Jane Goodall was born in 1934 and is still active around the world, travelling some 300 days a year to various countries spreading the 'seeds' of global peace with her 'Roots and Shoots' program, from pre-school right through university. She talked about our food and the animals with Democracy Now. These are some excerpts from the program.
On this Thanksgiving Day, as we cook and share meals with friends and families, we bring you an interview with the renowned primatologist, Jane Goodall. Her latest book is Harvest for Hope : A Guide to Mindful Eating. Goodall, who is known for her groundbreaking work with chimpanzees and baboons, turns her attention to the food we eat and how it reaches our tables. In her book, Goodall examines the danger of corporate ownership of water and the patening of seeds, the hazards of genetically modified foods and the existence of inhumane animal factories.
http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl? ... 24/0740243
JANE GOODALL: The chimpanzee study was – well, it’s still going on, and I think it's taught us perhaps more than anything else to be a little humble, that we are, indeed, unique primates, we humans, but we're simply not as different from the rest of the animal kingdom as we used to think. Above all, we're not the only beings with personalities, minds and, above all, feelings. And this gives one a new respect, not only for the chimpanzees, but once you realize there is no sharp line dividing us from the other animals, but a very blurry line, then you get a new respect for so many of the other amazing animals with whom we share this planet.
AMY GOODMAN: We return to Jane Goodall, the primatologist. Her new book is called Harvest for Hope. I asked her what she makes of the whole debate against evolution, the whole issue of so-called intelligent design.
JANE GOODALL: Whatever we believe about how we got to be the extraordinary creatures we are today is far less important than bringing our intellect to bear on how do we get together now around the world and get out of the mess that we've made. That's the key thing now. Never mind how we got to be who we are. Let's work out a way so that we can preserve what's left of this planet and enhance it for future generations.
I was brought up to understand Darwin's theory of evolution. I spent hours and hours in the Natural History Museum in London looking at the descriptions of how different kinds of animals had evolved, looking at the sequence of fossil bones looking gradually more and more and more and more like the modern fossil. And the same applies to the remains of humans. And I think one of the big questions is, people say to me, “But surely, if you believe in evolution, there's no place for God.” I absolutely don't agree with that. The more I learn about this absolutely awesome and fantastic and wonderful planet and the universe, the incredible nature of the human mind, the more I feel convinced that there is some kind of great spiritual power. I feel there's a meaning to our life on earth. And that does not at all conflict with the idea of gradual evolution.
She's speaking of the Chimpanzees here and what they eat. She stated that they are cbecoming extinct from defoliation, human encroachment and food problems, also.
JANE GOODALL: I flew over the whole area in a small plane about 15 years ago, and I was absolutely shocked. And the question came, how can we even try to save these amazing chimpanzees if the people are so obviously struggling to survive, with so much farmland deteriorated and infertile and so many people, more than the land could support.
They eat the same as us. They're omnivores, which means they eat a bit of everything. They eat mostly fruit, but they also eat leaves, blossoms, stems, and things like that. They eat insects. They sometimes hunt. Meat is about 2% of their diet in a year. And so, their diet is held up by some to be the perfect diet for us and perhaps closer to the diet of the hunter-gatherers of this world.
....in the mid-1970s I read a book, Peter Singer's Animal Liberation, which explained the full horror of intensive farming. I found it hard to believe people could actually treat animals this way, as though they're just machines. And the next time I looked at a piece of meat on my plate, I thought, “What does this symbolize? Fear? Pain? Death?” I never ate it again. And, you know, this is very much part of this book. The old common sense farming nurtured the land. The different animals were rotated with the different kinds of crops that were grown.
She talks about the modern forms of mass production of food. Haven't you noticed the taste of food is so bland and nondescript. I have tried some beef lately, for medical reasons, after not eating it for years and it tastes like no beef I ever ate growing up. Chicken and vegetables are truly as bland as each other. I'm going to stick with fish, and eat iron supplements. Last night I was filleting a sole and the meat from it was heavenly tasting. God knows what conrtaminates are in it from human waste pollutions on the ocean floor, but it is still better than the mass produced crap and taste in the meat and veggies from the land. I go organic and local farms as often as I can.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the animal factories. I think most people in this country don't have any idea what you're talking about.
