(Survival Manual/2. Social Issues/Death by 1000 cuts/ Modern Living)
5. Antibiotics and super bugs
6. Antibiotics in meat
7. GMO in crops
8. Household Pollutants and Chemical spill
9. Infrastructure deterioration
5. Antibiotics and ‘superbugs’
A. China threatens world health by unleashing waves of superbugs
By Peter Foster in Beijing 6:25PM GMT 05 Feb 2010
China’s reckless use of antibiotics in the health system and agricultural production is unleashing an explosion of drug resistant superbugs that endanger global health, according to leading scientists.
Data from Chinese hospitals shows a very frightening picture of high-level antibiotic resistance
Chinese doctors routinely hand out multiple doses of antibiotics for simple maladies like the sore throats and the country’s farmers excessive dependence on the drugs has tainted the food chain.
Studies in China show a “frightening” increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as staphylococcus aureus bacteria, also known as MRSA . There are warnings that new strains of antibiotic-resistant bugs will spread quickly through international air travel and international food sourcing.
“We have a lot of data from Chinese hospitals and it shows a very frightening picture of high-level antibiotic resistance,” said Dr Andreas Heddini of the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control.
“Doctors are daily finding there is nothing they can do, even third and fourth-line antibiotics are not working. “There is a real risk that globally we will return to a pre-antibiotic era of medicine, where we face a situation where a number of medical treatment options would no longer be there. What happens in China matters for the rest of the world.”
Particular alarm has been raised by resistance rates of MRSA in Chinese hospitals, which has more than doubled from 30 per cent to 70 per cent, according to Professor Xiao Yonghong of the Institute of Clinical Pharmacology at Beijing University. Last year researchers found a new strain of MRSA in Chinese pigs imported into Hong Kong and called for urgent new studies into its potential to infect humans after an infection of the new strain was confirmed in Guangzhou, where many of the pigs were farmed. A Beijing-based health expert with access to unpublished surveys showed that the situation in China was actually worse earlier studies had indicated.
“The Chinese Ministry of Health has all the data,” the expert warned, “but they seem unable or unwilling to believe it. The situation has global implications and is highly disturbing.” The Chinese Ministry of Health failed to respond to requests for an interview or information by phone, email and fax over a three-day period.
New prescription guidelines to restrict antibiotic use being issued by the Chinese Ministry of Health in 2004. “The guidelines are not being followed effectively,” added Professor Xiao, “over just the last five years, for example, our studies show the rate antibiotic-resistant E. coli has quadrupled from 10 per cent to 40 per cent.”
Public health experts say the rampant over-use of antibiotics in China is primarily caused by China’s under-funded healthcare system where hospitals derive up to half of their operating income from selling drugs. In some cities, such as Chongqing, almost half of all drugs sold are antibiotics.
“In Chinese hospitals our data shows that 60 per cent of in-patients are being prescribed antibiotics compared with the WHO guideline of 30 per cent,” added Professor Xiao who also heads China’s National Antibiotic Resistance Investigation Network.
China’s State Food and Drug Administration bans the sale of antibiotics without prescription but a survey by The Daily Telegraph found the drugs were still easily obtainable over-the-counter.
Three out of five chemists agreed to sell antibiotics after a cursory consultation with the ‘patient’ who complained of a sore throat. At one outlet a pharmacist handed over a course of the second-generation antibiotic, Cefuroxime Axetil, with minimal hesitation.
Asked if the sale could “get her into trouble” she said that the pharmacy would get a doctor to write the prescription later to cover their sales records. She added that even doctors from the nearby Capital Institute of Pediatrics came to buy antibiotics without prescription. “When the surveillance is strict, we won’t risk selling antibiotics,” Ms Zhang added. Asked to elaborate, she explained, “For example during the 2008 Olympic Games period, we didn’t sell them”.
B. Antibiotic Resistance Called Growing Threat to Human Health
VOA.com (Voice of America), Washington, DC, May 18, 2010, by Vidushi Sinha
The World Health Organization calls antibiotic resistance one of the three greatest threats to human health. Experts fear antibiotic resistance puts humans in danger of becoming nearly defenseless against some bacterial infections.
