As soon as autumn comes in the west and the leaves start falling, humans start preparing for winter. What do other animals, such as birds, insects and fish, do to prepare for the cold?  

The great migrations start. Thousands and thousands of creatures go to the places where their ancestors have always gone to sit out the winter and come back in warmer weather. But how do they know where to go? Migratory birds use a combination of methods to navigate like landmarks and seeing the position and light of the sun and stars. Now there is evidence that magnetic fields play an important role in navigation. 

Our senses: sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch, are meant to help us deal with the environment, keep us out of danger and find food and shelter. Other animals need different information about the world to survive. So they have our senses and more: echolocation, infrared vision, magnetic sense. Radar, compasses, and infrared detectors are all man-made contraptions that enable humans to stretch beyond our natural senses. Other animals have these inbuilt in their bodies. 

The flow of molten material in the earth's core and the flow of ions in the atmosphere generate a magnetic field that surrounds the earth. Amazingly, animals can sense this magnetic field. We need compasses to help us navigate by detecting the magnetic north. Chitons, honey bees, sharks, sea turtles, rays, homing pigeons, bats, dolphins, migratory birds, whales, bass, tuna, mosquitoes, butterflies, mollusks, trout, salmon, frogs, salamanders, termites, lobsters, mole rats, even some bacteria have an inbuilt magnetic sense that enables them to go long distances in the correct direction.  

Researchers have found that all these animals have deposits of magnetite in their nervous systems. Magnetite is a type of iron oxide with natural magnetic properties. In fact, it is the most magnetic naturally occurring mineral on Earth and was once used in compasses, under the name lodestone, by mariners from the twelfth century. Magnetite crystals, align themselves with magnetic fields and act like microscopic compass needles. What is magnetic information and how do animals use it to navigate? The liquid core of the Earth gives off a magnetic field. Energy goes from the Earth’s South Pole and reenters the Earth at the North Pole . Evidence suggests that animals can navigate by detecting the strength of the magnetic field and the angle at which the field meets the earth which is distinct for each spot on the globe. Scientists have suggested that as we have specialized cells to see and smell, animals have specialized nerve cells called “magnetoreceptors” , an internal compass that is hooked up to the body such that the “needle” of the compass moves with the changing magnetic field and triggers other cells that help the animal sense where to direct its movements. Studies from rainbow trout showed that brain areas that are sensitive to the magnetic field have nerve cells that contain magnetite. 

True navigation is when an animal returns to a place without using landmarks from the destination and the journey. Normal navigation for the human means relying on visual landmarks. If you’ve traveled the route many times, you may even be able to do it blindfolded by using non-visual landmarks, such as smell, sound, remembering distances and knowing when to turn. Studies have shown that in addition to using those types of landmarks, some animals use the earth’s magnetic field to navigate with an internal compass that enables them to sense direction. 

Migratory birds use magnetic clues to find their way south in fall and north in spring. This was demonstrated in 1966 by Wolfgang Wiltschko of the University of Frankfurt, Germany for the first time. He showed that even when migratory birds are caged, when the time comes for migration they faced the direction they want to migrate to, e.g., south in autumn. If the magnetic field is changed, so that magnetic south appeared in a different direction, birds assembled in this new direction. 

 At the age of 6 weeks, pigeons who have a lot of magnetite in their beaks adopt a home loft that remains permanent throughout their lives. Pigeons use different landmarks to return to the home loft, including sight and smell. But magnetic information seems to be the strongest guide. When scientists disrupted the magnetic field by glueing magnets to the back of their necks, pigeons could not find their way back to their lofts.  

Loggerhead sea turtles are born on the Florida beaches. After the turtles hatch, they crawl across the beach out into the ocean. Hatchlings swim along the east coast of the United States and then swim northeast with the Gulf Stream. They complete the circle within the Atlantic Ocean, and then they return to the same beach to nest. The return trip takes them across thousands of miles in the open ocean. Olive Ridley turtles are born on the coast of Orissa and Andhra and do the same in the Indian /Pacific oceans, coming back to the exactly the same place 30 years later to lay their eggs. Magnetic information becomes important once they are in the open sea. This has been studied in the laboratory by observing the swim direction of hatchlings in a small pool. When the magnetic field surrounding the swimming hatchlings is reversed, the hatchlings change their swim direction

Spiny lobsters live in caves, come out to forage for food and then return to the same cave. They also have an annual migration. Even when they have been placed miles away in a new place by experimenters, they have been found to return to their cave.

