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Pork industry should stop defending indefensible practices

It’s typical in the animal factories that produce most of the pork in our country to lock pigs in “gestation crates” so small they can’t even turn around for months on end.

Wanda Patsche’s Minnesota Blog Cabin piece was a perfect example of just how far removed the pork industry is from mainstream American sentiment about how animals ought to be treated (“What I wish people knew about pig farming,” October 7).

It’s typical in the animal factories that produce most of the pork in our country to lock pigs in “gestation crates” so small they can’t even turn around for months on end. Such extreme confinement leads to crippling lameness, and the mental toll the deprivation takes on these highly intelligent animals is also enormous.

That’s why this inhumane practice is widely derided by animal welfare experts, including Temple Grandin, Ph.D., perhaps the most renowned animal scientist in the country. She states, “I feel very strongly that we’ve got to treat animals right, and the gestation stalls have got to go.” And even many of the biggest pork buyers, like McDonald’s, say this standard pork industry practice is “unsustainable” and will be phased out of its supply chain.

If pork industry spokespeople are serious about preventing animal cruelty, the first step they should take is stop doing what Ms. Patsche is doing — defending practices Americans know are indefensible — and start improving their own record on such matters.

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Paul Shapiro is vice president of farm animal protection for The Humane Society of the United States.

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