I talk with people all the time who feel overwhelmed. That was the point. We all thought it was Bush and when Obama came into office more corporate than Bush, we were all taken by surprise. THIS CAN ALL BE REVERSED....WE NEED TO SHAKE THE DISAPPOINTMENT AND ELECT NEW POLITICIANS THAT WILL WORK FOR THE PEOPLE AND NOT PROFITS!
This isn't periodic, local contamination, this is flagrant national disregard to all US citizens. When I say all...that is all except those who can afford to avoid them. Do people buying organic worry about the majority of people forced to buy from local markets all that meat tainted with antibiotics and hormones we know may be the cause of an national epidemic someday? Your elected officials know this an are allowing it to happen for profits over people! VOTE THEM ALL OUT OF OFFICE!
Antibiotics and Food Production: Are we Feeding a Health Crisis and Squandering the Cure?
Posted: 04/12/11 10:28 AM ET Laurie David Huffington Post
I worry. A lot. My worry gene works overtime. A doctor once told me it's called an "overactive checker" (or as I like to think of it, my OC). As far as afflictions go, it's not terrible. OC's are good to have around. They see danger from miles away. They pay close attention.
Motherhood can be particularly tough on OC's. We know too well that there's no such thing as "out of sight out of mind." But over the years I have come to terms with my checker, and now consider it a trusted friend. It was my checker that helped me raise my kids with a minimum of cuts and scratches, rear three dogs from eight-week-old puppies, and eventually opened my eyes to the looming dangers of global warming. It's the same trusted checker that is screaming, "Wake up! Wake up!" on the issue of antibiotic resistance.
Here is what I know for sure. We are dishing out 80 percent of our antibiotics on the animals we eat. Much of those antibiotics are used to make the animals grow faster, not to treat them for infections. Many critics of antibiotic-hungry factory farms claim producers are also using them to compensate for the truly disgusting living conditions in which most animals are raised, so bad that the industry is trying to make taking pictures of it illegal!
The industrial Ag business is free to use our antibiotics to make healthy animals grow faster, for what? To cut costs? Increase production? This is the meat we buy in grocery stores, and order from the drive-through window at fast food joints. Yup, that's one reason why many of those chicken fingers and burgers our kids love for lunch and dinner are so deceptively cheap these days. But is it worth losing our antibiotics for?
Without having debated it or voted on it, or decided as a nation, we are giving away our chances to save one of most precious medicines man has ever developed for human use. Medicines we know we are going to need for our children, our elderly parents, our loved ones.
While widespread misuse of antibiotics in human medicine plays no small role in the problem, scientists fear that the misuse of antibiotics in poultry and livestock production is a major contributor to our global antibiotic resistance dilemma. Drug resistant bacterial infections among people can lead to higher medical costs, and in the worst cases, death. You would be shocked by the number of annual deaths from diseases that have become highly resistant to antibiotics. In fact, the World Health Organization just announced that we're quickly heading towards a post-antibiotic era, in which "many common infections will no longer have a cure and, once again, kill unabated."
Let's see what we're talking about:
Every year in the U.S., there are 90,000 cases of invasive staph that are highly resistant to our best antibiotics, and can be life-threatening. Around the world, about 440,000 new cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis emerge annually. As a result, 150,000 people die each year.
More than 80% of the E. coli found in meat products is resistant to one or more antibiotics used for treatment.
The bacteria that cause certain types of pneumonia and meningitis are rapidly becoming resistant to standard antibiotics.
All of this means that infections are becoming increasingly harder and more expensive to treat, and in some cases, no treatment even exists.
How ironic that our pediatricians and doctors have hammered into our brains that 'You must finish all ten days of this antibiotic or it won't be effective the next time!' Moms diligently follow that rule, without any idea that the effectiveness of these drugs is being undermined every single day.
We have to stop this. Researchers have known for half a century that bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics over time. The more antibiotics are used, the quicker bacteria become resistant. That is why the FDA, the USDA, the American Medical Association, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the American Public Health Association, the CDC and many others have all publicly criticized the overuse of antibiotics in livestock.
