This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," February 24, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.
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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Unresolved Problem" segment tonight: using animals for food. Most Americans do eat meat, cows, lamb, pork. But few eat horses.
According to the National Horse Protection Coalition, about 60,000 horses are slaughtered in the USA every year and exported to other countries where there's a market for their meat. France, Belgium, Italy and Japan lead the market. I didn't know that.
With us now, actress Bo Derek, the spokesperson for the coalition.
I didn't know this at all. I mean, France? You're supposed to get foie gras and croissants. They're eating horse meat?
BO DEREK, ACTRESS/ACTIVIST: They are, and it's cultural. That's their culture to eat horse meat; that's fine. But it's not ours. As Americans, we never breed horses for food, ever.
O'REILLY: But what do they eat horse meat for? What do they use it for?
DEREK: It's gourmet.
O'REILLY: Is it really?
DEREK: It's in gourmet restaurants. Yes, it's a very exclusive thing to eat.
O'REILLY: What does it say on the menu, "Stallion Burger," or...
DEREK: You know, according to a friend who just came back, it said actual "American Horse Meat." It said "cheval," that's what it's called.
DEREK: Yes, but American.
O'REILLY: See, I spent a lot of time in Europe, and I never knew anybody — I mean, you're right. I mean, we Americans go "Horse meat?" Like, "Eww."
DEREK: Yes. We don't even feed it to our dogs. We don't put it in pet food.
O'REILLY: If you're going to eat a horse, why not eat a dog, right? It's the same kind of deal.
DEREK: We have millions of unwanted dogs and cats that are here. We don't let the Asians come and open up slaughterhouses and ship them over...
O'REILLY: Because they do eat dogs in the Far East.
DEREK: Yes. And the real sick problem with this, first it's Americans don't like it. It's a very inhumane, cruel process. But even if you're not emotionally involved, these foreign-owned plants — there are three of them — operate here against state law. Texas...
O'REILLY: Well, if they do, why doesn't the state turn them down?
DEREK: The state of Texas has been fighting for 50 years to try to shut them down.
O'REILLY: Well, there's a retired Congressman Charlie Steinholm, whom I'm sure you know...
O'REILLY: Stenholm represents the horse meat industry. And he says — this is his argument: He says, look, most people who have horses can't afford to have them put to sleep. It's an expensive process. We take the old broken down horses and humanely kill them — through euthanasia — and then we, you know, use their meat. Where's the fallacy in that?
DEREK: First, it's against Texas state law since the '40s. So it got over 50 years. They operate under federal commerce and transport. I think this is a state's rights issue.
O'REILLY: But let's deal with the euthanasia. The horses are going to die anyway.
DEREK: It's not humane. It's not humane. The horse's head isn't restrained. The horses are flight animals...
O'REILLY: If it were humane, would you object?
DEREK: I would object, because it's against our culture. These are foreign owned companies. They don't pay federal taxes here. It costs us federal tax dollars to inspect...
O'REILLY: All right. So you don't think that this industry...
DEREK: We're subsidizing their taste for American horse meat.
O'REILLY: Because you have to inspect the horse before it's killed and used in this process?
DEREK: The USDA has inspectors there.
O'REILLY: Right. So that costs taxpayer money.
DEREK: That money should be for Hurricane Katrina victims.
O'REILLY: All of this makes me nervous. I don't like any of this. But I want to be fair. So this industry is subsidized partially by the taxpayer, because the government has to. But you don't like any of this. You think the industry should be banned, right?
DEREK: No. And I pretty much have an answer for anybody's point of view, emotional or not.
DEREK: Emotional or not. Americans get nothing out of it.
O'REILLY: So, ban the industry?
DEREK: If you talk to the mayor of Kauffman, where one of the plants is, it's the worst thing for a town and for a city to have.
O'REILLY: Now, we were trying to get Pamela Anderson on this program, because she's a big PETA spokesperson.
O'REILLY: But she hates me in every way she could possibly hate me. So she won't come on. And I'm misunderstood. I have nothing against her.
Are you Pam Anderson — PETA? Are you in that group?
DEREK: I'm not. I don't belong to any animal rights group at this point.
O'REILLY: Do you disagree with them in any way?
DEREK: Personally, I have problems. I don't agree with them on some issues. As humans, we're always evolving. As far as...
O'REILLY: Do you eat meat?
DEREK: Yes. Yes.
O'REILLY: So you eat...
DEREK: And I'll separate this. Horses are not livestock in our country. They are never bred, ever, to be eaten.
O'REILLY: That's interesting.
DEREK: For human consumption.
O'REILLY: So livestock is bred to feed humans — in the food chain.
DEREK: That's their purpose. Cows.
O'REILLY: But horses are not.
DEREK: Never in this country. Pets, sport...
O'REILLY: One more question, and this is an interesting question, and I just thought of it. Did Native Americans eat horses? Do you know?
DEREK: I don't know. I don't think so. I don't think so.
O'REILLY: We're going to find that out.
DEREK: But then they probably did. I mean, if there was a famine or something...
O'REILLY: Well, they had buffalo. They had other animals they could eat. Because I know they revered horses and horses were everything. But yes, if there's a famine, you're going to eat anything.
DEREK: Absolutely. And this meat isn't going to a country like Sudan, where they need the protein.
DEREK: And one other thing — for someone to say that they need that $150 for the end of the horse's usefulness. It costs more than that a month to keep them alive.
O'REILLY: All right.
DEREK: You've got 20 to 25 years in a horse.
O'REILLY: Thank you for a very interesting story. I knew nothing about it. We appreciate you coming in. Always good to see you, Ms. Derek.
DEREK: Thanks. Thank you.
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