds (flax, sesame etc.), whole grains (wheat, oats, millet, barley, rice etc.) and green tea. So go on. Make the change.

PS: Scientists in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences have found that the pesticide atrazine can turn male frogs into females. The atrazine levels experimented with were what the frogs would experience in environments where the pesticide is used, and below levels that are considered safe for drinking water. Scientists compared this atrazine-exposed group with male frogs reared in atrazine-free water. At the end of the experiment, all frogs in the atrazine-free group remained male, while 10 percent of the frogs exposed to atrazine were completely feminized — they had female anatomy, including ovaries. Frogs exposed to atrazine also had reduced testosterone levels, decreased fertility, and showed less mating behaviour.

Atrazine is used commonly in India, specially on corn (bhutta). It is banned in Europe. Since atrazine interferes with the production of the sex hormone oestrogen, present in people and frogs, the findings could have implications for humans as well.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

A hundred years from now, if scientists have their way, many humans will be partly pig and baboon.

A hundred years from now, if scientists have their way, many humans will be partly pig and baboon. I mean really, not metaphorically.

Scientists are working on transplanting entire hearts, liver, kidneys, pancreas and lungs from animals to humans. The increasing demand for organs, tissues, and cells, and the dearth of available human organs, have focused scientific interest in taking organs from animals . The term for the transplanting of organs from one species to another is called xenotransplantation and so far it has not worked at all. However entire corporations are at work, slicing and dicing animals so that one day humans can be part pig and part baboon.

The arguments, in favour of animal to human organ transplantation, is that these organs would be available whenever required, instead of making patients wait for  months. An immediate transplantation would perhaps result in improved survival. Instead of waiting for a dead human, whose organs are already slightly damaged, the organs could be taken from healthy animals under anaesthesia.

The pig has become the animal of choice for most companies. Thousands of pigs are being killed to use in human bodies. But, before they get to humans, scientists first transplant their organs into the bodies of baboons to see if they can go into a different species.

Why baboons?  Humans and baboons have 90 percent of their DNA in common, so the captive animal becomes a stand in for a human. Why pigs ? Their organs are of the same size as humans.

Which is the ideal animal species for organ transplants. The animal should have the same sort of anatomy, so that the organ can function well in humans. He should not have any disease that can be transmitted to humans. He should be immune to human diseases. He should have no genes that affect human immune systems. He should be inexpensive to breed and keep and have lots of babies every year. And he should be an animal that humans don’t mind killing.

There is no such animal.

Primates may be somewhat alike in anatomy, but they give and get human infections easily. They don’t breed quick enough and humans ( except scientists) don’t like killing them.

The pig has large litters several times a year and is cheap to feed. The problem is that its blood and all its genetics are far too different. The pig is an entirely different species . It has been 80 million years since the pig and human diverged on the evolutionary scale.  Is it possible to “outwit evolution.”

Not so far. Millions of killed animals later scientists are no further along. The very basic aim – to replace a baboon’s heart with a pig heart – has still not been achieved.

Organ transplants fail because each mammalian species has a system and blood unique to itself  and its immune system is built to reject foreign organs. As soon as human blood is sent through pig organs, the antibodies in the human blood cells are activated against pig cells. Companies are working to add human thrombomodulin protein to pig cells to make them seem more human, so that human cells are less likely to reject them. Through microinjection techniques, and in vitro fertilization, five human genes have been added to the pigs' livers, kidneys and hearts.

The pig has a galactose oligosaccharide enzyme, Gal, which humans don’t. When a pig organ or cells are transplanted into a human, this enzyme causes immediate rejection. Scientists have genetically created a pig that "almost" doesn’t have Gal. However, clinical testing has not finished. The genetically manipulated pigs are called GalSafe pigs.

Unfortunately for the scientists, pigs also have retroviruses in the genome of every porcine cell. These will inevitably be transferred with the donor tissues. This is a grave potential risk, as retroviruses don’t create illnesses in their natural hosts but are devastating to humans. The scientists have discovered a retrovirus in the pig called PERV. Research – published in the journal Science – shows that Perv can make their way from pigs into humans. Opponents of xenotransplantation fear that these viruses, when introduced into a human system, might cause epidemics of diseases for which we have no immunity and no cure.

Large commercial companies like eGenesis claim that they have removed these threatening viruses from the animals' DNA. They have cut out genes and blasted the rest to eradicate all Perv activity to make Perv free piglets.

Scientists say major obstacles remain. “Even if organs from these  gene-edited pigs could be safely used to overcome virus transmission, there remain formidable obstacles in overcoming immunological rejection and the physiological incompatibility of pig organs in humans.”

Experts in these fields worry that transgenic pig organs, whose organs are no longer completely porcine genetically, may be even more susceptible to viral infections. The humans that get these genetically modified organs would have to be on immunosuppressants for the rest of their lives. While xenotransplantation may theoretically increase the survival time, it is unclear whether the negative impact on the human’ quality of life would be worth it.

The risk of getting and transmitting disease to the recipient and to society cannot be accurately estimated. What impact will it have on the human race, should a new zoonotic infection be introduced, for which we have no cure? Ebola and Aids have killed millions.

If, in the distant future, a pig organ is ever ready for use on a human, these questions arise:

Should the members of a community therefore be consulted if there were any xeno-transplantation donees in their region?  Someone will go to court demanding that, in the greater interest of society a person with an animal organ in their body should be restricted from having physical relationships and socialising, to prevent the possible risk to the wider public from zoonosis. This may result into temporary detentions at home – something written into the contract before consenting to xenotransplantation.

How would a patient give an informed consent to the future restrictions of one’s liberty. Would he not challenge the legality of any such agreements later. They could reasonably argue that they have agreed to the restrictions under duress because of a lack of viable alternatives to xenotransplants.

Even if they were available, the treatment would be immensely expensive. Production of a pathogen free donor organ would involve rearing animals in strictly controlled environments. This means huge costs in developing a sustainable work force to provide transplantation and post-transplant surveillance of the patient.  Insurance providers may not cover expenses of a xenotransplant. Public health care providers may decline to provide this treatment, as it may not be cost effective. Only the very rich will be able to afford it with serious implications for fairness. If public health authorities were to fund expensive interventions like xenotransplantation, other routine treatments of greater medical benefits to society may be jeopardised.

Religions like Islam and Judaism feel that pigs are ‘ritually unclean’. They may therefore not approve of people who have pig organs. Would these recipients be socially acceptable?

The ethical view is that animals have rights similar to those considered appropriate for humans. Is the prolonged  suffering, in the form of constant physical manipulation, isolation and death of an animal, moral? Sheep that have been genetically modified to grow more wool are born blind with legs so weak that they cannot move. What are the physical consequences in a genetically modified pig  .

Wouldn’t it be easier to find a way to grow human organs, rather than killing animals, or modifying them, to become more huma ? Three-D technologies have come in. Meat cells have been successful multiplied to make non-animal meat hamburgers. Grow the person’s own organs and tissues and then use them for auto-transplantation.

In this amazing world of ours, a human will eat and drink the wrong things, not exercise, abuse his body and spray pesticides everywhere. When his organs start failing he will look for women, poor people and now animals, to give him organs so that he can live to carouse some more.

I am totally against this massive slaughter that is going on in the name of scientists getting jobs and pretending to work for the benefit of human kind. Why not go into a brave new world without any moral barriers and raise humans for the purpose of harvesting their organs. 

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

All living beings require vitamins, essential micronutrients, and these should come through the diet

All living beings require vitamins, essential micronutrients, and these should come through the diet. An extra dose of vitamin has very little nutritional benefit if you are already healthy, but if you are deficient in any vitamin you will require supplements so that your cells and tissues can grow properly. Vitamins facilitate the chemical reactions that produce among other things, skin, bone and muscle. If there is serious deficiency in one or more of these nutrients, you may develop a deficiency disease. Even minor deficiencies may cause permanent damage. Some well known illnesses connected with vitamin deficiencies are beriberi, pellagra, scurvy and rickets.

In 1910 Vitamin B 1(thiamine) was discovered by Japanese scientist Umataro Suzuki and its food source was rice bran. In 1913 Vitamin A (retinol) followed and its food source was considered cod liver oil. Between 1920 and 1948 all the other vitamins were isolated. The last one was Vitamin B 12 (cobalamin) and its source was liver, eggs and any other animal products.

In the 1930s the first commercial yeast-extract vitamin B complex and semi-synthetic vitamin C supplement tablets started being sold.  From then to now, the consumption of vitamins and multi-vitamins has become a common practice in many households. Thirteen vitamins are recognized at present and each one has a particular function. Some function as antioxidants, others, especially in the B group, help enzymes to work.

Vitamins are classified as A, B (including B1 Thiamine, B2 riboflavin, B3 Niacin, B5, B6 (Pyridoxin), B7 Biotin, B9, B12 (Cobalamin), C, D, E and K. As supplements become an integral part of our lives, it is important to know where they come from. The B group has other common names which are on the packaging labels : (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and folate).

Most Indians would be surprised to know how many vitamins are derived from animals and are not vegetarian. Product descriptions are not always honest. While the law directs manufacturers to display the contents of their products, it is not mandatory for them to display the source of these ingredients. Many vitamin supplements are not vegetarian.

Whether or not one opts to continue consuming these vitamins is a personal choice, but you must be aware of their animal content.

Vitamins tablets or capsules usually contain additives that aid in the manufacturing process, or the way the vitamin is digested by the body. These are some of them :

Gelatine is the most commonly used animal ingredient in vitamin supplements. It forms the basis of most capsule shells and is also used in the coating and filling of tablets. Gelatine is derived from boiling hooves, stomach, and other tissue linings, of pigs, cows and goats.

Other components of fillers and lubricants, on the coating of vitamin supplements, are magnesium stearate and caprylic acid. Magnesium stearate is derived from stearic acid, which is a fatty acid found in pigs, chicken, cows, fish, milk and butter. Caprylic acid comes from the milk of goats, cows and sheep.

Many tablets are coated with colours to make them look attractive. Many of these colours are animal based. A commonly used red food dye is made from carmine, which comes from the dead bodies of scale insects similar to beetles.

Lanolin is another animal sourced material used to manufacture vitamin D supplements. It is obtained from wool-bearing animals. (D3 is also made from fish oils. This is dangerous because it may have a hidden mercury content). Vegan vitamin D3 supplements, sourced from algae, are a viable alternative. Or, stand in the sun.

Another common ingredient is cod liver oil, which is used as a source of vitamin A and vitamin D. This comes from oils extracted from the liver of cod fish. Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is often derived from organ meats, especially liver, from lamb, veal, beef, and turkey, fish eggs, clams, mackerel and crab meat. So are Vitamins B 2, B 3, B 5 , B 6, B 7.

Omega-3 supplements usually use products based on fish, fish oil, eggs, meat etc..

Duodenum substances are used in many vitamins to help in the absorption of vital nutrients. These are derived from the digestive tracts of cows and pigs.

Lipase is an ingredient used in digestive enzyme supplements. This comes from the tongues of calves and lambs. Pepsin, which is sometimes included, comes from the stomach lining of pigs. Bone meal is used as a source of calcium in some vitamin supplements. This is basically crushed animal bones.

Calcium supplement tablets have glycerine, which can be extracted from soy or palm but is usually taken from animal tallow (animal fat) . Cholecalciferol, used in all vitamin supplements, is extracted from sheep wool.

Do not listen to people who tell you that some vitamins have to be from meat/dairy extracts. There is no vitamin which is exclusively found in non-vegetarian food. Each vitamin has plant based alternatives.

Vegetable cellulose caps are an alternative for gelatine. Stearates used as fillers and lubricants on coating can be derived from palm oil, rather than animals. There are also vegetable sources of caprylic acid which come from coconut or palm oil.

Alternative sources of Vitamin D include yeast extract ergosterol, algae and, of course, exposing skin to sunshine. Cyanocobalamin, which comes from soy, can be used for Vitamin B12 supplements. Kiwifruit seed oil, chia seed, fig seed oil, hemp, flax and black raspberry are good sources of Omega-3.Vitamin A can be made from carotene.

There are ways to derive lipase from oilseed and cereal seed for use in digestive enzyme supplements. Crushed animal bones, used for calcium, can be replaced by a number of vegetarian sources, including calcium carbonate, kale, mustard greens, soy, broccoli, leeks, spinach, beets, vegetable compost, plant mulch, dolomite and clay.

Despite these vegetable ingredients being available, the hugely profitable health supplement industry often chooses to use animal based products because they are easily available, from slaughterhouses, and cheap.

Apart from plant alternatives, almost all commercially sold vitamin supplements can also be made from synthetic vitamins. There are no chemical differences between vitamins produced synthetically and those derived from plant or animal sources. Synthetic production is becoming more popular, as, such vitamin tablets are easier to produce and found to be even more cost effective than animal products.

More funds need to be channelled, into the R&D of plant alternatives, for use in vitamin supplements. We need to chart a path away from the unnecessary violent methods of producing vitamin supplements. An increase in the consumer demand for plant based supplements will push the industry in a better direction. There are many multivitamin brands that come from animals, or use animals, in their production. Some of these are : Inlife Multivitamin, Centrum, Herbalife, Healthvit, Muscle Pharm Armour V, Revital, Univita, Amway Nutralite, Opti-Men, Muscle Tech Platinum Multi Vit Supplement among others. You need to write and ask the company.

Vitamin supplements don’t promote health, or prevent disease. They simply treat deficiency. As much as possible, we should rather eat a variety of more whole foods directly. This is more sensible, not to say healthier, than trying to derive micronutrients from these same foods and consuming those in tablets.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

The first known xenotransplantation was done by the god Shiva.

The first known xenotransplantation was done by the god Shiva. Daksha, the father in law of Shiva, organized a yagna. He insulted Shiva and his daughter. Sati, Shiva’s wife, immolated herself in protest. Daksha’s head was cut off and burnt.  Later, when Shiva forgave him, he was brought back to life but with a ram’s head. The more famous decapitation was that of Ganesha. Shiva cut off the head of a baby elephant and transplanted it on to his son’s neck.

For the last 300 years doctors have been trying to replicate this miracle. The process is called xenotransplantation, or the transplanting of non-human organs or cells into a human body.

Thousands of animals have died in the process. And each attempt has been a failure. But that doesn’t stop scientists from trying. After all, animal life is cheap and, in the name of science, one can do anything.

In the 17th century, Jean Baptiste Denis started the practice of blood transfusion from animals to humans. Everyone died and xenotransfusion was banned in France for a number of years. In the 19th century, skin grafts became relatively popular between various animal species and humans. The fact that many of the species used as donors—sheep, rabbits, dogs, cats, rats, chickens, and pigeons—had hair, feathers, or fur, growing from the skin, did not deter the surgeons involved. The ideal graft was from frogs, which were sometimes skinned alive. None of the grafts were successful.

In the 20th century, the French experimental surgeon, Alexis Carrel, developed surgical techniques for joining blood vessels, which enabled organ transplantation to be carried out successfully for the first time. For this work he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1912. He developed an interest in cross-species transplantation and his techniques became a reason for more people to experiment on animals.

A few years later, Serge Voronoff , a Russian émigré working in Paris,  developed an interest in reversing the effects of aging in elderly men who had lost their “zest for life.” He sliced a large number of chimpanzee or baboon testicles and implanted them in the testicles of old men. None of them had any effect. In fact they created infections and more complications. The concept of transplanting glandular tissue to produce hormones that would benefit the recipient was continued in the United States by John Brinkley, whose chosen donor was the goat, as he had been convinced by a local farmer of its sexual potency. He was later disbarred by the American Medical Association.

In the 1960s, Keith Reemtsma at Tulane University in Louisiana—hypothesized that nonhuman primate kidneys might function in human recipients and thus be a successful treatment for renal failure. By then kidney transplantation from human to human had been established (in the 50s), but the availability of kidneys from deceased humans was extremely limited. Reemtsma selected the chimpanzee as the source of organs, because of its close evolutionary relationship to humans. He carried out 13 of these transplants. While all the chimpanzees died in great pain the experiments failed. One woman lasted 9 months but spent all that time strapped to a bed and hospital catheters.  In another experiment scientists transplanted a pig kidney into a baboon. The baboon died in 5 months.

But the scientists carried on with kidney transplants. Tom Starzl used baboons as donors in Colorado. His results were similar to those of Reemtsma.

James Hardy, in 1964, tried to transplant a chimpanzee heart into a patient who had undergone amputations of both legs—and was in a semi-comatose state at the time the transplant was undertaken. The patient died within a few hours. The chimpanzee, of course, had been killed. In 1967 Christian Bernard also carried out two cardiac xenotransplants. Both failed.

Perhaps the best known clinical cardiac xenotransplantation since Hardy's attempt was that by Leonard Bailey, who transplanted a baboon heart into an infant girl, known as Baby Fae, in 1983. The graft underwent acute rejection and the patient died 20 days later. One of the reasons, which would appear common sense to an average, non medical person, is that baboons don’t have O blood type, which is donor blood. They have ABO which is incompatible with humans.   

Tom Starzl, who is considered one of the pioneers in the field of kidney and liver human to human transplantation, performed a handful of liver transplants between nonhuman primates and young patients in Colorado in the 1960s, with no success. As more immuno-suppressants became available, he performed two liver transplants from baboons into adult patients in the 1990s, with no survivors.

In the meantime xenotransplantation of pig islet transplantation is under way in diabetic patients in New Zealand. A European group has given rhesus monkeys an artificially induced Parkinson like motor disease and is experimenting with genetically modified pig dopamine-producing cells from pig embryos into the monkey brain, so that this can eventually be done with people with Parkinson’s. No luck so far, but there is no shortage of monkeys being imported from Mauritius.

The people of Asia and Africa need new corneas. Experimental corneal xenotransplantation is being done . Transplanting pig corneas into monkey eyes. The recipient needs corticosteroid injections into the eyes for the rest of his life – if the 4 experiments work which they have not done so far. Nebraska Medical Center, is transplanting hearts from pigs into sheep. Pig xenotransplants of heart, kidneys, lungs and livers, into apes carries on. The results? Completely unsuccessful. Does that stop the scientists? Not yet.

Clinics in Europe tout the efficacy of various animal tissues from placentas to blood cells, plasma and  organs for a variety of conditions – from acne to anti-aging. There is no evidence that they work.

The pig is now the creature that is being focused on. Why? Its genetic makeup is completely different from that of a human being. But the reasons are far more commercial. Its organs are the same size as humans, it is cheap to maintain and it has three litters a year, so pigs can be easily available. Does this make any scientific sense. No. But by the time they give up, xenotranplantation companies will have tortured and killed millions of pigs.

In 1969, Nobel Prize winner Sir Peter Medawar, who is considered the father of transplant immunology, stated, “We should solve the problem of organ transplantation by using xenografts in less than 15 years.” It is now 2017 and we are no closer. Norman Shumway, the pioneer of heart transplantation, stated truthfully “xenotransplantation is the future of transplantation, and always will be.”

The scientists are going to keep trying. They get paid for their research and, if they do succeed in producing usable organs from pigs, then there is a Nobel Prize at the end of the rainbow. Who cares about the animals.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

For years the scientific community has been talking about the uselessness of experimenting on dogs.

For years the scientific community has been talking about the uselessness of experimenting on dogs. According to most scientists and companies that produce pharmaceuticals, dogs have no role to play in proving any drug for humans.