Certain types of bacteria have bodies of magnetite. There is no sensible reason unless the magnetic properties of this element were useful in some way. Biologists think that bacteria(e.g., Magnetospirillum magnetotacticum) may use these internal compasses to sense where 'down' is so that they can find food. 

 The bobolink has the longest migratory path, more than 7000 miles, of any songbird in the West. A study, conducted by Robert Beason of SUNY- Geneseo, validates that magnetite in the bird’s brain functions as part of the bird's compass. Beason took migrating bobolinks and treated them with a strong magnetic pulse which reversed the polarity of the magnetite in their bodies. Before the magnetic pulse, the birds hopped toward the southeast, which is their normal migratory direction in the fall. After the treatment, the birds changed direction and hopped northward. This is what would be expected if the compass sense relied on magnetite. 

In 1983, Baker, Mather and Kennaugh of the University of Manchester discovered "magnetic bones in human sinuses". A tiny, shiny crystal of magnetite in the ethmoid bone located between the eyes, just behind the nose. But studies show that humans have no capacity for direction finding by magneto-reception. However since magnetite absorbs microwave radiation and reacts to static and low-frequency fields , this means that fields from power lines, cellular telephones, computers and monitors could be affecting us right now. And the people who say that migratory birds are dying off because of the cell phone towers may well be right. 

Maneka Gandhi

I have 22 dogs in my house, all of whom have been rescued. But deep down inside, I am really a cat person. I would be happy if I could keep 22 or more cats as well. In the movie Pretty Woman, the last lines stick in my mind. Richard Gere says to Julia Roberts “What happens after the knight rescues the lady?” and she answers, “She rescues him right back.’ Cats are like that. They refuse to be passively thankful. They spend their time being independent with so much attitude that you have no idea who “owns” whom!

I have just finished reading Richard Webster’s “Is your Pet Psychic?” a collection of anecdotes. The chapter on cats describes their senses and agility. Did you know that the field of vision of each eye slightly overlaps the other, like binoculars, allowing them to hone in with incredible accuracy on their prey. That their hair also acts as a sensory organ, that their ears can move 180degrees to focus on the direction of the sound without turning their heads and they contain semicircular canals that provide them with an unerring sense of balance.

But the book is not about physical attributes but about the sixth sense of animals. The Egyptians who revered the cat called it Mau. This is not based on Meow but means “seer”- one with the ability to see what we cannot , including the future. There are hundreds of recorded instances where cats have raced out of houses frantically, hours, even days, before an earthquake . One second World War incident related by the Vicar of St Augustine’s Church in London is about his cat Faith and her kitten. They disappeared and was found in a small niche, three floors below ground level. Four times the Vicar carried them back to his room. They went back. Three days later, the place was bombed and burned to the ground. The cat and her kitten kept mewing till they were found safely tucked into the niche.Every family from that time has a story about cats who ran to bomb shelters long before the planes arrived. Hundreds of people who simply followed them were saved. 

The author has his own story: every year their parents rented a vacation home from a woman who would leave her cat with them for three weeks. Every year the cat disappeared as soon as the owner left and did not reappear till one hour before the woman was to return !In another instance, their cat Ting who had never been interested in the phone until the author’s sister, her carer, went to hospital. Whenever she would call from the hospital, the family knew it was her because , even before the phone rang , Ting had already reached the instrument. Leading in the research into the unexplained powers of animals including cats is the scientist Dr Rupert Sheldrake. One special power is their ability to know when their owners are calling on the phone before anyone has picked it up. "We found several times where cats anticipate telephone calls from their owners. They get excited if the phone rings and their owner is on the phone, but they ignore phone calls from anyone else, and this happens when their owners call from a great distance or at unpredictable times."  

Like dogs cats miraculously appear at the gate or doorstep the moment you arrive home from work, no matter what time it is and which car you arrive in. 

