20May2019

Andaman Chronicle

The Daily Diary of the Islands

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Actual Science of Whom an Egg Eater Kills

By Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

I came across a blog by an Indian software engineer, who claimed that he had not eaten eggs because he was a Hindu vegetarian but, since he was curious about “actual facts”, he did some research and has come to the conclusion that eating eggs is ok, because no chicks are killed in the process and that, since eggs are not animal flesh, they were vegetarian. This was his reasoning to start eating eggs and yet be called vegetarian. “Laying eggs to a chicken is similar to the menstrual cycle for a women. This means that hens do not need to be pregnant to lay eggs. Every chicken lays a certain number of eggs each week and peaks for the first 2-3 years after which it slowly drops off but still continues until 5 years which is its life expectancy.” He ended by saying that he demanded science over religion. Unfortunately every word he wrote was rubbish.

So, here is the actual science of whom an egg eater kills every time he eats an omelet :

The eggs we eat come from hens in giant industrial hatcheries. But when fertile eggs hatch to produce these hens, 50% are male—and the egg business has no use for male chicks.

Layer hens and their chicks are different to chickens that are bred and raised for meat production. Layer hens are bred to produce eggs, whereas meat chickens are bred to grow large breast muscle and legs.

At the layer-hen hatcheries, supplying the egg industry with layer hens, the eggs are developed in industrial incubators. Once hatched, the newborn chicks pass down a production line to be sexed and sorted. Small or weak female chicks, and all male chicks, are separated from the healthy female chicks and then killed.

Male chicks are an unwanted byproduct: they cannot lay eggs and they are not suitable for chicken-meat production, as they don’t grow fast enough (broilers or chickens grown for meat are killed in six weeks). 7 billion male chicks are killed annually. They are mashed and fed to the female chicks, or used as feed for other animals.

A chick is put on a conveyor belt as soon as it is born. It is picked up manually and a “ chicken sexer” ( this is actually a human’s job !) squeezes this little baby’s anus ( anal vent also called cloaca) so that its faeces comes out and he can see whether the chick has a small bump inside. If so, this is a male chick and it is put aside to be killed. (By the way, the salary for a chicken sexer in England is Pound 40,000 but hardly anyone applies. 'What does papa do?' He looks at baby chick anuses the whole day). The average life of a male chick, in the egg industry, is one day.

The forms of killing are:

1.    The chicks are thrown into gas chambers and then gassed with high concentrations of carbon dioxide. Gassing results in gasping and head shaking and, depending on the mixture of gases used, it may take up to two minutes for the chick to die. Remember how the world objected to Hitler doing that with people. He probably learnt it from the poultry industry.

2.    Being thrown, fully conscious, into macerating (high speed grinding ) machines. “Mechanical destruction” is an approved method of “culling chicks and ducklings”.

3.    In smaller poultries the chicks simply have their necks broken. The sexers check the anus and then twist the baby’s neck and throw it into a heap of dead bodies. The industry calls it “ cervical dislocation”. This is recommended by the American Veterinary Association, God bless them. So is “thoracic compression”, which means that the man squeezes the chest till the heart stops.

4.    Electrocution. The chicken is thrown into water through which a current passes and it writhes till it dies. At the end of the day the current is switched off and the dead bodies taken out. If it is a large poultry a high-speed vacuum sucks chicks through a series of pipes to an electrified kill plate.

5.    Another common way is to throw the live chicks into plastic bags and, when it is full, seal them so that the chicks slowly suffocate. This is usually done to pipped eggs. A pipped egg, or pip, is one where the chick has not been successful in fully escaping the egg shell during the hatching process, but is alive inside it and no one in the egg factory is bothered to help it out (after all its only a chick and time is short).

All these methods are legal internationally. According to the British Egg Industry (BEIS) spokesman “The practice of culling male chicks has been in place as long as the industry has been there anywhere in the world”.

In 2016 the United Egg Producers, which represents the egg industry in the United States, announced that it was committing itself to new technology that would stop the killing by 2020. This was after intense pressure from animal welfare organizations in the US and Europe. In 2015, a video went viral of an Israeli animal rights activist shutting down a chick shredding machine and challenging a police officer to turn it back on. Farm Forward challenged Unilever, which buys 350 million eggs annually, with a video of chicks being rolled on industrial conveyor belts and dropped down garbage disposals. More than a million people saw it. No US company did anything for four years.

However, a new technology could put an end to the annual live-shredding of billions of male chicks worldwide – by not letting them be born. German and Dutch scientists have found a way to detect male eggs.