JANE GOODALL: You know, the sad thing: They don't want to know.
When I try to explain how you have maybe five hens crushed into a tiny wire cage that size for their whole lives to lay eggs, how you have hens crushed in a room, doesn't matter how big it is, but falling over each other, trampling on dead bodies. Pigs -- and we know that pigs are at least as, and often more, intelligent than dogs. I mean, did you know pigs can actually use a computer? They can be taught to move a cursor with their snouts up and down and side to side and answer questions, and they are these amazingly intelligent animals. And I love pigs. And they're crammed -- they can't even turn around. They're in these tiny sties. And the pig, having her babies, the sow, is confined under a farrowing hoop so she can’t turn around, she can't even stand up very often. And the cows in the so-called animal food lots, in tiny yards, forced to stand often under the hot sun on baked ground or in the mud mixed with feces.
And then comes the [inaudible], the slaughterhouse. And because each second means money, although it's law to stun an animal before you start slitting it up, if the stunning gun misses, which it often does, the bolt of electricity, then they start slicing up the live animals. I mean, this has been shown again and again. But what I was saying is if you start telling people about all this, so many people say, “Don't tell me. I'm very sensitive, and I love animals,” and I'm thinking, “This doesn't make sense.”
AMY GOODMAN: And how does bioengineered, genetically modified foods fit into this picture?
JANE GOODALL: Well, I have a serious mistrust of them. You know, you remember Rachel Carson wrote that book way back when Silent Spring, and she was talking about the bad effects, the cumulative effect of DDT in the environment and in animals' bodies. It took 30 years to show that DDT did accumulate and was a very, very highly dangerous chemical. Initially, it was thought to be harmless. It wasn't anybody's bad intention. And in the same way we cannot predict the long-term cumulative effect of many of the other chemicals being used today, nor can we predict the long-term cumulative effect of genetically modified crops on the environment, but also on our own health.
You know, recently some genetically modified corn intended for cattle escaped into the stores, and people got very sick. Now, okay, that was intended for cattle, and maybe the cattle don't get sick, but we’re eating their flesh. And animals, by and large, don't like genetically modified food. They wanted to test some tomatoes on rats, and they actually had to use stomach pumps before the rats would even eat them.
AMY GOODMAN: In this country, there are laws against food disparagement, you may have heard. Oprah Winfrey was sued by the National Cattlemen's Association for saying on her broadcast that she would never eat another hamburger again.
JANE GOODALL: I know. And good for her. But I know that there's a company being sued right now, because on its label it says it doesn't have genetically modified food. It's hard for me to see how this can be a law case, but --
AMY GOODMAN: And not sued because, in fact, they do have G.M. food, and this – for example, Ben and Jerry's company dealt with this also. But by saying that, they imply that there's something wrong with genetically modified food.
JANE GOODALL: You can say they do, and that's obviously what the law says. But, you know, there need to be people standing up for what they believe to be the truth.
AMY GOODMAN: You were talking about what happens to pigs, what happens to chickens. What about ducks?
JANE GOODALL: Ducks. Ducks, with their forced feeding for pate fois, fois gras. That's almost the cruelest of all, whether these metal or plastic tubes are forced down into the ducks' gullet and fatty substances are pumped in, and it makes their liver expand to about ten times its normal size, and only finally then is the bird killed. Meanwhile, they suffer many -- much damage and infections. And you can imagine with a tube being put down their neck, imagine if it was yours.
And veal. Little calves in these tiny, tiny crates where they can barely lie down if they do lie down. They can hardly stand. And because people like the flesh to be white, towards the end they're deprived of iron, so that they even try and drink their own urine. So when they go to slaughter, their legs break, because they can't walk, which is the same for pigs and lots of other animals, too. I mean, it's very, very cruel. You cannot get away from the fact that intensive farming, creating huge amounts of meat, is cruel.
