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Dr. Michael W. Fox

Agriculture

AGRICULTURE, BIOTECHNOLOGY & BIOETHICS: FOOD QUALITY, SECURITY & PUBLIC HEALTH

 

By   Michael W. Fox  B.Vet.Med., Ph.D., D.Sc., M.R.C.V.S.*

               

  ‘Who ever could make two ears of corn or two blades of grass to grow up on a spot of ground where only one grew before would deserve better of mankind and do more essential service to his country than the whole race of politicians put together."                                                                                                          

--Jonathan Swift, 1667-1745  Irish born priest and writer   

                                                                                                                                      

“The significant problems of the world cannot be solved at the same level of consciousness at which they were created.”

---Albert Einstein

SUMMARY

Food safety, quality and security are rising concerns both nationally and internationally. The hegemony of multinational agribusiness corporations promoting non-sustainable agricultural practices erodes both cultural and biological diversity; promotes cruel and environmentally damaging concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs or factory farms) supported by wholesale use of antibiotics, anabolic steroids, live vaccines, pesticides, and other veterinary drugs; and the planting of patented, genetically engineered/modified (GM) and hybrid crop varieties coupled with toxic agrichemical pesticides and fertilizers.

The validity of these concerns will be documented from a holistic veterinary, public and environmental health perspective. The bioethical basis for the adoption of bioregionally appropriate, sustainable, traditional, innovative, community supported and supporting, humane, socially just, and organically certified farming practices and marketing cooperatives will be detailed. In the face of climate change, rising oil and food prices, dwindling food reserves, and increasing world hunger, finding and applying alternatives to conventional, petrochemical-based agribusiness is one of humanity’s most urgent priorities.

WORLD HUNGER AND RISING DEMAND FOR MEAT---AND WATER

 

                                              By Dr. Michael W. Fox *

 

With rising incomes in developing countries, consumer demand for more meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products is accelerating, as is the proliferation of factory farms or confined animal feeding operation (CAFOs).In their timely review article on the role of the veterinary profession in meeting present and future global food demands, Dr. Alan M. Kelly et al ( See Kelly AM et al. One health, food security and veterinary medicine. JAVMA 242: 739-743, 2013) highlight some disturbing facts and trends, notably: A US government-sponsored $3.5 billion global hunger and food security initiative---the USAID Feed the Future program--- does not have one veterinarian in a permanent staff position; population trends mean 1 million additional infants every week for the next 40 years will need food; approximately 1 billion people currently suffer from chronic hunger and 17,000 rural and urban children die of hunger every day; one third of total world food production is lost or wasted during processing, marketing and consumption steps; a rising middle class is driving the Livestock Revolution and proliferation of intensive systems of production (CAFOs); where livestock are raised by the poor, there are 2.5 billion cases of human illness and 2.7 million deaths from zoonotic diseases transmitted from the animals.

Without more enlightened dietary choices for the rising middle class in developing countries, the proliferation of CAFOs and upsurge in consumption of animal produce and highly processed foods will mean a rising incidence of so called Western diet-related diseases, and also of food-born illnesses and zoonotic diseases without costly oversight and correctives. The emphasis, until recently, of employing veterinary science, vaccines and pharmaceuticals to primarily to boost livestock productivity in the developed world is now being adopted in developing countries with potentially catastrophic public health, animal health and welfare and environmental consequences. Such developments will mean economic triage for the poor, further marginalized by a rising middle class demanding more meat, eggs and dairy products and the natural resources needed to meet these market demands.

 

WATER LIMITATIONS

A looming worldwide water shortage may force us all to become vegetarians by 2050, according to a new study ( [PDF] 

Feeding a Thirsty World - Stockholm International Water Institute

www.siwi.org/.../Feeding_a_thirsty_world_2012worldwaterweek_rep...)


The world's population may have to switch almost completely to a vegetarian diet over the next 40 years to avoid catastrophic shortages. Humans derive about 20% of their protein from animal-based products now, but this may need to drop to just 5% to feed the extra 2 billion people expected to be alive by 2050, according to this report. "There will not be enough water available on current croplands to produce food for the expected 9 billion population in 2050 if we follow current trends and changes towards diets common in western nations," the report by Malik Falkenmark and colleagues at the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) said. A meat-based diet consumes five to ten times more water than a largely vegetarian diet, and with one-third of the world's arable cropland already used to grow feed for animals, the world simply doesn't have enough resources to continue that trend for the two billion or so new mouths expected to be needing food by 2050.

 

In entering the complex global industrial food production system to endeavor to improve the health, productivity and welfare of farmed animals, the veterinary and allied professions are on the horns of ecologist Garrett Hardin’s altruistic dilemma.( See Hardin G.  The Limits of Altruism: An Ecologist’s View of Survival. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1977). The road to hell is paved with good intentions especially when the hidden costs or ‘externalities’ of intensified food animal production and their long-term consequences cause greater harm than good, especially to the rural poor, landless and disenfranchised indigenous people, and to environmental quality, wildlife habitat and biodiversity. Be it misguided altruism, or pecuniary interests as some critics see it, that drives Bill Gates and his ‘philanthropic’ Foundation to promote and fund mass vaccination schemes and high-input genetically engineered (GMO) crops, the fact remains that where there is no vision, the people shall perish.

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, more than 165 million children, a quarter of children under the age of 5 worldwide, are stunted physically and immunologically and mentally impaired because of pre-and postnatal malnutrition. According to this 2013 UN report, 61.7 million, or 48% of all children in India are stunted. Ironically, India is now leads the U.S. and Argentina as the world’s leading exporter of beef (from buffalo).

It is indeed a tragedy that animals must suffer the consequences of our increasing numbers and appetites. But with a clearer and practical vision of one health, all involved could indeed help serve the greater good for generations to come if short-term profits are not the driving force, and those with the money make more enlightened dietary choices.

 

THE TRANSNATIONAL FDA

The late President of the United States, Dwight Eisenhower cautioned, ‘Beware of the industrial-military complex.’  In today’s global context, the transnational FDA, (food, drug and agribusiness) industrial complex needs to be confronted and dismantled.

Poverty and hunger are exacerbated by the disenfranchisement of indigenous farmers and once sustainable communities by commodity crop developments and subsidized imports, including crops grown to feed livestock and poultry for the more affluent urban consumers. Landless ‘peasants’ become the urban poor, their indigenous wisdom, sustainable farming systems, and crop and livestock varieties being lost in the process. The harmful socioeconomic consequences of CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations, i.e. ‘factory farms’) in the US have been well documented.  Once independent family farms have become extinct, either forced into bankruptcy or contracted into corporate serfdom by large, and increasingly transnational agribusiness conglomerates.

The global imperialism of such monopolists is assured when tax payer’s moneys go to heavily subsidize commodity crops and animal feedstuffs. These farm subsidies help this agribusiness sector gain an advantage in the competitive world market place, but much to the detriment of America’s once vibrant and productive nexus of family farms and rural communities, now decimated by this juggernaut  of economism that is called progress and necessity. Trade agreements through NAFTA and  the WTO, ( the North American Free Trade Association and  the World Trade Organization), with their transnational laws and regulations set up to facilitate the fixing of prices, supply, and demand, violate the sovereignty of nation states and the viability of farming communities world-wide.

CONDITIONED CHEMICAL & DRUG ADDICTIONS

We are all conditioned as children to take our medicine, and as adults to trust the good doctor and not question Aesculapian authority. In science we all trust. Anything that is called ‘scientific’ or ‘science-based’ is acceptable. But Aesculapian authority needs to be questioned, and the pharmaceutical industry held accountable for violating public trust with its rush to fast-track new drugs and vaccines for government approval, patent protection and world-market profits. Agribusiness’ petrochemical industry claims scientific authority over the ‘safe and effective’ application of pesticides---agricidal poisons--- to the land as well as to the food-chains of man and beast.  This same industry lobbies against any restrictions on the use of antibiotics in livestock feed, and other food-animal veterinary biologics/drugs that substitute for more humane, disease-preventing methods of livestock and poultry production; putting both humans and animals at risk in the process.

