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Tyson Markets Organic, Free-range Surrogates
April 4, 2012
SPRINGDALE, ARK.--Grey Mountain Surrogates Inc., a subdivision of meat processing and biological services giant Tyson Foods, launched Friday a nation-wide campaign advertising its 'Natural Mother' organic surrogacy service. "We're very pleased to be able to offer the highest-quality surrogacy on the market," notes Grey Mountain president of operations Harald Spine. "In Natural Mother we offer a convenient, labor-saving service that also provides a more wholesome, healthy gestation environment than most mothers could manage on their own."
According to company marketing materials, Grey Mountain offers "only the cleanest, most healthy surrogates. [The] surrogates live only in communal, cooperatively managed communities nestled in pristine mountain forests." All surrogates are "certified drug and hormone free" and are fed an "organic, vegetarian diet high in vegetable protein and supplemented with natural fish oils for improved brain and neurological development."
Grey Mountain surrogates also follow an "adaptive, physician-designed exercise regimen," including "regular, fresh-air walks on our beautiful country grounds," and all are housed in a "high-stimulus environment, including exposure to classical music and clinically-designed resonance recordings of a maternal voice for maximum in-utero stimulation."
"We want people to know that our surrogates are dedicated 24 hours a day to the healthy gestation of their children," explains Spine. "We've designed a comfortable, idyllic habitat in a natural, toxin-free environment. What could be better?"
Responding skeptically to news of the campaign, longtime Tyson critic Dr. Henriette Jostle of the Center for Medical Responsibility points to historical shortcomings in several of Tyson's surrogacy ventures. "We've heard this 'all natural' story before and the reality usually bears no resemblance to the spin. I've been to the Grey Mountain facility and I doubt it's changed much. What I saw was a warehouse filled with Barcaloungers lined up armrest-to-armrest. The surrogates were eating TV dinners and the floor was just covered with peas-n-carrots and that aluminum packaging. And, sure they got to walk in the open, once a day, supervised, otherwise they were locked in the 'house' to protect the 'product.'"
Dr. Jostle has also charged Tyson with engaging in 'double-batching' and 'term-acceleration.' "There are huge efficiency pressures in the surrogate market, and companies like Tyson try to maximize the output of their surrogates in a number of ways," explains Jostle. "Typically they'll induce labor just at the point of viability in order to free-up surrogates. Often customers will receive 'full term' babies without realizing that they've been maintained in company nurseries for months. Companies will also often 'double batch,' co-gestating two, and sometimes even three, unrelated fetuses. Standard industry practices are simply horrifying."
Tyson's surrogacy subsidiaries have also run afoul of various labor groups, including the Somatic Workers of America which last year charged Tyson subsidiary Deer Lick Glades Inc. with the illegal smuggling of non-U.S. workers. "Tyson regularly employs non-union and undocumented surrogates," charges SWA steward Quentin Thrush. "We have undisputed evidence that Tyson has paid to smuggle illegal surrogates across borders hidden in the cockpits of buses. They become a captive workforce, unable to demand decent, humane working conditions."
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