by Heidi Stevenson
8 February 2010
Pigs in gestational pens, where they don't even have room to turn around. Each poor miserable creature has only three bars supporting her throughout pregnancy. She can't even stand up.
A drug that China considers too dangerous for any use is routinely applied to pigs, cattle, and turkeys in their last days of life to bulk them up and increase profits for Agribusiness. It causes misery in the poor creatures—and is in the meat of slaughtered animals, though its use on humans is illegal in the United States. Ractopamine is sold under the brand name Paylean for use in pigs, Optiflexx in cattle, and Tomax in turkeys. They're given it right up to the time of slaughter—so it's in the meat people eat.
Ractopamine is a carcinogen and neurotoxin. It causes birth defects. It's an acute poison. It's so dangerous that workers are warned:
Not for use in humans. Individuals with cardiovascular disease should exercise special caution to avoid exposure. Use protective clothing, impervious gloves, protective eye wear, and a NIOSH-approved dust mask.
Yet, it's in 45% of all pork raised in the United States.
We must fight against the spirit of unconscious cruelty with which we treat the animals. Animals suffer as much as we do. True humanity does not allow us to impose such sufferings on them. It is our duty to make the whole world recognize it. Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace. —Albert Schweitzer Paylean is given to pigs for their last 28 days. Optiflexx is given to cattle for their last 28-42 days. Tomax is given to turkeys during their last 7-14 days.
Animals become miserable. Many die. Hyperactivity and stress symptoms are common. All that was known quickly after the FDA initially approved ractopamine's use in pigs. The agency supposedly followed up on the effects. The FDA's Director of the Division of Compliance, Gloria J. Dunnavan, wrote Elanco a letter stating:
Our representatives requested a complete and accurate list of all your GLP [Good Laboratory Practices] studies involving Paylean® (Ractopamine hydrochloride), including their current status as well as the names of the respective study monitors. In response, your firm supplied to our representatives multiple lists which differed in the names of the studies and their status. In addition, your firm could not locate or identify documents pertaining to some of the studies. This situation was somewhat confusing and created unneeded delays for our representatives.
So, naturally, in the face of such stonewalling, the FDA then approved the use of ractopamine in cattle and turkeys.
Ractopamine is a beta agonist that all countries consider too dangerous for human use. It acts by moving nutrients from the fat-production process into muscle production. The slaughtered animals then have less fat and weigh more, so it brings more money to the producer*. Claims are made that as much as 15.9% greater "efficiency" is gained in feeding.