What happens to the bones of animals once they are killed for their meat or skin?


Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

We have been killing animals since we stood upright and decided that we were above nature. Prehistoric people made sharpened projectiles out of wood or bone. The Apaches made clubs from the jawbone of a horse elk, buffalo or bear. The teeth were left in the jaw, and sometimes even polished for aesthetic appeal. Samson (of Delilah fame) is said to have killed one thousand men with the jawbone of a donkey.

Pieces of bones, whether from turtle shells or the shoulder blades of oxen or water buffalo, were used to divine the future in ancient China, Japan, Korea, Europe, Africa and North America. The practice exists even today, among Greek and Serbian farmers. Shoulder blades were also made into shovels. 30,000 years old flutes, made of wing bones of swans and vultures, have been found.

The truth is that bones are the hidden ingredients in a lot of things you eat or use. In Paris, in the 13th century, button makers made buttons from the shinbones of cattle. These, and knife handles, are still made in France and Germany.

Bones contain about 12% fat. The feet of sheep, horses and cattle are boiled and the oil from the bones used in the manufacture of delicate grades of leather. The oil from cows’ feet only is used as a lubricant for delicate machinery, such as clocks, guns, etc. as it has a low solidifying temperature ("cold test" 25°-28°F.) It is called, professionally, as neat’s oil.

The boiling of bones results in a very offensive smell, so bones are broken and steamed as well to take out the fat. Another extraction method is by melting the bones with petroleum ether (benzine). The grease recovered from the extract is used by the candle-maker, who bleaches the dark grease and dyes and perfumes it.

Benzine extracted bones are also passed on to the glue makers. They are boiled again and finally concentrated into a glue liquor which is clarified through alum, and bleached with sulphurous acid gas, before drying and setting into jellies. The jelly is cut into cakes and dried to give glue. This is used in joinery and furniture-making, in the paper and book-binding trades; the textile industries which absorb considerable quantities of glue for dressing and finishing yarns, sizing woollen threads, stiffening carpets, etc. Other applications of glue includes preserving ropes etc.

Gelatin is prepared from bones pre-treated with hydrochloric acid and then treated with hot water and steam. Gelatin is used for photographic emulsions, as a culture medium in bacteriology, in food and most sweets (the word jelly and jello comes from gelatin), as a stabilizer for ice cream, yoghurt and pies, and other frozen desserts, and for the clarifying of wines and beers ; it is also employed as a dressing for white fabrics, silks, silk printing and straw hats. The most annoying use is in medicine capsules which I refuse to eat. I have been trying to get them made vegetarian for over twenty years. Approximately 6.5% of the total production of gelatin is used in the pharmaceutical industry. Most of it is used to make the outer covering of capsules. Gelatin is used in the manufacture of medicated tablets and pastilles, in protective ointment, such as zinc gelatin for the treatment of ulcerated varicose veins. Gelatin can be made into a sterile sponge by whipping it into foam, treating it with formaldehyde and drying it. Such sponges are used in surgery, and also to implant a drug or antibiotic directly into a specific area. It is used as a plasma expander for blood in cases of very severe shock and injury.

Bones are ground and used as fertilizer (called bone meal) and this is also put into poultry feed ( which is very dangerous as it is responsible for the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy or mad cow disease) and dog food.

Animal charcoal (or boneblack) is obtained from roasting bones out of contact with air. What emerges is a gas which is used as fuel for factory boilers, coal tar, and ammonia liquors. The tar is used in the manufacture of black varnishes such as Brunswick black. The ammonia liquors are steam-distilled and used for low grade fertilizer.

The charcoal from the burnt bone, a porous, black, granular material, is protected from exposure to air until cold. It is then crushed and graded. Bone charcoal is employed as a decolourizing (to turn naturally brown sugar into white) and refining medium in the sugar industry, which consumes enormous quantities. Bone char is used to filter and remove fluoride and metal ions from water to make it drink worthy. Bone char is used as a black pigment for artist’s paint, printmaking, calligraphic and drawing inks. Bone black and ivory black are artists' pigments. It is also used to refine crude oil in the production of petroleum jelly. In the 18th and 19th century, bone char, mixed with tallow or wax, was used by soldiers in the field to impregnate military leather equipment, to increase its lifespan and turn it black.

Bone Ash, which comes from burning fresh bones, is an important constituent of porcelain and bone china. When treated with sulphuric and phosphoric acids, bone ash yields a substitute for cream of tartar in baking powders.

China, which turns anything into their quack medicine, grinds bones and uses them as treatment for a variety of ailments, such as dizziness, leg cramps, dysentery, internal swellings, and malaria. And now we have invented plastic which can be used to replace parts in your body. Clemson University has brought out a plastic made of meat and bone meal. The raw material is mixed with ultra-high-molecular weight polyethylene, a tough material used in replacement joints. How much of you will remain you and how much of it dead other animal/plastic is something we will assess in a few years.

Imagine constructing a life in which so many things you use are based on killing other beings. No wonder the core of each human is so unhappy.



Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org


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