News of Note

i Apr 16th by


 The Myth of Sustainable Meat
The industrial production of animal products is nasty business. From mad cow, E. coli and salmonella to soil erosion, manure runoff and pink slime, factory farming is the epitome of a broken food system…Opponents of industrialized agriculture have been declaring for over a decade that how humans produce animal products is one of the most important environmental questions we face. We need a bolder declaration. After all, it’s not how we produce animal products that ultimately matters. It’s whether we produce them at all.


What’s Even Grosser Than Pink Slime?
Last week, two news items crossed my desk that demonstrate the meat industry’s power and its threat to public health.  The first is the extraordinary, bipartisan political defense of the embattled, ammonia-laced ground-beef filler that has become known as “pink slime.” The second is a proposed plan by the Obama administration to fire USDA inspectors and let the poultry industry inspect its own slaughterhouse lines—while simultaneously speeding up the kill line.


Arsenic in Our Chicken?
my topic today is a pair of new scientific studies suggesting that poultry on factory farms are routinely fed caffeine, active ingredients of Tylenol and Benadryl, banned antibiotics and even arsenic.  “We were kind of floored,” said Keeve E. Nachman, a co-author of both studies and a scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Center for a Livable Future.  “It’s unbelievable what we found.”


The Challenge of Going Vegan
“The dominant social-cultural norm in the West is meat consumption,” said Hanna Schösler, a researcher in the Institute for Environmental Studies at Vrije University in Amsterdam, who has studied consumer acceptance of meat substitutes. “The people who want to shift to a more vegetarian diet find they face physical constraints and mental constraints. It’s not very accepted in our society not to eat meat.”


Five fit female vegetarian and vegan athletes
There’s a myth that vegans don’t get enough nutrients, but then there’s athletes like ultramarathoner Brendan Brazier, whose book “Thrive” explains how a plant-based diet helps improve performance and recovery when training, and superstar sprinter Carl Lewis, who credits a vegan diet for helping him win all those Olympic gold medals. and Carl are not the only ones to tout a plant-based lifestyle — check out how it has helped these five vegan and vegetarian female athletes stay fast and fit.

FDA lays out steps to reduce overuse of antibiotics in animals grown for food
The Food and Drug Administration called on drug companies Wednesday to help limit the use of antibiotics given to farm animals, a decades-old practice that scientists say has contributed to a surge in dangerous, drug-resistant bacteria.  Antibiotics are mixed with animal feed to help livestock, pigs and chickens put on weight and stay healthy in crowded barns.


Monkeys learn to tell words from nonsense letters
Researchers report in the journal Science that they trained six Guinea baboons (Papio papio) to distinguish real, four-letter English words such as “done” and “vast” from non-words such as “dran” and “lons.” After six weeks, the baboons learned to pick out dozens of words – as many as 308 in the case of the clever Dan, and 81 for Violette – from a sea of 7,832 non-words.


Matrix magic makes veterinary surgery less intimidating
To help students prepare for the common surgical procedure he and his colleagues collaborated with a Sydney company, Studio Kite, which specialises in animatronic creatures for film and television, to produce the silicone-based animal model – a ”world-first” – and ensure it was as realistic as possible.


Why we can’t trust animal experiments
Listen to Ernst Boris Chain, co-discoverer of penicillin with Florey & Flemming at the thalidomide trial, in 1970, under oath. He said: “No animal experiment with a medicament, even if it is carried out on several animal species including primates under all conceivable conditions, can give any guarantee that the medicament tested in this way will behave the same in humans, because in many respects the human is not the same as the animal.”


After nuclear disasters, wildlife thrives
Until now, it had been believed that radiation following the Chernobyl disaster must have had a dramatic effect on bird populations by causing damage to birds’ antioxidant defence mechanisms….Indeed, says Smith, “Some Belarussian and Ukrainian scientists who live and work in the Chernobyl exclusion zone have reported big increases in wildlife populations since the accident, due to the removal of humans from the area.”