CAP: Eating meat brings misery and destroys health and planet earth

November 25th is observed as Meatless Day worldwide. On this occasion, the Consumers Association of Penang calls on Malaysians to substantially reduce and where possible avoid eating meat for the benefit of our health and environment.

Rising prosperity has allowed people throughout the world to eat more meat and Malaysia is no exception. Our per capita consumption of meat has increased from 13.2 kg in 1961 to almost 55 kg in 2017. With rising income, it is projected that Malaysian consumers will eat even more meat in the future.

At present, there are about 23 billion chickens, 1.5 billion cattle and 1 billion pigs and sheep meant for human consumption. About 83% of farmland worldwide is used to feed livestock.While meat is tasty, it comes with a lot of suffering, not only to the animals but to humans who consume it. Meat consumption has conclusively been linked to obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and a many other chronic and deadly diseases.

Eating more meat enhances our chances of getting sick or dying early. Health statistics consistently show that nations which consume the most meat have the highest incidence of heart disease and cancer.

Study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) found “sufficient evidence in humans that the consumption of meat, especially processed meat causes colorectal cancer.”

Processed meat includes meat that has been salted, cured, fermented or smoked – hot dogs, sausages, corned beef, dried meat, canned meat or meat-based sauces. The finding supports “recommendations to limit intake of meat” – particularly in processed forms, said the IARC.

Besides the health effects of eating meat, many consumers do not see the magnitude of the environmental impact caused by their meat consumption.

There may be no other single human activity that has a bigger impact than livestock farming. Some 40% of the world’s land surface is used for growing food crops, most of which are used to feed animals. Globally livestock farming generates 18 % more greenhouse gases than transport. Some 70% of the Amazon forests have been deforested for grazing animals.

To get meat an animal has to be slaughtered. Abattoirs are highly industralised production lines with semi-skilled workers toiling in poor conditions. Some of the slaughterhouses are capable of slaughtering 85,000 head of cattle, 70,000 pigs, and 12 million birds daily. The industry is hidden from view. Animal-rights groups are questioning the ethics of the slaughter industry.

We have destroyed vast ecosystems and drained massive resources to support the world’s burgeoning livestock herds. Food, water and land resources are directed away from human consumption to feed these animals. These animals produce enormous quantities of waste such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, drug residues, disease-causing organisms and heavy metals to pollute our water system.

Producing meat is also most inefficient. To produce one kilogram of beef, one needs 6.5 kilograms of grain, 36 kilograms of roughage, and 15,500 cubic meters of water.

70% of antibiotics produced globally are used for livestock. Antibiotics perform two functions: they help animals survive the dismal conditions until slaughter, and they make the animals grow faster. According to WHO, more antibiotics are fed to healthy animals than to human beings.

Livestock are usually given the same antibiotics as humans. Every time an antibiotic is administered, there is a chance that bacteria develop resistance to it. Common pathogens such as Escherichia coli, salmonella or campylobacter will develop into “Superbugs” in the presence of antibiotics and this can infect humans

Studies have found chicken droppings used to feed cows, animal parts are fed back to animals (cannibalism which can lead to Mad Cow Disease) and maggots are used as a protein source for animals.

There is no denying how delicious meat is. As long as consumers do not see how meat is obtained, they do not mind eating meat. They also do not know much about the meat they are buying. They do not know about the antibiotics, hormones and pathogens found in their meat, the animal cruelty, the environment destruction caused and the rubbish fed to animals.

Meat satisfies people. Eating meat does not make a person bad, nor does being a strict vegetarian make the person good. But something has to be done about the way Malaysians get their meat.

As today is Meatless Day, CAP would like to call on consumers to substantially reduce and where possible avoid eating meat for the sake of our health and environment and at the same time give a thought to the billions of animals that have sacrificed their lives to satisfy their craving for eating meat.

Press Statement, 25 November 2020


NGOs Shocked by Logging Activities in Greater Ulu Muda Forest

Several non-governmental organisations (listed below) are shocked to learn about recent occurrences of deforestation activities in a forest reserve in the Greater Ulu Muda Forest.

According to satellite images, between May and November 2020, some 87 acres (0.35 sq. kilometres) of natural forest near to Tasik Ahning, in the Bukit Keramat Forest Reserve have been clear-felled and terraced for what appears to be a plantation (see pic).

The images also reveal earlier deforestation and terracing in an area close to this most recent deforested area.

Given recent assurances by the Kedah Menteri Besar that the Greater Ulu Muda Forest will be protected as a water catchment where no logging activities are permitted, we call on the Kedah state government to urgently clarify the situation.

Kedah MB Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor told the Kedah State Assembly in August this year that for the domestic, agricultural and industrial needs of the 4.2 million people in Kedah, Perlis and Penang, the state government was continuing the policy of maintaining the Greater Ulu Muda Forest as a water catchment with no permitted logging/deforestation activities. We are most alarmed by the current highlighted deforestation from these satellite images. Such deforestation activities will undermine the ability of the state to receive Federal funds for forest protection from sources such as the Ecological Fiscal Transfer for Biodiversity Conservation (EFT) proposed in the 2021 Budget. The EFT will make available RM70 million for states that protect their forests.

