Thursday, September 27, 2007



Here is what is upsetting me. Go to the Interweave blog here and read Amy Singer’s article

She links to the Donna Drachunas article “Have You Any Organic Wool?” which other than perpetuating the myth that sheep are dipped in vats of organophosphates is a pretty thoughtful article.
Then further down the page is the link to O-Wool.
Now O-Wool may be a fine product, but if the maker of the product libels others who grow and process wool and pay to advertise in Interweave Press Publications like Spin-Off - AND PERPETUATES THE SHEEP DIP MYTH, they aren’t very nice people.
These are the same people, Vermont Organic Wools (O-Wool) touted in Interweave Knits current issue in an article about organic wool by Judith MacKenzie McCuin. When I went to their website, I found this:
“ Use of synthetic hormones, vaccinations, and genetic engineering is prohibited
Use of synthetic pesticides (internal, external, and on pastures) is prohibited.
Producers must encourage livestock health through good cultural and management practices.
Organic livestock production enables the farmer to control parasites, lice, and flies without chemicals.
Allowed techniques include clean pasture management, good nutrition, vaccination, and the isolation of sick animals. The nutritional and behavioral effects of controlled organic grazing minimize stress on animals and keep immune systems functioning at a higher level…..”

And further:“ There are two key distinctions in organic livestock management. First is the elimination of "dipping," a method of controlling external parasites in which sheep are submerged in pools containing organophosphate-based paraciticides. Studies have indicated that prolonged exposure to sheep dip pesticides cause changes in the nervous system of humans. (Think what these chemicals do to the sheep!) Moreover, disposal and "runoff" of dips can contaminate ground water supplies."
I have raised a rare breed of sheep, Finnsheep, for over 20 years. I am not aware of the use of hormone treatments of sheep that produce wool in the USA. The only hormones I can think of used in wool sheep production are for artificial insemination. This is a very expensive procedure and done very rarely.

Some vaccinations against diseases are allowed by USDA in their organic certification for sheep. There is no genetic engineering (cloning?) of wooled sheep that I know of unless by universities (Dolly). Isolation of sick sheep - - without treatment - - is not allowed under USDA organic standards.

There is NO approved vaccination to prevent parasite infestation in the USA.
It doesn’t matter whether the flock is organic certified or not, there is no such thing.

Sheep dipping is next to non-existent. Dipping sheep in organophosphates was required by law in the UK, but not in the USA. In the UK it has been banned for over a decade. It is like Sasquatch. People talk about it, but…….. If someone can find me a flock that dips sheep I would be interested in learning about it.

Possibly the use of the sheep-jargon word "drench" to describe an oral dose of medicine or vitamins is helping this myth along.
Promoting a business that strongly suggests everyone else in that business is doing disgusting things such as dipping is just plain wrong.

I submitted comments to the Interweave blog at the end of the Amy Singer article, but many of us don’t believe our comments will be published. That is why the blogosphere is involved. You can read another response here,

You can also write to Amy Singer here. She is the editor of Knitty, a Canadian publication.

It was in promoting her book, NO SHEEP FOR YOU, that Interweave crossed the line suggesting briefly that it was a book for people who had “ethical issues” with wool. As soon as I wrote Interweave about my profound disgust with those words, they deleted them. Once I get wound up, however,….You can read my response, “Ethical Issues with Wool,” in the current issue of FiberFemmes

This is not the first time Judith MacKenzie McCuin and Interweave Press has ruffled the crimped locks of wool growers. In the fall 06 issue of Spin-Off, she suggested that for wool to be organic, producers should not vaccinate, not treat lambs to prevent parasites and become friendly with predators and again touted Vermont Organic Fibers.

USDA allows organically certified sheep to be vaccinated against some of the most common diseases such as tetanus and overeating disease. As a shepherd, the last thing I want to do is watch a lamb die in agony from either one. As you will learn in the Donna Drachunas article, if you don’t treat lambs and sheep for worms, be prepared to accept death losses. Those words sound sterile. What it means is get ready to see dead and dying sheep. Sheep don’t just painlessly drop dead from worms. It takes time, during which the sheep becomes anemic and starved and presumably suffers.
You can read my article “Organic or Humane,” in the May/June Fiber Femmes
This is my experience with predators that was not at all friendly. Caution, unpleasant detail