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Humane Society CEO seeks seat on board of meat company Tyson

October 02, 2012|By Rene Lynch

The president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States says he wants a seat on the board of directors at Tyson Foods so he can begin working from the inside-out to improve the plight of farm animals -- especially pregnant pigs.

Let that sink in for a second. The head of one of the world's largest animal-rights organizations wants to help oversee one of the world's biggest meat producers. 

Wayne Pacelle said in a statement posted on the Humane Society's website that he has filed paperwork as a candidate for election to the board of directors of Tyson Foods. He says he wants to work on behalf of consumers to ensure humane treatment of animals.

Pacelle is especially taking aim at so-called gestation crates used to confine pregnant sows. He says the cages are so small that breeding pigs are unable to turn around for their entire lives.

The Humane Society chief's statement says that noted investor Carl Icahn has agreed to join him by serving as a personal advisor.

"It’s certainly unusual for a lifelong animal advocate to run for the board of the second-biggest meat company in the world,” Pacelle said. "Nonetheless, it is imperative that a voice on Tyson’s board speak for the company’s many customers, partners and investors who are demanding the end of gestation crates and more humane treatment of animals."

Tyson issued the following statement in response to Pacelle's announcement: "We’re not surprised Wayne Pacelle wants to sit on our board. We’re handling the nomination according to the law and our company’s by-laws. We’re committed to humane animal treatment and expect the same from the independent family farmers who supply us with chickens, hogs and cattle." 

The Humane Society president said that banning gestation cages and improving the well-being of animals will ultimately help improve the company's finances and make it more appealing to shareholders.

Several other companies have already made the commitment to end the use of gestation crates.

Those moves comes at a time when two forces -- food purists and animal-rights activists -- are increasingly calling on Americans to recognize the plight of the animals at the center of the nation's meat supply. Their tactics run the gamut from encouraging Americans to simply stop eating all animal products to encouraging Americans to use their wallets to force farmers to improve conditions for farm animals.

Example: The Humane Society is currently applauding the owner of the Chili's restaurant chain for agreeing to work toward ending gestation crates.

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