Wesleyan Student Assembly Battery Eggs Resolution
Passed on April 27th, 2003

RECOGNIZING that the Wesleyan Student Assembly shall be the first American university student association to take a stand against battery cages and factory egg farming, allowing the University to stand out as an institution that recognizes progressive decisions regarding our purchasing power;

RECOGNIZING that one's decision to buy factory farmed battery eggs bears significant negative consequences for oneself, other humans, the environment and farmed animals;

WHEREAS, factory egg farms routinely exploit their workers; these workers are primarily immigrants; in Connecticut, Kofkoff Egg Farms, which controls 90 percent of the stateís egg market, was ordered by a court to pay 34 employees over $80,000 in back wages; last year Kofkoff opposed a labor law that would have given agricultural workers more bargaining rights, as well as set up a seven-member committee to hear about labor disputes in the agricultural industry; KofKoff asserted such a law would make them less competitive in the market; furthermore, Maine's DeCoster / Quality Egg of New England, the second largest egg farm in New England has paid $2,224,625 in fines for numerous worker health and safety violations, as well as wage and hour violations;

WHEREAS, factory egg farm workers are additionally exposed to many work-related hazards; according to an article in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, "Industrial hygiene surveys in the chicken processing industry have demonstrated that poultry confinement workers are exposed to high concentrations of respiratory toxicants"; excretory ammonia fumes from the nitrogen in decomposing droppings damages the systems of both humans and birds; workers at the slaughterhouses where "spent" hens are taken frequently develop repetitive strain injuries;

WHEREAS, factory egg farming has a detrimental effect on the environment; the production of meat, dairy products, and eggs accounts for one-third of the total amount of raw materials used for all purposes in the United States; the large amount of solid waste produced by factory farms is harmful to local ecosystems, as is the release of ammonia gas; animal agriculture is the greatest producer of sewage wastes in the United States; additionally, according to a poultry researcher, "The amount of animal wastes produced in the U.S. is staggering...   A one million hen complex, for example, produces 125 tons of wet manure a day"; factory egg farming is a waste of agricultural resources, as only 23 percent of feed protein is converted to animal protein in eggs; according to Earthsave International it takes 63 gallons of water to produce one egg; factory egg farming pollutes local waterways with waste spills and ammonia run-off;

WHEREAS, battery eggs expose consumers to greater levels of Salmonella; experiments have shown that forced-molting "significantly depressed the cellular immune responses [of the hens] and increased the severity of a concurrent intestinal Salmonella enteritidis infection"; every year more than 650,000 Americans are sickened from eating Salmonella-tainted eggs, 600 of them die; Salmonella poisoning has especially been a problem in New England according to the Center for Disease Control; 

WHEREAS, antibiotics are given to battery hens to control the bacterial diseases that thrive in crowded confinement, and to manipulate egg production; in the United States nearly 100 percent of laying hens are given antibiotics; according to Newsweek: "for sheer over-prescription, no doctor can touch the American Farmer.  Farm animals receive 30 times more antibiotics than people do"; according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, as much as 70 percent of all antibiotics produced in the United States are fed to healthy livestock for "growth promotion";

WHEREAS, not only does overuse reduce antibiotics' effectiveness in animals, it also poses a real danger to humans; according to a New York Times article, Cipro is in danger of becoming a casualty of what might be called the "post-antibiotic age"; Bayer, the maker of Cipro, also sells a chemically similar drug called Baytril, which is used in large-scale poultry production worldwide; the widespread use of Baytril in chickens has already been shown to decrease Cipro's effectiveness in humans for some types of infections; 

WHEREAS, the overuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture has also caused the evolution of "super-Salmonella" and other toxic bacteria that resist antibiotic treatment in chickens, humans and other animals; according to Newsweek, "resistant strains emerge [in chickens] just as they do in humans taking antibiotics";