This is seriously scary stuff. These past months have been a terrifying reminder that we have to be prepared for disasters here at home. Safety kits have been checked, extra water and food stored, and iodine pills have flown off the shelves across America. But we know that real preparation comes in the form of foresight, planning, and preserving our assets, including the effectiveness of our doctors and medicines.
Even without a natural disaster descending upon us in America, the ability of our doctors to treat health epidemics is being seriously undermined, setting us up for another kind of disaster -- a health catastrophe.
And still, with everything we do know, with all the reports in, research done, warnings cited, very little is being done to stop it. That's where worrying moms come in.
Moms, do you remember being given a choice, whether or not you prefer saving our best medicines, our antibiotics, in case a loved one comes down with a terrible illness, or pneumonia? Or do you prefer to continue to hand over our precious medicines to factory farms so that we can continue our supersized addiction to meat.
I don't remember being given a choice. Do you? Talk about it tonight at dinner. See what the family thinks. Then let's do something about it.
FRACKING: Pennsylvania Gags Physicians LA Progressives, Organic Consumers
Posted by WALTER BRASCH, PH.D. in Energy,
Mar 18th, 2012 | 26 responses by WALTER BRASCH
(Part 1 of 3)
A new Pennsylvania law endangers public health by forbidding health care professionals from sharing information they learn about certain chemicals and procedures used in high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing. The procedure is commonly known as fracking.
Fracking is the controversial method of forcing water, gases, and chemicals at tremendous pressure of up to 15,000 pounds per square inch into a rock formation as much as 10,000 feet below the earth’s surface to open channels and force out natural gas and fossil fuels.
Advocates of fracking argue not only is natural gas “greener” than coal and oil energy, with significantly fewer carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur emissions, the mining of natural gas generates significant jobs in a depressed economy, and will help the U.S. reduce its oil dependence upon foreign nations. Geologists estimate there may be as much as 2,000 trillion cubic feet of natural gas throughout the United States. If all of it is successfully mined, it could not only replace coal and oil but serve as a transition to wind, solar, and water as primary energy sources, releasing the United States from dependency upon fossil fuel energy and allowing it to be more self-sufficient.
The Marcellus Shale—which extends beneath the Allegheny Plateau, through southern New York, much of Pennsylvania, east Ohio, West Virginia, and parts of Maryland and Virginia—is one of the nation’s largest sources for natural gas mining, containing as much as 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and could produce, within a decade, as much as one-fourth of the nation’s natural gas demand. Each of Pennsylvania’s 5,255 wells, as of the beginning of March 2012, with dozens being added each week, takes up about nine acres, including all access roads and pipe.
Over the expected lifetime of each well, companies may use as many as nine million gallons of water and 100,000 gallons of chemicals and radioactive isotopes within a four to six week period. The additives “are used to prevent pipe corrosion, kill bacteria, and assist in forcing the water and sand down-hole to fracture the targeted formation,” explains Thomas J. Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research. However, about 650 of the 750 chemicals used in fracking operations are known carcinogens, according to a report filed with the U.S. House of Representatives in April 2011. Fluids used in fracking include those that are “potentially hazardous,” including volatile organic compounds, according to Christopher Portier, director of the National Center for Environmental Health, a part of the federal Centers for Disease Control. In an email to the Associated Press in January 2012, Portier noted that waste water, in addition to bring up several elements, may be radioactive. Fracking is also believed to have been the cause of hundreds of small earthquakes in Ohio and other states.
The law, known as Act 13 of 2012, an amendment to Title 58 (Oil and Gas) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, requires that companies provide to a state-maintained registry the names of chemicals and gases used in fracking. Physicians and others who work with citizen health issues may request specific information, but the company doesn’t have to provide that information if it claims it is a trade secret or proprietary information, nor does it have to reveal how the chemicals and gases used in fracking interact with natural compounds. If a company does release information about what is used, health care professionals are bound by a non-disclosure agreement that not only forbids them from warning the community of water and air pollution that may be caused by fracking, but which also forbids them from telling their own patients what the physician believes may have led to their health problems. A strict interpretation of the law would also forbid general practitioners and family practice physicians who sign the non-disclosure agreement and learn the contents of the “trade secrets” from notifying a specialist about the chemicals or compounds, thus delaying medical treatment.
