How Factory Farms Are Pumping Americans Full of Deadly Bacteria and Pathogens

Kathy Freston

broilersWe’re getting sicker and sicker, thanks to gruesome conditions in animal agriculture nationwide.

After reading www.BirdFluBook.org, by Dr. Michael Greger, I was stunned to realize the extent to which we have endangered our health by allowing factory farms to flourish and produce 99 percent of the meat, dairy and eggs we eat. Not only are dangerous flu viruses mutating because of these concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), but we are also being exposed to some other very serious bacteria and pathogens. Things have gotten out of hand in our food production, especially in the livestock sector.

In Part I of my interview with Dr. Greger, he explained the growing potential of deadly flu viruses. In Part 2 of the interview, we discuss E. coli, salmonella and other worrisome pathogens.

Kathy Freston: Where does E. coli come from and how does it get into food? Why is it often found on vegetables?

Michael Greger: E. coli is an intestinal pathogen. It only gets in the food if fecal matter gets in the food. Since plants don’t have intestines, all E. coli infections – in fact all food poisoning – comes from animals. When’s the last time you heard of a person getting Dutch elm disease or a really bad case of aphids? People don’t get plant diseases; they get animal diseases. The problem is that because of the number of animals raised today, a billion tons of manure are produced every year in the United States – the weight of 10,000 Nimitz-class aircraft carriers. Dairy cow and pig factories often dump millions of gallons of putrefying waste into massive open-air cesspits, which can leak and contaminate water used to irrigate our crops. That’s how a deadly fecal pathogen like E. coli O157:H7 can end up contaminating our spinach. So regardless of what we eat, we all need to fight against the expansion of factory farming in our communities, our nation and around the world.

KF: What percentage of the population gets hit by the bacteria? How many of them die? Could that number increase?

MG: While E. coli O157:H7 remains the leading cause of acute kidney failure in U.S. children, fewer than 100,000 Americans get infected every year, and fewer than 100 die. But millions get infected with other types of E. coli that can cause urinary tract infections (UTIs) that can invade the bloodstream and cause an estimated 36,000 deaths annually in the United States.

KF: We only occasionally hear of the very few fatal E. coli cases; is it really a widespread problem?

MG: When medical researchers at the University of Minnesota took more than 1,000 food samples from multiple retail markets, they found evidence of fecal contamination in 69 percent of the pork and beef and 92 percent of the poultry samples. Nine out of 10 chicken carcasses in the store may be contaminated with fecal matter. And half of the poultry samples were contaminated with the UTI-causing E. coli bacteria.

Scientists now suspect that by eating chicken, women infect their lower intestinal tract with these meat-borne bacteria, which can then creep up into their bladders. Hygiene measures to prevent UTIs have traditionally included wiping from front to back after bowel movements and urinating after intercourse to flush out any invaders, but now women can add poultry avoidance as a way to help prevent urinary tract infections.

KF: Are there any long-term problems for people who ingest E. coli and have a bad day or two with diarrhea, or is the problem over once out of the system?

MG: Last month the Center for Foodborne Illness Research & Prevention released a report on the long-term consequences of common causes of food poisoning. Life-long complications of E. coli O157:H7 infection include end-stage kidney disease, permanent brain damage and insulin-dependent diabetes.

KF: Is E. coli a problem if the meat is cooked?

MG: With the exception of prions, the infectious agents responsible for mad cow disease and the human equivalent – which can survive even incineration at temperatures hot enough to melt lead – all viral, fungal and bacterial pathogens in our food supply can be killed by proper cooking. Why then do tens of millions of Americans come down with food poisoning every year? Cross-contamination is thought to account for the bulk of infections. For example, chicken carcasses are so covered in bacteria that researchers at the University of Arizona found more fecal bacteria in the kitchen – on sponges and dish towels, and in the sink drain – than they found swabbing the toilet. In a meat-eater’s house it may be safer to lick the rim of the toilet seat than the kitchen counter top, because people aren’t preparing chickens in their toilets. Chicken “juice” is essentially raw fecal soup.

KF: What goes on inside the body when a human ingests E. coli?