The food and drug industry complex with its pharmaceutical and petrochemical and ‘life science’ agribiotechnology components is not to be trusted. The public trust has been violated in countless ways in the rush for corporate profits and market monopolies. How can we trust the medical profession that condones the wholesale medication of even kindergarten children, with psychotropic, mood and behavior-altering pharmaceuticals?  Or organized veterinary medicine that never opposed the use of antibiotics as feed-additive growth-stimulants for poultry and livestock? Neither the American Medical nor Veterinary Medical Associations opposed government approval BGH---genetically engineered bovine growth hormone, ---the first product of animal production biotechnology to be rushed to market, before the rash of genetically modified live virus vaccines. (BGH is prohibited in Canada and the UK for cow heath and public heath reasons).  Who can trust the food industry when it is public knowledge that the ‘life science’ biotechnology industry-government alliance allowed the planting and consumption of never-tested or authorized, yet patented (even by the US government)  varieties of genetically engineered food and feed crops?  The enduring government alliance with the petrochemical pesticide and fertilizer companies that continue to poison our food and water, and contaminate our oceans and amniotic fluids, along with all the drugs consumed that we and livestock excrete, is a matter of fact.

Profits and pestilence aside, the veterinary and human medical advocates of conventional vaccines and drugs for a sickening society and sickly, stressed factory farmed livestock and poultry, can no longer ignore the price of success: Nor can the agribusiness food industry, squandering land, water and oil/fossil fuels to boost production and profits with its toxic petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides.

DRUGS AND FARM ANIMAL HEALTH

CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations, or ‘factory’ farms) are a bad investment in the long-term. Notably, they are pathogenic, spreading agricologenic and domestogenic diseases---new crop and animal pathogens and the chronic human diseases associated with the Western diet. They are also a major source of diseases of food-born origin, often epidemic in scale, and other diseases like Avian and Swine ‘flu. New zoonotic diseases, and more virulent strains of existing zoonotic pathogens, are likely to evolve because of the pathogenic environments and condition of the animals incarcerated in CAFOs.

Like agrichemicals, not all vaccines are bad. But like many drugs they stimulate populations of pathogens and harmless organisms to mutate and become more harmful. So we need new, more costly---and highly profitable---mutation and serovar-specific vaccines and ever stronger antibiotics and other drugs. The same is true with the application of agricultural, food industry pesticides, a global industry, along with genetically engineered crops, that stimulate populations of resistant weeds, insect pets, and crop diseases. And both human and veterinary drugs and agrichemicals cause serious water contamination.

Human and veterinary vaccines and drugs give us a false sense of security and put us on the treadmill of addiction/dependency to prevent and treat diseases in essentially pathogenic environments, notably those where there is human over-crowding, poverty and malnutrition, and where virtually genetically homozygous farmed animals are crowded together in CAFOs, mirroring the genetic uniformity of commodity crops grown in disease-promoting monocultures.

Ideal substrates/environments for the proliferation of pathogens have been created in CAFOs with the commercial hybrid livestock and poultry lines being virtually homozygous---and now even being cloned---. This calls for more drugs and vaccines, -what I call domestogenic diseases of animal production---that mirror the agricologenic pest and blight problems of crops that are also raised in homozygotic monocultures on nutrient-and micro-organism deficient, agrichemically intoxicated soils.

Factory farmed animals are made genetically as uniform as possible in terms of growth rates/productivity, in order to maximize profits. The more so when they have been cloned, a biogenetic engineering process now in full swing. Genetically similar lines of pigs for example, make similar weight gains and reach slaughter weight at the same time. This uniformity mirrors that of commodity food and feed crops grown in monocultures. Both provide ideal substrates/environments for the proliferation and evolution of increasingly virulent and highly infectious and contagious organisms. Coupled with husbandry factors such as over-crowding stress, soil nutrient deficiencies etc; this lack of genetic diversity increases the virulence of organisms, even making harmless ones, (so called commensals and symbiotes) into pathogens and pests. Those pathogens that can rapidly mutate or acquire genetic material from other organisms can soon develop resistance to antibiotics, pesticides, and other drugs, in some instances even thriving on them.

Deliberately infecting already immuno-compromised animals in CAFOs with modified /attenuated, yet still live viral vaccines is problematic and counter-intuitive considering the zoonotic, public health risks, manufacturers’ profits not withstanding. The various antibiotics, anti-parasitic, and other veterinary drug residues, including anabolic steroids and growth hormone implants, and feed additives and contaminants like copper, arsenic, cadmium, lead and dioxin that go into the environment in animals’ nitrogenous and phosphate-loaded excrement, pose a challenging management and containment problem, (especially to surface and ground water) that few if any CAFOs effectively address.

Recycling slaughtered livestock and poultry remains, and food and beverage industry by-products, into livestock and poultry feeds that are not organically certified and therefore can contain pesticide residues, dioxins and heavy metals, and various pathogens, compromise animal health and welfare. Manufactured livestock and poultry diets can be deficient in essential nutrients, and being formulated to increase growth/productivity at the lowest possible ingredient cost to maximize profits, can result in production-related diseases, notably metabolic and liver diseases in cattle, arthritis/lameness in pigs, and lameness, obesity and heart attacks in broiler chickens. . Feeding livestock and poultry GM herbicide and insect resistant crops and byproducts containing endogenous toxins like Bt, and absorbed herbicides, and conventional feed from nutrient deficient soils and hybrid ‘Green Revolution’ crop varieties, pose further animal and consumer health issues.

One of the most limiting factors in establishing CAFOs is the diminishing supply of water world-wide, and the vast quantities demanded by such operations.   The amount of land and resources used to raise feed and fodder for intensively raised, confined livestock and poultry has a major impact on biodiversity. The negative impact on wildlife habitat is compounded by the adverse wildlife and habitat impacts of extensive livestock husbandry systems of grazing/ranching/pastoralism where there is over-stocking/over-grazing, and indiscriminate predator control. The adoption of sustainable livestock production systems linked with organic food, feed and fodder production appropriate to the natural resource availability in given bioregions would do much to help advance the conservation-based agriculture approach to wildlife protection and habitat restoration.

POPULATION AND CONSUMPTION ISSUES

The price of success in maintaining and promoting human population growth with decreased mortality rates and arguably longer life expectancies means more hungry mouths to feed and potential disease outbreaks to fend off. In more affluent and consumptive socioeconomic sectors around the world the diseases of affluence like obesity-diabetes/metabolic syndrome, and cancer, are part of the price of success. But the ever more impoverished and landless survivors of averted epidemics and famines, and the more affluent but disenchanted, together make the kindling of inter-tribal conflicts, war and acts of terrorism inevitable.

Uncoupled from any family planning and concerted population control, effective resource management and conservation, pollution control, sustainable agricultural practices and economies local and global, poverty, sickness and famine will be the legacy of the human condition, passed on with increasing virulence from one generation to the next. Look at our history since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the Age of Reason, and the epoch of colonial imperialism, once nationalistic, now corporate and transnational. The fear- based progress and the success of the modern age envisioned by the military-industrial technocracy generations ago, to essentially find ways to profit in the name of fighting famine and pestilence, two of our primal fears, by selling more drugs to save more people---for what? And by selling more toxic chemicals to produce more food—for why, but mainly to fatten the cattle of the rich as Gandhi observed, now mean that there are ever more moths to feed and souls to suffer.

The price of success in maintaining unhealthy concentrations of animals for human consumption made possible by the use of veterinary vaccines, antibiotics and other drugs, has meant more resistant and harmful pathogens, more and more being harmful to humans, the so called zoonotic diseases. When computed along with the environmental impact of extensive livestock herding and grazing, CAFOs are the number one contributor to climate change; and a leader of the pack in ground and surface water pollution and topsoil waste.

Corporate profits not withstanding, the misguided altruism of philanthropic agencies and individuals playing into the FDA system, giving $ billions in drugs, food aid, and seed and livestock varieties unsuited for sustainable farming, is a major impediment to real progress in the human condition that is inseparable from environmental health and quality, and from the protection and restoration of both cultural and biological diversity.

WESTERN DIET AND HEALTH

It is argued that without the use of the petrochemical industry’s fuel, pesticides and fertilizers, and the genetically engineered commodity crops of its agribiotechnology affiliates, commercial, high-volume crops like cotton, corn and soy could never be produced in the amount that is needed to clothe and to feed people ever more beef and cheese and more pork and chicken rather than organic lentils, beans and grains. The Western economy, and the middle class in particular that has been raised on this diet (of the affluent), rather than on the healthier, minimally processed cereal/grain, legume, fruit and vegetable-based diets of the materially poorer indigenous peoples around  much of the world, are being crushed by the rising drug and health care costs, primarily arising from a meat and processed ‘junk’ food- based diet. While informed Westerners adopt some of the more healthful diets of indigenous peoples, their own governments, and donor, ‘philanthropic’ agencies, like the UN’s World Bank, are working to implant their own industrial agriculture and the Western diet in developing countries to sate the rising demands of the affluent, and the tourist industry, for beef, chicken, cheese, ice cream, and in non-Muslim countries, more pork instead of lentils, chick peas and beans.