Thirty years ago I had created the CPCSEA in the Environment Ministry. This was supposed to be the apex centre of deciding which experiments and which animals were to be used in India. It was supposed to bring in new ideas and promote safe animal alternatives. Unfortunately, instead of putting first class scientists on it, it was soon overrun by low level ministry directors and it degenerated into a dull and senseless office, which simply holds meeting every now and then to rubber stamp useless and repetitive experiments that lead nowhere and push up the prices and delay the issuance of vital drugs.  

In October 2017, the first ever conference on the use of dogs in testing and research was held in Hyderabad, India. The event was organized by People For Animals India, partnered by Cruelty Free International a London-based scientific research agency, to bring attention to the practical and ethical problems associated with the laboratory testing of dogs. It was attended by government people and by the 16 Indian companies that test on dogs.

Every year, over 2 lakh dogs are used for testing worldwide to evaluate the safety of new chemicals and drugs. Most regulatory agencies around the world require a non-rodent species (usually dogs) to be used in pre-clinical trials to test the effect (toxicity and pharmacokinetics, pharmacokinetics which means the study of the movement of drugs in the body, including the processes of absorption, distribution, localization) of new chemicals before the tests are conducted on humans. This includes testing of pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, pesticides etc.

Beagles are the most commonly used breed of dogs for animal testing, owing to their passive nature and small size. These dogs are kept in cages for years until the study is complete, and undergo very invasive and painful procedures during this time. Their vocal cords are sometimes cut so they cannot bark when hurt. These dogs rarely have access to veterinarians and are often not even given painkillers. When rescued, test dogs have been seen to have enlarged hearts and various diseases due to their high stress environments. They are also very anxious and scared of humans. It is a difficult task to rehabilitate even those dogs that manage to make it out of laboratories.

The practice of using dogs has become a part of most regulatory protocols over the decades, despite it lacking a scientific basis. The tests on dogs do not validate any drugs. The tests conducted on dogs have no added value and usually do not provide any new useful data which an original test on rodents cannot. It continues to be practiced despite immense public opposition and clear scientific and ethical arguments against it. In fact, tests done on dogs in the '50s delayed penicillin coming into the market, as dogs were found allergic to it and they died. When they were bypassed and humans were administered the test, it turned out to be a lifesaver.

For years, scientists believed that the central physiological functions of circulation, respiration, and nervous system were common to all mammals. However, no species of animal has been identified which has the same absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion processes of drugs as humans. It is unlikely that such an animal species will ever be found. Despite this, there is a persisting opinion that animal research has made a significant contribution to the treatment of human diseases. This is not based on fact, as most of the research using animals is known to be wasted.

The primary objection to the specific use of dogs in testing is thus simple – the data derived from dogs is not predictive enough to be applied to the case of humans. Any conclusions that come out of this forced extrapolation (an act of inferring an unknown from something that is known) between two such different species is largely unreliable. And the scientists know that. So, instead of paying attention to, or taking any interest in, the results of tests on dogs, it becomes simply one more step to fulfil on paper for bureaucrats, before they can get down to the real  testing on human beings – which is the only test that matters.

For example, if a new drug is already known to have a 70% chance of not being toxic for humans, a negative test conducted on dogs will increase this probability to just 72%. The dog test thus does not provide significantly new or supporting evidence. It does, however, have a huge financial and ethical cost.

Dogs have always been found to be inconsistent predictors of toxic responses in humans. A study conducted, at the School of Pharmacy, University of Connecticut, as early as 1982 found that most derivatives of the drug benzodiazepine, used in many common medicines, have a much smaller half-life in dogs as compared to humans. As these drugs are processed and metabolized much faster in dogs, results of tests conducted on dogs become irrelevant to predict the side effects or toxicology on humans.

A study by Nerviano Medical Sciences, Italy found that the CYP3A enzyme – which is present in all animals and used to study drug toxicity – is extremely specific to the species being tested. The extrapolation of such data to human subjects is a risky exercise. Dogs are not a good metabolic model for humans due to major differences in their cytochrome P450 enzymes (CYPs), which are the key enzymes involved in the metabolism of over 90% drugs. Other research has also proven that the results obtained by studying drug metabolizing enzymes in animals could not be extrapolated for humans due to the molecular differences among different species.

The Department of Pharmaceutics and Pharmacodynamics at the University of Illinois conducted a study where 43 drugs were administered to dogs and humans. The overall correlation with regard to drug absorption and efficacy was relatively poor (r2 = 0.5123) in comparison to an earlier rat vs. human study on 64 drugs (r2 = 0.975). In fact, even poorer than rats which are tested on to begin with simply as a basic exercise. The data could not be used to build a better understanding of the effects on humans.

Further studies, including one conducted by AstraZeneca, a pharmaceutical company, have shown that several drugs when tested are observed to be free in the plasma of animals, meaning that they do not bind to proteins as they might do in humans and are thus irrelevant for human comparison.

Despite the consistently proven lack of scientific value, tests on dogs continue to be demanded by government regulatory bodies. This can have adverse repercussions on humans. Like penicillin, there could be a number of drugs/chemicals which have an unfavourable reaction on dogs, but may not have such a reaction on humans. There is a risk that a number of potentially useful compounds will be discarded at an early stage due to these early negative results.

On the other hand, there are high chances of drugs passing the tests on dogs but reacting unfavourably on humans. Many toxic compounds can wrongly reach the stage of human testing, and can harm humans in clinical trials. Few people know that 92-94% of all drugs which pass preclinical tests fail in clinical trials on humans – this fact has been revealed by Cruelty Free International after examining hundreds of thousands of studies. This happens largely due to unforeseen toxicities which did not show up in animal tests. Even worse, half of the drugs that get past human trials have been subsequently withdrawn, or re-labelled due to adverse drug reactions which were not detected in animal tests.

The advances in neuroscience and related technology make the practical need and ethics for conducting tests on dogs increasingly questionable. The advent of new technology provides a number of alternatives. Computer simulation programs have been developed, which can simulate cell models to help study effects of drugs at the molecular and cellular level. Such in-silico studies have a better scope at providing important results than studies on animals, as there is better control over the experiment parameters.

Another new method of testing is in-vitro testing, or the Tox21 method, which employs cells obtained from live humans. For example, anti-cancer studies are conducted on human cancer cells taken during surgeries by biopsy. This type of testing also gives researchers a more controlled environment, making the results more reliable and reproducible.

These, and other new methods, have a number of benefits over testing on animals, particularly dogs – they save huge amounts of time and money, they provide more reliable results, the ethical concerns are minimal and the financial and practical implications of rearing animals etc. are much lower. There is benefit for all involved, if a move is made away from animal testing, particularly laboratory testing of dogs.

My teams rescue the beagles that are still alive after the experiments have been done on them for years. If you were to see their state, and realise that all this suffering was for nothing, you would be appalled. The first step has been taken by holding the conference. The pharmaceutical industry says it would prefer not to use them. Now the bureaucrats and government scientists need to  change the protocols that are using our tax money to inflict so much unnecessary harm.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Man has always envied the powers of animals.

Man has always envied the powers of animals. His natural instinct was to complete himself in mythology with animal powers and become a superbeing. Angels, fairies, the Greek Drakaina, Mothmen, Seraphs, the Norse Valkyries, the winged genies of Assyria, the Vanth of Etruscan mythology who guide people to the underworld after death, the Chayot of Judaism, are all humans with wings.

Mythology and folklore is full of animal-human hybrids. Most of these have been given divine status – whether of god, or villain, or trickster. In Christian art the devil is depicted with a human body, horns of a goat and a ram, goat's fur and ears, nose and canine teeth of a pig. In ancient Mesopotamia, Pazuzu the king of demons, the southwest wind, bringer of storms and drought, has the body of a man, the head of a lion or dog, the talons of an eagle, two pairs of wings, and a scorpion’s tail. (But though Pazuzu is an evil spirit, he drives and frightens away other evil spirits, protecting humans against plagues and misfortunes).

Human hybrids appear in million-year old cave paintings. These were attempts to depict priests (shamans) in the process of acquiring the mental and spiritual attributes of various beasts.

In India the most famous man-animal combination is Ganesha. But, unlike other cultures, our mythology does not normally mix animals with men in order to worship them. The beauty of the pre-Hindu and Hindu mythology is that it confers divine status on the animals themselves – Kurma the tortoise, Matsya the fish, Garuda the eagle, Jambavan the bear, Kamadhenu the cow (who in later mythology is given a human head, body of a cow, wings, tail of a peacock), Nagas like Sesha who can change into humans at will like Balrama. In the Puranas, Sesha was a human ascetic. Brahma, pleased with his worship, entrusted him with the duty of carrying the world. Sesha changed into a serpent, entered into a hole in the Earth, slithered to the bottom where he then loaded the Earth onto his head. 

In the other mythologies, specially the Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Chinese and Japanese, the fusion of man- animal makes the being divine.

Pan is a deity in Greek mythology. He has the torso of a human and hindquarters, legs and horns of a goat. He is the god of the wild, fields, groves, shepherds and flocks, nature and rustic music. He stands for fertility and the season of spring. The word panic comes from him. When disturbed he would shout scaring all. When the giants, called Titans, attacked the abode of the Greek gods, Olympus, Pan frightened the attackers away. The other word that comes from him is “companion” – and that is evocative, for me, of a paradise in which man and animal are friends.

The Greek Satyr is half human, half goat, hedonistically devoted to pleasure. His Roman counterpart is the Faun who is harmless.

Mermaids, half human and half fish are in every mythology but each culture has its own twists. Jengu is a beautiful water spirit of the Cameroon with a human upper body and a fish tail, long hair and gapped teeth who bring good fortune and healing to those who worship her. Sirena and Sireno are mermaids/mermen, from Philippine folklore, who guard the water. The Sirena has an enchanting voice that hypnotizes sailors and fishermen causing shipwrecks. Dagon is a Merman worshipped in Mesopotamia and Assyria as a fertility God. Cecaelia is a female half human, lower half octopus who lives in Lake Yaju, Japan and is a Sea Witch. The Cook Islands have a god called Avatea whose right half is that of a man and the left half of a fish. He is the father of gods and men. His eyes are the sun and moon and he is the god of light.

The Harpy is a Greco-Roman mythological creature with the lower body, wings and claws of a bird and the chest and head of a woman. Harpies are fierce, ill tempered, and live in filth. They are associated with the wind and the underworld and are sent to take those humans away who are unwilling to die. They do vengeful errands for other gods. Lilitus are Greek women with bird legs and wings, demons who work subtly to destroy society by leading mortals into sinful acts.

The Russian Alkonost, with the head of a woman and the body of a bird, makes such beautiful sounds that hearers forget all that they know and don’t want anything more ever again. She lives in the underworld with her counterpart the Sirin. The Alkonost lays her eggs on a beach and rolls them into the sea. When they hatch, a thunderstorm sets in and the sea becomes so rough that it becomes impossible to traverse. The Sirins are half-owl, half-human creatures. They sing to the saints foretelling future joys. Humans found them dangerous, as men, who heard them would forget everything, follow them and ultimately die. People would attempt to save themselves from Sirins by making loud noises to scare the birds off. In Persia the Sirins symbolized eternal joy and heavenly happiness. The Gamayun is also a Russian woman with the body of a bird. She is prophetic and a symbol of wisdom and knowledge.

The Sirens are part of Greek mythology as birds with large women's heads, bird feathers and scaly feet, playing harps. They have beautiful voices which seduced men, killing them.

The Jatakas describe the Kinnaras as half human, half bird, fond of music and song with the female beating a drum and male playing on lute. They go on in later mythology to be celestial musicians and protectors of humans.  

A divine creature of Japanese Buddhist mythology, with the head of a bird and the torso of a human based on the Hindu mythology of Garuda, the Karura is enormous, fire-breathing, and feeds on dragons/serpents who are non-Buddhist.

Horus the falcon headed is one of the most significant ancient Egyptian deities. Horus served many functions, most notably being a god of the sky, war and hunting.

Another creature that straddles many cultures is the half human–half horse. The Anggitay, a Philippine female with the upper body of a human with the lower body of a horse, smells out gems. The Greek Centaur, and his predecessor the Ipotane, have a mystical, ancient energy that reaches the desired outcome for their keeper. In Hinduism, Lord Hayagriva is worshipped as the god of knowledge with a human body and a horse's head, brilliant white in colour, with white garments and seated on a white lotus. Symbolically, the divinity represents the triumph of pure knowledge over the demonic forces of passion and darkness. Probable origins about the worship of Hayagriva go back to 2,000 BC, when Indo-Aryan people worshipped the horse for its speed, strength, intelligence. Hayagriva is worshipped on the day of the full moon in August and on Mahanavami, the ninth day of the Navaratri festival.

There are so many more. The tragedy is that, as we “evolve” we do not include animals in our spiritual fulfilment any more. There are no religions and cults any more that embrace all of Earthkind. In fact, religions like Yazidism, which is based on ancient Mesopotamian beliefs, and practiced by the Yazidis, a minority group in Iraq, have attracted extreme hatred. The Yazidis, who worship a gentle peacock-angel called Melek Tawwus as the archangel, who has been placed by God to care for the world, have been called Satan worshippers and are being systematically exterminated as I write this.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Vegetarianism, at its most superficial level, is the not eating of animal flesh.

Vegetarianism, at its most superficial level, is the not eating of animal flesh. And should include milk which is liquid animal flesh. But do you keep track of what the industry feeds you by way of animal organs and glands in one form or another?

Different industries use the animal brain, spinal cord, pancreas, stomach, liver, lungs, kidney and ovaries, endocrine, pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid and adrenal glands.

The glands are extracted and frozen. The surrounding fat and connective tissue are trimmed off. They are placed on waxed paper and kept at −18 °C. When the glands arrive at the pharmaceutical plant they are chopped and mixed with different solutions for extraction, or placed in a vacuum drier. After drying, the glands are milled into a powder and made into capsules, or used in liquid form.

Brains and spinal cords are a source of cholesterol. This is the raw material to make vitamin D Cholecalciferol. Vitamin D is added to dairy products, juices, and cereals that are then labelled as “fortified with vitamin D.”

Cholesterol is a waxy fat-like substance, used in the formulation of eye and face makeup, shaving preparations, and shampoo.

Bile is obtained from the animal’s gall bladder. It is used for the treatment of indigestion, constipation and bile tract disorders and to increase the activity of the liver. Bile from cattle or pigs is sold as a dry extract or in liquid form. Some ingredients of bile, such as prednisone and cortisone, are extracted separately, and used as medicines.

The liver is the largest gland in animals. The liver of mature cattle usually weighs about 5 kg, while that of a pig weighs approximately 1.4 kg. Liver extract is produced by mixing raw ground liver with slightly acidified hot water. The stock is concentrated into a paste in a vacuum at a low temperature, and is used as a raw material by the pharmaceutical industry as a source of vitamin B12, and as a nutritional supplement used to treat anaemia. Heparin, which is used as a blood thinner in humans, is extracted from the liver, lungs and the lining of the small intestines.

Progesterone and oestrogen are hormones extracted from pig ovaries and used to treat reproductive problems in women and in anti-wrinkle face creams.

Relaxin is a hormone taken from the ovaries of pregnant sows, and is used during human childbirth.

The pancreas of pigs and cows provides insulin, which regulates sugar metabolism and is used in the management of diabetes. If you are diabetic and have been injecting yourself, then you have been keeping yourself well (since 1921) with the use of cow and pig extracts. More than two tons of pig parts are needed to extract just eight ounces of purified insulin. 

Glucagon, extracted from the cells of the pancreas, is used to increase blood sugar, and to treat insulin overdoses, or low blood sugar, caused by alcoholism. Chymotrypsin and trypsin are enzymes from animal or fish pancreas, specially cod, and used to improve healing after surgery or injury. Trypsin is used to dissolve blood clots, prevent common colds, and in the food industry to improve the workability of dough in baking, manufacture of sauces to add flavour, cheese, beer and non-allergenic baby food.

Adrenaline or epinephrine is extracted from the adrenal glands of hogs, cattle, and sheep. Injected, it increases blood flow to the muscles, output of the heart, pupil dilation, and blood sugar.

Arachidonic Acid is a fatty acid taken from animal liver and marketed as a bodybuilding supplement. It is also used in skin creams and lotions to soothe eczema and rashes.  

Elastin and collagen is a protein taken from the neck ligaments and aortas of cattle or pigs and marketed as skin anti agers (one of the many fake promises on the market).

Lipase and rennet are two enzymes taken from the stomachs and tongue glands of calves, kids, and lambs. They are used in cheese-making, as clotting agents and in digestive aids. Pepsin comes from pig stomach and has the same uses as rennet.

Palmitic acid and oleic acid are fatty acids which can be obtained from both animal and vegetable fats. Oleic acid is usually taken from tallow, which is animal fat (also used for candles). You will find it in candy, ice cream and some beverages and condiments, soap, shampoos, permanent wave solutions, creams, nail polish, lipsticks and skin creams.

Oleyl alcohol, sold under the name of Ocenol, is a fat found in fish oils which is used in the manufacture of detergents, as a plasticizer for softening fabrics, and as a carrier for medications.

Panthenol, also called pro vitamin B 5, is a common moisturising ingredient used in skin care products, including cosmetics, hair sprays, shampoos, conditioners, nasal sprays, eye drops, lozenges, and cleaning solutions for contact lenses.It is also recommended by tattoo artists as a post-tattooing moisturising cream. It is taken from animal liver and kidneys, lobster, fish shellfish and chicken, but can also be from vegetables, mushrooms, legumes and lentils. If the product does not specify that it is from non-animal sources then take it for granted that it is.

Squalene is the gooey oil squeezed out of shark livers. The beauty industry loves Squalene because it is easily absorbed into the skin without leaving a greasy residue, so you’ll find it in many moisturizers, sunscreens, and oils, hair dyes. Pristane, obtained from the liver oil of sharks, from which its name is derived (Latin pristis, "shark"), is used as a lubricant, skin and hair conditioner and anti-corrosive agent in cosmetics.

Polypeptides are strings of amino acids linked together. Amino acids are the basic building blocks of proteins. Commercially they are derived from animal protein and are used for hair conditioning

Polysorbate is an amber/golden-coloured viscous liquid made from dehydrated sugar alcohol and oleic acid, a fatty acid found taken from cows, sheep and pigs, but can be from vegetable fats if specifically said. Polysorbates 60 and 80 are the most commonly used in food production. The additive increases the shelf life of baked goods and improve its colour and volume. They are commonly found in baked goods, frozen desserts, and imitation coffee creamers. They are often used in cosmetics to make essential oils soluble in water.

Stearic Acid, when animal-derived, is a fat from cows, pigs, and sheep and, abroad, from dogs and cats euthanized in animal shelters. It is used in cosmetics, soaps, lubricants, candles, hairspray, conditioners, deodorants, creams, chewing gum, and food flavouring.

It is not just pigs, cows and sheep that are killed for their organs and glands. Male Musk deer produce a gland oil called musk, which is stored in a hairy pouch just the size of a golf ball, in front of the penis. They are killed for that. The dried gland is chopped into small pieces and left in high-strength alcohol to mature for months. Musk is still used by the fragrance industry. The perfume industry also uses castoreum, which is a secretion from the glands between the pelvis and the base of the tail of the killed beaver.

“Natural Sources” is a very deceptive word. If vegetarian, the food writes clearly that it is from vegetable sources. But, most often in the health-food industry, especially in the cosmetics area, it means animal sources such as organs, glands, fat, protein, and oil. There is a reason that companies write their products in such small type that it is almost impossible to read them, but do try. Your one complaint and insistence on a non-animal alternative could save thousands of lives.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

I am in Argentina for a few days to attend a Child Labour Conference.

