Saturday, July 24, 2010

Viewpoints: Group's goal is for an egg-less America

Since HSUS's view is that a vegan diet is the only "humane" way to eat, this whole "cage-free" egg campaign is a sideshow. It's a temporary step toward the group's larger goal.

By David Martosko
Special to The Bee
Published: Saturday, Jul. 24, 2010 - 12:00 am | Page 11A

Everyone with a head on his shoulders believes in the humane treatment of animals. But egg farmers and American consumers will soon face a choice between what's actually humane and what some animal rights radicals claim is humane. It may seem like a hair-splitting exercise, but the wrong choice will send American egg farmers the way of the telegraph operator.

In 2008 California voters passed Proposition 2, which, among other things, required egg farmers to build facilities by 2015 that allow laying hens to have more freedom of movement. And a newly signed California law expands this requirement to the 49 other states by requiring that all eggs sold in California come from producers who abide by Proposition 2 standards.

Is this good? Is it bad? It's unclear, because nobody can agree on what Proposition 2 actually means.

Egg farmers have one way of looking at it. One farm in Modesto just spent $3.2 million installing "enriched cages" to give its hens more room.

But America's wealthiest animal rights group, the Humane Society of the United States – not to be confused with your local pet shelter – sees things differently. HSUS, the main financial backer of Proposition 2, believes all California egg farmers – and out-of-staters who sell eggs in the Golden State – now must eliminate their cages.

So who's right – the farmers or the animal rights activists? And which solution is better for the hens?


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