But more than that, it's damaging the land, because it takes a huge amount more land to produce so many pounds of animal protein, whether you're grazing the cattle or whether you're growing corn to feed to the cattle, than it does that same piece of ground will grow far more vegetable protein from cereals grown on that land,
and then there's the question of the water. It takes gallons and gallons more water to raise one cow than the equivalent amount of vegetable protein.
AMY GOODMAN: And what would you say to the animal farmers, the mass, large corporate, for example, hog farmers and others who say it's more efficient to do it this way?
JANE GOODALL: It's more efficient in that they can produce more meat quickly and, therefore, sell it cheaper. But if you balance against all of that the suffering of the animals, the contamination of the environment from the animal waste, which is huge, and finally, the sickness of people who are eating things that we shouldn't be eating, and again, I come back to the children. And children's health is suffering, and in addition we have this epidemic of obesity, which comes from fast foods.
So, you know, the antidote is to buy organic food if you can and to eat locally when you can to support farmers’ markets and to go back to an old feeling of when we used to feel in touch with our food.
The slow food movement is the opposite of fast food, and it simply means, you know, that you, once again, cook, that you buy locally grown food, that you're in touch with the land. And I am not quite sure why they call it slow food, except it's the opposite of fast food, which is just quick, quick, quick, don't think -- buy, pop it in a microwave oven, open a packet, eat it. This requires cooking your food, knowing about your food. And then there’s the wonderful programs, growing food in school gardens and teaching children to cook. And there are the farmers’ markets.
...at the same time we can create weapons of mass destruction, we can destroy huge areas of the environment, and we are destroying the planet upon which we live. We're harming our own health.
So what's happened? How did this -- how could this have happened? And I can only think that there’s some disconnect gone wrong between the brain and the human heart, where our compassion lives, that we've lost or are losing wisdom. And being clever and being wise are two different things. And we've got to somehow work to reinstall the values that make people wise in our children, which is why I'm spending so much time with our youth program, Roots & Shoots, now in 90 countries.
AMY GOODMAN: So who is warning you against using the word “peace”?
JANE GOODALL: It's just that some N.G.O.s are being warned that there are certain things which they shouldn't be using, certain words that will bring them into disrepute. And peace -- it can't be true, can it? That cannot be a political -- peace is something we all aspire to.
Peace is something every child dreams about. You ask children around the world what are their dreams, and one of the things they'll say is “Peace.” I don't believe there's a single living person who really wants to be involved in a war if there was any way out.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you have hope for the future as you look at the powers that are arrayed against the principles that you care about?
JANE GOODALL: That's the question I'm asked most often: Can I really have hope when I see animal species becoming extinct, when I see forests giving place to deserts, when I see the suffering, the poverty, and so much of the developing world and the sickness, the hunger, when I see the ethnic violence everywhere and the tremendous social injustice? Do I really have hope for peace?
And I wouldn't write books about peace if I didn't have hope, and maybe my hope for peace is -- and my hope for the future and my hope that we'll get out of this mess, this monstrous mess that we find ourselves in, maybe they're simplistic. Maybe they're idealistic. But they work for me. The human brain and, you know, if you actually check around to see what people have invented that will allow us to live in more harmony with nature, I mean, there are many, many scientists who say if we would just do these things and stop talking about them, we have the way to get out of so much of the mess we've made. So that's one reason for hope and that more people are thinking about the way they live and realizing that what we do each day does, in fact, have an impact on the world.
Second reason for hope: the resilience of nature, the places we destroy which can be given a second chance. The animal species on the very brink of extinction, and in some cases down to just two individuals, but they can, too, be given a second chance, if we care enough.
Can WE care enough? Can we EVEN care anymore? Is she right about the disconnect between our brains and heart? Is this an intended consequence of our needs and feelings? I hope we can get back our feelings and communities before it's too late.