Some years ago scientists at the University of Leipzig discovered that female eggs contain a hormone, called estrone sulfate, which appears when the egg is just 9 days old (it takes 21 days to hatch ) and developed a chemical marker like a pregnancy test.

Dutch technology company Hatch Tech has made an automated machine to conduct this test in egg hatcheries which is easy to use, scalable, precise, hygienic and, above all, fast – the eggs can’t be out of the incubator for more than two hours.

A laser beam burns a 0.3mm-wide hole in the shell. Then, air pressure is applied to the shell exterior, pushing a drop of fluid out of the hole which is tested for the hormone. The process takes one second per egg. The patented process is called Seleggt. The 9 day old male eggs are processed into animal feed, leaving only female chicks to hatch.

In November 2018 a Berlin supermarket starting selling these eggs. These No Kill eggs are called Respeggt and they will go on sale all over Germany in 2019 and Europe by 2020. By determining the chick’s sex long before it hatches, producers can make sure that almost every single chick that’s born is female. The goal is 100% female chicks,

The project was funded by the government of Germany – unlike the Indian government, whose poultry scientists' main achievement, in CARI Bareilly, has been proving that eggs that are boiled in salt absorb it, so people don’t have to buy more salt !

As we stand now in India, every egg eater eats the bodies of male chicks. Don’t be fooled by labels like “Humane” - it is impossible to buy eggs that haven’t been part of a male-chick killing process. “Cage-free” only means the chickens are not in cages. But they are crowded into windowless sheds, with thousands of birds on the floor and little room to move. Male chicks are still killed. “Free range” means the same. Even the term “certified organic” only guarantees that animals are raised without hormones and antibiotics.

And, male chicks aren’t the only victims of the egg production process: hens are typically slaughtered in a year when their egg laying rates start to decline, even though their normal lifespan is 15 years.

They have their beaks cut to ensure they do not peck at each other. They live on a diet of cardboard, corn, hormones and the crushed bodies of their own brothers. 50 billion chickens are killed annually. Everyone who eats an egg has taken part in the killing. There are so many films on You Tube. You should see them if you are an egg eater. 

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

  • Written by Denis Giles
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Gelatine Companies in India Have No Excuse

By Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

New things are happening on the food front that are exciting and potentially earth saving. From clean meat, which is real meat made by multiplying cells instead of using animals – which will remove the millions of animals that are grown and tortured for food – to milk that is made in the same way. One company has started making real yolks without chickens.

And now comes gelatine.

For the last five years I have been trying to get the Government to make a law, asking for all medicine capsules to be vegetarian. Millions of people, like me, can’t eat medicines because the capsule is made of ground animal bone from cows and pigs. The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) made a number of committees. Presentations were made, issues discussed and, finally, he agreed that capsules should be vegetarian. Then the gelatine industry started feeding the press, and their lobbyists got into the act,…it would make them expensive, vegetarian alternatives were not available, all not true.  Then the political order came that this was not to be done as it would have “political repercussions close to the elections” – meaning that some politician’s friend was in the gelatine industry. So, we are back to where we started after five years, and I am really sad.

Gelatine is a flavourless, colourless, gelling and thickening agent made by throwing animal skin, bones and connective tissues into an acid, or alkaline, bath and dissolving them.

The animal parts, used commercially, are pig skin, cow hide, cattle bones, fish skin.

Gelatine dissolves in hot water and gels when it cools, and creates a texture and bite in confectionary such as sweets, marshmallows, desserts, cakes and jellies. It is used to simulate the “mouthfeel of fat” in low fat foods and to create volume in foods ranging from ice cream, all Chinese food, soups, cream cheese, gummy bears, wine, beer, apple juice and vinegar , pill capsules, frosted cereals, yogurts, dips and even some frozen vegetables. It’s what gives them their chewy, rubbery strength.

Food & beverage is the biggest market for gelatine, followed by nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, photography, and cosmetics such as face creams,  shampoos, hair sprays, soaps and nail polishes.

There are vegan alternatives to gelatine : agar agar, pectin, starches, gums. But companies using gelatine say that they do not have the same chemical and mechanical properties. They are also slightly more expensive.

But, now a company, Gelzen, has been founded in 2015 to produce animal-free gelatine, for use in food, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic products, in a new way. Gelzen co-founders are  molecular biologist Nick Ouzounov, Phd, and Alex Lorestani, Phd, who studied medicine at Rutgers, and bacterial pathogenesis. While studying at Princeton they asked themselves the question: Why has the consumer goods industry still not benefited from synthetic biology to the extent that medicine has? We no longer have to slaughter a pig and take its pancreas to get insulin, so why should we do it for gelatine and collagen?