MG: Depending on the strain, the number of bacteria ingested, and the immune status of the victim it can fail to cause any disease at all, or in the worst cases, cause multi-system organ failure. Here’s how one mother described what E. coli O157:H7 did to her 3-year-old daughter Brianna:
The pain during the first 80 hours was horrific, with intense abdominal cramping every 10 to 12 minutes. Her intestines swelled to three times their normal size and she was placed on a ventilator. Emergency surgery became essential and her colon was removed. After further surgery, doctors decided to leave the incision open, from sternum to pubis, to allow Brianna’s swollen organs room to expand and prevent them from ripping her skin. Her heart was so swollen it was like a sponge and bled from every pore. Her liver and pancreas shut down and she was gripped by thousands of convulsions, which caused blood clots in her eyes. We were told she was brain-dead.
KF: What a horror. Why is it deadly for some and not others?

MG: We think it has to do with the virulence of the bacteria – some strains are deadlier than others – and the vulnerability of the host. We’re not sure why children under 5 years of age are at the highest risk for dangerous complications, but that is certainly a finding that has been consistent.

KF: Is factory-farmed meat more likely to get E. coli out into the market, or is all meat (even free range) carrying that potential?

MG: In chickens, these bacteria cause a disease called colibacillosis, now one of the most significant and widespread infectious diseases in the poultry industry due to the way we now raise these animals. Studies have shown infection risk to be directly linked to overcrowding on factory chicken farms. In caged egg-laying hens, the most significant risk factor for flock infection is hen density per cage. Researchers have calculated that affording just a single quart of additional living space to each hen would be associated with a corresponding 33 percent drop in the risk of colibacillosis outbreak. This is one of the reasons many efforts to improve the lives of farmed animals is critical not only for animal welfare, but for the health of humans and animals alike.

In terms of other infections like Campylobacter, the most common cause of bacterial food poisoning in the United States, Consumer Reports published an analysis of retail chicken in its January 2010 issue. The majority of store-bought chickens were contaminated with Campylobacter, which can trigger arthritis, heart and blood infections, and a condition called Guillain-Barré syndrome that can leave people permanently disabled and paralyzed. Comparing store brands, 59 percent of the conventional factory-farmed chickens were contaminated, compared to 57 percent of chickens raised organically. So there might be a marginal difference, but the best strategy may be to avoid meat completely. With the virtual elimination of polio, the most common cause of neuromuscular paralysis in the United States now comes from eating chicken.

KF: What about salmonella? Is it really a big deal, or is it just a matter of an upset stomach?

MG: Salmonella kills more Americans than any other food-borne illness. There is an epidemic of egg-borne food poisoning every year in the United States. To this day, more than 100,000 Americans are sickened annually by salmonella-infected eggs.

KF: Do we have more salmonella now than we did 25 or 50 years ago? If so, why?

MG: There was a time when our grandparents could drink eggnog and children could eat raw cookie dough without fear of joining the thousands of Americans hospitalized with salmonella infections every year. Before the industrialization of egg production, salmonella only sickened a few hundred Americans every year and Salmonella enteritidis was not found in eggs at all. By the beginning of the 21st century, however, Salmonella enteritidis-contaminated eggs were sickening an estimated 182,000 Americans annually.

There are many industrial practices that contribute to the alarming rates of this disease. Most eggs come from hens confined in battery cages, small barren wire enclosures affording these animals less living space than a single sheet of letter-sized paper for virtually their entire one- to two-year lifespan. Salmonella-contaminated battery cage operations in the United States confine an average of more than 100,000 hens in a single shed. The massive volume of contaminated airborne fecal dust in such a facility rapidly accelerates the spread of infection.

Factory farming practices also led to the spread of salmonella around the world. Just as the feeding of dead animals to live ones triggered the mad cow crisis, this same practice has also been implicated in the global spread of salmonella. Once egg production wanes, hens may be ground up and rendered into what is called “spent hen meal,” and then fed to other hens. More than half of the feed samples for farmed birds containing slaughter-plant waste tested by the FDA were found contaminated with salmonella. CDC researchers have estimated that more than a million cases of salmonella poisoning in Americans can be directly tied to feed containing animal byproducts.

KF: What happens to the body when salmonella gets into the system?

MG: Within 12 to 72 hours of infection the fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps start. If the victim is lucky it’s over within a week. If not, the bacteria can burrow through the intestinal wall and infect the bloodstream, seeding its way to other organs, including the heart, bones and brain.

KF: Are there any long-term consequences from exposure?