Repeated experiments were tried with a cat whose favourite food was cheese and who knew if cheese was in the fridge even if many other strong smelling food were put there. Her owner only need to think about cheese and he would jump up onto her lap. Instead of calling him she just thought about a great big piece of cheese and the cat would arrive.

Dr. Sheldrake's theory on how animals have these powers is Morphic Fields. "Morphic fields are involved in self-organizing systems which include cells, animals, and groups of organisms. When the owner and the pet form a bond there is a field that connects them," said Dr. Sheldrake. He says the fact that we see schools of fish or flocks of birds turning in the same direction simultaneously is evidence of these morphic fields. Dr. Sheldrake believes these fields connect living things, whether of the same species or different species, which have close connections to one another across distances, whether large or small. 

Jim Berkland is a geologist who has been working for the last 30 years in California predicting earthquakes. His work is chronicled in the book, The Man Who Predicts Earthquakes, by Cal Orey. One method he uses is observing the behavior of cats and dogs. Specifically, the number of lost cats listed in local newspapers. For thousands of years, people in China had been successfully predicting earthquakes based on the behavior of animals before quakes. Jim's first prediction involving cats occurred in 1980. "On Nov 7th in 1980 there were 14 missing cat ads, the most of the whole year. There are usually 3 or 4 missing cat ads". Based on that and other factors, Jim predicted a 7.4 earthquake in the next few days. Within days there was a 7.4 Earthquake in Eureka , California . Since then Berkland has successfully predicted over 25 earthquakes based on missing cat and dog ads. His most famous prediction came in 1989 when he predicted the famous "World Series" earthquake in San Francisco . Missing cat ads were a record 27. On October 17th, four days after he called the papers with his prediction, the most deadly earthquake since 1906 hit the San Francisco area. How are cats able to detect these earthquakes? Animals can detect the change in the earth's magnetic field. When they sense this and realize something will happen many cats and dogs flee. 

 Jeane Dixon, America’s most famous astrologer wrote a book called Do Cats have ESP , in 1998. She has described the findings of scientists at the parapsychology laboratory in Duke University which have repeatedly confirmed that cats have psychic abilities.

In the Middle Ages, the prescience of the cat was so widely recognised that people began to believe that they were witches. In 1484 Pope Innocent VII ordered millions of cats to be tortured and killed. On the other side of the world, Chinese Emperor Khai –hwang ordered anyone involved with cats to be banished to the ends of his empire. The leftovers of that is that superstition of black cats crossing your path – we still believe that the black cat knows what is going to befall you that day and is warning you !

What has saved cats has been their mortal enemies, rats. As the rats spread, cats and their practical witchcraft was needed again and they were brought back into society as working animals and from there they magicked their way back into people’s hearts and laps!

Maneka Gandhi

To join the animal welfare movement contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

India has given yet another order for military equipment to France, England and Russia. The cost of these weapons, which will probably never be used could have given us a road in every village and solar energy lighting in 6 lakh villages. It could give us food security by raising the prices for farmers. It could take care of the reasons that cause floods. But that is not as much fun as boys’ toys.

Are planes, guns, bombs and tanks the most effective weapons that humans have to wage war against each other? Apparently not. A nonfiction study called Six Legged Soldiers: Using Insects as Weapons of War by Jeffrey Lockwood shows how effective armies made of insects can be in times of war. Lockwood is an award-winning author and University of Wyoming professor. The book explores the history entomological warfare and bioterrorism.

Man has been weaponizing creatures for centuries. When we learned how to pacify bees with smoke, we used hives as projectiles. We turned the potent toxins of some insects into deadly agents. Now, having mastered genetics gives us the power to transform insects into entirely new carriers of diseases. I’ve often thought that if a genocidal genius thought of a way to transmit HIV through mosquitoes, we would all be dead in ten years.

For thousands of years clever generals have made insects their foot soldiers. There are three ways to wage entomological warfare. 

Using poisonous insects, such as bees, to directly attack the enemy. 
Infecting insects with a pathogen and dispersing them over the target areas. Any person or animal bitten by the insect gets infected. 
A direct insect attack against crops using pests like locusts, borers, beetles to destroy agriculture and the economy. 