I am in Argentina for a few days to attend a Child Labour Conference. Buenos Aires has wide roads, green trees which are almost the same as what we have in India.  It is Jacaranda season and purple blossoms cover the pavements.  The scent of magnolia flowers wafts through the city. Fresh air, fresh air, fresh air!!!  I can breathe again after choking in Delhi.
On the way to the 8.30 am meetings, I see a new thing: Young people with at least 15 dogs each walking in the parks, crossing the road, or on the wide pavements. The dogs are of all sizes and they walk docilely cheek by jowl with each other. I see at least 14 groups of dogs being walked on just one stretch of road.
 The driver informs me that this is a common occurrence in the city. Young people join dog walking companies. They are trained on how to handle dogs, how to hold them, talk to them and to pick up their faeces with a scooper as they walk. These companies even give diplomas on dog walking. The walkers are taught rudimentary first aid in case there is a traffic accident.
The company gives you an App. With that you can see the start and stop times of the walk, a map of where your dog was taken, along with pee, poo and water breaks. You get pictures and, sometimes, a note talking about what your dog needs. 
 
Apart from dog walking, companies offer services, like pet taxis, which will take the dog to the vet on specified days or as an emergency service.  Pet vet visits are also arranged for the home. Dog day care can be arranged daily, either at the company's site, or the person will come home for a specific number of hours and look after and play with the dog while you are at office or away for the weekend. There are drop in visits where the person will come for only ten minutes to check on the dog twice a day.
The companies are registered, fully insured and police checked. Each member of the staff is trained – even if it is a young person doing it for their summer holidays – and registered with the police. The company has both, pet sitters and dog walkers, and both know pet nutrition as well.
There are different rates for half an hour onwards for walking. There is another rate, which is less, for something known as a toilet visit. At a specific time, the person will come to your flat, take the dogs out, wait till they relieve themselves, and then return them to your flat.  No walking. Pet vet visits, pet taxies and dog day care are given in a rate card.
Sometimes, when you are at work, you cannot go home for lunch but your dog walker can come in at that time to give your dog a thirty minute walk. Most companies vary the times according to what you need and some offer the dog walker as many as three times a day on whatever days you need them. You can cancel and exchange days according to your convenience. You even have play dates when the company will arrange for your dog to meet a friend at their house, or bring him/her to yours. People who want to recruit these services are encouraged to meet the dog walker first and see them in action.
Whether a stroll around the block with an older dog, or a fast-paced walk with a fit youngster – the companies tailor their services. If you have an older dog who can’t walk far, then it’s just a short easy walk and lots of petting.  If it’s a puppy that needs toilet training, then company people pop in, feed the pup and then take him out to toilet train.  Some companies offer varied things: a city walk may mean just walking for a specified time and length on a leash.  But they also have group adventure walks where dogs run around without their leashes and are trained to return when called. Some offer dog days in which group dogs are collected between 10 am and 2 pm and will be away from home for up to 3 hours, with at least 40 minutes walking time.
 What is the downside in Beunos Aires? There are dog thieves here who steal dogs and sell them to breeders. They follow the group dog walkers and, if they see that he is not too alert, they come in cars and snatch the dogs. But, according to people I interviewed, most of the time, the thieves are caught by the police. And the company is insured, so even if it is small consolation, the owner who loses the dog gets compensation immediately.
Someone needs to start this in India. I am fed up with people calling my hospital and saying they want to give their dog away because they work.  Or older people calling and saying that this is my children’s dog and, now they have gone away, we are too old to look after it so please take it away. These are the people who need a service like this. Service companies who will let you enjoy the dog without having to look after his needs. Exercise is essential for the dog, keeping him mentally and physically alert, building his muscles and preventing obesity and behavioral issues that arise from boredom. A flexible service that exercise the dogs when it suits you, or even gives them their meals, or just takes them out for a bathroom visit and cleans up behind them so that neighbours are not irritated. India’s cities need companies like this. I was taken aback by the gentleness of the walkers and the fact that all the dogs got on with each other. Taking fifteen dogs out together, all of different sizes, from the very small to the very large, is a frightening prospect, but all these on the road got on together, behaved harmoniously and were very disciplined. The walkers explained that they tested the dogs first, made an effort to socialize them. If they were exceptionally timid, or difficult to control, then they were walked alone at different rates.
Anyone who started a company, could eventually do it in many cities. The companies here have dog walker-sitters across the country and list the places where they have them.
So many new things are starting in India.  In Noida, a company called Posh, which does physiotherapy for disabled, paralyzed, arthritic dogs, has started. It has a swimming pool and massage specialists. I have contracted with the owner to take three dogs free from my shelter, Sanjay Gandhi Animal Care Centre, every month and see if we can relieve their pain.
If someone wants to start this company, I have at least 20 young people who volunteer every week to get dogs adopted at Select City Centre in Delhi, who would be happy to be trained properly and become staffers.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

In the ancient world, humans were not just close to animals but,

In the ancient world, humans were not just close to animals but, in most cases, deeply dependent on them. Since they were part of the local culture, they could not be separated from religion. So there was a willingness to use animals as gods. As time went on, humans fused with animals in all the major religions as a way to get beyond human limitations. Animals were, and are, seen as wiser, more mysterious, with access to secrets in nature that are hidden to humans. They gave added meaning to the divine. They were stronger, faster, could live in the sea or air, had abilities and senses that the human could not even aspire to. So they made the divine so much more than the mere superhuman. The Indians, Greeks, Mesopotamians and Egyptians led the way, but every culture, strangely enough, used the same animals to represent the same powers: The bull and the lion represent power and protection, the cow represents love and giving, the snake is the creator of the world, the birds are seductresses.  
The Echidna is a cave dwelling half woman-half snake who is the mother of all monsters of Greek mythology. On the other hand, Nuwa of Chinese folklore is the goddess who created mankind and repaired heaven. Nureonna, the Japanese half woman-snake, is amphibious and wants to be left alone, but will suck the blood from her victim’s body if disturbed. The Hatuibwari of the Soloman Islands  has the head of a human, four eyes, clawed arms, bat wings and the body of a snake. The belief is that he created and nourished all living things as the male version of Mother Earth. In Egyptian mythology, the cobra headed Meretseger, meaning "she who loves silence", exerted great authority and was considered to be both a dangerous and merciful goddess. She spat venom at anyone who tried to vandalise or rob the royal tombs. Gorgons were women with snakes instead of hair.  In Greek mythology their powerful gaze could turn one to stone.
In Sumeria, Kusarikku had a human head and torso, with bovine ears and horns and hindquarters and is known as the Bull Man.  He is a door keeper to protect the inhabitants from malevolent intruders and evil spirits. He is associated with the God of Justice.
The Lamassu is a Mesopotamian protective deity encompassing all life, depicted with a human head, a body of a bull or a lion, and bird's wings. Large Lamassu figures, spectacular showpieces in Assyrian sculpture, are the largest figures known to have been made. They represent power and protection and are placed at entrances in palaces. Unfortunately, the Lamassu now represents the International Xenotransplantation Association, a collection of companies/scientists who are trying to make animal organs fit to be transplanted into humans.
Montu is the Egyptian god of war with the head of a bull and the body of a human. Egypt's greatest general-kings called themselves Mighty Bulls, the sons of Montu. Mentuhotep, a name given to several pharaohs, means "Montu is satisfied".
In Greek tradition a Sphinx is a mythical creature with the head of a human and the body of a lion and sometimes the wings of a bird. Those who cannot answer its riddle are killed and eaten. Unlike the Greek sphinx, the Egyptian sphinx is male, benevolent, with a ferocious strength. Both are guardians flanking the entrances to temples and tombs
Each of these Egyptian Gods has the head of a lion. Maahes is an ancient Egyptian lion-headed god of war, protection, and weather, knives, louses, and devouring captives. Pakhet is a lioness headed deity associated with flash floods. Sekhmet is a warrior goddess as well as the goddess of healing. It was said that her breath formed the desert. She was seen as the protector of the pharaohs. Tefnut is the goddess of moisture, moist air, dew and rain. Married to her brother Shu, she is mother of Nut, the sky and Geb, the earth.
One of the Hindu god Vishnu’s incarnations was Narasimha, the lion faced and clawed being, who came to destroy evil and religious persecution by defeating the demon kings Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha.
Pratyangira, also known as Narasimhi, is a Hindu goddess who has the head of a lioness. She is an aspect of Durga. In the Ramayana, the son of Ravana, Indrajit was performing the "Nikumbala yagya" (a sacred ritual to worship Prathyangira) while Rama’s army was waging war in Lanka. Hanuman came down to stop this ritual because he knew that if Indrajit completed it, he would become invincible. In some temples Pratyangira Devi Havan is performed on no moon (amavaas) day.
The Egyptian Hathor, the cow headed goddess, personifies the principles of joy, feminine love, music, dance and motherhood. Bat, meaning soul, is also an Egyptian Goddess with the horns and ears of a cow. She is associated with the musical instrument called the sistrum, one of the most frequently used sacred instruments in Egyptian temples. Bat is similar to Hathor except that Bat's horns curve inwards and Hathor's curve outward.
Anubis is the African golden wolf (previously thought to be dog or jackal) headed Egyptian god of death, mummification and the god who ushered souls into the after-life. Bastet is the cat-headed Egyptian goddess of warfare and the protector of cats. Khepri is the famous dung beetle (scarab) headed Egyptian God. Like the scarab pushes dung in a perfect ball before him using his horns, Khepri pushes the sun across the sky down into the underworld, from where it emerges the next morning. The word Kheper means ‘to come into being’ and the god is associated with rebirth and renewal and the sun at daybreak.
Tawaret, meaning the Great One, is the hippopotamus-headed Egyptian Goddess of childbirth and fertility.
The ibis-headed Egyptian God Thoth maintains the universe, arbitrates godly disputes and judges the dead, handles the arts of magic, the system of writing and the development of science.
Japanese mythology has a warrior god named Amida who has a human body with a dog’s head.
The Japanese Tanuki is a badger or raccoon who can turn into a human and trick people by impersonating Busshist monks. The fox-like creatures, known as Kitsune, also possess similar powers, and they trick men into marriage by turning into seductive women.
In Chinese Mythology Chu Pa-chieh is a divine being who, because of his licentiousness in heaven, is sent to earth with the head of a pig and the body of a man. He kills his family and preys on travellers until he is turned to the path of virtue by the goddess Kuan Yin. He then becomes a priest. (We have a similar story of Valmiki, the author of the Ramayan). Khnum, the ram-headed Egyptian God, is the god of the source of the Nile River and the creator of the bodies of human children, which he makes at a potter’s wheel from clay, and places in their mothers' wombs.
The crocodile-headed Egyptian God, Sobek is associated with pharaonic power, fertility, and military prowess, but serves additionally as a protective deity against the dangers presented by the Nile river.
In the modern world, most of the religions have abandoned the concept of man-animal divinities. Our Gods now are purely anthropomorphic. Even the new Goddesses that are added to the Hindu pantheon, like Santoshi Maa who was created in the seventies, are just simply divine women without any animal magic at all.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

In a country like India, it is odd that we should have so many couples

In a country like India, it is odd that we should have so many couples going to doctors complaining about their inability to have children. A number of men, predictably, put the blame on their wives. But when family pressure forces them to take tests, then it is usually the man who has a low sperm count. This is not God’s will, as the family priest would say. This could be a direct result of your diet.
Diet has a huge impact on sperm count and its quality. Diets high in meat and dairy are not just bad for waistlines, they have a negative impact below the waist. They lower sperm count, size, shape and concentration.
Advice from doctors, to men with fertility problems, ranges from stopping smoking, wearing looser underpants, keeping laptops away from laps and having less sex so that the sperm build up. But the most important part involves the GIGO principle: Garbage In, Garbage Out. The Director of the Men’s Health Clinic, Wake Forest University, Dr. Ryan Terlecki says that “We’ve noticed that fertility has been decreasing over the last several decades. Most men have never even heard that anything in their diet could impact sperm count.”
A large body of research suggests that the foods you pile on your plate may play a role in the number of sperm you have (count), whether they’re normally shaped (morphology), and how well they move (motility).
In 2006 a paper presented by Kochman, Herko, Brewer, Andolina and Song from the University of Rochester showed the link (“Dietary antioxidants and sperm quality in infertile men: Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine”): Infertile men were twice as likely to have a low intake of fruits and vegetables compared with fertile men.  Specifically: men with the lowest intake had lower sperm motility than men with higher intakes. Simply eating fruit and vegetables improved fertility. A 2011 Brazilian study found that men who ate more whole grains – such as wheat, oats, and barley – had higher sperm concentrations.
Three more studies published in Fertility and Sterility said the same thing and this time cheese and dairy products joined the semen destroying list. Whole milk may leave you with a fraction of the healthy sperm you should have. Young men who eat two servings of full-fat dairy — especially cheese and whole milk — per day tend to have fewer motile sperm, according to a 2013 study in Human Reproduction.
Studies have found that men who eat more fruits and vegetables have better sperm quality (Afeiche, Bridges, Williams et al. Dairy intake and semen quality among men attending a fertility clinic. 2014. Mendiola J, Torres-Cantero , Vioque, et al. A low intake of antioxidant nutrients is associated with poor semen quality in patients attending fertility clinics. Braga, Halpern, Figueira , Setti, Iaconelli, Borges. Food intake and social habits in male patients and its relationship to intracytoplasmic sperm injection outcomes.) A recent Harvard study found that increasing meat and dairy products by just 5 percent could lower the sperm count by 38 percent. (Attaman, Toth , Furtado, Campos, Hauser, Chavarro JE. Dietary fat and semen quality among men attending a fertility clinic. Hum Reprod..): In a 2014 Harvard study, men who consumed the most processed meat had 23 percent fewer normal sperm than guys who ate it sparingly. In another 2014 study, published in the journal Epidemiology, the same researchers found that eating processed meat was associated with lower sperm count.
The latest study of 99 sperm donors done by the Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School led by Dr. Jill Attaman, a reproductive endocrinologist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, showed how diets influence sperm. Those with the highest saturated fat (from meat and dairy) had a 43% lower sperm count than those with the lowest intake. Reduction of fat in the diet not only improved general health but their reproductive ability.
Denmark ranks 185th in the birth rate out of 221 countries and its population is shrinking rapidly. But is it a conscious decision to stop having children or something else? A study, conducted by researchers at Rigshospitalet Copenhagen University National Hospital and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggests that the reasons for the low birth rate may be the shrinking sperm counts in Danish men because of their diet.
701 young Danish men took part in the study giving diet information and sperm samples for military checkups. Researchers, led by Dr. Tina Jensen, found that men who consumed the most saturated fat – meat and cheese – had a 41% lower sperm concentration than men who ate less. Men who consumed 15% of their calories from saturated fat had a sperm concentration of 45 million per millilitre with a sperm count of 128 million, while those who got only 11% of their calories from saturated fat had a sperm concentration of 50 million per millilitre with a sperm count of 163 million. Eighteen percent of the men who ate the most saturated fat fell below the WHO’s definition of normal sperm concentration. A similar study in France, where diets are also high in meats and cheese, found that sperm concentrations have fallen from an average of 74 million per millilitre in 1989 to about 50 million in 2005.
Replacing meat with plant-based protein can reduce infertility risk in women, according to a study in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Simply put: a frequent consumption of meat leads to a decrease in successful pregnancy and fertilized egg implantation. Women who eat Heme iron are 40% more at risk for infertility than women who eat nonheme iron—the kind found in lentils and spinach (Chavarro JE, Rich-Edwards JW, Rosner BA, Willett WC. Iron intake and risk of ovulatory infertility. 2006).
Higher cholesterol levels caused by meat intake have been shown to prevent or delay pregnancy, according to a study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (Schisterman, Mumford, Browne, Barr, Chen, Louis. Lipid concentrations and couple fecundity: the LIFE study. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014)
Studies have found falling sperm counts in many countries around the world with diets newly rich in saturated fats as a result of improving economies and the ready availability of fast foods.
Other lifestyle changes include eating organic. In a study presented at the 2014 American Society for Reproductive Medicine Annual Meeting, men who consumed the most pesticide residues, consistently in their food, had 64 percent fewer normal sperm and 70 percent fewer motile sperm than men who took in the least.
Drinking alcohol may have a negative impact on sperm concentration and motility, according to a 2012 Brazilian study of men seeking fertility treatments. A Danish study found even a modest but habitual alcohol intake may compromise sperm quality. A much better alternative is pomegranate juice.  In a Turkish study, male rats given pomegranate juice on a daily basis experienced a boost in sperm count and motility. The purple juice is a rich source of antioxidants, like vitamin C, and although this was an animal study, other research has linked a high intake of antioxidants in men to better semen quality.
In a new Brazilian study of 189 healthy thin young men, published in Human Reproduction, regularly drinking sugar-sweetened drinks — slightly more than a serving per day — was linked to poorer sperm motility. If you need a shot of sugar, make it from fruit which, in the study, was positively related to sperm quality.
So, if you want to increase your chances of having children, eat your vegetables and fruit, specially lentils and spinach, and ditch the dairy and meat.
 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

A girl who owned two dogs had suddenly to go to her village.