MG: Thanks to salmonella infection one breakfast omelet can now trigger persistent irritable bowel syndrome and what’s called reactive arthritis, which can become a debilitating lifelong condition of swollen painful joints. Because salmonella can infect the ovaries of hens, eggs from infected birds can be laid prepackaged with the bacteria inside. According to research funded by the American Egg Board, salmonella can survive sunny-side-up, over-easy and scrambled egg cooking methods.

KF: Would free-range meat or eggs make a difference in preventing it?

MG: There is evidence that eggs from cage-free hens pose less of a threat. In the largest study of its kind (analyzing more than 30,000 samples taken from more than 5,000 operations across two dozen countries in Europe) cage-free barns had about 40 percent lower odds of harboring the egg-related strain of salmonella.

KF: Can we get salmonella just from touching something tainted?

MG: Absolutely. In fact the infective dose for salmonella is as few 15-20 bacteria, and a single egg can be infected with hundreds. It’s important to understand where the egg comes out. Eggs emerge from the hen’s vent, which is kind of a joint opening for both her vagina and anus, which explains the level of fecal contamination one can find on eggs.

KF: Is it contagious?

MG: Person-to-person transmission of salmonella can occur when an infected person’s feces, unwashed from his or her hands, contaminates food during preparation or comes into direct contact with another person.

KF: Who is most at risk for serious illness or even death?

MG: More than half of all reported salmonella infections occur in children, who are especially susceptible to serious complications. Elderly and immuno-compromised adults are also particularly vulnerable. In the United States, though, some strains of salmonella are growing dangerously resistant to up to six major classes of antibiotics, due in large part to the irresponsible factory farming practice of feeding millions of pounds of antibiotics to animals every year as a crutch to combat the stressful and overcrowded conditions of intensive animal agriculture systems. This puts everyone at risk.

KF: What is the overall solution to prevent these dangerous pathogens and bacteria?

MG: Over the last few decades new animal-to-human infectious diseases have emerged at an unprecedented rate. According to the World Health Organization, the increasing global demand for animal protein is a key underlying factor.

Swine flu is not the only deadly human disease traced to factory farming practices. The meat industry took natural herbivores like cows and sheep, and turned them into carnivores and cannibals by feeding them slaughterhouse waste, blood and manure. Then they fed people “downer” animals – those too sick to even walk. Now the world has mad cow disease.

In 2005 the world’s largest and deadliest outbreak of a pathogen called Strep. suis emerged, causing meningitis and deafness in people handling infected pork products. Experts blamed the emergence on factory farming practices. Pig factories in Malaysia birthed the Nipah virus, one of the deadliest of human pathogens, a contagious respiratory disease causing relapsing brain infections and killing 40 percent of people infected. Its emergence was likewise blamed squarely on factory farming.

The pork industry in the U.S. feeds pigs millions of pounds of human antibiotics every year just to promote growth in such a stressful, unhygienic environment, and now there are these multi-drug-resistant bacteria and we as physicians are running out of good antibiotic options. As the UK’s chief medical officer put it in his 2009 annual report, “Every inappropriate use of antibiotics in agriculture is a potential death warrant for a future patient.”

In the short term we need to put an end to the riskiest practices, such as extreme confinement – gestation crates and battery cages – and the non-therapeutic feeding of antibiotics. We have to follow the advice of the American Public Health Association to declare a moratorium on factory farms and eventually phase them out completely. How we treat animals can have global public health implications.

KF: Sounds like part of the solution is to gravitate toward a vegetarian diet. Check out One Bite At a Time for information on how to do it.

About the author

Kathy Freston is a health and wellness expert and a New York Times bestselling author. Her latest book is The Quantum Wellness Cleanse: The 21-Day Essential Guide to Healing Your Body, Mind, and Spirit. She has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Ellen, The View and Good Morning America.

http://www.alternet.org/healthwellness/145068/how_factory_farms_are_pumping_americans_full_of_deadly_bacteria_and_pathogens/?page=entire

SAFETY OF GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOODS

International Journal of Biological Sciences, Abstract, 2009 – We present for the first time a comparative analysis of blood and organ system data from trials with rats fed three main commercialized genetically modified maize, which are present in food and feed in the world. . . Approximately 60 different biochemical parameters were classified per organ and measured in serum and urine after 5 and 14 weeks of feeding. GM maize-fed rats were compared first to their respective isogenic or parental non-GM equivalent control groups. This was followed by comparison to six reference groups, which had consumed various other non-GM maize varieties. . . Our analysis clearly reveals for the 3 GMOs new side effects linked with GM maize consumption, which were sex- and often dose-dependent. Effects were mostly associated with the kidney and liver, the dietary detoxifying organs, although different between the 3 GMOs. Other effects were also noticed in the heart, adrenal glands, spleen and haematopoietic system. We conclude that these data highlight signs of hepatorenal toxicity, possibly due to the new pesticides specific to each GM corn. In addition, unintended direct or indirect metabolic consequences of the genetic modification cannot be excluded.