Troops in the Middle Ages catapulted beehives and wasp nests into enemy strongholds. Roman historian Pliny the Elder records that, in the second century AD, inhabitants of the Middle Eastern fortress city of Hatra forced the Roman legions surrounding them to flee by dropping scorpions on them. In the 12th century, King Henry I of England ordered his men to launch 'nest bombs' into the middle of the Duke of Lorraine's army in Normandy. By the 14th century, some European armies had created a vast windmill-like device that propelled hives. Then came the machine that threw rotting human corpses of victims of insect-born diseases. 

In the 14th century, 75 million people died of flea-borne bubonic plague. The Black Death arrived in Europe after the invading Mongols under Emperor Janiberg catapulted flea-ridden corpses into the port of Kaffa on the Black Sea. People fled, carrying bacteria, rats and fleas throughout the Mediterranean. 

As recently as World War II Japan’s Unit 731 used plague-infected fleas and cholera-coated flies to kill nearly half-a-million Chinese. This was the greatest military success in the modern annals of biological warfare.

Yunnan Province had become a nuisance to the Japanese. This region fed China with the supplies and arms they needed to resist the Japanese. This route was an essential one for the Japanese leading from Burma into southern China On the 4th of May, 1942 Japanese bombers descended on the city of Baoshan and dropped a number of ceramic-shelled bombs.

The Yagi Bombs thrown by the Japanese did not explode. The casing simply burst open. Inside was a yellow waxy substance with live houseflies with a slimy coating of cholera bacteria which promptly dispersed into the city. Three more bombings happened on May 5th, 6th, and 8th. By June, cholera had spread into the Yunnan Province and the Chinese Army fled. The Japanese were free to divert thousands of soldiers to other fronts. Cholera killed 410,000 people, more than Hiroshima and Nagasaki. At the end of World War II, the General who organised this did not get prosecuted as a war criminal even though, before he left China, he released plague-carrying rats into the countryside. He was pardoned and invited as teacher to the US military. The US Government conducted research at their biological warfare laboratories at Fort Detrick in Maryland. During the Cold War, the US military planned a facility to produce yellow-fever-infected mosquitoes and produced an "Entomological Warfare Target Analysis" of vulnerable sites in the Soviet Union. In February 1952, during the Korean War, both China and North Korea accused the U.S. of bombarding their populations with insects infected with plague. In turn, the Vietcong wired boxes of scorpions to trip wires in tunnels during the Vietnam War at the end of the 1960s. 

During the war both Germany and France reared millions of Colorado potato beetles for use their enemies. During the 1940s, the British Government, using the laboratory at Porton Down near Salisbury, began to look into the possible uses of salmonella food poisoning, carried by flies. 

In 1989 the terrorists discovered the potential of insect warfare. A group calling itself 'Breeders' sent a letter to the mayor of Los Angeles claiming to have released the Mediterranean fruit fly in Los Angeles and Orange counties, and threatened to expand their attack to the San Joaquin Valley, an important center of Californian agriculture. They demanded that the state government issue a ban on pesticides failing which they would insure that California lost its fruit. The infestation was real – but it had the opposite effect, California doubled its pesticide spraying. 

If terrorists wanted to kill people in the US, they could employ the West Nile virus or its cousin, Rift Valley fever. Discovered in 1931, this viral disease is spread by mosquitoes. In 1997 200,000 Egyptians fell ill, of whom 2,000 lost their sight and 598 died of encephalitis. An outbreak of West Nile virus which began in New York City in 1999 spread to 47 states in North America, killing 654 people and leaving 7,000 ill. 

If they wanted to destroy forests the Asian longhorned beetle, and the emerald ash borer can destroy all of them. If enough orchards were destroyed entire economies would sink. According to Lockwood “For a terrorist group with patience, a slow-motion disaster in ecological time would be a perfect tactic against an enemy that thinks in terms of days or months, but would suffer across the generations. Anyone with a course in medical entomology could build a simple trap and conscript a bloodthirsty army Releasing Yellow fever laden mosquitoes in the swampier parts of the USA like the Gulf Coast. Consider that a person with $100 worth of supplies, a set of simple instructions, and a plane ticket from an afflicted African nation could introduce the disease to the United States with virtually no chance of being caught. “

One malaria, chikangunya, Japanese encephalitis or bubonic plague could bring India to her knees. Think about all the pandemics that have come out of nowhere: AIDs, H1N1 , Sars, dengue…

Could the weaponization of insects be the next chapter in modern conflicts? Insects are the most destructive weapons available. They are cheap, simple, easy to sneak across borders, reproduce quickly and can spread disease and destroy crops with devastating speed. It takes one cola can of infected fleas to kill a few hundred people with bubonic plague and cause a country to panic. One envelope of infected mosquito eggs dropped into the water of another country. Is any country prepared for an entomological attack? No.