The irony that the Western diet is now being associated with not only such epidemic problems as obesity, stroke, heart attack, diabetes and chronic degenerative diseases like arthritis as well as a range of cancers and birth defects and brain damage, but also with behavioral changes in the consumer populace. Most notable is the epidemic incidence of anxiety and obsessive compulsive, addictive, and depressive disorders, and various psychoses, violent and delusional. These behavioral abnormalities are associated with disrupted brain, neuroendocrine system chemistry, like the neurochemicals serotonin and nor-adrenaline. While social and emotional stress contribute to these complex and widespread mental health problems, radical dietary changes that are the antithesis of the Western diet and  that embrace some of the nutritional wisdom of earlier times and indigenous traditions, have been shown to greatly help many of these neurobehavioral, psychological, and psychosomatic disorders, especially in children.

We may never know to what degree we have harmed ourselves, even for ever, genetically, with petrochemical pesticides that are lipophilic, being selectively absorbed by fatty tissues, as in the skin of oranges, the breasts of women, and the brains of all.

More and more people, along with their pets, make dramatic recoveries from a variety of health problems following a change in diet that includes the exclusion of almost all  the conventional human and companion animal (cat and dog) prepared and processed foods.

That highly refined, denatured, and bleached wheat flour was sold as ‘Wonder Bread’ for decades in the US, while the more nutritious ingredients were either put into livestock feed, or used by other food industry sectors, including the ‘health food’ industry that sold at premium prices the bran, gluten and vitamins that was taken out of Wonder Bread, as essential dietary supplements. Wonder Bread is the Asian and Middle and Far Eastern equivalent of polished white rice, the essentially denatured, nutritionally deficient staple food of billions of uninformed people.

Much of the food we consume today and that goes in to pet foods and livestock feed are from  ‘high performance’ patented hybrid seed varieties that were developed in the 1960’s and ‘70’s as part of the much hyped ‘Green Revolution’ to feed the hungry world and end famine and malnutrition around the globe.

‘GREEN REVOLUTION’ HARMS AND COSTS

In the 1990 declaration by the International Movement for Ecological Agriculture meeting in Penang, Malaysia, the following critical comments were made on the Green Revolution:

 ‘Modern intensive agriculture has conspicuously failed to increase food production and to meet global food and nutrition needs. The claim that the Green Revolution has led to higher crop yields is highly exaggerated and does not reflect a fair and complex comparison with more ecologically sound systems:

These claims are usually based on the measurement of yield as defined per acre or hectare of land. However, if one takes into account the hidden costs on input subsidies and nonrenewable resources, and the costs of ecological damage (leading to lower yields after some time) and furthermore, measure yield against high fertilizer and water costs, then the Green Revolution techniques are highly inefficient. In contrast, the economic soundness is striking of traditional and ecologically better varieties.

Even more seriously, the Green Revolution measurement of output is flawed because it only accounts for a single crop (e.g., rice) and even then only a single component of that crop (e.g., grain) whilst neglecting the uses of straw for fodder and fertilizer. Thus, it neglects to take into account that there were many other biological resources (e.g., other crops, other no-grain uses of the measured crop and fish) within the same land in the traditional system that were reduced or wiped out with the Green Revolution. If output is measured in terms of total biomass, a more realistic picture of the performance of the Green Revolution will emerge.

Although yields of food crops in total have increased, less food is available to local populations. There are several reasons for this:

There has been an increase in a few cereals (a large volume of which is fed to cattle in the North) at the expense of pulses and other crops;

The increased dependency of Third World farmers and countries on intensive inputs has led to indebtedness and the breakdown of self-sufficiency;

Much of the increased food production is exported, thus denying the food to local people;

Many areas planted with high-yielding varieties (which are actually high-response varieties to the applied inputs, including chemical fertilizers and pesticides) are now experiencing diminishing returns; Ecological degradation is leading to reduced yields and to the abandonment of many areas of agricultural land; Losses during storage have increased markedly in many areas; The low prices paid for farm produce and the high prices charged for food in the shops, combined with increased levels of indebtedness, ensure that many farmers cannot afford to buy sufficient food for their families.’

(END OF DECLARATION)

The failure of the Green Revolution was underscored in a report from the UK’s Global Environmental Change Programme, funded by Britain’s Economic and Research Council, and published in April 2000.Green Revolution crops, introduced in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s increased agricultural output and profits, and provided much needed and affordable calories for the poor. But these crops failed to take up minerals such as iron and zinc from the soil. The report states: “High yielding Green Revolution crops were introduced in poor countries to overcome famine. But these are now blamed for causing intellectual deficits, because they do not take up essential micronutrients.” Iron deficiency disease contributes to increased infant mortality, impaired brain development and learning ability, affecting an estimated 1.5 billion people in one quarter of the earth‘s population, according to the author of this report,  Dr. Christopher Williams.

It should also be added that micronutrient deficiencies, also a nutritional problem in the West from deficient soils and crops, can

impair the immune system, and related nutritional deficiencies and imbalances in various animal products, especially in the omega 3

and 6 polyunsaturated fatty acid ratios can impair brain development and cognitive functions.

 

Recent studies in Canada, the U. S. and the U. K. have shown that fruits and vegetables are less nutritious than 30-50 years ago, showing often marked deficiencies in iron, copper, zinc, calcium, sodium, phosphorus, protein, vitamins C and riboflavin, a disturbing finding attributable, in part, to the fast-growing and large-yielding varieties of crops being grown today for human consumption: And to the use of chemical fertilizers, potassium fertilizer, for example, interferes with plants’ magnesium and phosphate absorption. Herbicides like Monsanto’s Roundup can interfere with plants’ uptake of iron and manganese. Widely used nitrogenous fertilizers can increase harmful nitrate levels in conventionally grown crops, lower the plant’s vitamin C content, and while increasing total protein content, the quality of the protein is inferior to organically grown crops, lacking in essential amino acids like lysine, which means lower quality food, and livestock feed.

 

 ORGANIC IS SUPERIOR

Studies comparing the nutrient content of organic versus conventionally grown crops report significantly lower levels of potentially toxic aluminium, mercury and lead in the organically grown, that also had higher levels of many essential trace minerals and other nutrients, notably boron, calcium, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, lithium, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, silicon, sodium, sulfur, vanadium, and zinc. Also more vitamin C and other antioxidants, and less nitrates.

Animal studies have shown that such functions as reproduction and resistance to infection may be adversely affected by conventionally produced foods as compared to organically produced ones.

Several studies have shown that organic farming practices are good for wildlife, and help in the recovery of regional biodiversity. University of Michigan professors Catherine Badgley and Ivette Perfecto have completed a three-year study of worldwide organic vs. conventional farm yields and found that organic farming could produce three times as much as conventional farming.

Like holistic medicine, organic farming is systemically integrated within the physical parameters of general systems theory and quantum mechanics as they relate to dynamic living ecosystems, with the overlays of ethics, esthetics, and metaphysics. As 2008 President of the Pennsylvania Sustainable Agriculture Association’s annual conference, dairy farmer Kim Seeley advised in his opening address, that we must all “Obey Nature’s laws first before we accept man’s laws.”

That more holistically-oriented physicians, veterinarians, and agronomists are at last beginning to put such wisdom in to practice is a clear sign that a paradigm shift or change in our worldview is taking place and that the status-quo of conventional medicine, agriculture, the economy, and other social institutions is no longer acceptable and most certainly not viable without further violence and suffering.  As more medical and veterinary scientists are becoming real healers,  so more farmers are becoming real land-stewards.

Their paradigm is based upon the following bioethical principles: compassion, service, humility, ahimsa (avoiding causing harm), and reverential respect for all life; social justice; eco-justice, and the precautionary principle. These are the cornerstones of a healthy community and of a sustainable economy. We have all but eliminated the Meadow lark from our fields. We have many wrongs to right, and much to atone for what our ancestors and civilization have done to harm through fear and ignorance, arrogance and greed.

Advances in the science and bioethics of alternative human and veterinary medicine and organic agriculture that are based on this new paradigm hold much promise and should be supported by the corporate sector as well as by the consumer-populace and governments around the world.

