September 20, 2013

CLF Week in Links: Food Waste, Pathogens, Chickens, and More

Robert Lawrence, MD

Robert Lawrence, MD

Director

Center for a Livable Future

usda-chickensWhat a waste. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization released a report about food waste with disturbing data about its carbon footprint; according to the report, a full third of the world’s food is wasted. As this Mother Jones article says, “discarded food accounts for a staggering amount of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.” The NRDC wrote “The Dating Game,” which CLF’s Roni Neff helped to review; the article exposes the sham of “sell by,” “use by,” and “best before” dates on supermarket items.

Fun with Monsanto. In this Daily Show segment, Aasif Mandvi reports on the war being waged by Monsanto’s biotech attorney against what he jokingly calls “greedy farmers.” As one interviewed farmer puts it, “Monsanto’s lawyers are professionals. This is all they do, is sue farmers.” This is a hilarious segment—but not really. It’s far too true to the mark to be funny. The exploitation made possible by monopoly control is just as ugly when applied to the soybean seed market as it was when applied by the robber barons of a century ago.

Antibiotic resistance, again. This New York Times article addresses the CDC report released on Monday, which finds that there are 23,000 deaths per year resulting from antibiotic-resistant infections. As our own Tyler Smith asks in his blogpost, where is the FDA? To quote Tyler, “The CDC pinpoints the main factor driving the rise of resistance: the misuse of antibiotics in humans and food animal production.” The FDA has the power to take regulatory action that would curb the misuse of antibiotics on farms—we’re eagerly awaiting that move. The countries of the EU, notably Denmark, have managed to protect the health of their citizens by restricting the use of antibiotics to the treatment of sick animals. The data are clear, the evidence is in, the threats continue – further inaction by the FDA is unacceptable.

Walmart revolution? CLF friend Dan Imhoff (and author of CAFO: The Tragedy of Industrial Meat Factories), is leading a campaign that’s pressuring Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, to source its meat from farms that use antibiotics only to treat sick animals at proper therapeutic doses and do not misuse low dose antibiotics delivered via feed or water to promote growth and prevent disease caused by crowding in squalid conditions. You can sign the petition and join Dan in his campaign. This blogpost on Ecocentric wonders if Walmart could start the protect-antibiotics revolution. It would be ironic, wouldn’t it?

MRSA and CAFOs. Researchers from the Bloomberg School, funded in part through CLF, have published a study in JAMA Internal Medicine that shows a connection between living “in proximity” to high-density livestock operations and community-acquired antibiotic-resistant MRSA infections. This study is the first to show the connections between the risk of acquiring MRSA infections in the surrounding community and living close to spray fields where liquid waste from swine CAFOs is applied to crop fields.

Big Chicken. This Salon article addresses many of the ills of the poultry industry, including miserable living conditions for the birds, environmental harms, harms to human health, the speeding up of both slaughter lines and inspection lines, and the replacement of some USDA inspectors with company-provided inspectors! Talk about conflict of interest. The article also addresses the newest development in Big Chicken: “Not only will we allow the shipment of chicken cadavers to China for processing, but the USDA has now OK’d the import of the resulting chicken products back home.” Given the track record of food safety issues in China, this should make the U.S. consumer of chicken very, very worried.

High-end chickens. This New York Times article explains an experiment to re-create “what chickens used to taste like” by feeding table scraps from four-star restaurants to Green Circle chickens, a breed of French poultry rarely found in the U.S.

Factory farms, bird’s eye view. A photographer has captured what industrial feed lots and waste lagoons look like from above, in these images created from publicly available satellite photographs. View the slideshow on Wired.

Meatless Monday anniversary. In less than a month, the Bloomberg School will host a scientific symposium and celebration for the tenth anniversary of Meatless Monday. If you’re in town, don’t miss it. It’s October 17 at the School: more information is here.

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