Wikipedia – A 2008 review published by the Royal Society of Medicine noted that GM foods have been eaten by millions of people worldwide for over 15 years, with no reports of ill effects. Similarly a 2004 report from the US National Academies of Sciences stated: “To date, no adverse health effects attributed to genetic engineering have been documented in the human population.” A 2004 review of feeding trials in the Italian Journal of Animal Science found no differences among animals eating genetically modified plants. A 2005 review in Archives of Animal Nutrition concluded that first-generation genetically modified foods had been found to be similar in nutrition and safety to non-GM foods, but noted that second-generation foods with “significant changes in constituents” would be more difficult to test, and would require further animal studies. However, a 2009 review in Nutrition Reviews found that although most studies concluded that GM foods do not differ in nutrition or cause any detectable toxic effects in animals, some studies did report adverse changes at a cellular level caused by some GM foods, concluding that “More scientific effort and investigation is needed to ensure that consumption of GM foods is not likely to provoke any form of health problem”.

Physorg, 2005 – A recent Russian study says 55.6 percent of the offspring of female rats fed genetically engineered soy flour died within three weeks. The female rats reportedly received 5-7 grams of the Roundup Ready variety of soybeans, beginning two weeks before conception and continuing through nursing. By comparison, scientists said only 9 percent of the offspring of rats fed non-GM soy died.

Furthermore, Russian researchers said offspring from the GM-fed group were significantly stunted — 36 percent weighed less than 20 grams after two weeks, compared with only 6.7 percent from the control group.

The study was conducted by Dr. Irina Ermakova of the Institute of Higher Nervous Activity and Neurophysiology in Moscow, a part of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
The study was presented during the recent conference of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine in Tucson, Ariz.

The AAEM board issued a statement saying: “We recognize this study is preliminary in nature. It hasn’t yet been peer reviewed and the methodology has not been spelled out in detail. But given the magnitude of the findings and the implications for human health, we urge the National Institutes of Health to immediately replicate the research.”

Weather Bulletin: Message from Michigan




MICHIGANERS ARE A LESSON IN HUMANITY AND REALITY

Emergency
Weather Bulletin


This text is from a county emergency manager out in the western part of the
Upper Peninsula of Michigan after a severe snow storm …
The Mining Journal,Marquette, MI


WEATHER BULLETIN


Up here in the Northern part of Michigan we just recovered from a Historic event
— may I even say a "Weather Event" of "Biblical Proportions"
— with a historic blizzard of up to 44" inches of snow and winds to 90
MPH that broke trees in half, knocked down utility poles, stranded hundreds
of motorists in lethal snow banks, closed ALL roads, isolated scores of communities
and cut power to 10’s of thousands.

FYI: Obama did not come. FEMA did nothing. No one howled for the government.
No one blamed the government. No one even uttered an expletive on TV. Jesse
Jackson or Al Sharpton did not visit. Our Mayor’s did not blame Obama or anyone
else. Our Governor did not blame Obama or anyone else either. CNN, ABC, CBS,
FOX, or NBC did not visit – or even report on this category 5 snow storm.

 

Nobody demanded $2,000 debit cards.
No one asked for a FEMA Trailer House.
No one looted.
Nobody – I mean Nobody demanded the government do something.
Nobody expected the government to do anything either.
No Larry King, No Bill O’Rielly, No Oprah, No Chris Mathews and No Geraldo Rivera.
No Shaun Penn, No Barbara Striesand,
No Brad Pitts, No Hollywood types to be found.

Nope, we just melted the snow for water.Sent out caravans of SUV’s to pluck
people out of snow engulfed cars. The truck drivers pulled people out of snow
banks and didn’t ask for a penny. Local restaurants made food, and the police
and fire departments delivered it to the snow bound families.. Families took
in the stranded people – total strangers.