The clauses are buried on pages 98 and 99 of the 174-page bill, which was initiated and passed by the Republican-controlled General Assembly and signed into law in February by Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.
“I have never seen anything like this in my 37 years of practice,” says Dr. Helen Podgainy, a pediatrician from Coraopolis, Pa. She says it’s common for physicians, epidemiologists, and others in the health care field to discuss and consult with each other about the possible problems that can affect various populations. Her first priority, she says, “is to diagnose and treat, and to be proactive in preventing harm to others.” The new law, she says, not only “hinders preventative measures for our patients, it slows the treatment process by gagging free discussion.”
Psychologists are also concerned about the effects of fracking and the law’s gag order. “We won’t know the extent of patients becoming anxious or depressed because of a lack of information about the fracking process and the chemicals used,” says Kathryn Vennie of Hawley, Pa., a clinical psychologist for 30 years. She says she is already seeing patients “who are seeking support because of the disruption to their environment.” Anxiety in the absence of information, she says, “can produce both mental and physical problems.”
The law is not only “unprecedented,” but will “complicate the ability of health department to collect information that would reveal trends that could help us to protect the public health,” says Dr. Jerome Paulson, director of the Mid-Atlantic Center for Children’s Health and the Environment at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Dr. Paulson, also professor of pediatrics at George Washington University, calls the law “detrimental to the delivery of personal health care and contradictory to the ethical principles of medicine and public health.” Physicians, he says, “have a moral and ethical responsibility to protect the health of the public, and this law precludes us from doing all we can to protect the public.” He has called for a moratorium on all drilling until the health effects can be analyzed.
Pennsylvania requires physicians to report to the state instances of 73 specific diseases, most of which are infectious diseases. However, the list also includes cancer, which may have origins not only from chemicals used to create the fissures that yield natural gas, but also in the blow-back of elements, including arsenic, present within the fissures. Thus, physicians are faced by conflicting legal and professional considerations.
“The confidentiality agreements are worrisome,” says Peter Scheer, a journalist/lawyer who is executive director of the First Amendment Coalition. Physicians who sign the non-disclosure agreements and then disclose the possible risks to protect the community can be sued for breech of contract, and the companies can seek both injunctions and damages, says Scheer.
In pre-trial discovery motions, a company might be required to reveal to the court what it claims are trade secrets and proprietary information, with the court determining if the chemical and gas combinations really are trade secrets or not. The court could also rule that the contract is unenforceable because it is contrary to public policy, which places the health of the public over the rights of an individual company to protect its trade secrets, says Scheer. However, the legal and financial resources of the natural gas corporations are far greater than those of individuals, and they can stall and outspend most legal challenges.
Although Pennsylvania is determined to protect the natural gas industry, not everyone in the industry agrees with the need for secrecy. Dave McCurdy, president of the American Gas Association, says he supports disclosing the contents included in fracturing fluids. In an opinion column published in the Denver Post, McCurdy further argued, “We need to do more as an industry to engage in a transparent and fact-based public dialogue on shale gas development.”
The Natural Gas committee of the U.S. Department of Energy agrees. “Our most important recommendations were for more transparency and dissemination of information about shale gas operations, including full disclosure of chemicals and additives that are being used,” said Dr. Mark Zoback, professor of geophysics at Stanford University and a Board member.
Both McCurdy’s statement and the Department of Energy’s strong recommendation about full disclosure were known to the Pennsylvania General Assembly when it created the law that restricted health care professionals from disseminating certain information that could help reduce significant health and environmental problems from fracking operations.
[Part 2 looks at the health issues and research studies. Part 3 looks at the truth behind why Pennsylvania has given advantages to the natural gas industry. Assisting on this series, in addition to those quoted within the articles, were Rosemary R. Brasch, Eileen Fay, Dr. Bernard Goldstein, and Dr. Wendy Lynne Lee. Walter Brasch’s current book is Before the First Snow, a critically-acclaimed novel that looks at what happens when government and energy companies form a symbiotic relationship, using ‘cheaper, cleaner’ fuel and the lure of jobs in a depressed economy but at the expense of significant health and environmental impact. The book is available at amazon.com and through the publisher’s website, http://www.greeleyandstone.com]