A girl who owned two dogs had suddenly to go to her village. She left the dogs with a girl who ran a dog boarding house and paid her an advance of Rs 1200 at the rate of Rs 150 a day. Two days later she was informed through the email that the dog had run away and they were not taking responsibility as the dog was “badmaash”. The boarding house is in an abandoned chemical factory in Faridabad run by the daughter of the owner. She simply locks the dogs in a few rooms. She has one helper.  No personalised forms, no doctor, no diets, no mattresses, no bathing, no de-ticking, no attempt to make the dogs comfortable. When we confronted her, her excuse was that she was doing “seva”.
Another person left his dog for a week in a boarding house in Noida while he went on a trip. The dog started vomiting at night. The vet refused to treat it because he had no medical history. The night staff had no access to the owner’s phone number so he was only informed the next day. Then the vet was on leave. The owner flew back immediately but by then the dog had died.
In another case, the pedigreed dog left for two weeks, in a Kolkata kennel, was rented out as a stud and by the time the owners returned he was weak and hyperstressed.
Dogs who are locked up in small kennels without exercise have returned with dislocated shoulders and wounds from gnawing at the bars or jumping to try and get out. Dogs come back with changed personalities.  
In the last two years I have received so many complaints from people who have left their dogs in boarding houses. They have got them back covered with ticks, sick with kennel cough, parvo or distemper, some have been mauled in a fight with other dogs, or the owners have been informed that the dog has run away or died.  “Run away” if the dog is highly pedigreed, could mean the owner of the boarding house has sold it to a breeder.
This has become an unregulated backyard industry with no healthcare or management training. While breeders and traders are now regulated, boarding kennel operators are still out of the loop – though not for long.
Your pet depends on you to take care of her/him even when you are not there. If you are going to leave them with a boarding kennel you must make sure it is not like the ones described above. Boarding kennel stress is real. Imagine taking a young child to a strange place and leaving it with people it doesn’t know. The child will more often than not, become distressed and upset. The same thing can happen to dogs. A boarding kennel environment can be especially hard on nervy, anxious dogs.
Signs of kennel stress can manifest in dogs in many ways: excessive barking & whining, loss of appetite. Change of diet may also cause vomiting and diarrhoea, constant licking of the lips, pacing & depression. What you want is a facility that will care for your dog as if it was their own.
Here is the checklist when you need to put him in a boarding house:
1. Your pet should know basic commands and be socialized around people and pets.
2. Accustom your pet to longer kennel stays by first boarding her for a weekend. This allows you to assess the place before boarding your pet for an extended period.
3. Your pet should be vaccinated The core vaccines for dogs are rabies, distemper, parvovirus and adenovirus, and canine kennel cough (Bordatella). Flea and tick prevention should be done.
4. Required vaccinations for cats include rabies, feline panleukopenia, calicivirus and rhinotracheitis. Cats that are allowed to socialize with other cats should have negative feline leukaemia and feline AIDS status.
5. Take your pet's medications and special food (if any), your veterinarian's phone number, and contact information for you and a local backup. Also take something that smells of you.
6. Inform the staff about any medical or behaviour problems your pet has, such as epilepsy or fear of thunder.
The boarding house:
1. Ask your veterinarian to recommend one. Since they talk to pet lovers every day, they know.  Ask dog owners and look at online lists. Check through the web about any experiences others may have had with this facility. After selecting a few kennels, confirm that they can accommodate your pet for specific dates and can address your pet's special needs. If you're satisfied, schedule a visit.
2. Always ask to tour the entire facility. If they refuse, leave, as they are probably hiding bad infrastructure.
3. A good kennel should be well lit and airy with sufficient ventilation and temperature control. The living and playing areas should look and smell clean and be free of waste and urine. The flooring should not permit the absorption of fluids.  
4.What kind of paperwork does the place have? Do they ask you any details about the dog – diet, exercise, sleep, medications, whether the dog wants to socialize, and any other pertinent information. If the facility does not insist on vaccinations, leave immediately.
4. Notice the staff handling of the animals, and relationship between staff and other dogs, during the time of your tour. A wagging tail is usually attached to a happy dog. They should be able to tell you details about every dog and cat under their care.  What is their experience and are they trained in first aid and aggressive dog handling?
5. Does each dog have his own adequately sized indoor-outdoor run or an indoor run and a schedule for exercise? Does a fenced area for adequate exercise exist and what are the provisions for daily exercise? This is the law: If a dog is housed at a facility without sensory contact with another dog, it shall be provided with positive physical contact with humans at least once daily. The opportunity for exercise may be provided in a number of ways. (i) Providing access to a run or open area (ii) Adequate exercise either in a fenced area or on a leash with a person (iii) Exercising for at least 30 minutes twice per day (iv) Socializing with people at suitable intervals equalling at least three hours per day for adult and five hours for puppies less than four months of age; How large is the community area? Check outdoor areas to see that there aren’t any gaps in the wall or fence where your dog, especially if it is a small dog, can run out of.
6. Is bedding provided? How often is it washed. Bedding should be clean, soft and free of any stains or crusting that may have occurred because of urine or faeces.
7. Are cats housed away from dogs?
8. Is there enough space for cats to move around comfortably?
9. Is there enough space between the litter box and food bowls?
10. How often are pets fed? What is the food?
11. Can the owner bring a pet's special food?
12. What veterinary services are available? Is the vet experienced? What will they do if your animal gets diarrhoea, breaks a toenail or won't eat? What are the protocols if your dog needs medical attention? Is there first aid medicine in the place and is anyone trained to diagnose and use it? All medication must be stored in clean cabinets with well-fitting doors or other suitable containers with well-fitting lids. All medication must be clearly marked, or labelled. Does the kennel have procedures in place so your pet gets her medication at the proper time?
13. Are services available such as grooming, training, bathing?
14. Will someone be on the premises at all times? Is someone checking in on the animals at night.
15. If your pet has health issues, like a weak bladder, blindness, deafness, arthritis, can the staff look after them. These pets will need more personal attention and more time and patience to care for.
16. Is the kitchen clean? Does it have a clean fridge? What food is there and how do the owners of the boarding house accommodate personal diets? Are the food receptacles clean?
17. How is the place being cleaned? What type of cleaning products are used? What is done with the excreta?
18. Is water available at all times?
19. Does the facility have fire detection and extinguishers.
20. What is the tick situation?
21. Does the facility have actual rooms and not just basic fence cages with shared walls. Shared fence walls allow your dog and its neighbour to get into a barking competition. A stressed out dog won’t enjoy its time at the hostel if he feels intimidated during the entire stay. Rooms should be spacious and size appropriate for your dog breed. Doors and gates should be secure so that dogs are kept safe. 
22. How will your dog be exercised. Some kennels walk the dogs, others let them out to run in large compounds with other dogs. If the latter, are they supervised by someone physically present. Even friendly dogs can fall out and a dogfight may ensue. Small and big dogs should not be exercised together in groups. Is there some system in place to divide dogs by play style, size, age, etc. to keep them safe and happy?

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Is the chicken you get in commercial large scale food vendors

Is the chicken you get in commercial large scale food vendors, in products like sandwiches, chicken? Perhaps not.
Subway is a group that targets health conscious folk, who avoid other fast food. Is it healthy? A recent investigation by CBC Marketplace shows that the chicken used in Subway chicken sandwiches is only 42.8% chicken. The salad chicken, which they claim as healthy oven roasted chicken, is only 53.6% chicken! What is the rest: Genetically modified cheap soy protein, known to be problematic for health. About 50 ingredients were found in the tested sandwiches with an average of 16 ingredients in the chicken itself.
The Wildlife Forensic DNA Laboratory at Trent University conducted the tests. So called, “chicken” from Subway’s competitors contained 85-90% chicken. Marinated, seasoned and processed chicken is also a mix. The four other chains tested included Wendy’s, McDonalds, A&W, and Tim Horton’s.
Food scientists say the food chains selling meat use “restructured products”. Industry sources refer to this as pink slime, and pictures of this slime leaked from factory assembly lines are available on the Net from 2010. Restructured products, including the pink slime variety, are essentially smaller pieces of meat or ground meat. The meat is mixed with additives, chemicals, lots of Monosodium Glutamate, which is neurotoxic, and fillers like soy protein to make it last longer and taste better.
According to Fooducate, chicken paste comes from taking every bit of meat off chicken bones by passing them through a high pressure sieve. The taste is so disgusting that artificial neurotoxic flavours, like MSG and many other additives, are mixed in to make it edible. Then colour is added. Since the slime is full of bacteria it is soaked in ammonia to de-germ it. The slime is then used to make a wide variety of chicken-like products.
What is the way chicken is processed? The treatment is now so sophisticated that what seems like a fresh, plump chicken breast (upto 43% injected water) might be only 51 per cent meat! Much of this ‘plastic’ chicken goes to curry houses, Chinese restaurants and takeaways, often disguised with highly-spiced sauces and colourings.
Grocers, and supermarkets sell sausages, salamis, luncheons meats, nuggets, burgers made of this pink slime and now technology can even shape out chicken breasts and fillets that are only around 60% chicken. What does the rest comprise of? Extenders (corn starch, wheat flour, stale bread for instance), fillers (in low-cost burgers breadcrumbs, cassava, potato, or rice are used as fillers, often in combination with soya bean protein), water, and soluble binders. Look at the net. This is the kind of Ad you will see when companies advertise TVP or textured vegetable protein- “Textured Vegetable Protein is the perfect meat substitute in almost any recipe that calls for ground beef or turkey.” No, it is rarely used by vegetarians – only people making “meat” products. Normally thrown away carcass parts rich in connective tissue, such as pork skin, tendons are also added and so is gelatine, a transparent goo made of melted skin and bones.
The sausage is another highly extended meat product. These sausages are sold in ‘fresh’ or frozen form and heat treated in restaurants or by the consumer directly at home. One common composition is approx. 60% animal tissue, 15% water, 25% extenders and fillers. In low-cost formulations the major, or entire, part of lean meat derives from mechanically deboned chicken meat, which contains on average 20% fat, which goes straight to your arteries. 
When Leicestershire trading standards received a complaint from a member of the public about the quality of chicken nuggets, they decided to test 21 samples from 17 different shops, including the major supermarkets. In one-third of the samples, the label was misleading about the nugget's meat content. One pack of nuggets contained only 16% meat, 30% less than it claimed. The trading standards officials are unable to identify the brands involved for legal reasons. Instead, they gave a warning to the worst offender. Subsequent tests recently have shown that the manufacturer has not changed its ways.
Venky’s, an Indian brand which sells processed chicken, has actually made available the meat content of its processed chicken products, The chicken franks are only 70% meat, the chicken lollipops 30%, the meat balls 60 %, the chicken salami 55%, and the murg masala just 30%.
The thing is, once you've minced bits of chicken to a pulp, that pulp could be anything from anywhere. Recycled pet food, breasts injected with pig and cattle proteins, banned carcinogenic antibiotics - they've all been found by the authorities recently in chicken destined for processing. 
The chicken you eat may have bits and pieces of other animals in it, DNA tests specially developed by Sandford, with the public analyst laboratory in Manchester, enabled the English food standards agency to identify traces of pork proteins in samples of Dutch chicken breasts labelled "halal". Six months later, Irish authorities made an even more unsettling discovery in chicken: undeclared bovine proteins. Seventeen samples from Dutch processors contained them. Some manufacturers were using a new technique - injecting so-called hydrolysed proteins. These are proteins extracted at high temperatures, or by chemical hydrolysis, from old animals or parts of animals which are of no use for food, such as skin, feathers, hide, bone and ligaments, and rather like cosmetic collagen implants, they make the flesh swell up and retain liquid.
Take the case where McDonald’s sold its customers “chicken” that was over a year passed expiry. Shanghai Husi Food was guilty of selling chicken as much as one year past their expiry dates to McDonald’s and to Yum Brands, which owns KFC and Pizza Hut. An investigative report showed Shanghai Husi workers “picking up food from the floor and throwing it into processing machines and “discarded” McNuggets were reprocessed until they passed inspection. 
This is what happens when the meat industry has decided to make even larger profits at the expense of your health. Meat is bad enough normally, but this is the worst thing you could eat. Is pink slime the best you can do for your children?

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

One of the most important reports to come out in the last few years

One of the most important reports to come out in the last few years is the August 2017 CSIR -NEERI report on poultry farms in India.
The National Environmental Engineering Research Institute(NEERI) is an excellent scientific research institution. When I was Minister for the Environment I used them as my resource base. The report has been done by a team of 8 scientists headed by Dr Rakesh Kumar the Director of NEERI, and Dr S.K. Goyal the Senior Principal Scientist.
Poultry farming means raising domestic fowls, including chickens, turkeys, geese and ducks, for the production of meat and/or eggs. The total poultry population in India is 729.2 million, which is 12.39% higher than numbers in the previous census (Livestock Census, 2012). The most common poultry breeds in India are:
Broilers: Young males and Females raised for meat. They grow from a hatch weight of 40 g to a weight of approximately 1.5 to 2 kg within 6 weeksonly.
Layers: Hens used for commercial egg production and then killed for meat. Layer chickens are raised from one day old. They start laying eggs at the age of 18-19 weeks and continue till they are 72-78 weeks of age.
In nature, chickens exhibit a range of behaviour, including nesting, dust-bathing, perching and roosting, scratching and foraging. Foraging is important as hens prefer to find their own plants, insects and seeds rather than take from a feeder. Chickens dust-bathe to balance oil levels in their feathers. Nesting behaviour is triggered with a sudden rise in progesterone hormones. The need is so strong that a hen will push through a heavy swing-door to get to a nest box. They need regular movement and exercise to stay healthy.
The space requirements of hens range from 475 square cm while standing, to 1150 sq cm while preening, to 1873 sqcm  for flapping wings . On an average, if a chicken is to be healthy it needs a minimum of 5000 square centimetres.
The Bureau of Indian Standards, which is the most unscientific and outdated body in India, recommended 450 sq cm which isnot practical for a hen even when she is resting. Poultries in India have followed this vicious and illiterate measurement. This is the reason why hens need antibiotics all the time and why people who eat chicken get ill so often.
“Caged hens are more fearful than those kept in cage free environments. Small size of the cage, sloping wire floor, lack of nest boxes or perches and close proximity of other birds etc. results in suffering to the birds. Some of the serious issues with caged system are Cage layer fatigue, beak trimming, forced moulting, transport, Fatty Liver Haemorrhagic Syndrome, osteoporosis, foot disorders,lesions and reproductive problems.” In short, hens caged in this tiny space of less than A 4 square sheet of paper, called the battery cage, get sick. Studies show that even increasing the space, from about 300 square cm to 650 per bird, increases egg production,food consumption, enhances body weight and decreases mortality.
As of now, the eggs and meat you get from poultries are from very sick birds. So, the government allowed the use of antibiotics to keep them alive till they laid the required number of eggs, or reached the desired weight before being killed.
“Antibiotics have been routinely used in poultry production without proper regulatory limits. This unregulated use of antibiotics poses a serious threat of antibiotic resistance, affecting the health of consumers.”
On 3 June, 2014, the Department of Animal Husbandry, Ministry of Agriculture wrote a letter to all Directors/Commissioners of State Animal Husbandry Departments, advising controlled use of antibiotics in treatment of food producing animals and in animal feed. The Directorate General of Health Services, on 6 June, 2014, reiterated the directions to the State Drug Controllers.
It has made no difference. In fact, antibiotic use has increased in poultries.
NEERI says “Arsenic is fed to chickens to promote growth and weight gain with less feed. The long term exposure of arsenic can cause cancer. Growth hormones given to the fowls is another issue related to the health of the consumers.”
NEERI investigated the environmental problems related to poultry farming with respect to air, water and soil pollution.
“Poultry production is associated with a variety of environmental pollutants like ammonia, solids, nutrients (specifically nitrogen and phosphorus), pathogens, trace elements, antibiotics, pesticides, hormones and airborne bacteria. Besides, poultries attract flies, rodents, and other pests that carry diseases.
Poor management of manure, litter, and wastewater, adversely affects the environment. Besides, odour emissions from poultry farms generated from fresh and decomposing waste products, such as manure, carcasses, feathers and bedding litter and housefly infestation, affect the life of people
living in the vicinity. Furthermore, intensive poultry production may be responsible for the emission of greenhouse gases, acidification, and eutrophication”
The scientists and the local Pollution Control Board visited six caged poultry farms and one cage free farm during February to May 2017:
Water samples were collected from bore wells. Excreta samples were collected as this isused as manure in the fields. Air samples were collected from indoors and outdoors within the poultry. Feed grain samples were collected.
All farms with caged birds were found with similar poultry practices, therefore these are the observations :
There are approximately 60,000-70,000 birds in each farm. There are 3-8 sheds in each farm and each shed has 3-4 racks. Each rack has a length of 180 or 200 ft and each cage has a dimension of 14”x 18” x 15”. Each cage houses 3-4 hens, which is insufficient and uncomfortable for them. The hens are unable to stand properly and stretch their wings.
The hens are fed a mixture of grains and marble dust. Each poultry farm had an unbearable odour due to the slurry formed at the bottom of each shed because of excreta, feathers, wastewater, feed-wastes, dead hens. There was improper management, ventilation and aeration. According to the staff, the excreta slurry is sold every 4-5 months to local farmers.
A heavy formation of spider webs was seen in the sheds.
Abnormality in the neck and foul smell from the hens was seen. Hens have to put their head and neck out of cage to feed and the wires scrape their necks creating lesions of which the staff were unaware. Stains of blood were observed on egg shells.
Dead hens are thrown into a 20 ft pit and acid or salt is added over them.
Subsequently, they visited the cage free poultry. There were 30,000-35,000 birds in deep-litter housing, with adequate space, proper ventilation, abundant sunshine, fan and water sprinkling system to control temperature conditions in summers. “The birds are able to express their natural behaviour like scratching, perching, dust bathing etc. The farm is found to be neat and clean. No odour and litter problem was observed in the farm in contrast to the battery cage farms. No mites and webs were observed.”
“Each chick had 464.5 cmsq of space. Adult birds are allotted 2.5-3 sqft (2322.5 cmsq) of area each. Plastic feeders and water are placed in the housing and a 1.5 inch thick saw dust or rice husk layer is placed on the floor”
What did the ground water samples show from the caged poultries? Nitrates should be less than 45 milligrams per litre. Here it ranged from 60-171. Total dissolved solids(TDS) should be 500. It ranged from 753-1150. Organic phosphates shouldn’t be there at all. Here they were 0.76 - 0.80. Sulphates should be below 200. They went up to 286.
Arsenic, Chromium, Copper, Iron, Manganese, Lead and Zinc are heavy metals that should not be in food. Lead, for instance, gives everything, from mental retardation to cancer. The maximum tolerable level is 10 milligrams per kilogram. The poultries went from 10.1 to 16.8 mg/kg in the feed grains and and 13-33 mg/kg in the excreta slurry. There should be no arsenic in the excreta slurry. NEERI found 0.2 milligrams per kg. Chromium levels were at 200-220 mg/kg . Iron levels exceeded the 500 limit going upto 597.   
In microbiology a CFU is a colony forming unit which is a unit that estimates the number of viable bacteria or fungal cells in a sample.What bacterial load did the air have? There are no parameters made in India. Europe allows for a maximum of 10,000 cfu per cubic metre. The air inside the sheds was 650,000 cfu, and even more outside, making it deadly to breathe.
What did NEERI conclude?
“The condition of closed-cage poultry farms is very poor when compared to cage-free poultry system. Odour generation and mites in the farms are two major problems in closed-caged system, which is not observed in cage-free system. Consumption of contaminated food from unhygienic poultry farms may result in diseases in humans due to Salmonella, E. coli and Campylobacter.
Based on the analysis of both the types, the following recommendations are made:
Layered battery-cage systems should be replaced with cage-free housing and a fine should be levied on all poultries that do not make the change. The cage free housing must be such that it allows the birds to stand up straight, stretch their wings fully and provide reasonable opportunity of movement. Additionally, birds are to be provided with outdoor access. All new poultry farm should follow cage-free system. Concerned licensing departments should be instructed in this regard.
The farm owner or the operator should ensure that the maximum housing density is not exceeded. Records of the floor area available to chickens,number of birds in the shed and the daily mortality, should be properly maintained.
Cleanliness should be ensured. Heavy spider webs, house-fly infestation, undisposed manure, odour from manure in the sheds and feed godowns of poultry farms, indicate poor hygiene and attract mites, lice and parasites causing intestinal and skin infections. Outbreaks of bacterial, viral, fungal and communicable diseases, like Avian Influenza, Pox, Pasteurella, Coryza, Aspergillosis, become inevitable.
Farmers use the excreta as manure in the agriculture fields. Its toxicity should be tested before use.
Use of formaldehyde for disinfection purposes should bedocumented because of its carcinogenic nature even with exposure in low concentrations.
Residents living in the vicinity of poultry farms are prone to catch the bacterial and viral infections. It is recommended that guidelines be framed to define the placement of poultry farms.
Existing laws and policies against animal cruelty should be re-evaluated on a stricter note and brought into action. Regulations regarding the use of antibiotics must be made and their implementation ensured by the Government.
Annual or six-monthly trainings may be imparted by Central Avian Research Institute and Indian Council for Agricultural Research to poultry managers, staff, to practice good management in the poultry farms.”
This report is lying with the Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Agriculture. None of their officers seem to care about the health of humans or animals.
 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Here are some common myths about animal behaviour:

Here are some common myths about animal behaviour:
Myth: Mother birds will reject their babies if they have been touched by humans.
Truth: Most birds have a poorly developed sense of smell and will not notice a human smell. But if you pick up the chicks in the nest, she will be close by watching and she may get alarmed at the human disturbance and abandon her chicks.
Myth: Fish only grow to the size of their tank so you can put in as many as you like.
Truth: Fish will grow to the size that their genetics are programmed to let them. However, they will stunt and become unhealthy and suffer if the tank is too small.
Myth: Rattlesnakes rattle before they attack.
Truth: Rattlesnakes don’t give a warning before they bite. They rattle when they are frightened and need to let you know about their presence.
Myth: Ostriches bury their heads in the sand.
Truth: As oxygen-breathers they would die if they did so. But they dig holes in the ground and put their eggs there and every few hours they turn the eggs so that they get the warmth of the sun evenly. To an observer at a distance this looks like burying their heads.
Myth: Snakes can only bite if they are coiled.
Truth: Coiling is not an aggressive posture but a defensive one that the snake adopts to prevent its long body from being hurt. Snakes can bite from any position, but coiling makes it more difficult for it.
Myth: Snakes are slimy.
Truth: Snakes are really dry to touch. Their skin is very sensitive and it is easy to hurt them when you touch them.
Myth: Snakes travel in pairs of male and female.
Truth: Snakes do not form pair bonds except briefly during breeding season and they certainly don’t travel together.
Myth: Bats are blind.
Truth: Bats have small eyes but these are completely functional. They use sonar to fly in the dark and have an excellent sense of hearing and smell.
Myth: Beavers eat fish.
Truth: Even though they make their homes in water, they eat plants.
Myth: Bulls react violently to the colour red.
Truth: Bulls are colour blind. They react to movements that they find threatening. Bullfighters who go in with swords, spears and knives to kill the bulls, use a red cloak to hide the bloodstains.
Myth: Camels store water in their humps.
Truth: The hump is made of fat. Camels have oval red blood cells which allow them to absorb and release water slowly.
Myth: Elephants have a thick skin.
Truth: Elephant skin is extremely sensitive and can feel a fly sitting on them. They get sunburnt very fast, which is why they bathe in mud to protect themselves, and mothers constantly make sure their children are in the shade.
Myth: Frogs or toads will give you warts if you touch them.
Truth: Warts are caused by a human virus.
Myth: Hens have no teeth.
Truth: They do.
Myth: Crocodiles weep when they are pretending to be sad.
Truth: Crocodiles can’t chew so they rip their food into chunks and swallow it whole. The glands that keep their eyes wet are situated near their throats, so while they are eating they actually have tears in their eyes.
Myth: Goldfish have a three second memory.
Truth: Goldfish, and all other fish, are very bright. They recognize sounds, operate levers, recognize people, and being hurt, and remember food time.
Myth: Lice prefer clean or dirty hair.
Truth: Lice have no preference for either oily, dirty or clean hair. They just like hair.
Myth: Chameleons change their colours to fit into the environment.
Truth: They change their colours as per their moods.
Myth: Snakes react to music.
Truth: Snakes are deaf. They see the flute as a stick that will hurt them and sway to avoid it.
Myth: A blue whale can eat a car.
Truth: the largest thing it can swallow would be the size of a large orange.
Myth: Mice love cheese.
Truth: Mice like sweet food much more than cheese.  This myth probably comes from cartoon movies. The same as rabbits and carrots, and elephants and peanuts.
Myth: Rhinos have horns on their noses.
Truth: No, it is matted hair.
Myth: Elephants stomp around making a lot of noise.
Truth: Elephants walk very quietly.
Myth: Fish are mute.
Truth: They make as much noise as animals on a farm. You just can’t hear them.
Myth: Sharks don’t get cancer.
Truth: Sharks do get cancer. This was a myth constructed by a company that sold shark cartilage as cancer prevention treatments.
Myth: Earthworms become two when they are cut in half.
Truth: They die.
Myth: Houseflies live for a day.
Truth: They live for 20-30 days
Myth: Flamingos rest on one leg to conserve heat, because the water is cold.
Truth: They rest on one leg because it is the most restful and does not involve any muscular work. Standing on one leg is exhausting for humans.
Myth: Sharks have endless rows of teeth.
Truth: Sharks have one row at a time and these are attached by soft tissue to the skin covering the jaw. These fall out easily if worn out and the one underneath comes up to replace it within 24 hours.
 Myth: Bedbugs bore into mattresses and other things, burrow, dig and fly.
Truth: No, they can only walk.
Myth: All spiders have webs.
Truth: Hunting spiders, like wolf spiders, jumping spiders and trapdoor spiders, pursue their prey rather than build webs and wait for prey to come along. It is true, however, that all spiders produce silk, even if they don't use it to build webs.
Myth: Cockroaches are virtually indestructible and can survive a nuclear war.
Truth: According to the magazine American Entomologist, American cockroaches die when exposed to 20,000 rads (unit of measure for radiation), compared to fruit flies, which can withstand 64,000 rads, and the lesser grain borer, which handles 180,000 rads. The notion of them being the ultimate survivors probably comes from the fact that they are flexible eaters and so will always find something organic to survive on.
Myth: Termites are just white ants.
Truth: Ants and termites are completely different insect groups. Even physically: Ants have compound eyes, termites have no eyes; ants have elbowed antennae, termites have just bead like segments; ants have waists, termites don’t; ants have abdomens that are pointed at the end, termites have blunt ended abdomens; ant workers are all females, termites are both male and female; ants are scavengers, with different species foraging for different foods. Some ants live within damp/decaying wood, but do not actually eat the wood. Termites are plant tissue specialists, feeding on wood and grasses, and some species can cause extensive damage to buildings and trees through their feeding and nesting habits; ants belong to the family Formicidae. Termites belong to several different families.
 
Myth: Spider bites can kill you
Truth: Spiders are rarely venomous enough to do any actual harm to humans and the ones commonly found in your house are keeping the other insect populations down.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

The most important animal in your life, no matter where you are

The most important animal in your life, no matter where you are, is the mosquito. Therefore, you should know the facts about it. Separating fact from fancy can help us better protect ourselves.
 
All mosquitoes are the same:
Fact - Mosquitoes of different species are as different from each other as a lion is from a housecat. They have different behaviour, very different preferences of what they want to eat and where they might live. Urban species don't do well in the country and some species thrive only in one specific region. Which mosquitoes like your environment can have an effect on the types of diseases you're exposed to.
 
All Mosquitoes Carry Disease:
Fact - There are over 3,000 mosquito species worldwide, but only a couple of hundred are important medically. Most species of mosquito don't even bite humans -- some prefer other animals like amphibians, birds, horses and reptiles. Specific species carry specific diseases: For example, West Nile virus and St. Louis encephalitis virus come from the genera Culex. Chikungunya, dengue and yellow fever are carried by Aedes mosquitoes. Zika is spread by Aedes agypti or Aedes albopictus mosquito, Malaria is transmitted by species of the Anopheles genus.
 
Droughts mean less mosquitoes:
Fact - While mosquitoes breed in water, droughts are some of the most disease-promoting. The water may be less but it is dirtier and therefore appealing to mosquitoes. The lack of water sources means that mosquitoes and birds -- who carry many of the mosquito-borne illnesses that affect us -- are crowded together to share the resource.
 
Both male and female mosquitoes bite humans
Fact -Only the females bite as they require the protein in our blood to produce their eggs. Males feed on other sources, such as flower nectar.  
 
Mosquitoes prefer people with “sweet blood”:
Fact - No. Mosquitoes are not attracted to people with more blood sugar.  Researchers have found that mosquitoes have a love of carbon dioxide, lactic acid and certain strains of bacteria that some people have in higher concentrations. Some people have more carbon dioxide. Some sweat more. People who do heavy exercise make themselves more attractive to mosquitoes due to a potent combination of sweat, carbon dioxide, and lactic acid a compound found in sweat. This means that you’ll be more likely to get bitten if you sit outside after a run. Scent can also play a role.
 
Mosquitoes prefer people with Blood Type O:
Fact - No, the type makes no difference. Mosquitoes bite people because they require protein for breeding, not sugar. Some facets of a human’s genetics, such as skin bacteria, may have an effect, but blood type is not one of these factors.
 
People who have fair skin get bitten more:
Fact - The bites show up more on fair people, but all colours get the same number of  bites.
 
Mosquitoes bite people regardless of their size:
Fact - Mosquitoes prefer larger people to smaller ones. Adults will be bitten more than children, and men more than women. This is probably because larger people emit higher quantities of carbon dioxide and body heat, and provide more surface area for feasting.
 
Pregnant women get bitten more:
Fact - True. Pregnant women give off more heat and carbon dioxide.
 
Garlic, Vitamin B supplements or bananas will ward off mosquitoes:
Fact - There is no scientific or anecdotal data to suggest that  they have any effect.
 
Alcohol drinkers attract more mosquitoes:
Fact - A study in Burkina Faso has found that beer consumption increases the human’s attractiveness to mosquitoes.
 
You are safe if you spend your time indoors, especially with airconditioning:
Fact - Avoiding the outdoors at certain times a day, especially early evenings, is one of the ways suggested to avoid exposure to bites. Staying inside with doors and windows shut, will lower your risk. But mosquitoes can be a problem inside. Some, especially the Aedes aegypti mosquito, live in nooks and crannies in homes and gardens. Some mosquitoes breed in boiler rooms and potted-plant containers. So in high risk areas, even if the airconditioning is on, the best thing to do is sleep under nets.
Swamps are dangerous to live near and wetlands should be drained to get rid of mosquitoes:
Fact - While mosquitoes like warm and marshy swamps and wetlands, removing these will not have any effect on mosquito populations or mosquito borne diseases.
Many mosquitoes are much more comfortable in human habitats. Aedes aegypti live with humans as it is easier to find blood. Females lay their eggs in artificial containers with a bit of standing water - flower pots, vases, tires, buckets, planters, toys, birdbaths, empty garbage cans, lids. That is why it is vital to check your house, garden and neighbourhood for these kinds of containers. Empty them, turn them over, dry them out. Empty and refresh water in birdbaths and fountains at least once a week to keep mosquitoes from maturing.
 
Cold and dry climates keep mosquitoes away:
Fact - Not true anymore.  Research shows that mosquito populations increase with higher spring soil moisture levels—heavy snowfall, snowmelt and spring rain all provide sufficient standing water to allow the breeding of mosquitoes, even in typically “dry” areas.
 
Bats should be brought in to eat mosquitoes:
Fact - While bats are extremely useful insect eaters, mosquitoes are far too small to interest them. They eat them but not in such large quantities, as the energy they need to catch them outweighs the food benefit.
Mosquitoes hate citronella candles and Listerine:
Fact - Grandmother’s remedies, that a bowl of water with a few drops of liquid soap, a spray of Listerine or half a lemon stuffed full of cloves will keep mosquitoes away, are unfortunately not really true. Citronella candles have no effect outside the immediate area of the candle. The only way these candles can repel mosquitoes is by creating smoke, because insects don’t like smoke. Any candle will have the same effect as citronella candles. Citronella is a weak repellent -- the plant needs to have its leaves crushed for any effect. Citronella oil may have some effect. So might lavender and peppermint oil, but very little. Listerine contains traces of eucalyptol, but actual eucalyptus-based mosquito repellents contain the compound in concentrations as high as 75 percent whereas the eucalyptol in mouthwash is usually below 1 percent, which means if it works at all it isn’t going to work very well or for very long.
If you want to sit outside, set up a large fan. Mosquitoes have a hard time flying in a breeze.
 
Eucalyptus is effective:
Fact - Research published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus, whose active ingredient para-menthane-diol is derived from the eucalyptus tree, can be effective. But most botanical formulations require frequent reapplication—usually every 10 to 20 minutes.
 
Mosquitoes attack mainly at night:
Fact - Some species such as the Culex tend to attack after dusk.  Others, including Aedes aegypti, bite by day. Some bite at dusk and dawn.
 
Mosquitos Are not attracted towards certain colours:
Fact - Controversial. Many scientists claim that colours don’t affect mosquitoes. Others claim that mosquitoes are more attracted to dark colours. Mosquitoes are attracted to heat. So, since dark colours absorb more heat, mosquitoes could be attracted to them.
 
Are Mosquitoes Attracted to Light?
Fact - Many flying insects, including moths, mosquitoes, and many flies, find the glow of artificial lights irresistible. So, the answer to our initial question is yes. But most lights generate heat and it is the heat that attracts mosquitoes.
The more blood a mosquito sucks out of you, the bigger the welt:
Fact - The size of a mosquito bite welt has nothing to do with the amount of blood drawn by a mosquito. It depends on how your immune system responds to the mosquito’s saliva that’s been injected into your skin.
 
Mosquitoes have 47 teeth:
Fact - Mosquitoes don’t have teeth at all. They have a needle like hose attached to their mouth which has a tip of 47 sharp edges that make it easier for a mosquito to punch a hole in your skin and suck up the blood.
 
Mosquitoes urinate on you when they bite:
Fact - After mosquitoes have filled their bellies with blood, they have to excrete something out of their body to be able to fly. It’s not urine. The Anopheles mosquitoes excrete a plasma fluid. Others excrete fluid waste.
 
Ultrasound wave machines or ultraviolent blue lights which work on electricity catch mosquitoes:
Fact - Totally false. They have no effect at all and are just marketing gimmicks.
 
 
What is the most effect mosquito repellent?
Fact - Most commercial repellents contain DEET or Diethyl-meta-toluamide as their main insect-repelling ingredient. DEET works by blocking the receptors on their antennae that allow them to hone in on human beings.
 
Chemical repellents are dangerous:
Fact - I hate the idea of using chemicals, but this has been proven to keep away mosquitoes and there is a safety limit for its use on lotions or other products. Developed by the US Army in 1946, DEET was registered for human use in 1957 and has been found to be safe when applied according to label instructions. Do not ingest or inhale or apply over cuts, wounds or irritated skin.
Another weaker option is Avon Skin-So-Soft. Its formula contains picaridin, a chemical that resembles the natural compound found in the plants used to produce black pepper, and IR3535 (a chemical of the naturally occurring amino acid B-alanine). But it needs to be applied every 20 minutes or less.
Should we buy products that combine sunscreen and mosquito repellent?
No. Sunscreens are intended for generous and frequent use while DEET is intended for less frequent use. Blending DEET with a sunscreen decreases the efficacy of both compounds.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

A few months ago, a friend of mine said

A few months ago, a friend of mine said that his son wanted to do hotel management but he was not going to allow him since he didn’t want his son working with meat and eggs in any form. It was then that I remembered Mr Luniya and his crusade.
It just takes the determination of one person to change a system. I know – because in many a case I have been that one person. There is a saying attributed to Mahatma Gandhi “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” And another by union leader Nicholas Klein in 1914 “And, my friends, in this story you have a history of this entire movement. First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you.” So many things that are now taken for granted, whether red and green dots on food, no animals in circuses, camels off the beaches and banned for slaughter, dissections in schools, and other educational disciples, hundreds of protection rules… to name just a one millionth of the changes. I know hundreds of change-makers across India and it is a delight to work with them because they are knowledgeable, focused and brave.
Some years ago a Chartered Accountant, called Chandrashekhar Luniya, decided that it was impossible for vegetarians to join a hotel management course as they would compulsorily have to learn how to cut animals and cook meat dishes.
So he started writing letters to the ministers, the bureaucrats, and lobbying in his own community to make this into a major issue. He came to Delhi and pursued it. He brought in people to write.
He made a very persuasive case;
* There are religions that eat only vegetarian food. Why should a student learn what he was not going to do for the rest of his life? By making non vegetarian food education compulsory, many vegetarian children were deprived of the opportunity to learn hotel management, as it went against the wishes of their families and religions. (I know that I did not take biology when I was in school only because of the dissections that were compulsory at that point)
* In Hotel Management syllabus there are more than 40 subjects – laws, front office, ticketing, accommodation, travel, accounting etc – of which culinary skills is just one subject. So, by not giving a choice in this one area, they are deprived of learning that entire skill.
* Not only is education across the globe becoming more flexible to allow for more and more disciplines and career choices, by straightjacketing this course, we don’t allow our rich vegetarian culture to spread across the globe.
* Since the students taking the courses were all non vegetarian, they would have less understanding and respect for the norms of vegetarians. The same dishes would be used, the same cooking utensils, there would be laxity in washing one’s hands. They would tend to skim over the details, in desserts for instance, and serve things with egg in them. Or fry vegetarian foods, like French fries, in non veg oils.
* Vegetarianism is the fastest growing movement across the globe and there are sites which offer thousands of vegetarian hotels for travellers. There are many hotels, airlines and cruises that serve only vegetarian food. There are places of Pilgrimage where Non-Veg food is not allowed. These Vegetarian students can work in Hotels at those places, or can start their own restaurant or facility centres. Generally, in most of the Marriages, Religious Ceremonies, Family functions/programs, the food provided is only Vegetarian. We need better trained chefs in all these places.
* Students with very low marks are taken into these institutes, as potential applicants with much higher marks stay away due to this one reason. If the vegetarian option is created, there will be competition and more and more children with passion and intelligence will come to this industry and overall standards will go up. In fact, such institutions will start attracting students from other countries where the option does not exist. Even the housewives can take up these degrees, start their home catering.
* Our vegetarian food itself will evolve as more research is done on it.
* People are becoming more & more health conscious. Healthy vegetarian food is gaining acceptance. If there is more emphasis on vegetarian training, then the next step is the demand for organic vegetables, and this will help farmers.
* Yoga, Ayurveda, and other ancient medicines are based on Vegetarianism. With the availability of options for Vegetarians, vegetarian food will become better and more people will turn vegetarian, becoming healthier in the process.
* This is the world’s largest business and service industry. But the business community, which is mainly vegetarian in India, stays away from it. If they were guaranteed excellent trained vegetarian cooks and staff, perhaps more investment would come in.
* Most middle and lower class restaurants (dhabas, for instance) announce themselves as vegetarian or “both”. Since there is a lack of cooks trained professionally in just vegetarian food, the quality of food in these eateries depends on the luck of the draw, as people who come to work for cooks have learnt their trade at home. These Veg restaurants will get quality man power which is in shortage now.  Since 50% of our population is vegetarian, totally or partially, why should they not feel at ease while travelling. (This is my favourite point. I travel a lot and I am always in search of dhabas that are only vegetarian. These usually turn out to be very ordinary with a huge emphasis on paneer, which I don’t consider vegetarian at all.)
Ultimately the Deputy Speaker of the Rajya Sabha, Prof PJ Kurien, wrote to the Minister for tourism on 5th April 2016 and the minister, Dr Mahesh Sharma, wrote back on 4th August saying that the Ministry would commence the option of vegetarian cooking as part of the BSc Degree programmes in the Central Institutes of Hotel Management directly under his Ministry. He said that they would start with the Management Institutes of Ahmedabad, Bhopal and Jaipur in 2016, establish a separate kitchen and bakery, additional staff and then extend it over the next year to all 18 institutes. In 2017, this option is now available in Six IHM’s: Gandhinagar, Bhopal, Jaipur, Chennai, Hajipur, Shillong. The admission process has started in December 2016, the JEE was held in April 2017 and now the counselling round is in progress.
This is a great new opportunity. Take advantage of it and apply now.
Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in http://www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Life is so complex. We think of all beings as animals or plants