We fired up wood stoves, broke out coal oil lanterns or Coleman lanterns.
We put on an extra layers of clothes because up here it is "Work or Die".
We did not wait for some affirmative action government to get us out of a mess
created by being immobilized by a welfare program that trades votes for ‘sittin
at home’ checks. Even though a Category 5 blizzard of this scale is not usual,
we know it can happen and how to deal with it ourselves.

I hope this gets passed on.
Maybe …..
SOME people will get the message ……
The world does NOT owe you a living.



Moderate Lifetime Marijuana Use Associated With Reduced Risk Of Head And Neck Cancer, Study Says

Providence, RI: The moderate long-term use of marijuana is associated with a reduced risk of head and neck cancers, according to the results of a population-based case-control study published online by the journal Cancer Prevention Research.

Investigators at Rhode Island’s Brown University, along with researchers at Boston University, Louisiana State University, and the University of Minnesota assessed the lifetime marijuana use habits of 434 cases (patients diagnosed with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma from nine medical facilities) compared to 547 matched controls.

Authors reported, “After adjusting for potential confounders (including smoking and alcohol drinking), 10 to 20 years of marijuana use was associated with a significantly reduced risk of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma … [as was] moderate weekly use.”

Subjects who smoked marijuana and consumed alcohol and tobacco (two known high risk factors for head and neck cancers) also experienced a reduced risk of cancer, the study found.

“Our study suggests that moderate marijuana use is associated with reduced risk of HNSCC,” investigators concluded. “This association was consistent across different measures of marijuana use (marijuana use status, duration, and frequency of use). … Further, we observed that marijuana use modified the interaction between alcohol and cigarette smoking, resulting in a decreased HNSCC risk among moderate smokers and light drinkers, and attenuated risk among the heaviest smokers and drinkers. … Despite our results being consistent with the point estimates from other studies, there remains a need for this inverse association to be confirmed by further work, especially in studies with large sample sizes.”

A separate 2006 population case-control study also reported that lifetime use of cannabis was not positively associated with cancers of the lung or aerodigestive tract, and noted that certain moderate users of the drug experienced a reduced cancer risk compared to non-using controls.

By contrast, a study published earlier this week in the journal Cancer Epidemiology reports that even the moderate use of alcohol (six drinks or less per week) is associated with an elevated risk of various cancers – including stomach cancer, rectal cancer, and bladder cancer.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “A population-based case control study of marijuana use and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma,” will appear in Cancer Prevention Research.

URBAN DWELLERS URGED TO KEEP BEES AS POPULATION DECLINES

BBC – People living in urban areas are being encouraged to consider keeping bees in gardens, on roofs or on balconies to help reverse population decline. Conservation watchdog Natural England wants more homeowners to install hives and grow insect-friendly plants.

Nearly all the UK’s 250 species of bee are in decline. Honeybee numbers have fallen by 10-15% in the last two years. Experts say sustaining bee populations is essential to ensuring the survival of Britain’s plants and crops.

Natural England wants to see more UK bee colonies, which would make the insects more resistant to their biggest killers – disease and pests, such as the varroa mite.

The organization’s chief scientist, Tom Tew, said urban areas could play a crucial part in encouraging bees and a new easy-to-use beehive, called a beehaus, could help more people become apiarists. . .

The first of the newly-designed urban beehives is due to be installed on the roof of Natural England’s central London offices, but Dr Tew said the bees would not be coming into contact with pedestrians on pavements because they flew about five meters off the ground.

Galápagos Tortoise May Be World’s Oldest Dad

lonesomegeorge_byputneymark

The world’s “rarest living creature” may soon become the oldest living new father after almost a century of bachelorhood. Lonesome George, the last known Pinta Island giant Galapagos tortoise, has taken another stab at paternity after spending most of his lifetime celibate, despite repeated efforts by scientists to compel him to procreate. Last year, George finally discovered the joy of reproduction with a female of a different subspecies, but her eggs turned out to be infertile. Thankfully, he’s chosen another favorite female with whom to sow his precious seed, and the results — five new tortoise eggs — are now being incubated. We’ll know whether there’ll soon be a little George or Georgette in 120 days, when the eggs are scheduled to hatch. If they’re fertile, George will be the oldest natural papa on record at 90 to 100 years of age (according to scientists, still at his sexual peak). He may spur the manufacture of a “World’s Oldest Dad” mug — we can see it selling like hotcakes in a drugstore near you.

Stay tuned for another Lonesome George update in November, and listen now to a National Public Radio story on Lonesome George’s latest exploits.