Digest – News: PA still mulling “rBST-free” labels, USDA admits impotence, will flu make pigs fly?

Organic milk sales to skyrocket in Pennsylvania: That’s the only silver lining in the news that as of Feb. 1, Pennsylvanian consumers won’t be able to tell the difference between milk from farms that inject their cows with rBST and that from those that don’t — unless the governor blocks the move by the state’s Agriculture Secretary. [Ed. note: Sorry, mistakenly thought there was a change in the situation. No news here. Nothing to see. Move along, folks.] Given the article’s careful detailing of all the questions surrounding recombinant bovine somatotropin, one farmer’s admission that it boosts his milk production by just 10% — half of which is spent on the hormone and on extra feed needed to fuel the higher milk output — is pretty pathetic. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Grounds for outrage: In a new report requested by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), the USDA admits it lacks the know-how to identify the beef processing plants at greatest risk for contamination; that it has not assessed the food safety plans at all processing plants; and in the case of a plant cited several times for sanitation problems, inspectors failed to take further action because they had no guidance on how to treat repeat violations. Note nice graphic showing all the possible contamination points in the cycle. (Washington Post)

Piggly wigglies: A new strain of swine influenza has a molecular twist — it also has avian influenza genes. Apparently this is further evidence that pigs have the potential to serve as a "mixing vessel" for influenza viruses carried by birds, pigs, and humans. (Meatpoultry.com; free registration required)

Who pays the price of our cheap food: A federal judge visited the narrow, muddy streets of a farmworker settlement in Coachella Valley, about 130 miles southeast of Los Angeles, where there is no proper sewage or water. As many as 4,000 migrant workers live there during peak harvest season, picking some of the nearly $1 billion worth of table grapes, dates, chili peppers and other crops. (Associated Press)

Beggars can’t be chews-ers: Smithfield and Food Network celebrity cook Paula Deen donated 20,000 pounds of cold cuts to America’s Second Harvest, the food bank network. Because it will make a great holiday-time press release? Noooo, you Grinchy cynics (Grynchics?). "Paula was concerned about a shortage at the food bank during the height of the holiday season and called us because she knows that helping hungry families is an ongoing interest of ours," said Joseph W. Luter IV, president of Smithfield. "We’re delighted that we could join with Paula and be of help, especially at this time of year" … when that darn PETA is making us fire people for abusing hogs.

What Oprah won’t endorse: The Justice at Smithfield campaign for meatpacking workers’ rights is having some effect — just not, alas, on Paula Deen. According to a leaked Smithfield memo, Oprah Winfrey decided not to give out Smithfield hams to audience members, after being contacted by the campaign. (Washington Post)

Milking the slow news week: A pre-chewed story about how the growth in organic dairies is stretching the supply of organic feed, requiring operators to source some of it from China, where gasp! standards aren’t as stringent. Despite the misleading headline, no news here about dairies testing their own feed supplies for contaminants. (AP)

China grants farmers subsidy to buy TV, mobile phones (Reuters)



3 Responsesto “Digest – News: PA still mulling “rBST-free” labels, USDA admits impotence, will flu make pigs fly?”

  1. valereee says:

    I think this might not be correct — the story in the Philly Enq says the governor’s office is still reviewing the decision? Is this story actually a new report that the governor has finished reviewing it? I’ve read it a couple of times and it doesn’t seem to offer any new information on the final decision by the governor.

  2. H5N1 avian flu: Spread by drinking water into small clusters:

    Human to human and contact transmission of influenza occur – but are overvalued immense. In the course of Influenza epidemics in Germany recognized clusters are rarely (9% of the cases in the season 2005).
    In temperate climates the lethal H5N1 avian flu virus will be transferred to humans strong seasonal in the cold via cold drinking water, as with the birds feb/mar 2006.
    Recent research must worry: So far the virus had to reach the bronchi and the lungs in order to infect humans. Now it infects the upper respiratory system (mucous membranes of the throat e.g. when drinking and mucous membranes of the nose and probably also the conjunctiva of the eyes as well as the eardrum e.g. at showering). In a few cases (Viet Nam, Thailand) stomach and intestine by the H5N1 virus were stricken but not the bronchi and the lungs. The virus might been orally taken up, e.g. when drinking contaminated water.
    The performance to eliminate viruses of the drinking water processing plants in Germany regularly does not meet the requirements of the WHO and the USA/USEPA. Conventional disinfection procedures are poor, because microorganisms in the water are not in suspension, but embedded in particles. Even ground water used for drinking water is not free from viruses.
    In temperate climates the strong seasonal waterborne infections like norovirus, rotavirus, salmonellae, campylobacter and – differing from the usual dogma – influenza are mainly triggered by drinking water dependent on the drinking water temperature (in Germany minimum feb/mar – maximum august). There is no evidence that influenza primary is transmitted by saliva droplets. In temperate climates the strong interdependence between influenza infections and environmental temperatures can’t be explained with the primary biotic transmission by saliva droplets from human to human with temperatures of 37.5°C. There must be an abiotic vehicle like cold drinking water. There is no other appropriate abiotic vehicle. In Germany about 98% of inhabitants have a central public water supply with older and better protected water. Therefore in Germany cold water is decisive to virulence of viruses.
    In hot climates/tropics the flood-related influenza is typical after extreme weather and natural after floods. Virulence of Influenza virus depends on temperature and time. If young and fresh H5N1 contaminated water from low local wells, cisterns, tanks, rain barrels or rice fields is used for water supply water temperature for infection may be higher as in temperate climates.

    Dipl.-Ing. Wilfried Soddemann
    eMail sodd...@t-online.de
    Epidemiological Analysis:

  3. Bonnie P. says:

    Oh shoot Valereeee – you are so right. I totally zoomed right by that sentence that the governor’s office was still reviewing it. It’s not news at all! so sorry! I’m going to correct the post.

    Mr. Soddemann — I’m not sure exactly what you’re saying, but it sounds like that avian flu may be waterborne, which is scary.