Maneka Gandhi

To join the animal welfare movement contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

I cannot tell you how anguished I am by Diwali. It has been decades since it was a festival of diyas, rangolis, puja and good food. Now it is a festival of vulgar crystal gifts, noisy and polluting firecrackers, expensive alcohol based card parties and dying animals.
More than 40 animals came in last night to the shelter. All of them had been hit by firecrackers, some accidentally but most deliberately. One puppy had its mouth torn open by a rocket, several had been set on fire by phuljhadis. These are just the ones we got, think of the thousands that are still on the street dying in slow degrees. The big animals like cows die from burns. Smaller ones like dogs and cats die from hunger as they cower in sewers waiting for the bombs to stop.
But even Diwali seems wonderful compared to Bakr Id which is next week. Already the markets are crammed with goats , frisky proud skipping creatures, now totally dazed by being crammed into trucks and brought hundreds of miles into crowded bazaars. They will be dragged with jute ropes round their necks to various places, mostly illegal courtyards behind houses and there they will die. The young kids, barely a year old , who have been brought up by families and respond to names like Munni and Guddu will have their throats slit in front of the children of the house that they have played with. They will die of broken hearts long before the blood from their slit throats drips outs.
Even worse than all this are the long lines of camels that are pouring into the cities. From all over India , specially West Bengal , Karnataka ,Kerala and Andhra Pradesh , there are reports coming in of hundreds of camels that have come in and are standing bound together. Many people including me have repeatedly talked to the senior police officers in Kolkata – it has had no effect. The 150 camels standing near the Howrah station will be killed in Kolkata.
Killing camels is illegal. It is a fad that was started about seven years ago by the rich Muslims of Hyderabad. They have taken advantage of the fact that they control the politics of that city to break every animal law in India. The same problem exists in West Bengal where the politicians are so busy wooing minorities, that they ignore all the criminal activities that are turning India upside down.
Let me explain to you why killing camels is illegal in Bakr Id
a.It is called Bakr Id and not Unth – Id. This killing has official sanction in a way that Hindu sacrifices do not. But it is limited to goats and they can only be killed in designated places. You cannot kill any other animal. This is a Supreme court ruling when West Bengal’s people had started killing cows in large quantities on Bakr Id. Now , since cows have been forbidden , they have turned their attention to camels. Tomorrow , it may be bears and tigers. The point is that you cannot kill any animal you want for Bakr Id.
b. There are less than 4 lakh camels left in India. They are very slow to breed. According to official estimates they are reducing at the rate of 10 % per year – which means no camels in 10 years. The reason given is the killing at Bakr Id.
c. The camel sustains the economic health of Rajasthan and Gujarat. It is a draught animal and its absence will impede all rural movement. Roads cannot be built in many places in the desert. Its milk sustains rural desert communities which will be deprived of protein. Its dung is important for the spread of many desert species of trees.
d. It has been made illegal by the High Court of Kerala by the Honourable Justice K Balakrishna Nair. The case is an interesting one. Two camels were brought to Ernakulam in 2005 by a beef shop owner and his assistant, to kill and sell on Bakr Id. I was there at the time and the district administrator was an excellent one, a devout Muslim called Haneesh. The Tehsildar of Kayannur Taluka who also exercises the power of the Executive Magistrate prohibited the slaughter. The two butchers went to court saying that their right to livelihood had been affected and that killing camels was not banned by law. The administration filed a counteraffidavit saying that all animals that were to be sold for meat had to get a permit and that the butcher only had a permit for beef (cow’s meat) and not camel’s meat. The camels were not subjected to medical examination so the administration did not know whether their meat was fit for human consumption. The administration further argued that “Trade of occupation or keeping of goods which are injurious to the health of and comfort of the community can be prohibited and regulated by the competent authority and in exercise of that power and in good faith”. The Health Officer of the Local Health Authority of Cochin also submitted that there was no facility to kill camels in any slaughterhouse. And, as per the provisions of the Municipality Act and the Panchayat Act only the slaughtering of cattle, sheep, goat ad pig is allowed and that too with a valid licence only and in a licenced slaughterhouse. Therefore no licence could be given for slaughtering camels. Also, the meat of an animal had to be inspected after it was killed but no vet was competent to check it and nor were the slaughterhouses as the camel is not a notified animal. The Municipal act provides that the Secretary may grant special permission for slaughtering animals on the occasion of festivals but the camel is not on the list. 
The judge took all the arguments into consideration and issued a 13 page order saying that the licence to sell beef could not extend to the sale of camel’s meat. Therefore the butchers were ordered to surrender their camels and they were disallowed from slaughtering them. 
I want you to take this article and show it to the police and the courts if necessary as quickly as possible. None of them understand the harm that the killing of camels is doing to the economics of rural India and to the law and order situation.
The religion of the criminal does not matter: it is when his crime is ignored or condoned that all of society suffers. In Delhi, it is illegal to burst crackers after 10 O’clock but the bombs and crackers went on the whole night. The result has been that all of Delhi is polluted for the next six months and many people will die of respiratory diseases exacerbated by the law breakers of Diwali.
Please save the camels, wherever you are. 
Maneka Gandhi
To join the animal welfare movement contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

