Monday, November 28, 2005

USA Ranks Number 1 in the World for Deaths by Combined Immunodeficiencies

You know the biggest part of writing for a living is the tremendous amount of research you have to do on topics before you even put the first word down on paper.

Here's an interesting -- rather startling -- statistic I uncovered over the weekend while researching for a project I've taken on from a new client:

The USA ranks FIRST in the World for deaths by combined immunodeficiencies!

Imagine that! Here we are, supposedly the leading so-called "super power" and what some have called one of the leading nations in health technology and health sciences -- and yet, we lead the way in deaths by combined immunodeficiencies?

I mean it's nice to be #1 now and then, but for THIS?!

We'll soon be leading the way in a number of other things, too. Including contamination of water, land and air -- plus in destruction of wildlife habitat -- plus in creating new strains of bacteria, flus and incurable diseases -- through the massive amount of factory farms springing up all over the country.

Yes -- E. coli and salmonella in our waters, soils -- and even our fruits and vegetables now.

Check it out for yourself -- here -- and here.

"The CDC estimates that 76 million Americans get sick and 5,000 die from foodborne hazards each year."

And it's been linked directly to manure spreading/spraying from factory farms.

You would be absolutely stunned to know how many people might have already died because of the factory-style farming methods being pushed by governments and greedy corporations today... and I doubt scientists have even begun to find all the links yet.

It's too bad our government, and even the CDC, isn't taking a more active and URGENT role in investigating the hazards already flowing through our food chain. I wonder how many people have to die before they do?

Instead, the research has been left to a handful of concerned citizen groups and independent health groups and scientists scattered throughout the world.

Which side of the "fence" will you be on?

Will you be on the side that is taking action and doing something about it?

Or will you be one of the people who ignores it?

You do have a choice.

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Saturday, November 26, 2005

Hog Sewage From Factory Farms - Would You Eat It?

My husband was out for a short drive Thanksgiving Day while our "sustainable farming" range-fed turkey cooked slowly in the oven -- in preparation for our feast to give thanks for all we have.

Not far from our home, another Thanksgiving Day Dinner was underway:

Sandhill Cranes Thanksgiving Day Dinner Pictured Above

Next year, the land they are eating on right now will be flooded with hog sewage from the hog factory currently under construction in the background -- directly in front of the lush forests of the Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area game conservation area.

Above - Zooming In For A Closer View

If I were to pour a 40 gallon drum of hog waste on the courhouse lawn, I'd be prosecuted. Nobody eats off that lawn. However, in the picture above, hundreds of Sandhill Cranes are eating off the very same "lawn" that they have foraged for food on for years in this region. It's their dinner plate. Next year, it will be sprayed with tons of pathogen-laden drug-laden raw hog sewage from 2,496 pigs!

Hog Hell next door to Game Reserve

And Hundreds of Other Wildlife Creatures Will Be Eating There Too!

Imagine deer, fox, coons, rabbits, moles, frogs ...and even snakes, hundreds of different species of wildlife foraging for food on this land next year after it has been sprayed with tons of hog sewage. It's their dinner plate, too!

There are certain government bodies in charge of:

- protecting our health
- protecting our environment
- protecting our waters
- protecting our wildlife
- and protecting our rights!

It's time for them to "earn" their pay, don't you think?

Stop the damages being done by factory farms everywhere -- and most important -- halt this hog farm from ever going into operation now -- before it's too late!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Sickening Realities - Factory Farming

Have you seen any of these online flash movies yet?

- The Meatrix

- Playing Games With Public Health

- StoreWars

Our son wanted to watch all of them, over and over and over again.

I swear he's going to be one of the most highly educated little kindergarten students in the whole USA regarding the subject of factory farming by the time he goes to school next fall.

The big question is, will he be going to school in this area?

If the hog factory farm less than a half mile away goes into full operation and is allowed to contaminate our area with its waste, fumes and related damages -- the answer is a definite -- NO!!

In fact, the state of Indiana will lose two tax payers, and a third soon-to-be taxpayer (our son) soon after that factory goes into full production -- if it does make it that far. I'm thinking surely there is a State in the USA that would welcome 6-figure income earners into their area and that DOESN'T allow this type of farm anywhere near protected wildlife areas and protesting citizens -- isn't there?

Hmmm... maybe not.

The good news is, working full time from home, we can pretty much work from anywhere providing we have Internet access and our computers...

The sad news is, we really like our home -- love the wildlife around here -- love our neighbors and family in this area. What a sad position to be placed in owing to uncaring public officials and thoughtless -- cold-hearted, in my opinion -- factory farm owners.

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Indiana Citizens Against CAFO/CFO Hog Factory Farm Unite

There's just over 40 minutes to go before we all meet at the church today to discuss the new hog farm under construction beside Area 8 of the Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area in Japser County, Indiana.

On the one hand, some of us feel we've been defeated before we begin...

On the other hand, we've noticed several people picking up on this story, such as the Indiana lawyer who writes Kemplog. Trackback URL -- Article URL

Here is another report that hit the newstands:

NWITimes - Battle over Wheatfield hog farm brewing

And there are more -- but we need plenty more!

