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Abstract

In recent years, after the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or mad cow disease) crisis in Europe, and after the first case of BSE was found in Alberta, both regulation and producers’ initiatives have lead to an ever smaller demand for meat meal and animal fat used in animal feed. Meat meal and animal fat were produced in great part from the rendering of carcasses, i.e., animals that died on the farm due to disease or accident. In Quebec, agricultural producers used to sell the carcasses to rendering plants. Now however, demand for meat meal and animal fat has all but disappeared, so producers must instead pay the rendering plants to dispose of the carcasses. The financial burden gives producers an incentive to get rid of the carcasses in less costly ways, not only by legal burial at the farm, but also by illegal disposal at the farm or elsewhere in nature (Deglise, 2003; Radio-Canada, 2003; Larivière, 2003a; Mercier, 2004). This leads to increasing environmental risks, specifically, soil, water and air pollution as well as potential health hazards, that need to be addressed.

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