WHEREAS, Avian influenza has killed multiple people in Hong Kong and Europe as recently as April 19, 2003; this is a different strain of the same disease that 4.7 million hens in Connecticut are currently under quarantine for; "The World Health Organisation said it was conceivable that [avian influenza] could turn into a human epidemic, just as an animal disease is believed to be the possible origin of the deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) sweeping the globe" (source: aol.com);

WHEREAS, the American egg industry is increasingly being controlled by large agribusiness corporations which tend to drive smaller sustainable farms out of business; because of the demands of expensive equipment, only large companies can afford to enter the business and to expand production, and when they do, smaller operators are gradually squeezed out; between 1979 and 1988, nearly three-fourths of America's independent egg farmers were forced out of business; at the same time, the number of the very largest operators doubled, and these trends have continued to today; 

WHEREAS, the growth of big agribusiness is relevant in Connecticut, where KofKoff Egg Farm now controls 90 percent of the state's egg market while small commercial farms have, according to the president of the Connecticut Poultry Board, "gone out of business"; the egg industry is among the top agriculture businesses in Connecticut, with annual receipts of between $60 million and $100 million;

WHEREAS, the American government has been complicit in encouraging the growth of agribusiness and the destruction of the independent family farm; government tax policy has subsidized the factory approach to animal farming; in many states portable confinement units are not considered buildings and/or real estate and are not subject to real property taxes; such practices have mechanized the industry rather than employing human labor in production;

WHEREAS, agribusiness corporations and national promotional firms such as the American Egg Board deceive consumers with the goal of limiting their ability to make educated consumer choices; for example, commercial poultry operations use feed additives containing xanthophylls, zeaxanthis, marigold petals and related extracts, and carotenic acid to enhance the yellow color of diluted factory egg yolks;

WHEREAS, battery hens live in highly-automated, windowless sheds containing up to 100,000 hens each; they are cramped in long rows of stacked "battery cages"; up to 10 hens may inhabit an area of 2.33 ft sq; they have a wingspan of 30-32 inches; battery cages have wire mesh floors; sometimes a henís feet grow around the bars, rendering her immobile and unable to feed; battery cages have wire walls in which hens often get their heads stuck, leading to a slow death by starvation; according to Dr. Lesley J. Rogers, in The Development of Brain and Behavior in the Chicken, "In no way can these living conditions meet the demands of a complex nervous system designed to form a multitude of memories and make complex decisions";

WHEREAS, all male "laying" chicks are killed, usually by suffocation, as they are of no use to the egg industry; battery hens are housed in flocks up to 1,000 times their natural size, battery hens are unable to establish a social hierarchy normal to free flocks; they are deprived of the basic natural behaviors of perching, dust-bathing, and nesting quietly; they thus become aggressive and attack other hens;

WHEREAS, battery hens suffer from feather-loss, blisters, tumors, foot and leg deformities, osteoporosis, Fatty Liver Syndrome, Swollen Head Syndrome, heat stress, mash, mold toxins, mouth ulcers and many other diseases; battery hens have no access to veterinary care;

WHEREAS, battery hens have up to two-thirds of their beaks sheared off; a poultry researcher at the University of Guelph in Ontario explained, "there is now good morphological, neurological, and behavioral evidence that beak trimming leads to both acute and chronic pain"; sometimes the irregular growth of beaks on de-beaked birds makes it difficult or impossible to drink; 

WHEREAS, battery hens are force-molted, starved for 5-18 days to shock their bodies into another laying cycle, a practice banned in Great Britain since 1987;

WHEREAS, life is so strenuous in the cages that 25 percent of the hens die or are "culled" during an average eighteen-month laying cycle; under natural conditions chickens can live as long as fifteen to twenty years; in the modern egg factory, however, hens last only about a year and a half;

