Posts Tagged ‘Agriculture’

Pigs Raised Without Antibiotics More Likely To Carry Bacteria, Parasites

June 13, 2008

While consumers are increasing demand for pork produced without antibiotics, more of the pigs raised in such conditions carry bacteria and parasites associated with food-borne illnesses, according to a new study.

A comparison of swine raised in antibiotic-free and conventional pork production settings revealed that pigs raised outdoors without antibiotics had higher rates of three food-borne pathogens than did pigs on conventional farms, which remain indoors and receive preventive doses of antimicrobial drugs.

“Animal-friendly, outdoor farms tend to have a higher occurrence of Salmonella, as well as higher rates of parasitic disease,” said lead study author Wondwossen Gebreyes, associate professor of veterinary preventive medicine at Ohio State University.

Click here for the full article.

P.S. – As long as you thoroughly cook your meat and prepare it under sanitary conditions, you probably don’t need to worry too much about salmonella poisoning (small children, elderly people, and already sick people have a slightly greater risk of contracting it).  To be safe, you should assume that at least half of all the raw chicken, eggs, pork, etc. you encounter is contaminated with salmonella and always take necessary precautions in preparing and cooking them (read the article for more specific information about this).

The study discussed in this article was funded by a grant from the National Pork Board.  I wonder if the National Pork Board has a vested interest in supporting factory farmed pork.  This seems like it may be an attempt to scare people away from “animal-friendly, outdoor farms,” and instead encourage them to purchase meat from more animal-unfriendly, indoor farms (aka, factory farms).

What do you think about this?  Write a comment and let me know.

A Futuristic Linkage Of Animals And Electronics

June 6, 2008

The same Global Positioning System (GPS) technology used to track vehicles is now being used to track cows.

But Agricultural Research Service (ARS) animal scientist Dean M. Anderson has taken tracking several steps further with a Walkman-like headset that enables him to “whisper” wireless commands to cows to control their movements across a landscape—and even remotely gather them into a corral.

He and his colleagues realize this is a highly futuristic technology, but they can envision a time when these technologies will be affordable and useful for a range of applications, from intensive animal operations to monitoring and controlling the movements of some wildlife species and even household pets.

Click here for the full article.

Honey Bee Losses Continue To Rise In U.S.

May 26, 2008

Colony Collapse Disorder, diseases, parasitic mites and other stressors continue to take a devastating toll on U.S. honey bee populations, but Pennsylvania beekeepers on average fared better than their counterparts nationally during this past winter, according to agriculture experts in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

A recent survey by the Apiary Inspectors of America found that losses nationwide topped 36 percent of managed hives between September 2007 and March 2008, compared to a 31 percent loss during the same period a year earlier.

Pennsylvania fared better, with losses of about 26 percent, compared to nearly 48 percent the previous year. “About 70 percent of the state’s losses this year were not related to Colony Collapse Disorder,” said Dennis vanEngelsdorp, acting state apiarist for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and a Penn State senior extension associate in entomology.

Click here for the full article.

The last mahouts

May 5, 2008

The mighty Asian elephant has featured large in Asian culture for centuries. This enormous beast, a perennial symbol of strength and power, has been tamed and trained to perform in a variety of roles in agriculture, royal ceremonies, circuses and even combat.

Specially trained elephants were also widely used throughout the sub-continent as executioners as recently as the early 20th century. Depending on the disposition of the prevailing ruler, the unfortunate beast would be ordered to either stomp on the prisoner or slowly pluck off his limbs

Throughout India, Thailand, Cambodia, Burma and beyond, elephants are revered and even worshipped for their intelligence, usefulness and beauty.

They are perhaps best known for their use in heavy agricultural duties like logging and hauling loads. But times are changing and the role of the Asian elephant is shifting away from menial tasks and becoming restricted to ceremonial duties and tourist performances.

Click here for the full article.

Study: Factory Farming Taking Toll on Health, Economy

April 29, 2008

Factory farming takes a big hidden toll on human health and the environment, is undermining rural America’s economic stability and fails to provide the humane treatment of livestock increasingly demanded by American consumers, concludes an independent, 2 1/2 -year analysis that calls for major changes in the way corporate agriculture produces meat, milk and eggs.

The 111-page report released today, sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trusts and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, finds that the “economies of scale” long used to justify factory farming practices are largely an illusion, perpetuated by a failure to account for a raft of associated costs.

Among those costs are human illnesses caused by drug-resistant bacteria associated with the rampant use of antibiotics on feedlots and degradation of land, water and air quality caused by animal waste too intensely concentrated to be neutralized by natural processes.

Click here for the full article.

Measure would give food animals space, but farmers say room to roam may not be best

April 29, 2008

Tender veal cutlets. Sizzling pork chops. Savory omelets.

For a growing number of Californians, these meals are sparking a moral conundrum: Should they worry about how animals lived before their products hit the plate?

California voters will answer that question in November with a new animal welfare ballot initiative. If passed, the measure would require farmers to provide enough space for breeding sows, veal calves and laying hens to turn around and stretch their limbs.

Click here for the full article.

You really should read this whole article.  Towards the end you will find the farmers’ perspectives, and they raise some very good points about sustainability and repercussions of requiring that laying hens have more room to move around.  This issue is more complicated than it might seem, and there are lots of factors to consider, like how to decide what is ultimately most humane for the animals, and how to address the rising costs of food, and what will be most beneficial for the environment.

-Kitty Mowmow