Life is so complex. We think of all beings as animals or plants and this means a lot when you are vegetarian and determined not to hurt.
What characterises a being as one or another.
An animal must feed on other living things because it cannot obtain energy directly from sunlight. Animals have an embryo stage in their life cycle. The cell walls in animals are mostly soft and animals depend on skeletons or shells for strengthening and protecting.
Plant cells get their strength from cellulose. These contain little green packages called chloroplasts. Chloroplasts use the energy of sunlight to produce the substances needed to make plant tissues, in a process called photosynthesis. Photosynthesis consumes carbon dioxide and produces oxygen.
Simply said :
Animals eat other animals or plants to get energy for their survival. They can move.
Plants get energy for their survival from the sun. They cannot move.
But there are beings that defy all the rules. Some are both plant and animal. Some animals look like plants. Others vary between being animals that turn into plants or vice versa !
The Venus flytrap, despite being a plant, feeds on insects—and its parts move faster than its animal prey. Many groups of animals do not move and stay attached to a surface for life, such as sponges, corals, mussels and barnacles.
Corals are not plants. They are animals. The amazingly coloured sea anemone is not a flower. It is a close relative of corals and jellyfish. It spends its life attached to rocks on the sea bottom. or on coral reefs, waiting for fish to pass close enough to get ensnared in its venom-filled tentacles.
There are over 1000 species of anemones. Their bodies are composed of an adhesive pedal disc, or foot, a cylindrical body, and an array of tentacles surrounding a central mouth. The tentacles fire a harpoon-like filament into their victim, injecting it with a paralyzing neurotoxin. The helpless prey is then guided into the mouth by the tentacles.
They look so much like plants that even Aristotle, the ancient Greek who produced one of the world’s first systems for categorizing life, was puzzled by them and categorised them as zoophytes (“both animal and plant”.) However, they are animals because they can move (very slowly) and feed on other unsuspecting organisms that get trapped in their tentacles. Interestingly, components of their nervous system are the same as humans’, although their anatomy is very different.
Likewise, sea sponges are hard shelled beings with countless tiny openings or holes visible on them. 5000 species of sponges grow in all different shapes, sizes, colours, and textures. These tiny pores let water flow freely in and out of the sponge, bringing in all the nutrients it needs, while simultaneously releasing waste. For a long time it was debated whether sea sponges should be classified as plants or animals. Eventually zoologists have classified them as simple multi-cellular, bottom-dwelling animals. 
There are also bizarre animals commonly called "sea lilies". These are animals that look like plants and were thought to be fixed to the sea bottom by a stalk. Now it has been discovered that they use their feathery arms to crawl, dragging their stalks behind them.
Algae are usually aquatic organisms that appear as a kind of growth, or slime, on top of bodies of water in a range of colours. Even though they look like plants, they don’t move and can photosynthesize, they are not plants as they have animal characteristics as well. Seaweeds are macro algae. They are divided into green, red or brown families. Kelp, which forms massive underwater forests reaching heights of 80 mts, is a key ingredient in many Asian meals. Kelp is brown algae. A green algae, called Nori seaweed, is used in Japanese cuisine to wrap sushi and rice. Red Dulse is a snack in Ireland and Iceland that some claim tastes like bacon when fried. But in spite of their plant-like appearances and animal-like tastes, nori and dulse are red algae. Neither plant nor animal. Chondrus crispus, commonly known as carrageenan moss, is a red alga used in salad dressings and sauces, diet foods, meat and fish products, dairy items and baked goods, as is agar. Porphyra is a red alga used in soups, sushi or rice balls. In Belize, seaweed is mixed with milk, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon to make a beverage called "dulce". Seaweed is an ingredient in toothpaste, cosmetics and paints.
Mushrooms are often treated like vegetables, but fungi (which includes yeast and mould) are actually closer to animals than plants. Like plants, they do not move, but they also don’t perform photosynthesis. Instead, their source of molecules and energy are other organisms. Instead of “hunting” them like animals, they either grow on top of them (soil, trees, human feet) or on top of decaying dead organisms (dead bark, dead animals, bread). Due to their close evolutionary relationship to animals, eating a portabello mushroom in a bun is much closer to eating a hamburger than a soya substitute. Yeasts are used in bread and beer.
Euglema is another commonly seen being, in pools of water that is neither plant nor animal. It is pear shaped, single celled and has a whip like tail which propels it through water establishing it as an animal. Yet, it has chloroplasts like a plant has. It makes its own food like a plant, but it eats other things like an animal and has an eyespot which is sensitive to light. It was discovered in 1660 A.D. but it still defies any known category.
In 2012 scientists came upon another of nature’s miracles: a strange green creature, neither plant nor animal, called Mesodinium, that lives at the bottom of the sea. It looks like a ball of wool gone wild. Using its hundreds of small hairs, it moves rapidly through water, finding plants to eat – after which it changes into a plant.
The strange, single-cell green creature, found in Danish waters, finds tiny plants that contain chlorophyll. And when Mesodinium chamaeleon eats the plant, it becomes a plant.
By keeping the chlorophyll granules active in its stomach, Mesodinium chamaeleon uses the granules’ ability to convert sunlight into energy for it. This photosynthesis makes Mesodinium chamaeleon a plant. After a while, Mesodinium chamaeleon digests the plant which actually makes it an animal. Then it goes hunting, like an animal, for a new plant to eat.
There is no combination that God/Nature has not thought of first!
Am I going to be eating mushrooms again? Perhaps not.
Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in http://www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

All over Europe eggs have been found to be contaminated by a dangerous pesticide called Fipronil.

All over Europe eggs have been found to be contaminated by a dangerous pesticide called Fipronil. The eggs originated from poultry farms in Holland. Investigations into the illegal use of Fipronil on poultry farms have led to 180 big poultries being shut down. Millions of eggs and egg-based products like salads, sandwiches and mayonnaise have been pulled from supermarket shelves. So far Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Sweden, Britain, Austria, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Denmark, Switzerland and Hongkong have found Fipronil in their eggs.
Fipronil is an insecticide not permitted for use around animals destined for consumption, or in any products destined for the human food chain. The effects of consuming it? Sweating, nausea, vomiting, headache, stomach pain, dizziness, weakness, and seizures. It can cause abnormalities of the thyroid, liver and kidneys, if consumed by humans. Since researchers found thyroid tumours in both male and female rats fed high doses, it has been classified as a "possible human carcinogen" by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.  Scientists who fed Fipronil to rats found an increase in seizures. In another study, scientists found long-term exposure to fipronil affecting the reproductive ability of rats, less mating, reduced fertility, smaller litter size, and increased loss of pregnancy. Scientists also found decreased survival and delayed development in offspring.
Early investigation has shown that a company called Poultry Vision in Belgium bought fipronil from Romania, mixed it with DEGA -16, an approved cleaning product, and sold it to Chickfriend in Holland, who sold it to poultries as a pest control services. The most disconcerting part has been the ease with which two men – Martin van de Braak, and Mathijs IJzerman, owners of Chickfriend – were able to avoid scrutiny after offering a “miracle cure” for lice infestation in chickens.  The Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) of fipronil in eggs is set at 0,005 mg/kg within the European Union, as is outlined in Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament. The Dutch food and product safety board (NVWA) reported that one batch of eggs, originating from one poultry farm in the Netherlands, exceeded 0.72 mg/kg.
Poultries that are badly run and never inspected by competent health inspectors, who come for more than just collecting bribes, suffer from mites. The red mite, also known as poultry mite, infests chickens, and turkeys. Heavy infestations of mites decrease reproductive potential in males, egg production in females, and weight gain in young birds; they can also cause anaemia and death. Other mites, such as the depluming mite, burrows into the base of feather shafts, causing intense irritation, feather pulling and skin lesions. Different mites attack different areas of the chicken: feather mite, scaly leg mite, tropical fowl mite. Chiggers, harvest mites, red bugs feed on skin cells and lymph. Heavily parasitized birds become droopy, refuse to eat, and may die from starvation and exhaustion. Using good sanitation practices are important to prevent a build up of mite populations. But most poultries prefer to use strong chemicals.
If eggs have fipronil in them , obviously the meat of the chickens will. If a pest infestation at a farm is treated with Fipronil, the animals' skin would absorb the insecticide. The Dutch food safety agency, the NVWA, officials are carrying out checks on chickens bred for meat.
Is the use of fipronil in poultries new inspite of it being banned? No. Here is a blog from Greg O dated 11th May 2012:
"I'm a professor in the Los Angeles area and want to do a study on Fipronil (Frontline) in eggs. Frontline is a common medication for cats/dogs for the control of fleas. Many people use Frontline to control fleas and mites in their chicken flock, but it turns out, there's no data on whether the active ingredient (Fipronil) actually makes it into the eggs. …Although Frontline is effective in Chickens, there's no data on whether it enters the blood and then the eggs… I'd like to study whether it gets into the eggs.
Were you thinking of using Frontline on your flock this year? If so, please contact me at bodhiroc@gmail.com. I would ask to get some of your eggs before you give fipronil to your chickens and then for a period of weeks afterward (not every egg, just one every week or so). I'd promise to share my results with you and the entire LAUCE community."
Why this fuss over eggs when Fipronil is being used in India on all our grains and vegetables ? 
Fipronil was developed by Rhone-Poulenc and placed on the market in 1993 under the US Patent No. US 5,232,940 B2. Since 2003, BASF holds the patent rights for fipronil-based products. It belongs to the phenylpyrazole chemical family. It is a white powder with a mouldy odour, used in a wide variety of pesticide products used to kill ants, beetles, cockroaches, fleas, ticks, termites, mole crickets, thrips, rootworms, weevils, stem borers, plant hoppers, leaf folders, gall midges, whorl maggots and moths.
Come to India. We use Fipranol on everything we eat. Our insecticides, sold freely to illiterate farmers, contain fipranol to control stem borer insects and leaf folder insects in rice, early shoot borer pests in sugarcane and maize. We use it to control termites. We use it on golf courses, and commercial turf. We use it on chillies, fruit and cabbages.
In the home you use it on dogs and cats to control ticks. You are supposed to cover your mouth and eyes, use plastic gloves and put one drop on the neck of the dog, or spray below the hair. It is not to be rubbed in. No one can stroke the dog. It cannot be used on ill or aged animals. It has to be wrapped very carefully in layers of paper before being discarded so that it doesn’t make the other trash toxic. My hospital has been using it on the dogs that people bring. This is our last resort because so many animals have become ill after its use. Many animals have gone into organ failure.  I would not recommend it except in extreme cases. Frontntline TopSpot, Fiproguard, Flevox, and PetArmor, Shwanfiproplus, Fiprospurt, Flip Spray, Fipronil S-Methospene Spot On, Fiprovet Spray, Protektor Spray, are some pet products.
It is also used as Gel for cockroaches, called Care and Guard Cockroach Killer and Ranger.
Agriculturally, under the trade name Regent, it is used on moths, butterflies, grasshoppers, locusts, beetles and thrips. Under the name Goliath and Nexa it is used for cockroach and ant control. Under the name Chipco Choice it is used for commercial lawn care, golf courses and cornfields. Under Adonis it is used for locust control. As Termidor, Ultrathor and Taurus, Combat Ant-Rid, Radiate it is used to control termites and ants. Its Indian names are Race, Fipgen for Weed Control, Fiprosik, CGent, Result, Prins, Fipscort, Officer, Fipro-C5, Getter, Replex, Prinol, Egent, V Guard, Himgent, Sharp, Glider, Recent, Quencher, Agent-5, Molgent, Farari, Agenda, Zoom, Balveer, Rider (which promotes itself as organic and natural), Agrican Fighter, Risent, Revolt, Bheem, Sultan, Rellington, Viper, Fipron, Aashirwaad, Fiprofort, Refree, Fiprofit.
Fipronil is not allowed for use on cattle and especially dairy cows. But, in India some fipronil based products openly advertise it for dairies. According to studies, lactating animals secrete fipronil through milk, leading to a steady poisoning of the human body. According to the WHO, it can damage the liver, thyroid glands and kidneys if ingested in large amounts over time.
Fipronil goes into the soil where it lasts for upto a year. It is highly toxic to fish, crustaceans and freshwater invertebrates, birds, honey bees, rabbits and chickens. Studies show that non-target insects are also affected (naturally since it is a poison) in field trials for specific pests. Bees are the first to be affected. In May 2003, the French Directorate-General of Food at the Ministry of Agriculture determined that a case of mass bee mortality observed in southern France was related to acute fipronil toxicity and decided to suspend the sale of crop protection products containing fipronil in France.
Fipronil is one of the chemicals blamed for the disappearance of bees. A 2013 report by the European Food Safety Authority identified fipronil as "a high acute risk” to honeybees when used as a seed treatment for maize and on July 16, 2013 the EU voted to ban its use on corn and sunflowers within the EU.
If Europe is having problems in supervising its food factories, can you imagine what is happening in India where FSSAI has no inspectors and no apparatus in which the law can be administered.
How did Europe catch the culprits so soon? In the European Union, every egg is stamped with a number. Consumers can retrace the country of origin and which farm the egg is from. The media have published lists of the numbers of contaminated eggs. In India, you have no idea where your eggs, meat or milk come from.
Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in http://www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

I feel so sorry for the magnificent animal that is the bull

I feel so sorry for the magnificent animal that is the bull. I was at a banking mela organised by the local administration in Alwar. A bull wandered in and walked about harmlessly. Almost every stall keeper – selling/displaying nothing but banking information - hit him. Passers-by hit him. Security guards hit him. His only reaction was to try and dodge the slap or lathi which, given its size, was impossible. Finally, he left, bruised and sore. Bulls go to sabzi mandis to eat the thrown away vegetables/leaves and fruit. So many are attacked with acid that it is difficult to find a bull that doesn’t have acid burns. In Gorakhpur, the city named after Gau Raksha, the municipal administration catches them regularly, puts them into pounds and refuses to feed them. They die within the week, spending most of it lying down as they have no energy left. No gaushalas take bulls, so they roam the streets and are beaten every day. Many are rounded up at night and sold to illegal butchers. Some are taken by fake mendicants, branded with trishul images, painted and paraded for alms. Some are grown for fighting, as in Jallikattu, where they are starved and blinded, made mad with alcohol and then let loose to be jumped on and their horns torn off. Ancient Tamilians considered the bull a sign of masculinity and valour, so naturally the human has to be bigger and stronger. Those that live are shipped to Kerala the next day to be killed. The word Nandi means joyous. In real life the bull leads a life as a victim of beating, torture, starvation and early death. Our great passion for Nandi the bull, exists – as it does for Hanuman and for Ganesha – in temples only. In fact, the three animals – the rhesus monkey, the elephant and the bull - are extremely violently treated. No one feeds them as they would cows. No one wants them. And now, as they grow rarer, your children will never see them in all their glory and might. Nandi is the Mount and gatekeeper of Shiva and Parvati. He is the Chief Guru of 18 spiritual masters, including Patanjali and Thirumular. He is the controller of 18 siddhis or spiritual attainments. Not only is he the being that meets you first in a Shiva temple, there are many temples devoted to Nandi alone. In Sanskrit the name of the bull is Vrishabha, which means righteousness or Dharma . He is the protector of Dharma and the chief of the team of Ganas, or attendants of Shiva. It is important to seek the blessings of Nandi before proceeding to worship Lord Shiva. He symbolizes purity as well as justice, faith, wisdom, virility, and honour. He provides the music to which Lord Shiva performs the Tandava or the cosmic dance. In the Brahaddharma Purana, Nandi is the commander of Lord Shiva's army. Spiritually, Nandi represents the individual soul focused on the Atman. In the Saura Purana, Nandi the bull is described in all his splendour, with ornaments that glow with the fire of thousand suns, three eyes, and a trident held in his hand. The most common depiction of Nandi is a sitting bull with folded limbs. He is either black or white and wears a necklace with a bell. Other depictions of Nandi show him as half human, and half bull. His body resembles that of Shiva in proportion and aspect, although with four hands — two hands holding the Parasu (the axe) and Mruga (the antelope) and the other two hands joined together in the Anjali (obeisance). Brahma Vaivarta Purana says Krishna himself took the form of a bull as no one else in the Universe can bear Shiva. According to the Vayu Purana, Nandi was the son of Kashyapa and Surabhi. Some Vedic texts give the story of Nandi as follows: The great sage, Shilada performed penances and prayed for an immortal child. The child that emerged from the fire of the yagna was named Nandi by Shilada and, by the age of seven, was well versed in all the sacred scriptures. But Shilada was told the child would die in a year. Grief-stricken, he shared this with Nandi who prayed to Lord Shiva. The god responded by giving him a necklace with the bell, transforming him into half man, half bull and gifting him immortality while making him head of the Ganas and his own Vahana. Shilada and Nandi went to Lord Shiva's abode, Mount Kailash, and dwell there for all eternity. Another story speaks of how during Sagar Manthan, or the churning of the ocean, the snake king Vasuki was used as a rope. The churning brought out such deadly poison that none of the devas or asuras wanted to go near it. Lord Shiva drank the poison. Some of it spilled out. To save his master and all life, Nandi drank the spilled venom. Lord Siva calmed their fears saying, "Nandi has surrendered into me so completely that he has all my powers and my protection". Nandi survived the poison and even the Devas - the gods - and Asuras - the demons - were struck with awe at his massive power. He is said to have taught Kartik, the son of Shiva and a great warrior, the art of warfare. Many people whisper their prayers into the ears of the Nandi bull. This comes from another story. Shiva decided to meditate and, ofcourse, Nandi decided to do so as well and sat in front of his lord. During this meditation, the asura Jalandhara abducted Goddess Parvati. The gods asked Lord Ganesha to inform Shiva, but he could not bring his father out of his meditation. Then Ganesha whispered the details into the ears of Nandi the bull and Shiva heard and awakened. From there comes the belief that anything told to Nandi reaches Shiva. Once Ravana mocked Nandi. Nandi retaliated with a curse that Ravana’s kingdom would be burnt by a monkey. This came true when Hanuman went in search of Sita. The largest Nandi in India is in Aimury in Kerala. The largest number of bulls are killed in Kerala. Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu has large Nandi temples. See if you can find any bulls either on the road or in Gaushalas. All over India, the little male calves are killed even before they can mature into bulls. Those that are fortunate enough to reach adulthood, rarely make it past 4 years of torture. In the new temples devoted to Shiva, the scrotum of Nandi is not sculpted any more in case it embarrasses the same women who come to worship Nandi and ask for fertility. And truly, no one wants the uncastrated bull any more. Either he should be a bullock, with his testicles crushed to a pulp with stones and then made to work. Or he should be a cow – milked and then eaten. But a wild natural creature that roams free and defies use – why not just keep beating and starving him till he dies or better still, catch him at night as he poses a danger to humans, break his limbs so that he doesn’t be a nuisance on the truck and sell him to the butchers. Instead of using his virility to impregnate cows, we can do it with semen collected from bound creatures who deliver semen artificially which is induced into the cow by vets. Shiva is Nandi. He refuses to be domesticated. He refuses to behave as society wants him to. He is sometimes the progenitor of his Goddess’ children but never their father. He will not be fettered. And just as we are scared of the goddesses who will not be married and depict them as ugly, wild and drinking blood – as against the tamed, beautiful consorts, Shiva is shown as wild and angry. This, unfortunately, is our opinion of the bull – a dangerous, wild creature, who should be eliminated. Feed the bulls in your area. Stop them from being killed. They represent a part of you which is dying. You cannot be a Shiva bhakt and allow the bulls to die. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in http://www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Even though humans have kept dogs and cats as pets for thousands of years