What do Egyptian mummies and Mc Donald’s Happy Meals have in common? Both refuse to decompose, judging by an experiment by New York artist Sally Davies who, in April 2010, bought a McDonald’s Happy Meal (MHM) and has since left it in her kitchen. Week after week she has taken and put pictures of the MHM on the net. Over six months later, the MHM has yet to even grow mouldy! ‘The only change that I can see,’ she records, ‘is that it has become hard as a rock, plastic to the touch and has an acrylic feel’.  

The media are startled at the results. Yet the health industry has known for years that junk food from fast food chains doesn’t decompose. Len Foley’s ‘Bionic Burger’ features a Big Mac bought in 1989 that has not decomposed over two decades. The buyer has a museum of undecomposed burgers in his basement. (http//…)

Joan Bruso, author of ‘Baby Bites-- Transforming a Picky Eater into a Healthy Eater’, has been blogging the life of a MHM that she bought a year ago, “My Happy Meal is one year old today and it looks pretty good. It NEVER smelled bad. It did NOT decompose. It did NOT get mouldy. This morning, I took its birthday photo". 

Nutritionist Karen Hanrahan still has a burger she bought in 1996.

Author Julia Havey shows her experiment on the Net: a naturally decomposed potato beside pristine looking McDonald’s French fries that are 4 years old!

The net is full of innumerable accounts and photos showing similar results Here’s a sampling: 

“My son and I tried the experiment for school. We held onto a quarter pounder for over a year and the meat part still looked pretty good! We still have unchanged McDonald’s fries in a jar in our kitchen.”  

“I ordered a cheeseburger, left it in the bag and put it in the closet. Two years later, it looks exactly the same as the day I bought it.”

“In Oct 2007 before taking my car to the dealer, I cleaned it thoroughly. Underneath the passenger seat was ¼ of a McDonald’s cheeseburger wrapped in the original paper. The burger piece was in perfect condition—no rot, no mould, no ‘melting’ and certainly no smell or I’d have noticed it earlier. The last time I ate at McDonald’s was in 2004.”

“I knew something was wrong when I was cleaning out my car and found McDonalds fries under the seat and they were still crisp!”

“Back in the 80s, a McDonald’s milkshake was left in the car when we went on an 8 day canoe trip. When we returned, it was still drinkable!”

“I actually have some 3 week old fries in my glove compartment right now from a McDonald’s in Germany! They look cold but still delicious.”

“A friend spent a couple of weeks crashing on our sofa. Two months later, we found a McDonald’s hamburger bun behind the sofa and it was still soft.”

“Having once spilled McDonalds fries in my old car and not discovering them for months, I can confirm they just dry out and do not get moldy at all.”