We understand from the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, that in 2019 a sum of RM60 million was channelled to states to protect their forests. We are not aware of how much was channelled to Kedah.

We understand that the federal government is also taking further measures to support state governments under the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) Finance Framework with the provision of further funds.

We reiterate our call to the Kedah state government to check and monitor deforestation, including halting further logging and approval of forest conversions for plantations or other environmentally-damaging uses, in the Greater Ulu Muda Forest.

We wish to underscore that the provision of funds from the Federal government to the Kedah state government must be in order to maintain the Greater Ulu Muda Forest in perpetuity for the valuable ecosystem services it provides, including ensuring water security, regulating the climate and protecting biodiversity.

By protecting its forests, the Kedah state government also plays a critical role in supporting Malaysia to fulfil its international commitments under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Kedah state government must not undermine such efforts by allowing logging in the Greater Ulu Muda Forest complex.

This statement is endorsed by the following groups:

1. Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP)

2. Ecotourism & Conservation Society of Malaysia (ECOMY)

3. Forum Kedah Sejahtera dan Harmoni

4. Gerakan Merbok Bangkit Kedah

5. GreenSmiths

6. Jaringan Penggerak Melayu Desa Negeri Kedah

7. Jaringan Pengguna Lestari Kedah

8. Jaringan Taawun ‘alal Birri Wattaqwa Sungai Petani (Network for Cooperation on Goodness and Piety Sungai Petani)

9. Majlis Muafakat Muslimah Masjid Kedah

10. Malaysian Cave and Karst Conservancy (MCKC)

11. Malaysian Nature Society Penang Branch

12. Persatuan Alam Sekitar Kedah

13. Pertubuhan Dhuafa Sejahtera Kedah

14. Persatuan Peduli Dhuafa dan Pengupayaan Masyarakat

15. Pertubuhan Menangani Gejala Sosial Malaysia (UNGGAS MALAYSIA)

16. Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam Malaysia (PEKA) Kedah

17. Rangkaian Petani Lestari Alam

18. Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM)

19. Treat Every Environment Special (TrEES)

20. Water Watch Penang (WWP)

21. Yayasan Aman Kedah

22. Yayasan Pendidikan Orang Asli Malaysia

Media Statement, 25 November 2020

“No Scents Make Good Sense”

That is the policy in Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia in Canada, which discourages the wearing of fragranced products in municipal office, libraries, hospitals, classrooms, courts and buses.

Most modern perfumes are derived from petroleum, not from natural flowers. And many contain ingredients not listed on the label, including substances that may cause allergic reactions to some people.

The symptoms of fragrance allergy can range from classic “allergic” reactions, such as sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes; to headaches, inability to concentrate, and dizziness; to respiratory issues, such as breathing difficulties and wheezing; to skin reactions, such as itching, hives, and other rashes.

In cigarettes, non-smokers suffer from passive smoking. Likewise non-users of perfumes suffer from passive smelling of these perfumes.

Due to the fragrance health concerns, many places have actually banned the wearing of perfumed products. Fragrance-free workplaces are found in Detroit City, Minnesota educational institutions, Maryland and Portland State University. You also cannot attend public meetings wearing fragrance products in Santa Cruz in California.


Promptly Identify Cause Of Oil Spill In Penang Waters

Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) calls on Department of Environment (DOE) and the Penang state authorities to take immediate action to identify the cause of the oil spill that occurred in the waters off Penang Island early this morning.

It is estimated that about two kilometres of coastline near the Paramount fishing shed were polluted due to the oil spill. The time and cause of the incident have yet to be confirmed and a large number of fishermen in the Paramount jetty in Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah were not aware of the cause. SAM’s survey of the location found that there is no trace of the oil spill because it could have settled or stick to the sediments on the coast.

Prompt action of the authorities to identify the cause and deal with this oil spill is necessary because it not only adversely affects the marine and coastal ecosystem but also affects the source of income of the fisher communities.

The threat to marine life includes toxic effects caused by exposure or contact with oil and can also affect their reproductive system. This will cause the population of marine life to decrease.

The DOE as an enforcement agency for the Environmental Quality Act 1974 for oil spill cases has developed a Hydrocarbon Fingerprinting System (HyFiS) with an oil database to help identify the source of oil spills efficiently. HyFiS helps to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of DOE officers in the prevention, enforcement and investigation of the oil spills that occur by reducing the scope of the search for the source of the spill quickly and efficiently.

We hope that DOE’s expertise can help to unravel and identify the cause of the oil spill. DOE must ensure that stringent action is taken against those who have caused this pollution, pay for clean-up costs as well as compensation for losses incurred by various parties, including fishers who were affected by the oil spill.

SAM also urges the relevant agencies and the State to take prompt action to clean up the oil spill before the situation worsens and threatens the ecosystem, marine life and the livelihood of local fisher communities.

Media Statement, 24 November 2020

The Modern Life

“If I were asked to condense the whole of the present century into
one mental picture, I would pick a familiar everyday sight: a man
in a motor car, driving along a concrete highway to some unknown

Almost every aspect of modern life is there, both for good and for ill
— our sense of speed, drama, and aggression, the worlds of advertising
and consumer goods, engineering and mass-manufacture, and the
shared experience of moving together through an elaborately signaled
landscape.” — J. G. Ballard (in 1971), novelist