Even though humans have kept dogs and cats as pets for thousands of years, there are still so many things about them, that we believe, that are simply not true. And because of these beliefs, many of these animals are ill-treated and suffer. Here are some misconceptions.
A cat purrs when it is happy: Purring is generally the first sound kittens make by the time they are 48 hours old. While nursing, both mom and kittens can be heard to purr. But while purring is often heard at times of contentment, cats also purr when in pain and in the throes of death.
Stray cats are loners: Feral cats are not solitary, they usually live as a group near a food source.
Cats are nocturnal creatures: Cats are most active at dusk and dawn, when mice and other small prey come out and hunting is easier. The construction of their eyes allows them to see well in low light. Cats only need 1/6 of the light humans do in order to decipher shapes. However, they cannot see in absolute darkness.
Cats hate water: While most cats hate baths, many find running water fascinating and paw at dripping taps. It is possible to give a cat a bath without being scratched and mauled.
Cats can be fed an all fish diet: An all fish diet is bad for cats because high levels of magnesium and oil can increase Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease and other diseases. If nature wanted cats to just eat fish, it would have made them swim. This mythology was spread by the British because, as a cat crazy island, it was importing meat for them and it was easier to get fish.
Cats have 9 lives: This probably goes back to ancient Egypt, where 9 was a mystical number. The god AtumKa had 9 lives and took the form of a feline whenever he visited the underworld, so the 9 lives became associated with the cats.
Cats always land safely on their feet: Cats are naturally flexible and have the ability to right their bodies while falling. But that doesn't necessarily protect them from harm. Cats break their front legs and jaw when they land on their feet.
Cats need milk in their diet: Although many cats do like milk, it is not necessary in their diet. In fact, many kittens get diarrhoea after drinking milk.
Pregnant women must give up their cats: While toxoplasmosis is a risk for foetuses, a woman is more likely to catch it from handling raw meat, or digging in the garden, than from her cats.
Dogs with warm, dry noses are sick: A dry nose has nothing to do with a dog's health. Normal canine body temperature ranges from 101 to 103 degrees A dog may still have a cold, wet nose while running a temperature of 105 degrees. Feel the inside of the ears.
Old dogs can't learn new tricks:  Old dogs and old people continue to learn throughout their lives. I have found old dogs pick up orders in a new house quicker than puppies. Very old dogs may not learn well because they may be impaired by progressive blindness or deafness.
A dog wagging his tail will not bite: The wag of a dog's tail tells nothing about his aggressiveness. It simply is a sign of excitement. Other aspects of his behaviour can tell more about aggressiveness, such as ear position, whether the dog is staring, growling, or barking.
If a dog scoots (drags his anus) across the floor, he has worms: Although dogs with tapeworms will scoot due to the itchiness of the worm segments, not all scooting dogs have worms. Allergies, diarrhoea, or stuffed anal glands, can cause this behaviour.
If your dog eats his faeces, he has worms: Many dogs eat faeces, theirs or another’s. It is not necessarily a sign of intestinal parasites. Many mother dogs will do this to clean her newborn puppies and some pets will do it as an attention getting behaviour. The problem may also be poor nutrition and a learned habit.
Female dogs should have at least 1 litter of puppies before spaying: There is no benefit to allowing a pet to reproduce. In fact, there is evidence that spaying a female before her first heat may reduce her risk of developing breast cancer.
Some dogs have jaws that lock: All dogs have the same facial muscles and structure -- none has locking jaws. All dogs can be taught to be gentle -- to release on command.
Dogs eat grass because they are sick: Many dogs will eat grass and then vomit, but this does not mean that they are sick. It is normal for dogs to eat grass in very small amounts -- their ancestors ate grass. It's roughage. You need to add more greens to their food.
Dogs can be spiteful if left alone at home: Dogs can become stressed when left alone and may seek comfort by finding a scent of you in your favourite chair or shoes, and may express their stress by chewing or urinating.
Dogs require annual revaccinations: It is now known that certain vaccines, such as distemper and rabies, don't need to be given yearly after initial doses and boosters.
Neutering and spaying makes dogs fat and lazy: It has no effect. Eating too much and not enough exercise makes animals overweight. Same goes for cats.
Dogs and cats are colour-blind: Both dogs and cats can see in blue and green, and they also have more rods — the light-sensing cells in the eye — than humans do, so they can see better in low-light situations. Reds and pinks may appear more green to cats, while purple may look like another shade of blue. Dogs, meanwhile, have fewer cones — the colour-sensing cells in the eye — so scientists estimated that their colour vision is only about 1/7th as vibrant as ours.
Pit bulls are vicious killer dogs: The pit bull is not born vicious, nor is it in its DNA. German shepherds, Rottweilers, Dobermans, and Chows are the genetically aggressive dogs. Pit bulls are only aggressive when they've been trained to be that way.
Dogs can detect cancer: Dogs are capable of detecting smells linked to cancer. In one study the dogs had an accuracy rate of 98 percent for sniffing out colorectal cancer in humans.
Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in http://www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Veganism finally has meat eating on the run in the United Kingdom.

Veganism finally has meat eating on the run in the United Kingdom. Not only are the ad campaigns, all over metro stations, really big and powerful showing what happens in slaughterhouses, but people are actually listening to them and making a switch. So much so thatThe Independent newspaper has just revealed (http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/save-veganism-abattoirs-animal-cruelty-terrorism-vigils-animal-welfare-a7579251.html) that a meeting was called by the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers and the National Pig Association with the official National Counter Terrorism Police Operations Centre team to find out how they could stop peaceful vegans from holding candlelight vigils outside slaughterhouses, to show love and compassion to pigs, cows and chickens in their final moments and to raise awareness of the cruelty we inflict upon them.

 

Not only should every slaughterhouse have a CCTV, any citizen should be allowed in. That way the enormous cruelty that happens to animals – apart from dragging buffaloes and calves off overloaded trucks by their tails, or throwing them off with one leg, or wing as in chickens, dragging them across the floor, hanging them upside down, slitting their throats to catch the blood, pouring boiling water on them while alive to loosen their skins etc. – there is the gratuitous cruelty of slaughterhouse workers amusing themselves at work. Live chickens are used as footballs, pigs are stabbed repeatedly as target practice with knives, competitions take place on novel ways to kill. The Mayor of North Delhi and Gauri Maulekhi of PFA went to the Delhi Ghazipur slaughterhouse on a surprise inspection last month. Apart from finding no vets there (they get their haftas sitting at home) they found buffaloes being hit many times over by laughing butchers with live electric wires. The animal collapsed repeatedly. When it got to its feet again, they did it again. They took bets on how many times an animal could sustain electric hits before it dissolved into a trembling conscious mass on the floor. Then they slit its throat – in full view of a hundred other buffaloes and their children.

 

One herd of goats had a little kid who ran for her life. She was chased by ten shouting men with heavy sticks, and who would have crushed her to a pulp had Gauri not caught her. She is now in my house. Gauri took a video of the slaughterhouse and was nearly lynched by hundreds of resentful butchers and the owner’s manager (Allana and Co) who knew what they were doing is so wrong but what-the-hell.

 

I once did a survey of the animals being killed. We found 78% of all chickens had broken legs and wings at least three days before being slaughtered; 60% of all large animals had shattered limbs and 45% were diseased. Forget the terrible pain they were in, by law none of them should be killed as they were gangrenous and the meat dangerous for humans.

 

Instead of me saying anything else, let me quote the rest of the Independent article :

“To regard Save vigils as terrorism is genuinely absurd: a panicked, guilty response from the planet’s most brutal industry. Our counter-terrorism experts should be concentrating their efforts on genuine threats against British public safety, not a bunch of vegan campaigners who only wish to expose the reality of a commercial sector that the majority of its consumers remain in the dark about.

 

But although Save protestors are not terrorists, perhaps abattoir bosses have good reason to fear their work.

 

The meat industry is vulnerable when consumers learn the reality of how it operates; when they look directly at the faces of the animals it condemns to short, torturous lives and ferocious deaths. Protestors share videos from the vigils on social media, offering that connection to the general public. This makes an industry that has poured so much money, time and desperation into keeping consumers’ eyes shut feeling nervous.

 

According to latest estimates, 542,000 Brits are now vegans, up from 150,000 in 2006 – a 350 per cent increase in just over a decade. Official supermarket revenue statistics for 2016 showed the biggest losers were meat and dairy, while the biggest gains came for dairy-free products. Overall sales of plant-based products are up 1,500 per cent.

 

Big food and hospitality brands, from Harvester and Wetherspoons to Pret A Manger and Sainsbury’s, are launching successful vegan ranges. Last month, Sainsbury’s reported that sales of its new own-brand vegan cheeses were 300 per cent greater than it had anticipated.

 

Activists are exposing the truth about the meat on your plate: that piglets who grow too slowly are killed by being slammed headfirst onto concrete floors, a standard industry practice called “thumping”; that in many chicken slaughterhouses workers routinely rip the heads off live birds; that pigs scream in gas chambers, or as they are boiled alive; that cattle sometimes experience having their legs sawn off while they are still conscious.

I’ve nothing but respect for Save as they rattle and expose those complicit in the meat industry. They are not terrorists.

 

It’s often said that we accuse others of what we secretly know we are doing ourselves. So as abattoir workers toss and turn at night, perhaps they might ask themselves, who is really doing the terrorising?”

 

Why are you eating meat in India when you have at least 50,000 + options of amazing food which are better for you, better for animals and better for the planet. Each one of us has a belief that we are in our hearts good people. Do good people allow so much pain to be caused in beings that are exactly like you in every way, only kinder and smarter?

Sir Paul McCartney once said “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian.”

 

Are you going to wait for the glass walls to show you what is happening, or will you go with your conscience which tells you what you are doing is wrong?

 

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.inwww.peopleforanimalsindia.org

 

Learning Medicine from Maneka Gandhi

Not many moons ago Maneka Gandhi wrote an article (which was published in her regular page "Write to Live", in "The Island" of October 3 entitled "Fish oil ruins your heart") where she said there is no evidence to say that fish oil protects the heart. In fact, she went a step further, and said it could be harmful to the heart.

Gandhi, citing clinical trials on omega-3-fatty acids points that while omega-3s can in laboratory settings (in-vitro) increase blood flow, reduce blood pressure and give neurons structural strength, these properties don’t translate into any benefits in the human body (in-vivo). She went on to say that a review in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), involving almost 70,000 people, found no compelling evidence linking fish oil supplements to a lower risk of heart attack , stroke or early death.

For more Details Please Click here:

http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=155629

Since the colour of food influences consumers.

Since the colour of food influences consumers, many food manufacturers use dyes in foods ranging from meat and candies to wine. The aim is to simulate a colour that is perceived by the consumer as natural, such as adding red colouring to canned cherries which would otherwise be beige. Food companies add more than 15 million pounds of artificial food dyes to foods each year.

How did this begin? In the early 1900s, as the industrial age got underway, workers became dependent on low cost factory produced food. Food producers used the cheapest ingredients and adulterants and then, to hide this, they "restored" the colour. Red lead was used to colour cheese and confectionary. Copper arsenite was used to colour used tea leaves for resale. The bulk of chemically synthesized colours were derived from aniline, a toxic petroleum product and coal tar. Manufacturers phased out natural dyes for economic reasons: chemically synthesized colours were easier and cheaper to produce. Their use spread from paint, plastic and clothing to food.

Processed meat, fish and sauce contained Armenian bole, red lead, or sulphuret of mercury. Curry contained lead and mercury, pickles, bottled fruit and vegetables had copper, candies had any number of poisonous pigments and green tea had Prussian blue pigment mixed in it. Dyes entered all sorts of popular foods and drink. Many people died.

Gradually food dye regulations came, with each country developing their own legislation regulating the use of dangerous minerals such as arsenic, copper, chromium, lead, mercury and zinc, which were frequently used as colorants. In 1962, the WHO and FAO created an international commission, the Codex Alimentarius, to work out the application of food additives. However, this is not legally binding till today. In the United States, the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 reduced the permitted list of synthetic colours from 700 down to seven.(The most commonly used dyes are Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, which make up 90%+ of the market. These dyes are created synthetically by burning coal tar or are petroleum byproducts like tartrazine and erythrosine.)

Regulations differ from country to country even now. For instance Yellow, which is tartrazine (used in soft drinks, energy drinks, cake mixes, salty snacks, cereals, packaged soups), and has been linked to asthma, allergies and behavioural changes, is banned in some countries and allowed in others.Orange B is banned all over the world but is still used in the US for hot dog and sausage casings. Dyes used in meat, milk, and candies, like Quinoline Yellow, Carmoisine, Ponceau 4R, Patent Blue V and Green S, are not allowed in the US and U.K. Erithrosine, which was recognized as a thyroid carcinogen and is banned in cosmetics, is still used for sausages. Sunset Yellow, which causes adrenal tumours in animals and hypersensitive reactions, is still used in meats and gelatine deserts.

In all processed meats, fish, poultry, milk and eggs,dyes are used to mask quality failure and hygienic shortcomings. For instance, wild salmon has a distinctive pink colour which comes from the krill it eats in the oceans. But the salmon you get in restaurants is raised in crowded ponds and fed artificial food in order to make it fatter faster. This salmon is grey and looks inedible. So, fisheries use artificial dyes to make it pink. The dye is a chemical, Canthaxanthin, which has been linked to retinal damage in humans.

In meat processing, red and yellow colour types are preferred, with brand names such as “red blood”, “orange yellow” or “sunset yellow”. Tartrazine (E 102, yellow), cochineal extract (E 120, red) or carnoisine (E 122, red). While the first is made from coal tar and is very contentious for its role in allergies, the other two are made from crushed beetles.

Nitrates and nitrites are used to cure meat and poultry. They help kill bacteria and give meat a pink, or red, colour. Nitrite is highly toxic (the lethal dose in humans is about 22 mg/kg body weight). The use of nitrites is controversial, because nitrosamines are formed when it is cooked at high temperatures and these are carcinogenic.

The meat industry keeps the raw meat packaged in carbon monoxide. This is called "modified atmosphere packaging" (MAP) so that it can last longer in shops. When meat is exposed to carbon monoxide, it gives the meat a bright red colour. As meat ages it becomes brown or grey, but carbon monoxide keeps it looking artificially fresh for up to a full year, and can hide the growth of bacteria.

Annatto is a commercial dye produced from the red pulp of the seed of the achiote tree. It is used in cheese, butter and smoked fish. Betanin, or Beetroot Red, is a red glycosidic food dye obtained from beets and used for colouring meat and sausages to dark brown. Caramel is one of the oldest and most widely-used food colourings and is found in almost every kind of fish, shellfish, roast beef, ham, pastrami or chicken.

Carmine, made of killed insects, is routinely added to food products such as meat. yogurt and ice cream.

Carotene, which is a pigment found in many dark green, leafy, and yellow vegetables such as collards, turnips, carrots, sweet potatoes, and squash and in the fatty tissues of plant-eating animals, imparts the yellow coloration to milk-fat and butter. Turmeric is used as an agent to impart a rich, custard-like yellow colour to dairy products and yogurt.

Synthetic astaxanthin is not approved for human consumption, but is permitted to be used in fish feed that humans ultimately eat. Astaxanthin is used to keep the flesh of farmed fish pink, no matter how diseased their bodies are.

Consumers like yellow yolks. But birds that don’t eat fresh grass, or see the sun, cannot produce eggs with yellow yolks. So egg producers put various dyes into the poultry feed. There are eight dyes registered as feed additives for poultry. Canthaxanthin is used here as well, even though, in 2007, the European Food Safety Authority established maximum residue limit as 30 milligrams/kg.

Illegal dyes are used as well in poultries. Sudan IV has been detected in hen and duck eggs. Sudan dyes are carcinogenic. Egg yolk yellow is also achieved with xanthophylls extracted from plants.

Cadmium is a yellow metal used in squid and cuttlefish.

Under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, colour additives may not be used to deceive consumers, or to conceal blemishes or inferiorities in food products. Usage is prohibited "if it is found to induce cancer when ingested” by people or animals.

Both these conditions are violated. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) released a 68-page report “ Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks,” detailing the potential of artificial food dyes to contribute to hyperactivity in children, increase cancer risk and lead to other health problems. In CSPI's summary of studies on food dyes, some of the most commonly used food dyes could be linked to cancer. CSPI reported:

"The three most widely used dyes, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, are contaminated with known carcinogens. Another dye, Red 3, has been acknowledged for years by the Food and Drug Administration to be a carcinogen, yet is still in the food supply."

CSPI revealed that nine of the food dyes, currently approved for use in the United States, are linked to health issues ranging from cancer and hyperactivity to allergy-like reactions -- and these results were from studies conducted by the chemical industry itself.

As CSPI reported: "Almost all the toxicological studies on dyes were commissioned, conducted, and analyzed by the chemical industry and academic consultants. Ideally, dyes (and other regulated chemicals) would be tested by independent researchers.

In addition to considerations of organ damage, cancer, birth defects, and allergic reactions, mixtures of dyes (and Yellow 5 tested alone) cause hyperactivity and other behavioral problems in some children.

… Because of those toxicological considerations, including carcinogenicity, hypersensitivity reactions, and behavioral effects, food dyes cannot be considered safe. The FDA should ban food dyes, which serve no purpose other than a cosmetic effect…

In the meantime, companies voluntarily should replace dyes with safer, natural colorings." The UK Food Standards Agency commissioned a study at Southampton University of the effect of six food dyes (Tartrazine, Allura Red, Ponceau 4R, Quinoline Yellow WS, Sunset Yellow and Carmoisine)on children. Published in 2007, the study found "a possible link between the consumption of these artificial colours and a sodium benzoate preservative and increased hyperactivity"

Research suggests that some children may be susceptible to even tiny amounts of artificial dyes, but that a significant number of children were affected by amounts over 35 mg per day. It was estimated that many children are consuming 3-4 times the 35mg amount per day. Food colorants sometimes cause allergic reactions and anaphylactic shock in sensitive individuals. Even natural colouring agents can be potential hazards and include annatto, cochineal and carmine

An important study, published in the journal The Lancet in 2009, concluded that a variety of common food dyes, and the preservative sodium benzoate, cause some children to become measurably more hyperactive and distractible. The study also found that the E-numbered food dyes do as much damage to children's brains as lead in gasoline, resulting in a significant reduction in IQ. The results of this study were what prompted the British Food Standards Agency (FSA) to issue an immediate advisory to parents, warning them to limit their children's intake of additives if they notice an effect on behaviour. In July 2010, most foods in the EU that contain artificial food dyes were labelled with warning labels stating the food "may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children." No other country has done so. What food dyes are used in India? Does anyone know or care?

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

I am really sad that Dr. Sanjeev Balyan has been moved out of the Animal Husbandry department.

I am really sad that Dr. Sanjeev Balyan has been moved out of the Animal Husbandry department which he headed as MOS Agriculture for the last two years. He is a vet himself and an excellent administrator. For the first time in my life I will tell you about a Minister’s achievements.

The first thing he did was to change the Veterinary Council and put two outstanding people as the heads – Dr. Sharma and Dr. Gurdial Singh. The secretary, who was the worst officer in the history of India and had destroyed the entire institution, was made accountable for all the cheating he had done for years, and left in a panic.

