A friend of mine on Twitter sent me a link to an article titled “First ‘test-tube’ hamburger to be produced this year” and wanted to know my thoughts, so…
The idea of being able to take bovine stem cells, growing muscle tissue in a lab and then taking that tissue and turning it into “hamburger” is an intriguing idea. It makes me think of a science fiction movie or even Star Trek.
Those who know me and have followed my blog also know that I am a supporter of utilizing technology to improve the ability of agriculture to provide safe and wholesome food in the most efficient manner possible while also being environmentally friendly. This endeavor could potentially provide an option for people to choose, when it comes to choices of “meat.”
After being intrigued by the initial presentation of the idea, I then reached the point in the article where the author begins describing the “benefits” of having being able to create “hamburger” in a test-tube. Yes, I am putting the word hamburger in quotations…I just have a tough time calling something hamburger that comes from lab.
Some of the benefits listed included:
“Conventional meat and dairy production requires more land, water, plants and disposal of waste products than almost all other human foods.”
It is important to realize that most of the land utilized to raise cattle is of very poor quality and not land that is favorable for growing “human foods.” Particularly in the west, cattle run on mountain and dessert range, where elevation and length of growing season limits production to grasses. Additionally, where cattle have been managed properly, beneficial grasses actually increase, for both the cattle and wildlife, fuel loads are reduced and organic material in the soil is increased. Read more…
Demonizing companies and individuals through the use of misleading and false information is never productive. More times than not, fissures are created, within families, communities, states, the country and even the world. It is very acceptable to question actions and results, but let us remember to remain objective in our assessment, research the origins of the information and pass on only that which is true. Passing this type of information along, without doing research on it, is just as irresponsible as passing along an email that says the world will end if you don’t forward to your whole address book.
I have seen a number of people posting on Facebook and Twitter lately, that they have signed one of a couple of petitions currently circulating with a host of claims against Monsanto. Many of these people I consider to be friends and respect. I felt inclined to write this post to provide some additional information in order to clarify several of the accusations that are being claimed. I, for one, as a small farmer and rancher, am very grateful for the work that work that Monsanto and others are doing to help farmers be more efficient and holistic in their management opportunities.
During the past week I have noticed an increase of the promotion of Denmark’s ban on the use of antibiotics for sub-therapeutic use. What has not been publicized is what has transpired since the ban went into place…it has not been all “roses.” These points were compiled after being able to hear a presentation by Dr. H. Scott Hurd of Iowa State.
1. Antibiotics are being used very sparingly since the ban. Farmers and veterinarians must now wait until animals are exhibiting clear signs of illness before treating which leads to higher doses of antibiotics being used to treat the animal, suffering and an increase in mortality. The Denmark ban led to an increase in diarrhea in pigs and an increase in deaths by more than 20% World Health Organization Report.
2. It is important to understand that the antibiotics used to prevent disease are not used to treat humans. However, the antibiotics used to treat disease, are also used to treat humans. The ban actually increases the use of more antibiotics that are shared in use with humans, not decreases.
3. The Denmark ban has led to a decrease of farms in Denmark from nearly 25 thousand in 1995 to fewer than 10 thousand in 2005. Farms were unable to remain in business due to the increase in death loss.
4. Since the Denmark ban, antimicrobial use has increased nearly 110% while number of animals has only increased 5%, due to higher dosages being used to treat, rather than prevent (DANMAP 2008).
5. Denmark now exports their pigs at weaning to other countries to be fed out for market, nearly 5 million in 2008.
7. Since the antibiotic ban, farmers in Denmark are now utilizing zinc to help control diarrhea in hogs and ironically, it is highly likely that this may be encouraging incidence of Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureus (MRSA).
8. Most importantly, the WHO has stated that there has been no evidence of improved public health since the ban. In fact, resistant Salmonella in humans has increased and Denmark had their largest outbreak of MSRA (WHO 2002).
For more information on this and other food risk modeling information, I encourage you to visit Dr. H. Scott Hurd’s page.
A lively #agchat discussion on the EPA last night prompted some further discussion on twitter during the after party. 140 characters was just not enough so I have thrown together some further thoughts here.
First, I have no doubt that the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), CEPA (California Environmental Protection Agency), CAQCB (California Air Quality Control Board), CWRCB (California Water Quality Control Board) and the NCWQCB (North Coast Water Quality Control Board) were all implemented with the best of intentions. However, we all know where the road goes that is paved with good intentions. My comments are on all of these agencies as they overlap and often work together to address the same issues that I have been involved with. Also, these thoughts are from my personal experience in dealing with these agencies as they relate to my area: National Forest, private timber, irrigated and non-irrigated ag land, water quality and salmonid habitat. Read more…
Arguments against Roundup Ready alfalfa are flying around the internet like “flies on stink.” Ironically, that is pretty much what the arguments against GMO alfalfa are…”stink.”
We have been growing alfalfa for more than 30 years on our ranch, for personal use and for sale, averaging roughly 6.5 tons per acre on 130 acres. I am very familiar with the attributes of alfalfa, its growing patterns, nutritive needs, life span and harvesting.
For some of those throwing out arguments against GMO alfalfa, it is very apparent that they have no understanding of the production of the forage. Here are two major points about alfalfa that need to be understood. Read more…