Congress Puts Public Health At Risk For Special Interest Groups
May 11, 2016
We could go through the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on horse slaughter, and the Office of Inspector General (OIG) report on the Slaughter Horse Transport Program (SHTP) point by point to refute or applaud their findings, but the bottom line is that US horses are classified as companion animals by the FDA so they are administered FDA labeled substances that are banned for use in food producing animals. For that reason, US horses should be disqualified for slaughter for human consumption. That's really the end of the story, there is no point in debating any of the ridiculous points made in favor of the US horse slaughter pipeline to continue allowing toxic horse meat into the food supply. Public health and food safety override any pro horse slaughter argument to be had.
It is our governments responsibility to protect consumers from toxins, which is why the FDA requires labels for equine medications to be marked clearly with "Do not use in horses intended for human consumption".
Despite the fact that our government is responsible for protecting our food supply, and that they are knowingly allowing US horses to poison the food supply, there are members of Congress who feel it is the burden of John Q Public, the American taxpayer, to provide a solution to over-breeders who are generating the horses for the US horse slaughter pipeline. Congress should be focusing on responsible ownership, not burdening the American taxpayer with the responsibility of disposing of horses, companion animals who have received substances banned by the FDA for livestock animals, for irresponsible owners. We don't allow Dow Chemical to dump their toxic waste into our water supply, so it is simple common sense that we wouldn't allow toxic horse meat into our food supply.
Most of us have the idea of responsibility backwards. It is not the responsibility of the American public to prove that horse meat is unsafe. The way public safety measures are supposed to work is that you don't have to prove things are unsafe because that necessarily means the public will be put at risk. Instead, you have to prove things are safe. We know horse meat is not safe because horses are not raised to the strict standards food animals are required to be held to. Horse meat is not tested to prove it is not toxic, so it is not safe in any way for human consumption. Using the blood supply for comparison, blood donors are screened carefully and their blood is tested. That is what is required to protect public health. Taking slaughtered US horses and putting them into the food supply would be like taking any homeless person off the street and putting their blood into the blood supply without testing it. You don't have to prove that would be a public health risk. It is common sense. Same for horse meat. It does not meet safety standards. It has the potential of transmitted hundreds of serious diseases and conditions, none of which are controlled for, or tested for. Everything is considered unsafe until it is proven by strict standards to be safe.
Even though our government is tasked with keeping the population safe from contaminated food, the fact remains that they are legally sending horses not raised as food producing animals to slaughter for human consumption. The GAO has provided their results of audits done back in 2010 with many recommendations due to the egregious violations to there own policies. There is something very wrong with this picture.
The "HORSE WELFARE Action Needed to Address Unintended Consequences from Cessation of Domestic Slaughter" GAO report, conducted in 2010 and issued in June of 2011 states that neglect and abuse rates arose when horse slaughter was banned in the US, however the report neglects to mention that we experienced the biggest recession since the great depression where millions of Americans, and horse owners, were unable to pay their mortgages or put food on their tables. There were many other factors that contributed to this rise, such as drought which led to increased hay prices and the infamous leak by Charles Stenholm that the report would be in the favor his lobbying efforts to bring horse slaughter back to the US, as noted in a report published by John Holland of Equine Welfare Alliance. Mr. Holland went on to debunk the entire report, but the damage was already done because the members of Congress who want to keep the US horse slaughter pipeline alive use it to this day to shield themselves from their constituents and the will of the people. It's very suspicious that the members of Congress who want to keep the US horse slaughter pipeline alive are the very same ones whose campaigns received generous donations from Agribusiness special interest groups who are known to be in favor of horse slaughter. Again, all of this nonsense is moot because it is the responsibility of our government to protect the food supply and the health of the American people by keeping toxic horse meat out of the food supply. The only way to ensure that toxic horse meat doesn't enter the food supply is to ban the slaughter of US horses for human consumption. It is worth noting that despite all of the inaccuracies in the GAO report that betrays the world population by allowing US horses to be processed into toxic horse meat for the global food supply, the report does suggest stopping the slaughter of US horses for human consumption.
Another report was issued by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) after conducting an audit of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Slaughter Horse Transport Program (SHTP) which was made public in September 2010, "Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Administration of the Horse Protection Program and the Slaughter Horse Transport Program" that reported egregious violations by the very same agency who developed the policies recorded in the Federal Register. APHIS is the governing agency of the SHTP, who falls under the governance of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Both agencies have failed miserably in executing this program, as detailed in the findings reported. Because this report also includes the audit results of the Horse Protection Program, which is a completely different subject matter, many of the recommendations were directed to those responsible for ensuring it's proper execution. However, the report does have several recommendations that will knock your socks off. It seems that APHIS allows kill buyers to conduct business on the honor system. Cough, cough. There is one man responsible for overseeing the border crossings for all 12 ports of exit for slaughter horses into Canada and Mexico, so instead of stopping the SHTP dead in it's tracks APHIS decided to hand deliver the green oval slaughter backtags directly to the kill buyers so that they may apply them to the horse themselves rather than a designated APHIS employee who has verified the condition of the horse and that the paperwork that accompanies the horse is in order. This alarming change in operating procedure, which is not legal, invites kill buyers to forge transportation and slaughter documents to an even greater degree than they would have otherwise. APHIS has gone rogue by allowing kill buyers to purchase horses at auction, some directly off the track or rodeo with unknown histories of medications, ship them to their kill pens to fatten them up, slap on the green oval slaughter tags to their hips, fill out some ridiculous paperwork that nobody verifies, transport them, many within just days of arriving, under the most horrific conditions with no food or water for up to 48 hours in cramped trailers alongside other horses that are freaking out, and cross the border into Canada or Mexico to a violent death. If ever there was reason to shut down the US horse slaughter pipeline other than food safety, this one takes the prize.
The fact that there is no policing or enforcement of the SHTP is reason enough to shut it down. But it gets better... on the rare occasion that a kill buyer is reported for a violation of the policies in which they operate under that are recorded in the Federal Register, they are able to conduct business as usual because there is no database in which to log and track violations. The kill buyers are laughing all the way to the bank, and all the way back to the auction to pick up more horses. And why wouldn't they? It's a classic case of the fox watching the hen house. Kill buyers are free to operate as they please, all at the American taxpayers expense. Yes, we pay the salary of the people who execute the SHTP, and the agency responsible for reporting these findings and recommendations, with no change in policy since the audit results were reported in 2010 and 2011.
Shame on Congress for not fixing this debacle. Shame on them for allowing toxic horse meat into the food supply. Shame on them for not representing We The People, 80% of whom have made it abundantly clear that we want to shut down the US horse slaughter pipeline. Shame on them for catering to the special interest groups like the American Quarter Horse Association, or AQHA, and the Cattleman's Association. Congress has proven to be an epic fail when it comes to all things related to the US horse slaughter pipeline. Of course the most notable failure being the public health risk of toxic horse meat in the food supply. US horses are not raised as food animals.
The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act S.1214/HR.1942 is a bill, currently stuck in committee, that prevents US horses from contaminating the food supply by making it illegal to slaughter US horses for human consumption. If your US Senators and Representative are not cosponsors, please call to respectfully ask them to cosponsor to keep your family safe from toxic horse meat.