BEWARE OF THE LIFE SCIENCE INDUSTRY

Industrial agribusiness’ indifference and corpus of denial of toward the suffering of intensively raised farm animals parallels the indifference toward all the harmful agrichemical pesticides and fertilizers that are now in our rain, food, drinking water, mothers’ milk, and even amniotic fluids, and that have turned the countryside into a toxic chemical wasteland.

The infamy and hegemony of the multinational, oligopolistic ‘Life Science’ industry, pushing these agricultural inputs from seed and equipment to chemical fertilizers and pesticides onto developing countries, after decimating the once sustainable network of small farming and food processing operations in the Americas and Europe, and much of the rest of the industrial, ‘developed’ world, are a matter of public and historic record. This multinational industry essentially ‘out-sources’ agricultural production of commodity crops that it imports to the U.S. on the cheap from countries where poverty and corruption often rampant, and agricultural chemicals banned in the U.S. are widely used.

A major, global venture of this Life Science industry has been to develop varieties of high-yield hybrid seeds, and more recently, genetically engineered seeds that are resistant to herbicides, produce their own pesticides, nutrient supplements for livestock, (like lysine that factory farmed pigs need a lot of), and even pharmaceutical drugs, created not to feed the hungry world, but for patent-protected, new and profitable commodities. During the 1980’s these monopoly players---the petrochemical, pharmaceutical and life science conglomerates—rushed to buy up all independent seed companies and their seed stocks.   Patented, high yield hybrid varieties are few in number, widely planted, and genetically uniform. The uniformity means genetic vulnerability to disease (same for the patented hybrid strains of commercially farmed animals). It is these highly inbred, hybrid varieties that are now being genetically engineered, and spreading world wide at the ever quickening pace of global monopoly.

The seed stocks of conventional and heirloom varieties are not being planted, are deteriorating in storage, and when planted are likely to be come contaminated by the pollen of genetically engineered crops from neighboring fields and counties. This accelerating decline in the genetic diversity of our major food, feed and fiber (and biomass and green manure) crops, coupled with the genetic disruption of plant genomes that the genetic engineering process can cause (see below) call for a total moratorium on any further plantings of GM seeds. As will be revealed below, there are enough documented research studies to negate the government-industry response to such a moratorium and community-linked GM-FREE Zones that would say that there is no scientific evidence of harm to animals or to human consumers, and that GM seeds are ‘substantially equivalent’ to conventional varieties.

The socially and politically disruptive and devastating human suffering soon to come, according to some agronomists, including Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug (whose crop ‘improvement’ genetic research has arguably caused more harm than good in the hands of agribusiness oligopolies) is from the Ug99 strain of black stem rust fungus on the world’s wheat crop. This world wheat crop has so little genetic diversity now that there are few varieties and cultivars with any genetic resistance to this devastating disease that could mean global famine. Putting all our eggs in the same basket is never a wise investment.

This Life Science industry has convinced legislators that genetically engineered crops are safe, and ‘substantially equivalent’ to conventional varieties of food and animal feed crops. But the scientific evidence, and documented animal safety tests, point in the opposite direction. The US government even attempted to have genetically engineered seeds and foods included under the National Organic Standards. Genetically engineered crops of corn, soy and canola that are herbicide resistant, and corn that produces its own insecticidal poison called Bt, get into the human food chain, and are put into livestock feed and pet foods with the government’s blessing: And quite probably to the demise of the honey bee and a large agricultural sector of bee-pollination dependent orchard and field crops.

Herbicide resistant crops actually absorb the herbicide that is repeatedly sprayed to kill competing weeds which we and the animals subsequently consume, along with whatever endogenous pesticides they have been genetically engineered to produce and have been treated with from seed to shelf.

As for the documented, peer-reviewed, published studies generally mandated by good judgment before the government’s approving any novel food, such as a genetically engineered one, there were virtually none made public before and after the Life Science Industry developed and patented new GM foods and animal feeds and put them on the market. In spite of world wide public opposition, GM crops and seeds have respectively come to dominate and contaminate both conventional and organic food and industrial commodity crop markets.

The oil-shortage panic move in the U.S to ill advised ethanol production from corn will mean more plantings of GM varieties, less land for livestock feed, and for  human food-crop production to stockpile for humanitarian emergency relief food programs that are in more demand than ever with climate change.

Arguably the worse case scenario of non-sustainable industrial agriculture is the U.S. government’s commodity crop support program that subsidizes corn and soybean production---crops, now predominantly GM, that result in serious soil erosion and water pollution from agrichemicals--- at an estimated $ 12.2 billion. Such subsidies are a disincentive to farmers to adopt more ecologically sound farming practices.

This Life Science industry, rising from its agribusiness commodity-crop, pet food, petrochemical fertilizer and pharmaceutical roots, became a star of investor hope in the World Trade Organization’s new world order, and with free trade blessings. But its promises of better seeds and crops through genetic engineering that will benefit all, in spite of  a now almost global domination, has caused far more harm to many than any good. The indirect and unforeseen costs far outweigh the short term benefits, which more and more governments and businesses are beginning to realize.

The Life Science industry employs scientists to defend GM crops and the genetic engineering and cloning of farm animals, like oil companies employed scientists to say that global warming/climate change was a myth. They gave billions to Universities, setting up Chairs, Departments, Fellowships and lucrative consultative and patent sharing agreements, along with the US Chamber of Commerce.

One of the first government employed scientist to blow the whistle on the health risks and unproven safety of GM foods was immediately fired. He worked for the same British government laboratory that collaborated with China to develop genetically engineered wheat.

This good scientist, Dr. Arapad Pusztai whose research findings he has now shared with millions of concerned consumers around the world, were suppressed and loudly discredited by the Life Science government-industry-university complex. Their act of suppression gave Dr. Pusztai his world forum, and he came to this as an objective scientist with no bias pro or con GM foods.

REDUCING OUR ANIMAL CONSUMPTION: A BIOETHICAL IMPERATIVE

   The singularly most damaging environmental footprint upon this planet is caused by our collectively costly and damaging appetite for meat. Some 3.2 billion cattle, sheep and goats are now being raised for human consumption, along with billions more pigs and poultry. These extensively and intensively farmed animals produce less food for us than they consume, and compete with us for water. Their numbers and appetites result in an increasing loss wildlife and habitat, and of good farmlands and grazing lands. Linked with deforestation, loss of wetlands, over-fishing and ocean pollution, our appetite for meat is the number one cause of global warming/climate change.

 We can no longer continue to regard meat and other sources of animal protein as a dietary staple because of the enormous costs and harmful consequences of such a diet. Vegetarianism is an enlightened choice, and all people should at least become ‘conscientious omnivores,’ treating food of animal origin more as a condiment than a staple.  According to figures from the UK’s Compassion in World Farming, reported in The Economist, ( Dec. 2nd  2006, p. 88), over 50 billion animals are killed for food every year, which comes to almost 100,000 a minute 24/7. In the past 40 year meat consumption per person has risen from 56 kg to 89 in Europe, from 89 kg to 124 in America, and from 4 kg to 54  in China, in spite of the nutritionally inefficient conversion of grass or grain to meat, some 10 kg of feed being needed to produce 1 kg of meat.

It is surely a bioethical imperative not to kill animals for their flesh when no less nutritious foods of plant origin are readily available, more affordable, and more sustainably produced. Ironically, the shift toward ‘improved’ animal-based diet correlates with increased incidence of so called Western diseases, and with an increasingly dysfunctional, unhealthy environment.

These correlations support the karmic truism that when we harm others---animals and the natural environment---we harm ourselves. Hence obedience to the Golden Rule---of treating others as we would have them treat us, is enlightened self interest. This core bioethical principle is embraced by the animal rights and environmental/deep ecology movements that have been demonized by antidisestablishmentarians who have succeeded with the Bush administration to identify both movements as potential terrorist organizations liable for prosecution under the Bioterrorism Preparedness Act of 2002. Homeland Security and the protection of vested interests are one and the same, the continued, economically justified exploitation and suffering of animals, and environmental desecration, being protected under the law.  U.S. animal industries have gained additional protection with the so called Animal Enterprise Protection Act that criminalizes certain conduct aimed against companies engaged in animal production, research and testing.

The economy of the Western industrial consumerist paradigm is non-sustainable, and because of its global reach, is wreaking global havoc, as predicted by Jared Diamond and many other visionaries and critics of these times.  For instance, much livestock feed is imported by the multinational food industry oligopolists from the impoverished third world, thus contributing to mass malnutrition in poorer countries. This problem is compounded by what is called ‘dumping’ of surplus, heavily subsidized, animal and other agricultural products/commodities on the third world, from chicken legs and powdered milk, to corn and wheat, often under the guise of emergency food aid. This only serves to enrich a corrupt few, and undermines the economic viability of indigenous farmers and once sustainable rural communities.