Geltor (previously known as Gelzen) is a California based company that seeks to disrupt the gelatine market by providing the same gelatine – except that it is animal free. It creates designer vegan collagen for the best skincare products, and in 2018 it won the CEW  Beauty Innovation Award. CEW is Cosmetic Executive Women - 8,600+ beauty industry professionals who know the best cosmetics in the market.

The San Francisco-based company seeks to supply the overwhelming demand for gelatine. By taking the machinery that builds collagen in animals and moving it into microbes, Gelzen can make a customizable, cost-competitive, safe, animal-free and environmentally friendly product. Gelzen explains the simple logic behind the cruelty-free gelatine on its website: “Scavenging essential products from animals presents urgent economic problems, environmental problems, public health problems, and, for many, moral problems.” Gelzen has been heavily invested in by food and tech investors.

Most people don’t know they are munching on a sweet containing fish or pigskin. But, if they did, I am sure they would not buy the product – even if they are meat eaters. It’s not just religious (halal/kosher/cow/pig issues) but also about animal diseases. The vegetarian/vegan market is growing and there is a significant demand for a vegan alternative that can precisely replicate the unique qualities of gelatine. The current market for gelatine has been estimated at 3 billion dollars (current price is about $8 dollars per kg),so there is great potential for a cost effective alternative. People are already paying four to five times this amount for gelatine substitutes.

What Geltor has done is, it has taken microbes and genetically engineered them to produce collagen from which gelatine is derived via a fermentation process, without using or harming animals. Gelzen’s scientists program bacteria and yeast with the same genetic information as in animal tissue that produces gelatine. They then use these biological strains to ferment gelatine.

According to Lorestani: “We start with a suite of microbes that naturally produce proteins but we give them a set of instructions for making collagen [from which gelatine derives] in the form of genes. We are basically programming them to build collagen for us. The process can also be customized so we can make gelatin with a specific stiffness or beer clarifying agents with a particular property.”

Geltor’s animal-free collagen (N-Collage™) launched in April 2018. Their aim is to have significant commercial quantities available by 2020, but they have already started selling.

The use of animals as edible proteins is now fast becoming archaic. Once all these companies, with alternative production systems, come on the market, people will wonder twenty years from now why they ever ate meat and got all their diseases. Why they let millions of acres of land be devastated for animal grazing, why they let 70% of the water be used for animals, why they allowed greenhouse gases to be emitted by animals.

For the 400 million vegetarians and vegans in the world the suspect presence of gelatine in foods often means going without pudding, or having to read endless number of labels. It also means that many companies lose customers. Now, with Gelzen in the field with safe, sustainable, and no animal cruelty in its real gelatine, the gelatine companies in India have no excuse at all.

If you want to be a distributor here are the contacts:

Contact Email : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Phone Number : 415-325-3560 

San Leandro, California, United States

  • Written by Denis Giles
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Do you still think you are superior?

By Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Read this and thank God that you are still the boss of the planet. The day ants grow in size, the dominance of the human race is gone:

* Do ants stand for election? Yes, and the months long process is almost as brutal as the Indian elections, according to research published in the ‘The American Naturalist’.

When an Indian Jumping Ant colony’s queen dies, the workers, alerted by the absence of her familiar scent, gather at the centre of the colony and form a circle around the larvae and pupae.

One ant starts beating another ant’s head with its antennae and immediately most of the ants in the colony are in fencing duels, which escalate to slaps and then head biting, and “police” ultimately intervene and restore order.

The ants beat each other to see who gets to lay eggs and who doesn’t. Every Indian jumping ant worker can lay eggs, but only if they win. After weeks of conflict – no one dies but lots of minor injuries - 10 to 15 top candidates emerge and they transform into Gamergates. Their heads shrink, their abdomens fill with ovaries and their life spans grow from six months to five years. The group shares egg-laying power and shared dominance.

Each ant goes from tournament to tournament establishing its power. During a tournament whoever locks their jaws around the head of another ant wins. The winner gets a boost of a hormone, called dopamine, and this helps it in its next tournament. Dopamine starts activating their reproductive system, while the losers’ reproductive capabilities shut down.

As more ants lose and drop out of the race, gangs of five ants, not taking part but rooting for a particular candidate, will start policing ants that refuse to give up. They will corral the ants for two days and refuse to let them move/take part till the hormone subsides . In effect these “goondas” are choosing the leaders by forcing ants out of the race.

