Monday, May 14, 2007

Our Food Supply

I am very, very concerned about our food supply. Over the last couple of years, we've found out that not only are American bees dying in an alarming plague, but that they're also being killed off by African killer bees, which are a serious threat to the human population as well. And without bees polinating our crops, there will be NO more crops.

As I wrote in March of last year, the FDA is criminally negligent in it's governance of the American food supply. As I said then, the FDA is "...only able to inspect 2% of all imported fresh seafood. They are not even able to enforce restrictions on the cattle feed supply, which can cause bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or mad cow disease) in cattle which is easily passed on to humans (that's right; our beef is STILL not safe). Their attempt at preventative inspections for cattle with BSE is criminally negligent. And Consumer Reports Agency researchers ruffled feathers in January 2004 when they reported in Environmental Health Perspectives that young chickens contain three to four times more arsenic than other poultry and meat."

Nothing has changed: Our meat supply is still threatened.

Now we have just found out that "The deadly fish virus, viral hemorrhagic septicemia, or VHS previously found in Lake Erie and Lake Ontario was detected in the Lake Winnebago chain of lakes, the first such infection confirmed in inland Wisconsin waters, according to media reports Sunday."* To sum it up: This virus is fish Ebola.

And, of course, there is the bird flu.

This brings me to another question: Since diseases are known to adapt and jump to other species, and the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) think that it's only a matter of time for the bird flu to adapt to humans, what might happen with this new fish Ebola?

In July of 2005, Consumer Reports issued a warning (that they haven't rescinded) about deer and elk meat:

"Chronic wasting disease (CWD), an animal disorder similar to mad cow disease, is spreading in deer and elk populations across North America, particularly in the Rocky Mountain states and Wisconsin. Unlike the experience with infected cows, there is as yet no direct evidence that eating the meat of deer or elk with CWD actually causes disease in people. Still, test-tube experiments with prions have shown that human infection is theoretically possible. And researchers are investigating the deaths of several people who hunted or regularly ate venison and subsequently succumbed to brain-wasting disease. Should consumers avoid eating deer and elk meat? Until more is known, the answer to that question depends on your personal risk tolerance."

I hate to sound the trumpet of doom early on a Monday morning, but these are valid questions I'm raising and I'm not happy with the possibilities. Just because nothing has happened YET doesn't mean that it won't.

We Americans tend to live very placidly. We have had so many long years of peace an prosperity that even the attacks on 9/11/01 have not affected our complacency. This is evident in so many matters: We don't save money, we don't vote in elections, we keep living as if there is a lifetime of ease ahead of us. What will we do when (not if) we're faced with disaster? I am worried for us, for our children, and for our country.

We cannot even stop eating beef, when we know that it's potentially lethal! I go to restaurants and see overweight Americans everywhere, gorging on steaks, hamburgers, and pot roast. I want to stand up and scream "Don't you know you're playing Russian roulette?!" But too many people disregard this, in the mistaken belief that the government has it covered.

The reality is that the government lost control of this a long time ago. And it's just a matter of time before the American public is taught this in a very terrible way.

* You can read more about it here.


Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Off topic but you did ask, that story you mentioned by Gleen Beck is untrue, totally untrue and is not happening. Not yet anyway...

Saur♥Kraut said...

Daniel, thank you very much. I was truly shocked! I'm relieved to hear it wasn't true. It sounded unbelievable!

ed abbey said...

Since they started keeping track through 2006, there have been 153 deaths due to Mad Cow Disease. There are 73 deaths on average per year due to lightening. My odds of dying by stepping out the door are much much higher than eating a steak.

Likewise, numerous websites show that hundreds more people die every year on average from eating bacteria contaminated vegetables than meat.

daveawayfromhome said...

As a conservative you're not going to like this answer, but it's got to be said: In order for the FDA to inspect anything, they have to have money. Where is that money? Either non-existant due to tax-cuts or tied up in the Military. Conservatives love to talk about keeping us safe, but I dont see how spending the same amount on "Defense" as the rest of the world does combined has achieved that. Education, inspection, policing, and drug rehabilitation would all do far more to contribute to our well-being than a new nuclear sub or batch of fighter planes, or a land war in asia-minor. Our how about a simple willingness to pay for the safety one demands from one's government.

Lucy Stern said...

Another thing that we need to be concerned about is illness coming across the border from Mexico. There is a resurgence of illnesses that had been irradicated here in the US for years. We have to get our borders under control.

I also worry about he bees. We need to do our own gardening and keep airloom seeds on hand for planting in the future.

Thanks for an informative post.

The Lazy Iguana said...

Bee mass death has happened before. Some bee keepers have reported a 70% death rate of hives. This means 30% did not croak. Maybe those 30% are resistant to the disease. Insects are very hard to kill. Even the ones we try to kill seem to find ways to adapt. I once say a National Geographic photo of some kind of pest chewing its way through DDT powder.

Fat people gorging themselves probably do not care about mad cow disease. They figure that they will loose their feet anyway due to diabetes and have shortened their life span so much that it does not matter.

Those "keeping America safe" neo-cons do not care because GE and KBR can not make tons of money off the USDA. Putting money into that agency will mean more federal jobs for working class peons. Nobody who is rich now will get any richer. Therefore, who cares.

daveawayfromhome said...

I've read that the bees are being killed by a type of fungus, and the reason we are loosing so many is the usual one: over-breeding and under-variety. Kind of a dutch-elm disease for bees. Good news is that killer bees are not affected by the fungus, and those bees do pollination (just not as friendlily).

You dont have to eat beef or venison to get a form of Mad Cow Disease, you can also get it from eating squirrel brain (a friend of mine wrote a story on it).

green said...

informative post, but dare I say it's better to not know what contaminated meat you're eating?

Still, it will take generations to change America's eating habits. We, as Americans, consume more crap than the rest of the world combined (note the previous statement is my opinion and not based on any scientific research that I know of or can cite).

If you're going to go (die) might as well harden those arteries on the way out!!!

Live long and prosper.

United We Lay said...

and yet some people still don't believe in Climate change.

The Lazy Iguana said...

Ummmm....squirrel brains!

Killer bees produce more honey than lazy European Bees.

Senor Caiman said...


I worried about the food supply too, just one chocolate puddin pop left.

Excellent post.

Three Score and Ten or more said...

With family members in the biology biz I can say that while they have a lot of ideas about what may be killing off the bees, they don't have a clue yet. Killer bees don't kill the honey bees (though they displace them and sometime interbreed with them (africanized bees) The good news is that bumble bees, carpenter bees and a variety of big bees seem unaffected and they are pretty good pollenizers of many crops.
I have cut my steak size from eight plus ounces to four, but it has nothing to do with cow diseases, it has to do with the slowly decreasing size of Mr. Johnson.

I think, though I may not sound like it, that we should have concerns about the food supply, and that the concerns will someday become more than that. I not only worry about locally grown stuff but am seriously concerned with sanitation and disease on much imported vegetables and fruits.

United We Lay said...

three score,
Even though it means that we don't get to eat a lot of the things my husband likes from Colombia, it is important to eat locally grown produce. Not only does it cut down on disease, it lessons the environmental damage of shipping.

Bryan said...

Yes, the declining number of Bees concerns me, too. I wonder if it has anything to do with genetically modified (GM) crops? Monsanto, a mega-corporation that now holds patents on literally thousands of seeds, has engineered into their crops some weird DNA strands which may catapult our planet into a genetic food Armageddon.