Saturday, March 10, 2007


One more thing I guess - this about Tyson Foods, who North Americans give most of their money to when buying chicken and other animal products.

This is from "What's for Dinner?" Canada and the World Backgrounder. Waterloo: Oct 2006.Vol.72, Iss. 2; pg. 26.

Chickens raised for their meat are killed within six to seven weeks of hatching. They are kept in tiny cages and are fed a diet of concentrated nutrients laced with antibiotics and other drugs. The animals fatten up so fast that sometimes their legs can't support them; some become crippled under their own weight and die within inches of water and food.

The biggest player in this business is Tyson Foods, which is also a huge beef and pork processing company. Based in Arkansas, Tyson has annual revenue of more than $26 billion, and it plays hardball with its workers.

  • In the fall of 2005, there was a bitter, and sometimes violent, strike at Lakeside Packers (owned by Tyson) in Brooks, Alberta. The company fought long and hard to keep the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union out of the plant that processes 40 percent of Canada's beef. Eventually, the UFCW won a first contract with the company. The Brooks experience is not unusual. Tyson Foods has a history of slashing the wages and benefits of its workers and opposing union attempts to organize its plants.

  • In 2003, Tyson was found guilty of pumping untreated wastewater from a poultry plant into a tributary that empties into the Lamine River in Missouri.

  • In 2001, the company was indicted for conspiracy to smuggle illegal aliens from Mexico and Central America to work in 15 of its U.S. poultry processing plants; three employees pled guilty and were fired.

  • Tyson has also been found guilty of discrimination against minorities in hiring, of serious safety and health violations, and of bribing government officials.

  • In 2000, Multinational Monitor named Tyson one of the "Ten Worst Corporations of 1999" citing seven worker deaths at its facilities in just seven months. Tyson also made the Corporate Crime Reporter's list of the ten worst corporations in 1999 in the U.S. In 2002 Tyson Foods earned a place on one of the Sierra Club's "Ten Least Wanted" lists.

  • Tyson makes annual profits in the range of $400 million, a fact noted by other corporations in the food business.

Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson writes in his 2003 book The Pig Who Sang to the Moon "The suffering of almost all farm animals is unique... beyond... our language to describe or explain. If we give it no thought, and yet eat them for our meals, are we not morally blind, ethically dumb, and humanly remiss?"

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