The improper use of antibiotics has led to strains of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. Experts say if efforts to combat the problem are not launched now, infections that were curable could make a dangerous comeback.
Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, calls on American lawmakers to address the problem. “We speak of the pre-antibiotic and antibiotic eras, but if we don’t improve our response to the public health problem of antibiotic resistance, we may enter a post- antibiotic world in which we will have few or no clinical interventions for some infections,” he says. Specialists are concerned that the more an antibiotic is used, the less effective it becomes. The genetic mutation of bacteria, which makes them resistant to antibiotics, is a natural process. But drug overuse has accelerated the process.
Impact of drug overuse
“You end up with very resistant bacteria in the urinary tract. That’s only one example. Skin infections, lung infections, different bacteria causing these types of infections as they become more and more resistant, and then you get to more severe problem like tuberculosis in many parts of the world,” says Dr. Donald Poretz, an infectious disease specialist. “People are given little of this and little of that to treat tuberculosis and tuberculosis germs develop resistance.
“One of the most lethal infections born out of bacterial resistance is Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, commonly known as MRSA which kills 19,000 people in the United States every year. Since 2002, about 2 million MRSA infections have been acquired in US hospitals each year. Poretz says these infections can spread globally.
“You can have worldwide resistance, some resistant to some drugs, some resistant to other drugs in different parts of the world,” he says. “And with rapid travel you can communicate those resistant bacteria to anyone here, there, there or there.”
Drug companies have cut back on production of antibiotics, and that contributes to the problem, scientists say. Less than optimal dosing means the target bacteria survive and build resistance incrementally. Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) says profits drive pharmaceutical companies to shy away from antibiotics. “So if they’re going to make a choice of making a product that some, a lot of, people are going to take every day for the rest of their lives, a lipid lowering agent, whatever you have, they’re going to lean towards that rather than to make a new product that a relatively small proportion of the population will use maybe 10 days to two weeks out of the year,” said Fauci.
Experts say the solution lies in educating patients and doctors to stop using antibiotics when they are not necessary.
6. Antibiotics in meat
A. Bacteria in grocery meat resistant to antibiotics
Reuters, NewYork, Fri Apr 15, 2011, By Aman Ali
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Researchers have found high levels of bacteria in meat commonly found on grocery store shelves, with more than half of the bacteria resistant to multiple types of antibiotics, according to a study released on Friday. While the meat commonly found in grocery stores is still safe to eat, consumers should take precautions especially in handling and cooking, the chief researcher for the study said.
The study by the Arizona-based Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGRI) examined 136 meat samples from 26 grocery stores in Illinois, Florida, California, Arizona and Washington D.C.
Dr. Lance Price, the head researcher on the study, said high levels of Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) bacteria were found in the meat. “Staph causes hundreds of thousands of infections in the United States every year,” Price said in an interview. “It causes a whole slew of infections ranging from skin infections to really bad respiratory infections like pneumonia.”
Staph infections also kill more people in the United States each year than HIV, he said.
A spokeswoman for the Food and Drug Administration said that the agency was aware of the TGRI findings, and similar studies of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in meats, and was working with the U.S. Agriculture Department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the causes and effects.
“FDA has been monitoring the situation. The TGRI study points out that the public health relevance of the findings is unclear. FDA continues to work with CDC and USDA to better understand this issue,” the FDA spokeswoman said. Price said the most significant findings from the study aren’t the level of bacteria they found, but rather how the bacteria in the meat was becoming strongly resistant to antibiotics farmers use to treat the animals they slaughter.
The study found that in 96 percent of the meats with staph bacteria the bacteria were resistant to at least one type of antibiotic, and 52 percent were resistant to three or more types.
“The bacteria is always going to be there. But the reason why they’re resistant is directly related to antibiotic use in food animal production,” Price said. “Antibiotic resistance is one of the greatest threats to public health we face today.”
“This is one more reason to be very careful when you’re handling raw meat and poultry in the kitchen,” Price said. “You can cook away these bacteria. But the problem is when you bring in that raw product, you almost inevitably contaminate your kitchen with these bacteria.”
Washing hands and counters before and after handling meat and keeping other foods away from uncooked meat are ways to prevent disease from spreading, Price said. But consumer initiatives aren’t going to solve the bigger problem, he said.
