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And now — A new crisis in Farming (Part 2)

This second and final installment uncovers a startling crisis in agriculture and
little-known facts about the new problems confronting livestock breeders today.



THE specter of a new crisis in farming is here. Government authorities, veterinarians and university departments of animal husbandry all tell us something is drastically wrong with our livestock. In the previous issue we saw the schemes men have devised to force unnatural profits out of livestock. We saw that dietary shortcuts are bringing on mounting diseases. And drugs and medicines, instead of relieving these distresses, have increased them by lowering the natural resistance of livestock. The California Farmer magazine admitted that: "Recent changes in handling animals may have upset the NATURAL BALANCE."

We also saw that health-endangering chemicals fed to livestock are rapidly increasing the sicknesses of consumers. Then there is the mounting problem of dwarfism, of birth difficulties and sicknesses due to bad breeding practices.


Part II

OUR BODIES are made up of what we eat. Our health is regulated in large part by the quality of our food. This shoulders upon the farmer and rancher a serious responsibility. If he loves his fellow man, he will be concerned for the quality of the foodstuffs he is producing for the tables of others.

We are told by many that modern selective breeders have been improving the quality of livestock. They usually cite as proof increasing size and quantity of production. That this is erroneous animal husbandry is proved by the fact that the supposedly most improved herds generally have the greater health problems — eventually affecting consumers' health.

Our supposedly superior beef cattle are not naturally as tender as they should be. Hence, the wide-spread use of tenderizers. "Today 80% of the nation's beef cattle get stilbestrol," states TIME magazine. This chemical — related to the spread of cancer — makes cows grow faster, which supposedly tenderizes them and makes for a "better" market animal. But does it, really?

Chemical and Engineering News states that: "Buyers and consumers are demanding better quality and more uniform [meat] products."

One factor constantly mentioned in reports on the beef market is that customers are demanding less waste fat and more of the marbling that gives meat its natural tenderness.

Producers of dairy products tell us they also have been giving us better quality. But Dr. Murray C. Zimmerman, M.D., in an article in the A.M.A. Archives of Dermatology admits many are sensitive to penicillin because of the ever-increasing amounts of it we are getting in milk. A chronic itching rash is often the result. Penicillin is used to combat mastitis, which is one of the most persistent of dairymen's problems. And in the testing of commercial milk samples, measurable quantities of penicillin have been found in as high as 96% of tested samples.

If breeders have been steadily improving the quality of livestock all these years, why do we have all these complaints about the milk and meat? And why does the meat of most beef animals have to be artificially tenderized? Shouldn't beef be naturally tender like most wild game?

Just what are the principles by which men have been supposedly "improving" their cattle and our food supply? Could these principles have anything to do with our own health problems — as well as the health problems of commercial cattle herds?

Notice the facts!


How the Trouble Began

Let us start at the beginning. Here is how modern selective breeding developed — and the principles it employs.

Much has been written on this subject. But one of the most readable, authoritative, brief summaries of the development of the modern cattle industry is The Taurine World, a special cattle issue published by The National Geographic Magazine in December, 1925. The author, Alvin Howard Sanders, D. Agr., LL.D., is a noted author and editor of several books and magazines dealing with animal husbandry. In The Taurine World he drew upon facts published by many noted authorities, in addition to his own vast store of knowledge.

The Taurine World informs us that about two centuries ago Robert Bakewell, a pioneering Leicestershire, England, farmer, discovered he could, through many generations of animal incest, concentrate the traits of one preferred-type animal in his or her offspring, and thereby establish a few isolated characteristics that were being sought. He bred a bull calf, from an especially good cow, back to his mother — and their offspring back to the mother again. He repeated such mating for several generations until the desired qualities were fixed. So successful was Bakewell that King George III took a deep personal interest in his work. Immediately he had a following.

It was through Bakewell's methods that ALL NEW BREEDS have been established — and by which a few old breeds were forcibly changed to fit man's concept of what animals should be.

Livestock authorities recognize that there are very real — though sometimes hidden — dangers in animal incest. But some characteristics are commonly considered by breeders worth the risk — if there may be money in it! (pp. 37-38, Dual-Purpose Cattle, by Claude H. Hinman, past President of the American Milking Shorthorn Society)

What characteristics did Bakewell and his followers desire? Mr. Sanders states: "He [Bakewell] found that breeding from close' affinities [incestuous inbreeding] tended to reduce size and vigor, and set up a certain delicacy of form which experience taught was f av orable to the process of fat secretion" (The Taurine World, p. 620).

Thus Bakewell and his protégés knew that when they bred for a few isolated characteristics, they had to neglect and lose other qualities.

Notice these two facts — that Bakewell knew he was reducing vigor — knew he did it to get more fat, which makes more profit. Being motivated by greed for money, he knowingly and willingly sacrificed quality! Bakewell's principles were applied to dairy cattle by concentrating on udder development (The Taurine World, p. 621).

Cattle authorities admit that: "All cattle measuring up to the modern human idea as to what they ought to be are most assuredly not improved from the standpoint of the animals themselves" (page 621, The Taurine World).

Improvement was not under consideration. What was so diligently sought by Bakewell and his followers was more money! The records prove these men bred only for big udders or blocky frames and much fat. Nothing was considered so important that it could not be sacrificed in the interest of a greater inflow of the almighty pound or dollar. Cattlemen know this brand of "improvement" results in a loss of hardiness. One of the most universally recognized facts of breeding is that species untouched by man are always more hardy! But men consider "progress" to be worth the price.

Many honest farmers have been skeptical of these principles of deliberately corrupting cattle in the interest of money. Some of the animal breeders interested in greater profits had to practice their perversions in secret so their neighbors would not ostracize them. Yet, these men made such notable changes and gained such international fame that the breeds they developed — usually from crossbreeds — caught on and gradually became popular. Most of our major beef and dairy breeds were developed in this way, the genetic alterations and loss of qualities varying from breed to breed and herd to herd according to the degree to which Bakewell's system was applied. Breeds that were not so altered remained normal, but obscure.

Selective breeders in England became so famous for changing the very hereditary nature of livestock through many generations of incestuous mating that Emerson was led to comment:

"The native cattle are extinct, but the island is full of artificial breeds. Bakewell created sheep and cows and horses to order, and breeds in which everything was omitted but what is economical. The cow is sacrificed to her bag; the ox to his sirloin."

Emerson's analysis was, in principle, correct. The things that were omitted because they were not considered of importance were quality of meat and milk, vitality, adaptability to extremes in weather, disease resistance, intelligence, gentleness, and other desirable traits which still remain in older breeds that were not developed by the Bakewell system. All modern livestock authorities who mention these obscure breeds commend their hardiness and other qualities.

Modern experts know the trend started by Bakewell is dangerous. Yet many modern Bakewell followers perpetuate unnatural livestock by breeding for isolated characteristics. A leading livestock authority states: "The use of that criterion of only weight increase has crowded the life stream of our growing, young animals so badly that the stream is about to be DRIED UP through an INCREASING CROP OF DWARFS! There is a higher percentage of them where the stream of life has been more carefully guided by us according to PARTICULAR PEDIGREES." (Soil Fertility and Animal Health by Dr. Wm. A. Albrecht, Chairman, Department of Soils, University of Mo.)