WhatsApp Message Seeking Cow Slaughter Ban In India Citing Uruguay Is Misleading
A viral WhatsApp forward on Uruguay's cow industry leaves out its scale of its beef export and falsely claims it has capital punishment for killing cows.
A WhatsApp message that makes a case for banning cow slaughter in India, by citing Uruguay's cattle industry and laws is misleading as it omits the country's beef export status and falsely claims that killing a cow could attract capital punishment there.
The message tries to portray the South American country as a utopian state that should be emulated by India when it comes to cattle protection, regulation and farming practices.The message can be seen below.
BOOM received this claim on its WhatsApp helpline +917700906588.
It is also viral on social media.
The viral forward falsely claims that Uruguay has "immediate execution" for cattle slaughter, when the country abolished the death penalty for all purposes as far back as 1907.
Further, Uruguay has a thriving beef production export industry that is not mentioned in the message, as cow slaughter is not criminalised. It also mentions that Uruguayan cows are from India.
The message also states that farmers in Uruguay earn in the "millions", for which little data is available, provides inflated dollar values for the income of people, which data show is way less for the people of the country.
However, the claims made on its food production, and the number of cattle in the country are true.
Below is detailed fact check of the claims made in the message.
1. Every person has 4 cows, and a population of 33 lakhs has 1.2 crore cows
This claim is partially true since these numbers hold true now while the message states that they're from 2005.
In 2005, the population of Uruguay as recorded with FAOSTAT of the Food and Agricultural Organisation - an arm of United Nation - states that the population of Uruguay to be 3,321,803 (or 33.21 lakh) in 2005. Further, in 2005, the number of livestock units of cattle was 8,369,200 (83.69 lakh cattle) giving a 2005 per capita ratio of 2.51 (number of cattle divided by the population).
The FAO says that cattle includes cow, males (such as ox and bull) and calves.
However, this does not mean that every person has 2.5 cows.
However, more recent estimates do put the population of cattle at near 12 million, and population of more than 3 million for an average of 4 cows per capita.
2. There is an electronic chip on its ear, from where the cow can be tracked and a nation of 33 lakh produces for 2 crores 80 lakhs.
These claims are true.
A 2014 report documents Uruguay's electronic traceability system for cattle - where every cattle is tagged and tracked. There are two chip, one in each ear. One is a number tag, the second contains information which contains all manner of information about the animal.
This means that the meat can be tracked at every point along the supply chain: from raising to the general store, and even abroad.
The report also says that knowing from where one's meat came was a right.
Further, a statement by the Agricultural Minister of Uruguay, Carlos Maria Uriarte to Brazil-based AgroMais TV was stressing the need to increase Uruguay's agricultural exports while maintaining environmental sustainability. He said, "The challenge is producing more while caring for the environment, because the world of the future is going to need more food. Uruguay has a population of three million and we produce for 30 million people, but we can double that amount. We know that we're going to have to put pressure on our natural resources to produce more, but we also know that we have to do it without harming the productive capacity of the soil".
This is reported by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, an intergovernmental body on agriculture, here.
3. "The minimum income of a man is 1,25,000 /= months, i.e. 1,90,00 dollars annually"
It is unclear if the message is referring to the minimum income per head in general population, or with respect to farming.
With respect to the general population, Uruguay has a one of the highest minimum wages offered in Latin America at $423 per month in 2021 according to data compiled by data portal Statista. This means that an individual earning minimum wages earns $5076 annually. However, the data does include a note on how to read it.
Despite the high comparative ranking of Uruguay's minimum wage, there is cautionary note stating that these minimum wage levels are not sufficient. This can be read here.
The per capita income of Uruguay was $18,690 and $18,703 in 2017 and 2018 in current US dollars. These are nominal prices: they are indicative of the price level for the corresponding year. In 2020, the per capita income was $15,438. By another measure of per capita income, in constant 2015 US dollars, it was $16,020 in 2017, $16,037 in 2018, $16,036 in 2019 and $15,044 in 2020. Unlike current US dollars, the prices are not indicative of the corresponding years but are fixed to a base year - in this case 2015.
All of this data can be found with the World Bank here.
There is also no evidence to show that farmers in Uruguay earn in the "millions".
4. Immediate execution on cow killing
This claim is fake. There is no immediate killing penalty for cow slaughter.
Uruguay has abolished the capital punishment for all crimes all the way back in 1907. This can be seen here in a report with the Indian Law Commission (pg.12) and with NGOs like the Amnesty International.
Further, Uruguay has not criminalised cow slaughter and has a strong record of beef export and consumption.
A report by the Foreign Agricultural Services of the United States Department of Agriculture [USDA] shows that as of January 2021 over January 2020, the total slaughter of cows was nearly 1.1 million head ("heads" being a term referring to singular units of cattle) and it is expected to be 1.18 million heads next year. Further, USDA official figures show that Uruguayan beef exports were 412,000 tons of carcass-weight-equivalent [cwe] (a general term used to refer to partially-butchered sources of meat, but largely depends on the source like pork, cattle, sheep etc.), which is expected to be 490,000 tons next year.
In fact, one study puts Uruguay as the ninth largest exporter of beef in the world with 4% of total global beef exports in 2020.
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