“To put it all on the consumer is really directing blame at the wrong end of the food chain,” Price said.
Of all the types of meats where bacteria was resistant to three or more antibiotics in the study, turkey was the most resistant, followed by pork, beef and then chicken. Price said it’s not clear why turkey was the most resistant.
USDA officials could not be reached immediately for comment.
B. Antibiotics used in meat pose a threat to public health, admits FDA
Friday, October 22, 2010, Natural News.com, by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
On June 28 of this year, the FDA issued a draft of new guidelines urging meat producers to refrain from using antibiotics to promote livestock growth, calling the practice an “urgent public health issue.”
“To preserve the effectiveness [of antibiotics], we simply must use them as judiciously as possible,” said FDA Deputy Commissioner Joshua Sharfstein.
The livestock industry regularly gives antibiotics to healthy animals to make them gain more weight faster, as well as to prevent infection. For more than 30 years, public health experts have warned that this practice is contributing to the evolution of drug-resistant bacteria, including strains that can infect humans.
“We are seeing the emergence of multidrug-resistant pathogens,” Sharfstein said. “FDA believes overall weight of evidence supports the conclusion that using medically important antimicrobial drugs for production purposes is not appropriate.” In order to preserve the effectiveness of “medically important” antibiotics, including penicillin, tetracyclines and sulfonamides, the FDA issued new guidelines reiterating that antibiotics should be given to food animals only for health-protection purposes, and that veterinarians should oversee all such drug use, from selection to treatment.
“Using medically important antimicrobial drugs as judiciously as possible is key to minimizing resistance development and preserving the effectiveness of these drugs as therapies for humans and animals,” said Bernadette Dunham, director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine.
The draft guidance will be open for public comment for 60 days before becoming official agency policy. Although the FDA technically has the authority to ban any veterinary use of antibiotics that it deems inappropriate, the agency is taking a more cautious path — voluntary guidelines — in the hopes of avoiding a battle with lawmakers and the food industry. Prior FDA attempts to regulate agricultural antibiotic use have all been blocked by Congress.
The European Union banned growth-promoting uses of antibiotics in livestock in 2006. “We are not expecting people to change tomorrow,” Sharfstein said. “This is the first step in FDA establishing principles from which we could move to other steps, such as oversight. This does not tell people what to do, it establishes principles and tells people how to achieve those principles.”
Nevertheless, the threat of mandatory regulations is an obvious subtext to the FDA’s newest move.
“We have the regulatory mechanisms, and industry knows that,” Sharfstein said.
The FDA’s move reflects the growing concern among public health experts about the growing prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as multidrug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
“The development of resistance to this important class of drugs, and the resulting loss of their effectiveness as antimicrobial therapies, poses a serious public health threat,” the FDA’s draft guidance statement reads.
It is estimated that 100,000 people die in the United States every year just from drug-resistant infections acquired inside hospital settings. The overall number of deaths caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria is likely much higher. “The writing is on the wall,” said infectious disease specialist Brad Spellberg of the University of California-Los Angeles, author of Rising Plague. “We’re in an era where antibiotic resistance is out of control, and we’re running out of drugs and new drugs are not being developed,” he said. “We can’t continue along the path we’re on.”
The National Pork Producers Council fired back at the FDA, saying the guidelines would be an unduly heavy burden without good cause. “There is no scientific study linking antibiotic food use in food animal production with antibiotic resistance,” the council said. “[That is] patently untrue,” responded Margaret Mellon of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “There is a mountain of studies linking the use of antibiotics in animals to the evolution of resistant pathogens that cause human disease.”
Because many bacteria can transfer between human animals, and because many of the same drugs to treat humans are also used on livestock, health advocates have singled out agricultural antibiotic use as an area of major concern. According to the Union for Concerned Scientists, 70 percent of all antibiotics used in the United States in 2001 went to livestock for growth-promotion purposes, while another 14 percent went to animals for disease prevention or treatment.
The industry trade group, the Animal Health Institute, has disputed this figure, claiming that only 13 percent of agricultural antibiotics are used for growth promotion, with much of the remainder used for illness prevention — a use that is not addressed by the new guidance. This has raised concerns that even if the FDA implemented an obligatory ban, the industry could sidestep it by reclassifying its antibiotic use without changing its practices.