In sum, we can no longer continue to regard meat and other sources of animal protein as a dietary staple because of the enormous costs and harmful consequences of such a diet. Vegetarianism is an enlightened choice, and all people should at least become ‘conscientious omnivores,’ treating food of animal origin more as a condiment than as a staple.

FARM ANIMAL HEALTH AND WELFARE CONCERNS: SYNOPSIS

 

Caged Laying Hens:  Extreme overcrowding, lack of movement induced osteoporosis, bone fractures, foot lesions from wire floor, feather-picking and cannibalism.

 

Broiler Chickens: Extreme overcrowding, lameness, breast blisters, feather picking and cannibalism, ‘keel-over’ heart-failure from rapid growth.  Eye problems, including blindness, from poor ventilation.

 

Penned Piglets:  Overcrowding, boredom, tail-biting, cannibalism, lameness and foot lesions from a life on concrete slatted floors.  Circulation and joint problems from rapid growth and  large body mass . Chronic respiratory problems from poor ventilation.

 

Breeding Sows in crates: Extreme physical constraint, lameness, arthritis, boredom and stereotypic behaviors indicative of stress and distress.

 

Veal Calves in crates: Extreme physical constraint, social deprivation, iron-deficient diet causing anemia and weakness.

 

Feedlot Beef Cattle: Exposure-lack of shade and shelter, lameness and foot rot, liver disease from improper ‘fattening/finishing’ diets and lack of roughage.

 

Confined Dairy Cows: lack of exercise related lameness, metabolic, and liver diseases from high energy/concentrate diets and lack of roughage.

 

All the above concentrated animal feeding operations cause stress, distress, and increased disease susceptibility especially to enteric and respiratory infections, and to udder/mammary gland infections in dairy cows.

 

The following procedures need to be addressed and where appropriate, either phased out, or only the most humane methods permitted: Castrating, branding, and dehorning cattle without anesthetic; hot-iron de-beaking of chickens; disposal of unwanted chickens & pre-slaughter collecting and handling of poultry; tail docking and castration of piglets and lambs; tail docking of dairy cows; treatment of unwanted ‘bobby’ calves and ‘downer cows;’ and of sick and injured poultry and piglets. Use of the ‘Stock-still’ electrical immobilization of cattle should be prohibited. Humane methods for the mass ‘depopulating/killing of  diseased livestock and poultry also need to be implemented.

 

Livestock and poultry transportation, handling, and slaughter methods need significant improvements in most counties.

 

 Dairy and beef cattle fed rations high in cereal grains are prone to acidosis, digestive and metabolic problems, and lameness from laminitis. Such diets create ideal conditions for the proliferation of E. coli 0157, thus putting consumers at risk (also from crops contaminated with infected manure and slurry run-off). Feeding a more natural, grass or hay-based diet results in a drastic reduction in E.coli 0157 within a few days.

 

Cruel, intensive confinement systems of livestock and poultry production, called CAFOs---concentrated animal feeding operations, are a legacy of our inhumanity. The price of CAFOs include major public health problems associated with the wholesale use of antibiotics to help these animals grow and be productive and stay alive, leading to the rise of highly resistant strains of bacteria. They cause widespread air, surface and groundwater pollution. World wide, the livestock industry is the leading human-created cause of climate change/global warming. They put small farming operations out of business and blight rural communities, often being subsidized by government at tax payers expense and using the benefits of economy-of-scale while the ‘externalities’ or hidden costs, summarized above, are variously ignored, accepted or denied.

 

Produce from organically certified, and free-range animals, are generally more humanely derived, and with less environmental harm and drug-dependence than similar produce from CAFOs..

 

THE “BLUE REVOLUTION” SEAFOOD INDUSTRY

The ‘Blue Revolution’s programs to increase aquaculture/seafood production, purportedly to help feed the poor and to provide income for impoverished coastal communities, have already caused much harm. So called farm-raised salmon ( with a genetically engineered variety now approved for human consumption) kept in crowded floating cages are highly stressed, develop various diseases that mean pesticides and other drugs are prescribed that in turn wreak havoc on marine life and coastal ecosystems. The fish-by-catch meal fed to salmon is loaded with dioxins and PCBs, which concentrate in the salmon and pose a major consumer health risk equal to if not surpassing the mercury-load risk to consumers of tuna, sword fish and other top-of the marine food-chain predators.

Farmed salmon diet fattens mice! {Ibrahim, MM, E Fjære, EJ Lock, D Naville, H Amlund, E Meugnier, B Le Magueresse Battistoni, L Frøyland, L Madsen, N Jessen, S Lund, H Vidal and J Ruzzin. 2011. Chronic consumption of farmed salmon containing persistent organic pollutants causes insulin resistance and obesity in mice. PLOS One http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0025170.)

Commercial shrimp production has meant the destruction of mangrove and other wetlands,  serious marine pollution, (like the commercial salmon industry), costly high-protein feed inputs, and many disease problems from intensive (and inhumane)  aquatic animal husbandry and primitive veterinary care. This Blue Revolution, coupled with the vast drift-net factory fishing boats off shore, now means even greater poverty and malnutrition for once viable and self-sustaining indigenous fishing communities around the world.  Those communities in the North, like the Alaskan Inuit Eskimos, are now at risk because of contaminated seafood that was their traditional diet and way of life as hunters of sea and ice. Mercury, PCBs, organochlorines and a host of dioxins now heavily contaminate halibut, seals, polar bears and whales, as well as the Eskimos, whose immune systems and general health are now seriously compromised. Their plight is not of their own making, now further compromised by the ice melting and the Arctic ecosystem collapsing all around them due to climate change.

   

 THE FOOD & DRUG INDUSTRY OUROBOROS

 

 

How far we have come assuaging our fears of famine and pestilence? With our adversarial attitude toward pests and pathogens and chemical warfare with pesticides, antibiotics and other drugs, we have enabled the ever multiplying human hordes and livestock herds to proliferate and become, in the crowded and unsanitary environments most are living in, virtual petri dishes for the proliferation, mutation and dissemination of new and old ever more drug-resistant diseases. In relying on petrochemical-based synthetic fertilizers and pesticides to grow crops to feed ourselves and factory farmed animals, top soil and essential soil nutrients have become severely depleted along with adequate and pure water supplies, resulting in nutrient deficient and contaminated foods.

 It is this fear-based adversarial attitude that put us on an addictive treadmill of ever more remedies, turning the food and drug industry into an Ouroboros, the mythic serpent that perpetually consumes and regenerates itself. It is also an icon of mammon---self-consuming and self-perpetuating greed. With neither the vision nor incentives to adopt alternatives, all involved are damned if they do and damned if they don’t continue their business as usual, a double-bind of schizoid pathology, stock holders’ interests notwithstanding.

 This food and drug industry complex has harmful agricologenic and iatrogenic consequences which are profitable---calling for more research and more costly and risky solutions. Many diet-related diseases which could be prevented, and some, effectively remedied with appropriate nutrition, profit the pharmaceutical industry marketing drug treatments for these various conditions (notably obesity, diabetes and heart disease) with the agribusiness food industry responding with lucrative special diets for both humans and companion animals. This is the epitome of a pathogenic system that feeds upon itself at the expense of consumers, including farmed and companion animals, the environment and wildlife whose habitats industrial agriculture destroy and pollute.

 Those natural biological constraints on our reproductive and consumptive appetites we can only keep at bay for so long with more powerful pesticides, GMOs, vaccines, antibiotics, other pharmaceuticals and new radiation, gene and stem cell therapies. It is little wonder that our health care system, in ignoring the public health component of environmental stewardship, diet and food quality, is beginning to founder.

We are now, as a species that is fast becoming a global infestation, at a crossroads. We can chose either to continue on the current path of nihilism or tear the veil of anthropocentrism that made us turn a blind eye to the environment and farmed animal well-being; also to declines in food quality and safety and pending food shortages from exhausted soils and climate change created in part by conventional industrial agriculture. While the agribusiness and other industries want ever more consumers and a cheap labor force, the critical importance of more effective population control through family planning with greater emphasis on public health and disease control (which does not mean mass and even mandatory vaccinations) has been neglected.

