Big Brother on the animal farm? Animal ID system raises Orwellian concerns for some

by 5m Editor
14 April 2006, at 12:00am

US - At least that's the grim Orwellian scenario some see outlined in a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) plan to electronically tag and track all United States livestock. The program, known as the National Animal Identification System (NAIS), would include farms and other places where livestock are kept — from hobby farms and homesteads to slaughterhouses, veterinarians' offices and fairground exhibitions. NAIS aims at tracking animals and premises exposed to disease within 48 hours of an outbreak. As early as this fall, the first phase of the plan — premises identification — could become mandatory for Vermont farmers and livestock owners. Many — including U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who introduced legislation for a similar system two years ago — say keeping a close eye on the nation's livestock could control the spread of diseases like mad cow (BSE), avian flu and hoof-and-mouth. It would also, according to supporters, help secure foreign export markets — such as the largest export market for American beef, Japan, which closed after the first United States case of mad cow disease was discovered in December 2003. While there is not always agreement on how to get there, many in the industry and government support some national animal ID program. Source: County Courier

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