What was the situation that Dr. Balyan and this Government inherited: a totally useless Veterinary Council that had no control over the quality of veterinary colleges or the behaviour and knowledge of vets – in fact it was totally unaware of how many vets there are in the country and what they did. The syllabus was outdated and there were no courses for wildlife, ophthalmology, or any specific organ. No vets were taught how to castrate (crushing the testicles between two stones is the normal practice), dehorn or follow any hygienic methods of insemination – leading to sweeping diseases of foot and mouth and bovine leukaemia. No vet ever studied to increase his knowledge after he got his initial degree.

In the last two years Dr. Balyan worked at changing the veterinary syllabus, making standards for veterinary practices, making it compulsory for all vets to attend a refresher course every year or have their licences cancelled, and making an all India register of vets and where they were practicing so that anyone who needed a vet could find out immediately.

Veterinary education and veterinary practices in India have undergone sweeping changes. The new veterinary syllabus of 2016 will stop the cruel use of live healthy animals for veterinary teaching and training. It will, instead, ensure the use of ethically sourced cadavers for anatomical studies and simulation methods for students to acquire better clinical skills, before handling and treating animals under supervised clinical training. Veterinary students and teachers had often protested about using live animals to teach veterinary science, since all over the world this has been replaced with technology. Numerous studies have proved that the learning generated by non-animal teaching methods are better than those achieved by animal use. Non-animal teaching methods do not cause students psychological trauma, or force them to be a part of something that they consider to be cruel and abusive. The new curriculum also makes students undergo internship programmes at animal welfare organisations so that they learn animal welfare.

The new Veterinary Practice Regulations, once implemented, will ensure that minimum standards of veterinary services are made available to animals through static and mobile veterinary clinics. These facilities will be well equipped with man power, essential veterinary medicines, instruments, diagnostic facilities, and waste disposal system and will function on Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and humane veterinary practice protocols. The protocol on humane veterinary practices mandates that animals must be given anaesthesia before invasive and painful animal husbandry procedures, such as castration, and that when euthanasia is required, such as to alleviate suffering from terminal illness, it must be done in a painless manner by a veterinarian. New modern courses have been introduced, especially in the area of wildlife and birds. We finally have a syllabus that is on par with foreign colleges. Now all we need is a type of student who likes animals, rather than aiming to simply get a ‘Doctor’ in front of his name so that his dowry rates go up.

Continuing Veterinary Education is not a new concept. Doctors need to learn the latest knowledge whether they are in government or private practice. Each vet will participate in one training course per year. To bring a mechanism for compulsory CVE programme for veterinary practitioners in India, VCI will set up a credit based system of certification for compulsory knowledge upgradation of practitioners.

For the first time, online registration will be made compulsory with VCI, for veterinarians, to practice anywhere in the country. The animal husbandry sector needs about 2 lakh veterinarians – as of now there are only 63,000. The VCI has increased the number of seats in colleges from 60 to 100 seats and made it easier to start new colleges.

Dr. Balyan also banned the commercial import of dogs for breeding. Thousands of diseased and unsuitable dogs were pouring into the country, being bought illegally by breeders. The notification from Director General of Foreign Trade came in consultation with the Agriculture Ministry. India has an unregulated pet trade, growing at a rate of about 20% per year, and these imported breeds are responsible for 90% of the dog bites and zoonotic diseases. Animal shelters like mine are crowded with pedigrees that have been thrown away by owners a few months after they buy them.

Dr. Balyan has gone to the department of water preservation. There are hundreds of issues still pending – from amending the sizes of battery cages for chickens to making minimum standards for all the hideous rotting government veterinary hospitals in the country. From banning exotic skins and meat to reforming slaughterhouses. The most important step in conserving animals and people is to ban oxytocin and remove antibiotics from farm animal feed, and this should be the topmost priority of his successor. Let me keep my fingers crossed that we get someone who understands the importance of animal welfare.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

My favourite Zen story is when a question is asked of a Zen monk

My favourite Zen story is when a question is asked of a Zen monk – ‘‘A house is on fire. What is the most important thing that you would save?’’ He replies – “I would save the fire.”

This story has stayed with me for 40 years teaching me to look deeper into what we consider valuable.

Let’s talk about the single tiniest living being on the planet – the bacterium, a tiny single cell being so small that millions live together and are collectively known as bacteria. A gram of soil contains about 40 million bacterial cells. A millilitre of fresh water usually holds about one million. Earth is estimated to hold at least 5 nonillion (54 zeros!).

A bacterium is a proper being. It can communicate, travel, multiply, generate energy, understand its environment. There are three types: ball shaped or cocci, rod shaped or bacilli, and spiral or spirilla. They are found everywhere – from your stomach to the Arctic ice and volcanoes, the bottom of the ocean to 30 miles up in the sky. Soil, plants, animals – all of us are walking mountains of bacteria.

Some of them are extremophiles, surviving in such toxic conditions or extremes of temperature where no other being can survive.

Bacteria are the first forms of life on this planet about 4 billion years ago. You are their descendants.

They were first attempted to be identified by Marcus Terentius Varro (Roman - 116 BC-27 BC) who suggested that disease may be caused by miniscule animals that floated in the air. They were finally identified by Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (Dutch 1632-1723) who made microscopes, with which he saw what he called animacules in 1676 (to be called bacteria 162 years later). He is known as the father of microbiology. Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg (German 1795-1876) introduced the term bacterium in 1838. Robert Koch (German 1843-1910) was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1905 for proving diseases were caused by bacteria. Paul Ehrlich (German - 1854-1915) won the Nobel prize for pioneering the use of stains to detect them.

Bacteria feed themselves in a variety of ways. Some eat other organisms. Some absorb dead organic material, such as decomposing flesh. Some parasitic bacteria kill their host. Some make their own food out of sunlight, carbon dioxide and water. In fact, these helped create the oxygen atmosphere of the earth. Some use water, and chemicals such as ammonia, sulphur, phosphorus, nitrogen, zinc, iron to produce their food. We call them nitrogen fixers. They are common in plant roots.

Aerobic bacteria grow only in the presence of oxygen. They can cause corrosion and bad smells. Anaerobic bacteria can only grow if there is no oxygen present. In humans, they are most commonly found in the gastrointestinal tract. They cause gangrene, tetanus, botulism and dental infections. Some grow with or without oxygen and are found in soil, water, vegetation, humans and animals. One example is salmonella. Human bacterial infections are mainly caused by mesophilic bacteria (like ecoli) - because our bodies are moderate (37 Celsius). Mesophiles thrive in moderate temperatures. The human intestine contains many beneficial mesophilic bacteria, such as dietary Lactobacillus acidophilus as well. Extremophiles thrive in conditions considered too extreme for most life forms - temperatures from 85 to 113 degrees Celsius, salt lakes, acidic or alkaline environments.

They multiply by dividing themselves, or by passing genes from one cell to another when they come in contact through a tube called pilus. Some bacteria move by gliding on surfaces. Others control their movement through internal gas bubbles. Some bacteria have tails and they rotate them like propellers going as fast as 0.00017 km per hour - the equivalent of a man running at 100 meters per second. E.coli can travel 25 times their own length in 1 second, equivalent to a horse running 215 km per hour.

When bacteria do not have enough resources to live they turn inactive. Spores can remain dormant for centuries. They are resistant to radiation, desiccation, starvation, chemicals and extremes of temperature. In 2007, biologists revived a 8-million-year-old bacterium from the Antarctic ice.

Most people react negatively to bacteria. But they create the air we breathe; the nitrogen in the soil that plants need. Friendly bacteria help the human body survive. Bacteria in the digestive system are crucial for the breakdown of nutrients, such as complex sugars, into forms the body can use. Friendly bacteria protect us from dangerous ones by occupying places in the body that disease causing bacteria want to occupy. Some friendly bacteria rescue us by attacking bad bacteria. Lactic acid bacteria have been used for the preparation of foods as cheese, soy sauce, vinegar, yoghurt and pickles and fermented foods for thousands of years. Bacteria can break down organic compounds at remarkable speed and help in waste processing. They are frequently used for cleaning up oil spills and clearing up toxic waste. Pharmaceutical and chemical industries use bacteria in the production of chemicals. Bacteria, such as Bacillus thuringiensis, can be used in agriculture instead of pesticides without the undesirable consequences of pesticides.

On the other hand some of the most deadly epidemics in human history have been caused by bacteria – Cholera, Diphtheria, Dysentery, Plague, Pneumonia, Tuberculosis, Typhoid, Typhus.

Here are some more odd facts:

1,458 new species of bacteria live in the bellybutton of human beings. Everyone’s bellybutton ecology is unique and one volunteer’s belly button harboured bacteria that had previously been found only in soil from Japan, where he had never been.

Bacteria only multiply – unlike humans - to the extent that there is food. The amount of bacteria on a pair of jeans reaches a maximum after 2 weeks of wear. You can wear them for the rest of your life without worrying about them getting any dirtier!

Human faeces is mostly bacteria that are both dead and alive.

Magnetospirillium magneticum has the ability to take in iron, convert it to magnetic magnetite, align it along its body, and travel using magnetic fields.

Millions of people don’t actually need to use deodorant (especially East Asians) because they have a gene that stops them from producing sweat that attracts body-odour-causing bacteria.

One teaspoon of the bacterium C. botulinum, properly distributed, could kill every human being in Asia.

The “smell” of rain on the earth is produced by bacteria.

Floating bacteria are effective at spurring condensation, leading to snow and rain. Some scientists propose spraying bacteria into the clouds to end droughts.

Deinococcus radiodurans can survive 10,000 times the dose of radiation lethal to humans, making it a prime candidate for the clean-up of nuclear waste.

Ralstonia metallidurans can turn dissolved gold into solid nuggets.

Some marine animals have specialized light organs which contain bioluminescent bacteria which turn on and off like a flashlight. The flashlight fish uses its light to communicate with other fish, attract prey and avoid predators. The bacteria benefit by receiving nutrients and oxygen from the fish's blood.

Bacteria signal to each other through chemicals produced. Through these signals, bacterial species know how many others of their kind exist and whether there is a “ quorum”. The bacteria change and coordinate their behaviour when a "quorum" is present.

Are humans beings the dominant life forms of the Earth, or are bacteria? The terrifying "thought control" talent of the Toxoplasma gondii protozoa is amazing. It infects rats and then alters their brains so that the rodents seek out their natural predator, cats. This is because T. gondii can only complete its reproductive cycle in feline intestines. The rats offer themselves to be eaten and the T. gondii parasites complete their lives. It also infects humans and I wonder how much of our activities come from its orders. After all, your body has 10 times more bacterial cells than human cells.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

All Hindu mythology is intertwined with animals.

All Hindu mythology is intertwined with animals. Thousands of stories abound in all the texts, and the largest of wars is often due to a small insect being killed. Devdutt Pattanaik has put some of these stories into a book called Pashu.

Of these myriad stories that exist in all the 300 versions of the Ramayana and Mahabharata, in the Vedas and Puranas, here are some of my favourites. They carry lessons to live by:

The Pandava prince Arjuna saw an unusual creature in the forest. It had the head of a rooster, a peacock’s neck, a lion’s waist, the hump of a bull, a snake’s tail and various limbs of a tiger, deer, elephant and human. Arjuna raised his bow to kill it. Then he thought – just because a creature is unfamiliar, why suppose it is a monster? He lowered his bow and the creature raised its human hand in blessing. It was God himself, testing Arjuna’s wisdom and tolerance.

Tumburu, the Gandharva, was a great and vain musician. He and Narada competed for the title of best singer. They went to Vishnu to decide. Vishnu, mischievously, said that he thought Hanuman was a better singer than both. Insulted, they went in search of Hanuman and found him on a snow covered peak. Sing for us, they commanded and Hanuman’s low and beautiful voice caused the snow to melt. When he finished, the molten snow froze again. Not good enough, they said. Hanuman bowed his head humbly and left. When they got up to leave they found their feet sealed in the snow. They called to Vishnu in distress. If you are better than Hanuman, sing and melt the snow, he said. They did – with no impact. Finally, they conceded that Hanuman, who sang out of devotion and not to show off, was better.

Gandhari accidently stepped on the hundred eggs of an insect. Heartbroken, the mother insect cursed Gandhari that she would see her hundred children die before her eyes. The cries of animals are heard by the gods as clearly as those by humans and it takes one act like this to change a person’s life.

Mandavya, the hermit, was arrested by the king who had him impaled on a stick. His crime was that he had stolen goods in his hermitage – something he was unaware of. He died during torture and when he stood before Yama, the record keeper, he demanded to know the reason for this unjust punishment. Not unjust, said Yama, when you were a child you tortured birds and pinned them to the ground with sticks. The pain you caused animals has to be understood and paid for in the same way.

When Rama’s army was building the bridge across the sea to Lanka, a little squirrel carried grains of sand on its back in order to help the bridge come up faster. When the others laughed at his efforts, Rama picked him up, stroked him while thanking him and left the marks of his hands as stripes. No good deed is too small that it is not noticed.

King Yudhisthira held a great yagna and thousands of people were fed. A mongoose, with a half golden body, entered and lay on the ashes of the yagna fire saying, “If this is a true sacrifice, let my body become all golden.” It didn’t happen and the mongoose was sarcastic. The priests were curious and he explained “During a drought, a farmer had a few rice grains left for his family. A stranger – old, tired, hungry- knocked on the door. The farmer gave him the entire family’s food and he left, satisfied. The family died of starvation that night. I entered the house and rubbed my face on the plate and it turned golden. I have travelled the world looking for a sacrifice as great as the farmer’s so that the rest of my body would change. I have not found it till today.” The king realised that meaning of a sacrifice was more than mere ritual.

Gunakeshi , the daughter of Indra’s charioteer, Matali, fell in love with a Naga, Sumukha. He couldn’t marry her as Garuda, the eagle, had been promised one naga a day as his food so that he wouldn’t kill all of them together. It was Sumukha’s turn the next day. Matali begged Indra who went to Vishnu for help. Spare him, said Vishnu. Garuda refused – I will remain hungry, he said. Vishnu placed his hand on Garuda and the eagle found he could not flap his wings any more. He was pinned. Have compassion on me, he begged Vishnu. For that, you must show compassion to another - for that is how all life is sustained. Garuda let the Naga go.

(My absolute favourite) : The Pandavas and Draupadi, after ruling for 36 years, decided to climb the mountains and enter the home of the gods. “If we have lived virtuous lives, the Gods will let us enter”, said Yudhishthira. But as they walked one by one they fell down till only Yudhisthira and a dog, that had come unbidden with them, stood before the gates. “You can enter, not the dog,” said the Gods. “But, he has equal rights since he has come on the same arduous journey and has never faltered in his desire and diligence”, argued Yudhisthira. “The flesh may be different but the soul is the same. If he can’t come in, I will stay out as well.” The Gods smiled and blessed Yudhisthira. “The dog is Dharma and you have demonstrated your innate spirituality in recognizing that all creatures are the same.” They welcomed both in to Paradise.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Birds in tropical climates face predators.

Birds in tropical climates face predators- larger birds, mammals and snakes- who rob their nests, stealing eggs or killing chicks. In a study published in The American Naturalist, scientists report a novel nesting strategy adopted by a tropical lowland bird that inhabits an area with very high losses to nest predators. The newly hatched chicks of the Cinereous Mourner in Peru have downy feathers with white tipped long orange barbs. The nestling moves its head very slowly from side to side in a way typical of a poisonous caterpillar nearby with similar size and coloration as the nestling. The nestling tricks predators into thinking that it is a toxic, spiny caterpillar rather than an edible nestling. This remarkable adaptation decreases nest predation.

Even chickens exhibit intelligent behaviour within just a few hours of hatching. Newly born chicks are able to keep track of numbers up to five. When given a choice between two groups of plastic eggs they invariably choose the bigger one, even when the decision was between two eggs or three. And their mathematical ability does not end there. In a paper, The Intelligent Hen, spanning 20 years of research, Professor Nicol proves that the birds are born with an understanding of physics – and particularly structural engineering. This is demonstrated by experiments in which they showed more interest in a diagram of an object that could actually be built rather than one that defied the laws of physics. Experiments also showed that very young chicks understand that an object that moves out of sight still exists. It takes human babies two years to grasp the key concept that out of sight does not mean out of existence. Chicks also show basic empathy and can plan ahead and exhibit self-control until the time is right. For instance, birds quickly learnt that if they waited longer to start eating food, they would be allowed access to it for longer. Further evidence of hen intelligence comes from tests showing that at just two weeks’ old, they can navigate using the sun, something that requires the creatures to take account of the height and position of the sun during the day.

Even newborn ducklings, according to a study in Science journal, challenge our idea of what it means to be a birdbrain. Zoologists at the University of Oxford devised an experiment. 1-day-old ducklings were exposed to a pair of moving objects. The two objects were either the same or different in shape or colour. Then they exposed each duckling to two entirely new pairs of moving objects. The researchers found that about 70 percent of the ducklings they studied preferred to move toward the pair of objects that had the same shape or colour relationship as the first objects they saw. In other words, a duckling that was first shown two green spheres was more likely to move toward a pair of blue spheres than a mismatched pair of orange and violet spheres. Ducklings go through a rapid learning process, called imprinting, shortly after birth — it’s what allows them to identify and follow their mothers. These findings show that ducklings use abstract relationships between sensory inputs like colour, shape, sounds and smell to recognize their mothers – meaning that an animal baby can learn relationships between concepts without training.

When people want to direct the attention of others, they naturally do so by pointing their hands/fingers. Researchers, reporting in Current Biology, have shown that even baby elephants spontaneously, without any training, get the gist of human pointing and can use it as a cue for finding food. Elephants that were born or kept in captivity were the same as wild-born individuals when it came to following pointing gestures. Scientists say it is possible that elephants may do something akin to pointing as a means of communicating with each other, using their long trunk. Elephants do regularly make prominent trunk gestures and these motions may be "points."

Foals can get up and gallop in the first minute of life. Whale calves can instantly swim with their pod. Puppies understand social hierarchies within a few days of opening their eyes: “who’s moving up or down the social ladder, and who is sleeping with whom.”

What is animal intelligence? Life has taught me that the answers are irrelevant: it is the questions that are important. A new book called “Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?” by Frans de Waal argues that the mental powers of animals are far more complex than often generally assumed. Many scientists have been asking the wrong questions about animal intelligence, blaming the creature in the cage for poor test results when it’s the person in the lab coat who is flawed.

It’s a mistake to compare animal intelligence to that of humans instead of seeing it on its own terms, he writes. The Clark’s nutcracker, a bird, can remember exactly where it put many of the 20,000 pine nuts it buries each year — but people forget where they put their car keys all the time.

Young bees can solve complex mathematical problems which keep computers busy for days, researchers from the School of Biological Sciences, University of London have shown. The tiny insects are able to calculate the shortest possible route between flowers discovered in random order.

The classic puzzle involves finding the shortest route that allows a travelling salesman to call at all the locations he has to visit. Computers solve the problem by comparing the length of all possible routes and choosing the one that is shortest. Bees manage to reach the same solution. When researchers showed them a bunch of artificially controlled flowers, the foraging bees took one look at the place and were instantly able to figure out the shortest route between them After exploring the location of the flowers, bees quickly learned to fly the best route for saving time and energy.

The author says that chimpanzees might do better at cognition studies if somebody tickled them first, rather than scaring them by separating them from their parents. And the same applies to rats and fish. If you really wanted to know, signs of animal intelligence are all around you. When you eat and abuse an animal you are really eating someone as bright- if not brighter – than you. The only thing that makes the animal “stupider” is that it refuses to learn violence for violence’s sake – something that a human child is taught in its infancy by watching its parents be cruel to the rest of the world.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

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