WHEREAS, those hens who do not die in the battery shed are sent to slaughter when they are deemed "spent"; both transport and slaughter of laying hens is unregulated by the USDA; hens suffer during transport through extreme weather conditions; hens are not electrically stunned prior to slaughtering as Dr. Karen Davis explains, "It is claimed that electrical stunning would incur a financial cost through carcass damage and rejection because of easily fractured bones.  Others have pointed out that while it is true that electrical stunning of hens causes broken bones (on average two per bird), during the remainder of the processing they acquire an additional four broken bones per bird reflecting rough handling, inhumane housing, and the processing technology itself"; 

WHEREAS, the study "Effect of Density on Caged Layers," from New York Food and Life Sciences, showed that a higher degree of crowding in cages, even though it pushed up mortality, produced better profits if the price of eggs was above a given point; according to industry magazine, Feedstuff, "At higher egg process, crowding always results in greater profits"; the studies above illustrate, individual animals' well-being and individual productivity can suffer as long as more eggs can be produced by a factory farm;

ACKNOWLEDGING the efforts of other countries in recognizing the welfare of hens and voting to phase out battery cages and accompanying practices; that the European Union has passed laws declaring that no new battery cages may be installed after 2003 and that by 2013, all hens must have at least 750 sq. cm of floor space, a perch, a nest and litter provided; that many EU nations have even gone above and beyond the law by setting even stricter standards: Germany has stepped up its national deadline to 2007, while all of Switzerland's laying hens have been provided with nests and perches under law since 1992; that the United States has no federal welfare laws regulating and enforcing the care and treatment of laying hens;

ACKNOWLEDGING the efforts of corporations such as McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendyís in recognizing the welfare of hens and the lack of national welfare laws by adopting their own guidelines which include banning force-molting and restricting debeaking; that the McDonald's Corporation announced on 22 August 2000 that the producers that supply the company with 1.5 billion eggs each year will have to provide 50 percent more space for each caged hen, and will be prohibited from using the practice of force-molting, and restricted in the practice of debeaking; furthermore, Burger King has agreed to all the same standards as McDonald's, and in addition has given 3 square inches more to laying hens and has required that the birds be able to stand fully upright; that Burger King has also agreed to petition the USDA to enforce the Humane Slaughter Act, to begin implementing its standards in Canada and to adopt them internationally, and to issue an annual report detailing progress on farmed animal welfare issues; that Wendy's  has adopted similar welfare regulations for its egg suppliers'

ACKNOWLEDGING the Wesleyan Student Assembly's continued concern for the environment by supporting resolution on Fair Trade Coffee and most recently supporting a resolution for allocating $60,000 for Green Energy on campus;

ACKNOWLEDGING the Wesleyan Student Assembly's concern for workers' rights by supporting the Justice for Janitors campaign, by supporting Wesleyan's joining of the Workers' Rights Consortium, which will phase out clothing produced by sweatshop labor from Atticus, and by supporting Fair Trade Coffee on campus;

WHEREAS, given these precedents, Wesleyan students support socially responsible purchasing habits, and the institutional decision not to support battery cages is an extension of this belief;

BE IT RESOLVED that the Wesleyan Student Assembly supports the replacement of all eggs produced from hens confined in cages from Weshop;

BE IT RESOLVED that the Wesleyan Student Assembly supports the replacement of all eggs produced from hens that were debeaked or force-molted from Weshop;

BE IT RESOLVED that the Wesleyan Student Assembly supports the exclusive sale of certified organic, free-range eggs in Weshop;

BE IT RESOLVED that the Wesleyan Student Assembly supports the replacement of products containing eggs wherever eggs are not essential ingredients, such as replacing egg noodles with non-egg noodles or using egg replacers in baked goods until Aramark is able to utilize free-range eggs;

BE IT RESOLVED that the Wesleyan Student Assembly recognizes animal well-being as a legitimate factor in decision-making at an institutional level.

BE IT RESOLVED that the Wesleyan Student Assembly encourages increased cooperation with small, local, certified organic, free-range farmers in an effort to provide students with the most sustainable products and to help support local farmers.
 

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