Poor diets and cramped living conditions produce abnormally high infection rates among factory-farmed animals. To maintain the increased profits associated with factory farming without bearing the associated health costs, many farmers simply dose their animals with antibiotics as a preventive tactic.
“[Even] under the FDA’s proposed guidelines, agribusiness could continue to routinely feed antibiotics to entire flocks or herds to prevent illnesses they may never encounter,” wrote Pew Health Group Managing Director Shelley Hearne in a letter to the New York Times. “This approach to prevention would never be allowed in human medicine, and it should not be allowed in animals.”
Health and consumer groups expressed disappointment at the FDA’s statement and called for an outright ban on all agricultural antibiotic use except for the treatment of illness. “I was expecting an action plan. I was disappointed that all we have here are principles,” Mellon said. “They’re apparently expecting voluntary action. It’s my belief that the industry’s not going to act until it has to.”
7. GMO in Crops
A. Why You Should Be Concerned About GMOs
February 20, 2011, Posted by Josh Corn
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been grabbing headlines in recent weeks, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) suddenly reversing bans on one genetically engineered crop after another. The list of genetically modified food ingredients is growing at an alarming rate. And what’s even more disturbing is the fact the USDA seems to have sided with big business in allowing GMO foods to be sold without any labeling whatsoever.
Consumers have been left largely in the dark, unable to make informed choices about buying foods containing GMOs. By some estimates, over 75% of all processed foods sold in the U.S. contain a GMO ingredient. Corn, soy, canola, cottonseed, sugar, beef and dairy products are among the most likely to have been genetically modified.
Scientists, environmental activists, supporters of organic farming and consumers alike are joining forces to protest the USDA’s decisions. Organizations like the Organic Consumers Association, Alliance for Natural Health USA and Say No to GMOs! are just a few examples of those working to fight back against GMOs.
What’s behind all of the outrage and fervor? Here’s a brief overview of the case against GMOs. It’s important to educate yourself now, because the onslaught of approved GMO foods entering our food supply is likely to continue, as the government refuses to acknowledge that they could be harmful.
Why do GMOs exist?
If you listen to the government and the Big Agra companies it supports, GMO foods are perfectly safe, and their benefits include lower cost crops, more productive farms and even healthier foods. But the truth is, genetically engineered plants exist for a single reason — profits. Companies like Monsanto have been known to bully farmers into paying “technology fees” to use their GMO seeds.
In most cases, the reason that seeds are genetically modified is so the plants can withstand massive doses of herbicides and pesticides. And guess who sells these toxic chemicals? The same companies that make the GMO seeds.
Why should you be concerned about GMOs in our food supply?
Genetically engineered plants have had either genes from bacteria or viruses, or genes that make plants resistant to toxic chemicals like the herbicide Roundup — spliced into their DNA. These genes were never part of the human diet until the first GMO plant was created in 1996.
To date, there have been no long-term human safety studies conducted on GMOs. To assume that they are safe defies common sense, as we lack any scientific evidence to prove that they do not pose a threat to human health. In fact, more research points towards potentially harmful effects of consuming GMOs.
The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM)’s official position on GMOs is that they “have not been properly tested and pose a serious health risk” and that a moratorium on GMO foods should be put in place until long-term studies demonstrate their safety. Many other environmental, public health and consumer protection organizations around the world are also calling for these steps to be taken.
According to the AAEM, “Animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food,” including reproductive problems, compromised immunity, accelerated aging, blood sugar imbalances and harm to major organs.
Aside from the potential dangers of consuming GMO foods, GMOs pose a grave threat to the entire organic farming industry. (Scientists say that cross-contamination of GMO crops with non-GMO crops will be inevitable.) GMOs also contribute to greater pollution because many are designed to withstand greater application of pesticides and herbicides.
Have you ever seen one of those movies where a government-created toxin gets loose and spreads out of control? GMO seeds are real-world example of this scenario, and it’s happening right now! Experts all over the world are warning that as more and more GMOs are approved, they could become so intertwined with our food supply that we reach a point of no return.
