Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Final Insight

This will close the exploration on animal abuse and the horrid conditions factory farm livestock have to endure. Up until your food ethics extravaganza, you may have never understood what it was you consumed hour by hour, day by day, week by week, year by year. Perhaps you never even asked yourself the question "Where did this chicken come from?" or "I wonder how the cow that provided this steak was treated?" or any other of the sort. Hopefully this adventure has been educating and has made you more aware of the exploitation that happens to animals every day. I have here a few more videos that may provide you a final insight on the disturbing subjects of animal abuse and factory farming and to help you remember that animals are certainly more than meets the eye.

Life of a duck at a California factory farm
Life of a pig at an Iowa factory farm
Basic factory farming

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Antibiotic Resistance Affecting the Real World

     When most people hear stories of people being affected by antibiotic resistance, they are most likely not about to take action against this risk. With even our food being affected by antibiotics and the risk of antibiotic resistance in animals and humans, it is important to realize the gravity of the situation. Every year, people lose their lives as a result of antibiotic resistance. Hopefully this post will convince you not to take these risks lightly. The following statistics may have an influence on you:

  • "Antimicrobial resistance is recognized as one of the greatest threats to human health worldwide."
    • Because of their use in large industries, antibiotics have started to pose a significant threat to mankind without much public awareness in the form of antibiotic resistance.
  • "Nearly 2 million Americans per year develop hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), resulting in 99,000 deaths – the vast majority of which are due to antibacterial-resistant pathogens."
    • In hospitals, a major cause of death is antibiotic resistance, stemming from the very treatments that are meant to save lives.
  • "Based on studies of the costs of infections caused by antibiotic-resistant pathogens versus antibiotic-susceptible pathogens, the cost to the U.S. health care system of antibiotic resistant infections is $21 billion to $34 billion each year and more than 8 million additional hospital days."
    • Not only is antibiotic resistance a threat to human and animal life, but it has proven to be a burden on the economy as well.
  • "Two common HAIs alone (sepsis and pneumonia) killed nearly 50,000 Americans and cost the U.S. health care system more than $8 billion in 2006."
    • Even one or two cases of antibiotic resistance influenced breakouts can be extremely harmful. A modern plague is not far fetched.
  • "Antibiotics are becoming less and less effective, in part due to over-prescription and inappropriate use."
    • Soon we may not even be able to treat some diseases we are treating today!
  • "New antibiotic development has slowed to a standstill due to market failure and regulatory disincentives. Antibiotics aren’t as profitable as other drugs (e.g., drugs to treat diabetes or asthma, which patients take for years). Also, the US Food and Drug Administration has long delayed publishing workable guidances describing how companies should design antibiotic clinical trials. Moreover, once a new antibiotic makes it to market, physicians hold it in reserve for only the worst cases rather than rushing to use it on all their patients due to fear of drug resistance. These economic and regulatory disincentives have made it far too difficult for companies to continue developing new antibiotics."
    • Not much progress in the world of antibiotics is being made recently, increasing our chances of being taken unprepared by possible disease outbreak.

     Antibiotic Resistance is a real threat in America and around the world. While many are still unaware of the sleeping giant, it is important to spread the news and make people realize the dangers of mistreating antibiotics.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Human Cloning

In a previous article, I made sure to explain the process of cloning so this article's discussion of human cloning would be more thoroughly understood. This is not the exact replicating of a living human, but a creation of an egg that can be implanted into a surrogate mother in order to allow said mother to birth the child naturally. Below is a flow chart depicting the process.
 The battle against infertility rages on, and human cloning may be a way to imitate having offspring with the genome of parents. Infertile parents would be able to simulate having children of their own. Of course, many moral dilemmas surround such an assertion.

Lee Silver, Ph.D., a Professor of Genetics at Princeton argues that although scientists may dangerously rush this technology, it will ultimately be beneficial and socially acceptable. He uses the example of the introduction of the MRI scan -- originally called the "nuclear magnetic resonance," activists argued fervently against it. However, with a change of its name and no alterations of the process, controversy died down. People felt uncomfortable around anything "nuclear." Likewise, Silver argues that if "human cloning" was not labeled as such, it would be more socially accepted as an honorable way to be a single parent.

Fertility treatments are always highly controversial, especially in America. First and foremost, the child would, genetically, be a sister to the mother, not a daughter, it terms of similarities in genome.  However, psychologists have proven that the relationship between a mother and daughter is in no way affected by similarities or differences in genetic code.  The doctors who would administer these processes would be inclined to push for the allowance of human cloning despite potential dangers. Another discussion about human cloning was the "commodifying of babies." That is, people are worried that babies would turn into products to be sold if they were cloned from good genes. The creation of a new means of creating life will not allow for the disregarding of human life. Overall, this relatively controversial issue can be beneficial to all involved if people do not abuse the system to make a profit.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

