Thursday, March 12, 2009

More Bad News about Farming

We are collectively in trouble about food. Yesterday I wrote about how the ideals of organic food growers have been perverted by cynical selling of Federal organic certification to anyone -- including the poison peanut farmers. (This of course is due to the Bush government determination to undermine the effectiveness of any government regulation, but that's another issue entirely.)

Today's NY Times has more bad news: MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) has appeared in domestic pigs. This has occurred especially on large farms where the animals are treated and over-treated with antibiotics, encouraging the super-bugs' drug resistance. The disease spreads to humans. In the US, not much tracing is done (again, thanks to lax government action), but in Holland, the connection has been established firmly. In one Ohio town where many pigs are raised, 50 of the 500 people had such an infection; the local doctor who was trying to put the pieces together died suddenly before he could complete his work. See this: Our Pigs, Our Food, Our Health by Nicholas Kristof.

Super bugs have even spread to zoos: an LA Times article last week about MRSA in a baby elephant:
An outbreak of antibiotic-resistant skin infections at the San Diego Zoo last year began when a zookeeper infected an elephant calf that was being hand-raised because its mother couldn't care for it, according to a zoo and county health department investigation. The calf, in turn, infected as many as 20 of its human caretakers.
Kristof says he washes his hands very carefully after preparing pork products. I think it's going to take more precautions than that. Our system is very broken, and I fear that farm issues are going to be less pressing than fixing the other broken parts first.

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