 More humane animal husbandry practices that better integrate livestock production with ecologically sound, organic and sustainable farming systems that improve soil quality and conserve water are urgent priorities from many perspectives. These include public health (zoonotic diseases and foodborne illnesses from farmed animals), animal welfare ethics and the environmental and economic consequences of keeping large concentrations of food animals under crowded conditions to meet the consumer demand for “cheap/affordable” farmed animal produce as dietary staples. The public is becoming more aware of these interrelated issues including the government subsidies provided to this sector of agribusiness and of the externalities or hidden costs of CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations). Consumers are voting more with their dollars in the market place as surveys show, going to the fresh and whole food sections rather than purchasing highly processed manufactured packaged foods and canned goods for their families and animal companions.

 The other good news is that overly simplistic food science technology, in part dedicated to generating profits from creating manufactured convenience foods and from recycling food and beverage industry byproducts, (many of which go in to pet foods and can harm companion animals but not so much farmed animals who live much shorter lives) is beginning to apply the new sciences of epigenetics and nutrigenomics to secure the cornerstone of good health---safe and nutritious food that is biologically and individually appropriate,--- in its rightful place.

The physicians’ Hippocratic oath to “First do no harm” is an injunction which in practical bioethical terms for agriculture and other human activities and relationships translates into seeking ways to cause the least possible, if any, harms in the process of meeting our basic needs. This alternative path---which makes the Ouroboros take its tail out of its mouth---is evident in organic, humane and sustainable agriculture and holistic and integrative human and veterinary medicine supported by a more informed populace embracing the “Green” consumer and life-style revolution.

 

 

 

CONCLUSIONS

From the above review it is evident that organic agriculture and holistic human and veterinary medicine have major roles to play in the end of days, as some call the collapse of the dominant culture of industrialism and consumerism, to help save our humanity from extinction, and the life and beauty of the natural world. They have major roles to play because they are of a different world view and bioethical basis than the dominant one of today that ignores the insight of Albert Einstein that the problems of the world cannot be solved at the same level of consciousness that caused them. This major role is not simply in better nutrition and health for all, but in the evolution of human species from a killer ape and global parasitic infestation to one that strives compassionately to establish a more symbiotic and co-creative relationship with the entire biotic community of this living Earth where peace, justice and respect for all life unify us in our sufferings and joy.

In the light of current trends, ---from climate change and its catastrophic global socioeconomic, environmental, agricultural and public health consequences, to the devastation being caused by a foundering WTO in these times of escalating conflicts, failing economies, resources, and markets, and rising populations and epidemics of disease and violence---the bioethical imperative of humane, sustainable, socially just and organically certified agriculture is enlightened self-interest. It is the highest form of altruism if we care not only for our own health and that of the planet, but also for the rights and interests of  indigenous peoples, endangered species like wolf and whale, elephant and albatross, and the last of the wild: And conserve and preserve our native seed stocks and animal breeding stock for that more enlightened future. As the Pennsylvania Dutch farmers say, “We do not inherit the land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”

There will be no tomorrows for today’s good seed- savers unless the children of damnation awaken to Earth’s sorrows and reverence all Creation.

Some sage once said, ‘Until we suffer the earth as we suffer for ourselves and for our own kind, there will be no end to suffering.”  And as the late Loren Eiseley observed, “We do not find ourselves until we see ourselves in the eyes of those who are other than human.”

My friend Thomas Berry wrote ‘The glory of the human has become the desolation of the earth. This I would consider an appropriate way to summarize the twentieth century.’ But for me, I find  seeds of hope in the practice and bioethics of humane, organic, and sustainable agriculture that can see us through the next century to a more enlightened and viable future.

 

SELECTED REFERENCES AND RESOURCES  

 

Berry T, ‘The Dream of the Earth’, San Francisco, CA, Sierra Books, 1988

Berry W, ‘The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture’, New York, Avon, 1978

Campbell TC, ‘The China Study: The most comprehensive study of nutrition conducted, and the startling implication for diet, weight-loss and long-term health’. Dallas TX Bell Bella Books, 2005

Cherfas J, and M. & J. Fanton, ‘The Seed Saver’s Handbook’, Chichester, UK, Grover books, 1996.  See also International Pant Genetic Resources institute www.ipgri.cgiar.org

Cooper J, Leifert C, and Niggily U, (eds) ‘Handbook of Organic Food Safety and Quality’, Cambridge, UK 2007.

Emmons H, ‘The Chemistry of Joy’, New York, Simon and Shuster, 2006

Ewald P.W, The Evolution of Virulence. Scientific American, April, p 86-93, 1993

Fox MW, ‘Farm Animals: Husbandry, Behavior and Veterinary Practice’ Baltimore MD, 1984.   ‘Agricide: The Hidden Farm and Food Crisis that Affects us All’. New York, Schocken books, 1988.  ‘Eating With Conscience: The Bioethics of Food’ Troutdale OR, New Sage Press. 1997.  ‘Bringing Life to Ethics: Global Bioethics for a Humane Society. Albany, NY State University of New York Press, 2001.  ‘Killer Foods: What Scientists Do To Make Better Is Not Always Best.’ Guilford CT The Lyons Press 2004. 

Fukuoka M, ‘The Natural Way of Farming: The Theory and Practice of Green Philosophy’, New York, Japanese Publications Inc., 1985

Imhoff D, and Baumgartner J A, (eds) ‘Farming and the Fate of Wildlife’, Healdsburg, CA, Watershed Media, 2006.

Jackson D.L, and Jackson L..L, (eds) ‘The Farm as Natural Habitat: Reconnecting Food Systems With Ecosystems’, Washington DC, Island Press, 2002

Korten D, ‘The Tyrrany of the Global Economy’, West Hartford, CT, 1995

Nieman H. et al, Transgenic farm animals, Rev.sci.Off.int.Epiz, 24:285-298

Perfecto, Ivette, Catherine Bagley, et al, Organic Farming Can Feed the Hungry World, University of Michigan Study Shows. University of Michigan News Service, Ann Arbor, MI, July 10, 2007

Pimental D, Houser J, Preiss E, et al Water reserves: agriculture, the environment and society; an assessment of the status of water resources. ‘Bioscience’ 47: 97-106, 1997

Robbins J, ‘The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World’, Newburyport, MA, 2001

Robinson J, ‘Pasture Perfect: The Far-Reaching Benefits of Chosing Meat, Eggs, and Dairy Products from Grass-Fed Animals’. Vashon, WA, Vashon Island Press, 2004

Schlosser E, ‘Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All American Meal’, Boston MA, Houghton Mifflin, 2001

Smith J.R., ‘Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture’, Washington DC, Island Press, 1950

Sokoloff J, ‘The Politics of Food’, San Francisco, CA Sierra Books, 1985

Steinfeld HP,Gerber T,Wassenaar V, et al ‘Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options’. Rome. Food and Agriculture Organization, 2006

United Nations Development Programme, ‘Urban Agriculture: Food, Jobs and Sustainable Cities’, New York, UNDP, 1996

                                                                                                       

                                           ADDENDA

                               Ethics and Trade

A quasi-ethical framework can be fabricated on primarily economic criteria, under the banner of “sustainability.”  This is the situation with GATT (General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs) and the WTO, (World Trade Organization) and much of the international accord that the 1992 United Nations’ Conference on Environment and Development, the Rio Earth Summit, concocted.  From the narrow materialistic perspective of GATT  participants (who subsequently under pressure from public interest groups promised side-agreement correctives), a new world order for the human species was completed and ready to fly  under the flag of world free trade.

The “new world order” created globalization of industrialisim, drawing countries rich and poor into a world market economy.  This is a formula for disaster if there are no ethical constraints to protect the environment, biodiversity, wild and domestic animals, human rights (especially labor laws and consumer safety), and cultural diversity.  The World Trade Organization, comprised of international business bureaucrats, is already a shadow world government that sees the world as a vast marketplace.  As economist David Korten says in his book When Corporations Rule the World, most development interventions that use foreign aid financing “transfer control of local resources to ever larger and more centralized institutions that are unaccountable to the people and unresponsive to their needs.”

This new world order, given the right ethical constraints, could become a formula for world peace and international cooperation, but only when the self-reliance of indigenous communities is coupled with sustainable local economies.  It is unwise to create a dependence upon import-export markets because they are invariably volatile and can jeopardize national sovereignty and local economic security.

