The Ramblings of Annie Abalam

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The FDA is making moves and taking names… sort of.

Marion Nestle’s post “The FDA takes action on animal antibiotics, at long last” discusses the FDA’s recent attempts at minimizing uses of antibiotics in food producing animals.  According to Nestle, the FDA is “asking drug companies to voluntarily cut back on producing antibiotics for non-therapeutic purposes and to require veterinary oversight of use of these drugs.” The FDA’s token phrase is “judicious use” in their press release.  By judicious use, the FDA means that drugs should only be used for medical purposes – meaning treatment of an ailment – and not just for the sake of increasing production.  The FDA has decided to take a stand on this issue because they realize that the use of antibiotics poses a threat to human health.  It has taken them an ungodly amount of time to even ask producers, but that is a different issue.

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) responded with common industry arguments:

  1. Some farmers in rural areas do not have access to veterinarians.
  2. Although the FDA is currently merely suggesting that farmers cut back on antibiotic usage, it will be treated as law.
  3. NPPC believes that the research behind the proposition is “junk”.  In their opinion, the amount of health risks associated with consumption of antibiotics in meat is minimal.

I have a couple of responses to the NPPC’s “arguments”.

  1. If you do not have access to a veterinarian, you should not own a single animal.  For once, a government agency is doing something that will (albeit unintentionally) aid farm animal welfare.  There is no reason for an animal to not be able to see a vet.  Theoretically, this could lead to more profits for the farmers, but I will not go down that path.
  2. I am surprised that this is not being put into law, but I’m sure state capture has something to do with that.  Still, if that is not feasible for the time being, big deal.  Maybe the fact that farmers are being coerced (in a weird way) to not shove antibiotics down animals’ throats will lead to them finding better ways of raising them.  Maybe if you didn’t have them in painfully close quarters, breeding all kinds of disease and misery, they would not be so susceptible to illness.
  3. The NPPC is junk! Seriously though, if research has proven for years that antibiotics are bad for humans, wouldn’t you think there is some validity in it?

None of what I have said is rocket science or terribly insightful.  I know that.

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Weekly Food Log

Although this post is indeed late, I have some things to say about Starved For Science.  Paarlberg definitely has an agenda here, but I think I agree with him about biotechnology being kept out of Africa.  African leaders seeking to mimic Europe are against genetically modified organisms (GMOs) because they think they are unhealthy – fine.  I think that African leaders, however, should step out of their royal homes and really get in touch with their starving people.  People are STARVING TO DEATH.  IT IS A VERY UNPLEASANT WAY TO DIE – I speak from experience! I cannot understand how African leaders can call themselves leaders looking out for their people’s best interests when they ignore one of the hugest issues facing their country.

Another idea that I would like to emphasize is that GMOs would most likely save the lives of thousands of Africans.  Monsanto is not ideal to work with, but if contracting with them meant avoiding starvation, I would dare to argue that it might be an option worth considering.  Americans eat GMOs left and right, and what do you see us doing? Getting fat.  As far as I know, GMOs are not directly linked to obesity, but I think obesity is better than starvation.  Africans could use a little meat on their bones.

In terms of how Starved For Science is making me think about food… Reading this book has made me rethink GMOs.  I am not particularly against them, but I do not appreciate how aggressive Monsanto is.  Paarlberg’s work has made me grateful for living in America.  We have our problems, but I am not starving.  I’m just upset that the animals that make people fat are treated poorly.  Everybody has their crosses to bear.

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Weekly Food Log

After reading that article about Mad Cow Disease, my hatred for the USDA doubled.  Rather than just seething, I chose to do something constructive with this information: share it with my lovely mother and conduct a very informal interview.  I wanted to see what she had to say about this debacle.  From what Marion Nestle’s blog post says, there has only been one case of a human suffering as a result of eating beef with Mad Cow Disease.  Eating the beef has not had any effect on people that I am aware of, so I was asking her how she felt about the government agency’s lack of interest in really attacking the issue.

She told me that the USDA made her anxious, but she was not about to get as up in arms as I am about it.  My mother watches the news every night, so I would feel confident saying that she is up to date on most issues.  I do not think most channels on TV would cover the USDA’s choice to condone Mad Cow Disease existing in the US, with the exception of maybe a 60 Minutes investigation, so she is not as in tune with what the USDA does (and does not).  She said to me “Well, Annie, people are not getting sick from it as far as I know, so I do not feel particularly guilty potentially bringing it into our home.  I do worry about Bozo and Violet though.  They say that dogs can react to Mad Cow Disease in their food.” My response was “Fine.  If you are worried about Bozo and Violet, will you continue to purchase dog food that has beef in it?” She said she would not, and would buy them food made with lamb.

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Mad Cow Disease

According to “What’s up with mad cow?” Mad Cow Disease is on the rise again.  Marion Nestle of Food Politics discusses the program implemented to keep track of Mad Cow cases on feedlots.  Only 40,000 cows of the 34 million slaughtered annually are tested for the Mad Cow Disease (bovine  spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)).  She defines BSE as “a fatal disease caused by abnormal proteins (prions) in the brain and nervous system.”

I will forever be the USDA’s greatest enemy.  The fact that they cannot be bothered to test more than .11% of the population says something in itself.  Nestle’s post states that there were 29 cases in 2011.  I would not hesitate argue that there were significantly more cases that were untested.  I simply cannot wrap my brain around the USDA’s logic when they only test such an incredibly small sample of the population.  The Wall Street Journal article Nestle referenced stated that by the time the carcass got to the animal rendering plant, there was no way of tracing the cow’s origins.  How is this possible? How can the USDA allow animals to leave CAFOs with no way of tracking where they came from? When E. coli O157:H7 is found at a processing plant, the plant is left with no way to determine what CAFO is supplying cows with this deadly disease.  It makes absolutely no sense.

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