“We left a cheeseburger in a kitchen cabinet for 2.5 years to see what would happen and got the same result. Except for the bun being crusty, we saw no mould, no funky odours and the cheese still had that fresh-from-the-counter glisten to it.” 

Real foods spoil very quickly. Natural cut potatoes would be in advanced stages of decomposition in two weeks but inedible in only 2 to four days. Fruit and veggies begin decomposing in a week. Fresh bread lasts two days. Dairy, one day. 

So why doesn't fast food decompose? 

Partly because it contains so many chemicals that insects, rodents and even fungus and mould won’t consume it.  

Partly because McDonalds meat patties are loaded with sodium and salt is an excellent preservative. Most fast food burgers contain 20% ‘pink sludge’ which is the industrial term for meat treated with ammonia—the stuff we clean toilets with because it kills bacteria.  

Partly because the French fries are double fried. Being starchy, potatoes lose all their moisture and absorb all the oil. No moisture, no mould. Hydrogenated trans fats gives any food a long shelf life.  

Partly because many fast food companies irradiate their food to preserve it. Radiation kills all life and disrupts the molecular structure of food to delay its decomposition. 

But the real reason why not an insect, bacterium or fungus will touch a McDonald’s hamburger is because it’s not food at all! It’s a chemical concoction that looks, tastes and smells of food without any nutritional qualities. You do not prepare a McDonalds burger in a kitchen but a laboratory.

The reason why its buns ward off microscopic life for over 20 years, is to be found in their chemical ingredients and preservatives listed on McDonald’s own website: niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, calcium sulfate, calcium carbonate, ammonium sulphate, ammonium chloride, sodium stearoyl lactylate, datem, ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide, diglycerides, ethoxylated monoglycerides, monocalcium phosphate, calcium peroxide, calcium propionate, sodium propionate.  

Embalming fluid may be missing in a McDonald’s meat patty but you will find 1,1,1-trichloroethane, 1,2,4- trimethylbenzene, BCH, alpha Chloroform, chlorotoluene, chlorpyritos, DDE, p,p, DDT p,p dieldrin, diphenyl 2-wthylhexyl phosphate and ethyl benzene among a host of other chemicals. 

Chicken McNuggets contain tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) -- a petroleum based product also added to varnishes, lacquers, resins and oil field additives plus dimethylpolysiloxane, an anti-foaming agent used in Silly Putty. Before 2003, McNuggets contained even more toxic chemicals, which so shocked a judge that, terming them “a McFrankenstein creation of various elements not utilized by the home cook’, he ordered them removed. The two mentioned above, TBHQ and dimthylpolysiloxane still remain.

Home fries need nothing but potatoes and cooking oil. Here’s what McD’s fries contain: potatoes, canola oil , hydrogenated soybean oil, natural beef flavour, citric acid, preservative, salt, sodium acid pyrophosphate and dimethylpolysiloxane.

McD’s ‘cheeses’ have been invented to last indefinitely without refrigeration. Even the pickle slice contains the preservative sodium benzoate.

Stripped of flavour and nutrients, processed foods use chemical flavouring to add taste. They also use an addictive chemical that keeps you hooked. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is not only addictive but causes weight gain and a host of health problems from migraines to depression and aggression. 

There is only one species on earth that’s stupid enough to consider eating a hybridized, chemicalised, genetically altered, hormone and pesticide laden, mass produced hamburger that even fungi, which feeds on dog feces, won’t touch. Only one species that feeds its own children this poisonous rubbish. Little wonder it is suffering from skyrocketing rates of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, autism, dementia and obesity. If you are in any doubt as to what fast food franchises like McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut and KFC can do to you, watch the documentary ‘Super Size Me’. 

On the positive side, at least we know now what to stock up with in case of a nuclear war. Also film stars might consider injecting liquidized McD into their faces to halt the ageing process. 

If it’s real food you’re after, stay away from stuff that doesn’t decompose. If food doesn’t break down naturally, how will it decompose in the stomach? And if it doesn’t decompose, what nutrients can it impart?

Forget the McDonald’s or any other Fast Food chain burger. Eat the box instead, it’s probably healthier and biodegrades faster.

Maneka Gandhi

To join the animal welfare movement contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.