  David Korten in his book The Tyrrany of the Global Economy, has shown why the public should not trust these powers but instead should reclaim their political power and reestablish localized economies. He summarizes his position as follows:

‘The global economy has become like a malignant cancer, advancing the colonization of the planet’s living spaces for the benefit of powerful corporations and financial institutions.  It has turned these once useful institutions into instruments of a market tyranny that is destroying livelihoods, displacing people, and feeding on life in an insatiable quest for money.  It forces us all to act in ways destructive of ourselves, our families, our communities, and nature.  Human survival depends on a community-based, people-centered alternative beyond the failed extremist ideologies of communism and capitalism.  This alternative is already being created through the initiatives of millions of people around the world who are taking back control of their lives and communities to create places where people can live and grow in balance with the living earth’.

        The Seven Principles of Humane Organic Sustainable Agriculture

1.  Humane sustainable organic agriculture (HOSA) entails the production of domestic animal protein and fiber on the economically prudent basis of an ecologically sound animal husbandry and the wise and appropriate use of natural resources.  Such husbandry aims to enhance or at least protect the  natural biodiversity of indigenous wild plant and animal species, and does not  result in environmental degradation and pollution.

2.  HOSA is socially just, respecting human rights and interests, especially those of indigenous peoples and native, peasant, and family-farm cultures an  traditions, since the preservation of cultural diversity has inherent value just as does the preservation and enhancement of natural biodiversity.

3.  HOSA recognizes the connections between farm worker health and safety, consumer health and farm animal health and well-being.  It respects the right of  consumers of animal protein to wholesome and healthful produce derived from animals whose basic physiological, behavioral, and social needs and requirements, which are integral to their overall health and well-being, are fully satisfied by the methods of husbandry that are practiced.  The use of veterinary drugs to maintain animal health and productivity is minimized by the adoption of humane animal husbandry practices, which in turn lowers consumer health risks.  

Furthermore, animals’ health and overall well-being are maximized, rather than sacrificed to maximize productivity.  Maximal, sustainable productivity is linked with optimal animal welfare, which in turn is linked with the optimal carrying capacity of the environment and availability of renewable natural resources.

4.  HOSA is bioregionally appropriate, if not autonomous, linking livestock and poultry production with ecologically sound, organic crop and forage production  systems and/or environmentally sound rangeland management.

5.HOSA does not engage in the import or export of any agricultural commodities, especially meat, wool, hides and animal feedstuffs, that have been produced at  the expense of natural biodiversity and nonrenewable resources, and which undermine the rights and interests of local farmers and other indigenous  people who practice sustainable, ecologically sound and socially just agriculture.

6.  HOSA philosophically, is based upon the aphorism that we do not inherit the land, we borrow it from our children; it is ours only in sacred trust.  This means, therefore, that HOSA entails respect and reverence for all life, its philosophy being Creation- or Earth-centered.  It therefore embraces concern for the rights and interests of people, animals, and the environment.  By so doing, we reconcile conflicting claims and concerns with the absolute right of all life to a whole and healthy environment and to equal and fair consideration.

7. HOSA provides the foundation for a community of hope and of a planetary democracy, whereby world peace, justice, and the integrity of Creation may be better assured.  It leads to the recovery of culture, agri-culture being the cultivation of the land and the production of food based on a hallowing covenant that commits us to the sacred obligation of caring for the Earth byfarming with less harm and eating with conscience.

 

RACTOPAMINE: FARMACEUTICAL CRUELTY

Like many middle-aged and older Americans I take a prescription beta adrenergic blocker to help deal with high blood pressure and a hard-working heart. Imagine giving a drug that has the opposite effect, a so-called agonist. This is what American agribusiness’ pharmaceutical industry is doing to increase the growth and promote lean but larger muscle mass in pigs, beef cattle and poultry. Your Thanksgiving turkey was probably a victim of this drug-enhanced drive for ever more “efficiency” and profits. Some 80 % of America’s pigs are fed this drug under the name of “Paylean”, and 80% of cattle are given “Optaflexx”, turkeys given “Topmax” and chickens given “Paylean 20”, the brand name of ractopamine marketed by Elanco, a division of Eli Lily Co.(  Elanco is also the marketer of Monsanto’s Posilac, the controversial dairy cow-injected genetically engineered bovine growth hormone)

While millions of pigs continue to suffer the effects of ractopamine across the U.S., notably hyperexcitability, lameness and muscle breakdown, America’s beef industry has been putting ractopamine in the feed of beef cattle to make them lean and heavier-muscled with little regard for increased incidence of lameness, fear of walking, even reported shedding of hooves and thousands of deaths from pneumonia.

While mega-beef producers such as Cargill have denied any problems with this beta adrenergic agonist drug from a consumer perspective, video documentation of its effects of cattle recently moved Tyson Foods to stop buying cattle treated with this drug. Subsequently the manufacturer of its widely used Zilmax, New Jersey-based Merck drug company, as of August 2013, temporarily halted sales of this drug in the U.S. and Canada. These same steps are called for to protect pigs and poultry from the physically and behaviorally/emotionally harmful side effects of ractopamine. But by November 2014 Merck was in a position to start selling this drug again to cattle producers after FDA approval following updating of the product label and setting a lower dose.

Few consumers of beef, pork and poultry are aware of the mistreatment of these animals in CAFOs---concentrated animal feeding operations or factory farms and feedlots, or the drugs, from antibiotics to growth hormones, anabolic steroids and lean-meat making pharmaceuticals which are used to boost profits, variously putting consumers and animals at risk in the process.

This multinational industry, heavily subsidized by the U.S. government from our taxes, is seen by many as an abomination, having participated in the demise of the nation’s once viable nexus of family farms and rural communities and locking survivors into the corporate serfdom of vertically integrated production contracts which mandate cruel, cost-cutting husbandry practices and a host of vaccines and various pharmaceutical products and feed additives.

The Tyson Foods initiative may be a sign of compassion and ethics entering this corporate domain, where the welfare of animals is a matter of concern and on the agenda of more forward-thinking companies who are not simply focusing on profit margins but are beginning to recognize and cater to the rising consumer demand for drug-free produce from more humanely raised animals. 

Smithfield Foods Inc has been contracting with pork producers to stop using ractopamine in an effort that could enhance its appeal as an exporter of pork to China where ractopamine has been banned after consumers became ill. Russia and several European countries have banned ractopamine and imports of ractopamine-treated beef, pork and poultry products from the U.S.

Thanks to China, the use of his drug in the U.S., as documented in my book Healing Animals and the Vision of One Health, may soon be phased out since many countries are now refusing to accept imports of meat and poultry from animals treated with this drug. What is needed next is international harmonization of animal welfare and environmentally-friendly standards of animal production which would do much to improve public health and consumer safety. For coverage of this issue in China, see the China daily, in which Dr. Fox is quoted.

.http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/epaper/2013-03/04/content_16273141.htm

It has been reported that only one human study was used in the safety assessment of Ractopamine by Elanco. Of six healthy young men who participated, one was removed because his heart began racing and pounding abnormally, according to a detailed evaluation of the study by European food safety officials.

Within a few years of Paylean’s approval, the company received hundreds of reports of sickened pigs from farmers and veterinarians, according to records from the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine. USDA meat inspectors also reported an increase in the number of “downer pigs” — lame animals unable to walk — in slaughter plants. As a result of the high number of adverse reactions, the FDA requested Elanco add a warning label to the drug, and it did so in 2002. Since the drug was introduced, more than 160,000 pigs taking Ractopamine were reported to have suffered adverse effects, as of March 2011, according to a review of FDA records. The drug has triggered more adverse reports in pigs than any other animal drug on the market, being associated with hyperactivity, trembling, broken limbs, inability to walk and death.

This product is sold as Optaflexx for beef cattle. In 2012 the international food safety Codex Alimentarius Commission set residue limits of 10 micrograms in pig and beef muscle, 40 micrograms in livers and 90 micrograms in kidneys. A reported 24 countries, including big pork producers such as Brazil and the USA ( where 60-80% of pigs are given this beta-agonist which mimics stress hormones), support the use of this drug by pork and beef producers, some 167 countries including  Russia, European Union countries, China and Taiwan wisely oppose its use.

In my professional opinion as a veterinarian with doctoral degrees in medicine and animal behavior/ethology, that for consumer and animal health and welfare reasons the use of this drug should be prohibited world- wide. Drug residues in organ meats could pose problems for at-risk consumers on prescription medications that could have synergistic or other adverse drug interactions. Ractopamine (pheylpropylamine) could also put pets at risk when already being medicated with drugs such as phenylpropanolamine (widely prescribed for incontinence) and their food contains pig organ meats with residues of this widely used animal production drug.