 It is no secret that Farmers are using antibiotics to enhance the growth of their livestock, not just in the United States, but all over the world. Just about 80% of the world’s use of antibiotics are used on animals and livestock. Farmers are giving their livestock small amounts of Antibiotics, but his creates antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria (for more information, see my previous post). If this process creates dangerous bacteria, then why are we still doing this? Why hasn’t the government stepped in? Well, in Europe, they are starting to take notice. Europe has banned some types of growth promoters but there are a lot of them out there. As early of 1960s, European countries had banned the use of any antibiotic important in human medicine as a growth promoter. Denmark leads the way as an example for the rest of Europe and the World. Denmark’s drive to preserve antibiotics for human use has revolutionized livestock management. The country limited how much Veterinarians could profit from the sale of antibiotics. It also became the first European country to ban the use of Avoparcin, which had not been listed in as an important antibiotic in human medicine for some reason. This is a big step forward, especially in a country that is the world’s leading exporter in pork.


Monday, May 4, 2015

vCJD Claims a Texas Man

In the history of the mad cow disease, only three human lives have been claimed until 2014. A man in Texas contracted vCJD. How he obtained the disease is still a little hazy, but the way it impacted him and all the other people in his life is not. The disease attacked his nervous system, and then, he began to suffer from depression and dementia before his death.

The strain of disease that this man acquired is variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. This is an extremely dangerous disease. It has caused the death of 220 humans worldwide and has prompted the slaughter of millions of cows. This version of the disease originated in the United Kingdom. 

The victim's travel records show that he had been traveling through Europe and the Middle East before the contraction of the disease. The three human deaths in America had connections to the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia, so there is no need to panic over the meat in America. That doesn't mean we can let our guard down in the United States, but the sad part is that it looks like we are letting our guard down.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is testing 40,000 cattle per year for BSE (mad cow disease). Not only is that only .1% of cattle in the United States, the number of cows being checked is also down 90% from 2005. We need to improve our work on preventing this disease our we may very well have an outbreak.


Sunday, May 3, 2015

Animal Welfare Awareness Videos

Please check out the following videos:

This video is of a speech by Philip Wollen OAM, an Australian philanthropist as well as an active member of the Animal Rights movement: 

The following video, "Glass Walls", was released by PETA featuring Paul McCartney which shows the cruelty to cows, pigs, chickens, and fish within the slaughterhouses. 
(Warning: graphic and disturbing content)

(I understand everyone has rather busy lives and would rather not watch 23 minutes worth of videos on animal welfare, but assuming you live to be the average life expectancy of an American (77 or 82 depending on if you are male or female), this is 23 minutes out of the 40,500,000-43,130,000 minutes of your life that may or may not change it for the better. I think it is worth a shot. Go ahead and try to watch at least a little and see what is going on in the world of food production)

A Fishy Situation

When many people think of animal welfare (especially since this blog has previously focused mainly on the factory farms on land), many forget about fish in the mix of the billions of animals killed and consumed by the world each year. For numerous countries, especially islands such as the Philippines or Japan, fish is a primary source of protein in a person's meal as well as a staple in their diet. One of the largest issues faced at the moment is overfishing. Overfishing according to the is "when more fish are caught than the population can replace through natural reproduction". As of the last several decades, over 85% of the world’s fisheries are now at or past their biological limits due to commercial fishing. The endangered and extinct fish species list is constantly growing and due to target fishing (fishing for top predators in a marine environment) entire ecosystems have shifted and the numbers of former-prey is booming. This rise greatly upsetting the environment as the food on which they feed on decreases at a much faster rate. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. If we continue to deplete the ocean at this current rate, it will be EMPTY by 2048. Yet why is this not addressed as being as large of an issue as it is?

It is difficult to manage this issue, however, due to open access to the oceans and water sources. Also, due to the immense size of the ocean, it is difficult to enforce the few laws that do exist. WWF states that 20% of the world’s catch is caught illegally, adding up to $10-23.5 billion each year. Another consequence to this giant of a fishing industry is the harm done to the bycatch- such as dolphins, turtles, wales, cetaceans, etc., leading to the killing of billions of fish.

When the hundreds of tons of fish are pulled in each day, they are killed by decompression, suffocation, or are crushed by the weight of the fish above them. Aquaculture, underwater factory farms, is similarly abusive. Conditions are just as inhumane as those in the places housing cows and chickens- fish are swimming in their own waste, constantly exposed to disease and mistreatment. 40% die before even ready to be killed by the companies.

Contrary to popular belief, fish is the #1 cause of food poisoning, not meat, as well as “the only significant means by which humans are exposed to mercury, a documented poison” according to Paul McCartney’s video “If Slaughterhouses had Glass Walls”. Excessive chemical use in aquaculture farms has had many harmful effects on both the fish and the human consumers. Disease and parasites are also easily transferred when the animal is eaten.

Be conscious of what you are eating & where it comes from. Just because the ocean is big doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its limits. Fish populations are being eradicated each year, marine environments destroyed, and entire ecosystems thrown into disorder because of humans messing around where they should not be and extreme overfishing around the world.

Poorly maintained saltwater salmon farms in Chile: 

Southern Chile salmon farming