Nobody knows for sure why the USDA is all of a sudden accelerating its acceptance of GMOs. What’s the rush? Are short-term decisions being made that are going to have serious long-term consequences? Unfortunately, the government has a long track record of doing just that. And history is replaying itself with GMOs. So the time to take action is now.
B. Eight Reasons Genetically Modified Organisms are Bad for You
Organic Authority,Written by Shilo Urban
Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are created when a gene from one species is transferred to another, creating something that would not be found in nature.
A large percentage of domestic crops (up to 85% of soybean yields) have DNA that was tweaked in a lab, yet it is nearly impossible to know which food items contain these genetically engineered ingredients. Thankfully new mobile phone apps are making it a bit easier for the consumer to know what she is eating, but this is not enough.
GMOs are bad for your body, bad for the community, bad for farmers and bad for the environment. This is why
1. The health consequences of eating genetically modified organisms are largely unknown. Genetically engineered foods have not been shown to be safe to eat and may have unpredictable consequences. When trans-fats were first introduced, corporations battled to get them onto your grocery shelves – and it is only decades later that this once novel food has been proven to be extremely unhealthful. Many scientists are worried that the genetically altered foods, once consumed, may pass on their mutant genes to bacterium in the digestive system, just like the canola plants on the roadsides of North Dakota. How these new strains of bacteria may affect our body systems’ balance is anybody’s guess.
2. Food items that contain GMOs are unlabeled in America. Why so sneaky? The European Union has banned GMOs, as have Australia, Japan, the UK and two dozen other countries that recognize that a lack of long term studies and testing may be hiding disastrous health defects.
3. Genetic engineering reduces genetic diversity. When genes are more diverse, they are more robust; this is why a pure bred dog tends to have greater health problems than the dear old mutt. Plants with reduced genetic diversity cannot handle drought, fungus invasions or insects nearly as well as natural plants, which could have dire consequences for farmers and communities dependent on GMO crops for survival.
4. Once the mutant genes are out of the bag, there is no going back. Genetically modified organisms contaminate existing seeds with their altered material, passing on modified traits to non-target species. This creates a new strain of plant that was never intended in the laboratory. In North Dakota, recent studies show that 80% of wild canola plants tested contained at least one transgene. In Japan, a modified bacteria created a new amino acid not found in nature; it was used in protein drinks and before it was recalled it cause severe mental and metabolic damage to hundreds as well as several deaths. Japan banned GMOs after this horrific experience. Monarch butterflies have also died after their favorite food, milkweed, was cross-pollinated from Bt corn which rendered it toxic to the endangered species.
5. GMOs are not the answer for global food security. Genetically engineered crops have shown no increase in yield and no decrease in pesticide use. In many cases other farm technology has proven much more successful, and even Monsanto agrees that its genetically engineered crops yield less than conventional farming.
6. Genetically engineered foods have not been proven to be safe, but the few studies conducted don’t look so hot. The organs of rats who ate genetically modified potatoes showed signs of chronic wasting, and female rats fed a diet of herbicide-resistant soybeans gave birth to stunted and sterile pups.
7. Big biotech firms have very sketchy track records, but then again what would you expect from organizations who want to patent the world’s food supply? These massive biotech companies have a history of toxic contamination, deceiving the public and suing small farmers when their patented seeds blew across the fence. Biotech firms sell sterile seeds to African farmers- meaning the seeds are only good for one season, because the plants that grow up will not be able to reproduce. Farmers must buy new seeds every year instead of growing from the previous year’s yield. GMOs are not the farmers’ friend.
8. GMOs require massive amounts of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. These things are poisons, and should not be eaten or allowed to run off into our water supply. But they are, every day, by companies who care far more about the bottom line than they do about your health, your environment or your children’s future.
The bottom line is that genetically modified organisms have not been proven in any way to be safe, and most of the studies are actually leaning the other direction, which is why many of the world’s countries have banned these items whose DNA has been genetically engineered. In America, they aren’t even labeled, much less banned, so the majority of the populace has no idea that they are eating lab-created DNA on a daily basis.
End of Survival Manual/2. Social Issues/Death by 1000 cuts/Modern Living: Part III of V: Antibiotics and GMOs