Three political results emerge: when ants fought evenly with each other and fair tournaments were held, the result was more democratic : a  bureaucratic structure with a CEO at the top and power filtering by rank down to the last ant. When the duelling and head biting took place then a multi leader shared dominant structure came out. But when the goondas or gangs stepped in a despotic hierarchy emerged — a single ant on top, with all other ants sharing the same rank.

* According to the Institute of Science and Technology, Austria’s paper published in Current Biology, when ants move into a new nest they spend the first days cleaning it thoroughly, like humans moving into a new home. Lasius neglectus ants  spray their nests with formic acid  ensuring that the nest is clean for first-time occupancy. The adult ants  are protected from the poison by a thick skin and eggs by a protective "shell", the  pupae are first covered in a silk cocoon so that they are protected as well till the acid settles down after killing pathogns, just as humans use gloves when they use harmful cleaning products.

*  According to a study published in the journal Royal Society Open Science when fire ants are flooded, or need to find land, they band together to form a  bell shaped structure, similar to that of the Eiffel tower.

An individual ant is capable of supporting as many as three other ants, to which it connects using sticky pads on its feet. By continuously scrambling over each other, the ants are able to eventually build a solid base, building on each other from the bottom up. Making tall structures allows them to hunt for empty spaces in which they can create new homes.

In water, fire ants form a dough-like ball by grabbing onto each other with their sticky legs. By staying perpendicular to each other the ants distribute their weight evenly, creating a raft that floats even when fully submerged in water.

* Researchers from the University of Freiburg have discovered how desert ants find their way in a featureless environment. They count precisely. When they set out in search of food in the flat, bare, environment, they are always able to find their way back to their nest on the shortest route possible. The ants measure the distance they have gone by recording how many steps they have taken -- and they use the sun for directional orientation, taking time into account via their own internal clock.

1.   Summary:

* The ant's acute sense of smell has allowed them to create the most complicated social organization on earth, next to humans. The waxy layer, that covers their bodies, is the source of the complex aromas that ants use to communicate. These smells act like uniforms, identifying individual ants by caste, colony and species, regulating their behaviour to make sophisticated and disciplined social systems. Ants see their world through their nose, their antennae. "Ants are unique in the insect world because they have more than 400 odorant receptors compared to 60 to 80 in other insects like fruit flies and mosquitoes. Ground-based communication is very important for them. For instance, ants emit alarm smells from a gland in their mouth if something disturbs their nest. It is a cue for ants to grab their larvae and run to safety. Defenders of the nest start running around with their mandibles open ready to bite. Bright orange citronella ants make a strong citrus smell when alarmed, and Pheidole ants stink of faeces.

* According to the journal Current Biology, carpenter ants who feed from  plants  construct defensive shelters around the base of these plants, to guard against other insects and protect their food supply. Ants that live in hot, dry habitats survive long periods of drought by storing food. Their specialized seed-harvesters collect huge stockpiles underground. Honey pot ants use their own bodies as storage containers.

*  A colony of ants employs queens, gardeners, cleaners, foragers, nurses and soldiers, and each have developed specialized tools and skills to get their respective jobs done. Within each species, division of labour varies, depending on an individual's age and sex. Ants looking after the brood, and working inside the nest, tend to be younger, while those defending the nest and foraging outside are older.

* Ants also teach in formal schools, with teachers and pupils, according to a study in the journal Nature. Older ants teach younger ants how to find food, using a poking and prodding technique called tandem running. When female worker ants of the species Temnothoraxalbipennis set out for food, they take another ant to make the journey with. If the second ant doesn't know where to find food, the leader teaches her through tandem running. The process is slow. The follower pauses every once in a while—creating a gap between it and the leader—to search for landmarks. When she is ready to continue, the follower catches up and taps the leader on the hind legs. If the gap between them gets too large, the leader slows down and the follower speeds up. The opposite occurs if the gap becomes too small. This is the first non-human example of bi-directional feedback teaching—where both the teacher and pupil modify their behaviour to provide guidance at a rate suitable for the pupil's abilities. In time, the followers learn the path  and become teachers .

* Fungus-gardening Attine ants cultivate fields of fungus to feed the colony. But have the same problems as human farmers—crop-eating pests in the form of parasitic microfungi. A study in the journal Science shows that these ants use antibiotic-producing bacteria to keep their harvests from reducing.

The undersides of these ants is covered with fuzzy white clumps, and there are tiny cavities inside, which contain bacteria producing antibiotics that are deadly to garden pests. To keep the fields clean, the ants rub the bacteria all over. The ants use special glands inside the cavities to produce food for the bacteria.

Do you still think you are superior? 

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

  • Written by Denis Giles
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