 Another adverse public health consequence may arise from the impaired immunological condition of pigs which this stress-inducing drug may cause: Namely, increased susceptibility to disease and spread and virulence of influenza virus strains. Also the altered physiology of the animal host could lead to the evolution of new pathogenic viruses and other organisms harmful to pigs and humans alike, as discussed in my book HEALING ANIMALS & THE VISION OF ONE HEALTH (Amazon.com CreatSpace books 2011).

Reported adverse events associated with Paylean® 20 use in turkeys include alterations in behaviour, hyperexcitability, hyperactivity, musculoskeletal or cutaneous injury, and increased mortality which is often associated with handling or transportation. (1. Elanco Periodic Drug Experience Report Topmax® 10/13/2008-05/12/2009, Elanco Periodic Summary Update Report Paylean® 11/1/2007-11/31/2008.)

 

AGRIPHRENIA: THE SCHIZOID U.S. GOVERNMENT SERVING TWO INTERESTS

Early in my veterinary career I confronted my colleagues over what I perceived as a conflict of interest between serving those of their human clients and those of their animal patients. As I have documented in my recent book Healing Animals & the Vision of One Health, this has changed little over the past four decades since I first voiced my concerns, my only feeling of hope stemming from the successful emergence of veterinarians who see the ‘big picture’ and practice holistic, integrative, alternative and preventive medicine, as per the many members of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association. This emergence of a professional community in opposition to the main-stream that puts financial concerns before animals’ health and well-being parallels those who moved into organic and more humane farming methods in opposition to industrial agriculture with its agricologenic and factory farmed animal domestogenic diseases which I documented in 1986 in the book Agricide: The Hidden Farm and food Crisis That Affects Us All.

The late Chuck Walters, editor and publisher of Acres USA, encouraged me to continue along this integrative path, connecting soil and crop health with farmed animal and consumer health. This lead me to monitor and address the next debacle of sustainable, ecologically sound agriculture on the horizon, namely Monsanto et al with recombinant bovine growth hormone Posilac and genetically engineered crops, the third edition of my book reviewing these concerns being published by the Lyons Press entitled Killer Foods: When Scientists Manipulate Genes, Better is Not Always Best.

Meanwhile, veterinarians in the farmed animal sector were going out of business as rural communities and the nexus of sustainable family farms went into bankruptcy.  Some veterinary college Deans like Robert Marshak from the University of Pennsylvania sought to get me fired because any opposition to the sweeping trend of industrial agriculture and CAFOs---concentrated/confined animal feeding operations, was seen as a serious threat to progress and the way to feed the ‘hungry world’. Book stores in the University town of Rochester MN were told not to carry any of my books when I gave a talk to the student body on the topic of agriculture, farm animal welfare, animal rights and human health ( I was told that the Mayo Clinic was very influential in this initiative). One Texas legislator with close ties to the American Farm Bureau Federation, (which in its declaration of principles at that time was opposed to native American Indian rights and wolf conservation and protection), voiced that the publicity that I had mounted exposing the inherent cruelties and environmental and socioeconomic impacts of CAFOs was only possible because I was part of a Communist cell in the U.S. funded by the then Soviet Union.

Attempts to dis-inform, suppress freedom of speech and to demonize are integral to the corporate agenda of this dominant cultural minority of vested corporate interests in America, turning this country into the Amerika that makes a mockery of its claim to democratic process and justice, using the same techniques to justify invasion of other countries under the name of democracy, freedom and peace.

In the agricultural sector, counties in many states like Minnesota where I now live have thousands of farm animals with no veterinary services available; wetlands and the last of the prairie are being converted to commodity crop production---GMOs and herbicides galore, to feed the antibiotic and production-drug medicated CAFO animals and the similarly highly subsidized ethanol industry.

This insanity, which is endorsed and subsidized by state and federal agencies directing public tax dollars to enable and even insure such activities---from federal programs of indiscriminate predator control to ignoring for generations the plight of migrant labor and agricultural encroachments of protected wild lands,--- is an outrage which few consumer-citizens realize; and those who do, wonder what they can do against such monumental ecocide, agricide and corruption. Livestock grazing subsidies on public lands which the government provides has underwritten decades of environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity in violation of the public trust which echoes the historical legacy of genocide of indigenous Native American Indian tribes on these same lands.

The term corruption has a double meaning. It is not just monetary, but one of vision and responsibility. Citizens of America pay taxes to enable local and federal governments to protect and secure their best interests: clean air, pure water and healthful food above all.

They are falling short on all these basic needs and rights as governments, local and national, along with corporations national and transnational, continue to put profits before ecological and environmental considerations, public health and safety, as well a wild and domestic animal and plant health and wellbeing.

The schizoid nature of regulatory agencies in the U.S. is exemplified by the dualistic role of the federal government which puts taxpayer dollars into agricultural subsidies that make junk food cheap and then tells people to eat more fruit and vegetables to stop heart disease and cancer. Using public funds to subsidize a non-sustainable agribusiness food industry and then more funds to deal with environmental damage and clean-up, food safety and food-born illnesses is an administrative “agriphrenia” of ludicrous dimensions. It is a pathological and pathogenic state of bureaucratic dysfunction and contradiction which cannot serve the best interests of either the public sector or the private industry sector but only serves its own interests in perpetuating such insanity.

The role of investors in agribusiness, from land speculators to GMO seeds, in the demise of culture and agriculture needs to be acknowledged and rectified .Most investors, seeking to maximize short-term profits, unwittingly have accelerated the rate of planetary entropy, climate change reflecting the metabolic disruption of planetary ecosystems coupled by an exponential loss of biological and cultural diversity.

   Philanthropists’ contributions to agricide, as per the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation support of providing GMOs for farmers in Africa, while purportedly well intended, reveal an ignorance of the enlightened self-interest of zooanthropy. This entails giving at least equal consideration for the rights and interests of plants and animals, wild and domestic, and the environment and adapted cultures and indigenous peoples, before their own assumed rights, beliefs and selfish interests.

These unforeseen consequences of misguided capitalism and philanthropy call for an immediate reigning in of the financial investments being made by the more affluent, whose ethical accountability for the demise of planet Earth and all who dwell therein will be a matter of historical record for those of future surviving generations unless there is no vision beyond immediate profits and personal gratification.

Agribusiness food and chemical industry investors, lobbyists and super-funded PACS and legislators cannot take all the blame for the perpetuation of this debacle of reason and responsibility. Consumers themselves can join the revolution including those incapacitated by obesity and other diet-related health problems which are bankrupting the health care system: Also doctors who are not embedded in an increasingly dysfunctional medical industry and not paralyzed by despair and indifference toward the promises of preventive health care based on better nutrition, wholesome food and organic, humane and sustainable farming practices which should receive top priority for public subsidies in a more enlightened and ethical federal Farm Bill yet to be drafted.

Consideration should also be given to ‘cheap’ imported food and livestock feed commodities such as soybeans from Brazil and palm oil and cake from Indonesia which are causing major deforestation and harming wildlife and indigenous peoples.

As Ricardo Salvador with the Union of Concerned Scientists puts it: “ taxpayers are essentially getting billed twice for the same health problems: once for agricultural subsidies that contribute to disease, and once again for programs that treat disease.” He notes that if we followed the U.S. dietary guidelines, the nation would save $17 billion in annual medical costs. Visit www.ucsusa.org/11trillionreward/ to learn more. Our schizoid government has indeed added insult to injury allowing drug companies and the health care insurance industry gouge citizens, including those who have adopted healthful diets and life styles with exorbitant policies which only too often do not cover preventive health care and with outlandish charges for medications at inflated process compared to these same drugs from the same manufacturers being sold in other countries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check the link below for a Dr. Fox C-Span feature concerning "Animal Testing"

Dr. Michael W. Fox on C-Span



--Video Link--

OUR ANIMAL RELATIONSHIPS: THE MOMENTS OF TRUTH PROJECT
Dr. Michael W. Fox

What right do we humans have to exploit other animals?  Where does that right come from and what are the limits if any?  What duties or obligations do we have in our relationships with our dogs, cats and other animals domesticated and wild?

          Follow and support Caroline Kraus and her Moments of Truth Project documentary film as she travels across the U.S. asking people, who variously live, work with and care for animals, these and other relevant questions.

Is there an overriding consensus and what are the reasons why people respond very differently to these questions, which in part examine our character, culture and future?

The viewing and discussion of this kind of documentary should be part of every school curriculum and will be of interest to all who work with, profit from and care for animals. Project Home Page: http://momentsoftruthproject.com/  To see the interview with Dr. Fox go to http://momentsoftruthproject.com/dr-michael-fox/