You know, one of the BIG things often overlooked in these types of factory farming operations are the associated health risks. Even the House put forth a Bill in May of this year - 2005 - providing plenty of references to one risk often overlooked: the growing menace of antibiotic use in large livestock operations such as CAFOs.

You can see a copy of the new bill presented here.

Also, if you want to see a long list of Health Concerns we've drawn up (which really only scratches the surface) here is a link to a report I did up for an educational handout.

I'll be back with more news on this disturbing subject soon. Until then, wish us luck. We really really really need it!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Whooping Crane Sighting in Indiana Today!

Great news for all the bird lovers watching the progress of the Whooping Crane migration right now...

A total of 4 whooping cranes were sighted by John Kendall at 8:15 a.m. from the Observation Tower on the Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife reserve! A quote from his email:

"Whooping Cranes sighted at Jasper-Pulaski -- At 8:15 am, I sighted 4 Whooping Cranes on the ground from the Observation Tower. One bird was initially with a large floc of Sandhills on the ground and the other 3 came in a short time later. As of a couple of days ago, half of the reintroduced birds from previous years were still in Wisconsin and as predicted, the cold front is moving them through our area."

This is such wonderful news for me personally, being originally from Canada.

Unfortunately, the sad news is that the new hog factory farm (CAFO) is also under construction less than 2-1/2 miles southwest of the exact location where the whooping cranes were seen.

Much of the wind in our area comes from the southwest... which will spread the fumes (and related toxic gases, if any) emitted from that factory clear across the exact path -- straight towards the Observation Tower itself.

So much work has gone into bringing back migratory whooping cranes in the Eastern part of the USA (and Canada) will be sad to see them and their habitat put at risk by such a factory in that location.

To think that November 1/2005 ...just a few short weeks ago... this area received its official International IBA (Important Bird Area) designation from the Audubon Society ...and only 2 weeks later, November 14/2005, the Jasper County BZA approved the construction to continue on a 2,496-head genetically engineered hog farm factory... I just can't believe how crazy that is!

To be fair, I don't think IDEM had all the details they needed before they issued the factory its "special exception permit" givng them the green light. I wish they knew about the BIG PICTURE here, and how important this habitat is to precious birds such as the whooping cranes that visited here today.

As residents in this area, we managed to stop the factory for a short while until this Board of Zoning Appeals, but things aren't looking too good for us being able to stop them completely.

Imagine it - the excavation construction is only about 30 yards from the border of the Jasper/Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area game reserve ...only about 3 miles from the center of the reserve's major fresh water lake/pond into which most all the surrounding tributaries and ditches feed.

And not long from now, they're going to be spreading hog manure waste on land all around that area ...antibiotic-laden waste, probably loaded with pathogens and bacteria like E. coli (which is lethal to migratory birds) and other harmful byproducts, too...

How sad is that??

We'll keep fighting it, but the DNR property manager for the J/P reserve has absolutely no sympathy for the birds or wildlife in this region, claiming the hog factory poses no threat to them. When he went up and hugged one of the people involved with the hog farm operation after the Appeals meeting, congratulating them on a victory at the court house ...well, you can just guess how much he really cares, right?

Wish us luck. We're going to need it!!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Indiana USA Avian Flu Experiment?

Here's a scary experiment.

Let's plop 2,496 head of genetically engineered pigs down into the center of a huge migratory bird population and see what happens.

According to the World Health Organization website:

Avian influenza, or "bird flu", is a contagious disease of animals caused by viruses that normally infect only birds and, less commonly, pigs.

Avian influenza viruses are highly species-specific, but have, on rare occasions, crossed the species barrier to infect humans.

What changes are needed for H5N1 to become a pandemic virus?

The virus can improve its transmissibility among humans via two principal mechanisms. The first is a "reassortment" event, in which genetic material is exchanged between human and avian viruses during co-infection of a human or pig. Reassortment could result in a fully transmissible pandemic virus, announced by a sudden surge of cases with explosive spread.

The very real threat the H5N1 avian flu strain is posing to migratory birds, domestic poultry populations, and even human populations in other areas of the world might be nothing when compared with the potential for disaster that landing 2,496 pigs directly into the center of a major migratory bird resting/feeding area might create, right?

Not according to DNR representative, Jim Bergen, property manager for the Jasper/Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area game reserve in Jasper County, Indiana. According to him, operation of a 2,496-head genetically engineered hog factory farm located on land bordering the reserve, in the center of one of the largest Sandhill Crane migratory resting/feeding grounds in northern Indiana, poses no threat to wildlife population at all.

Other experts strongly disagree with his opinion, and studies appear to back them up.

In fact, it would appear even the Federal Government disagrees with his statements -- comments for which he did not provide any envrionmental studies, impact assessments, or proof of any kind at the recent Board of Zoning Appeals meeting held in Jasper County, supporting the hog factory owner's right to proceed.

For example, from what I understand reading the new "Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2005", an estimated 70 percent of the antibiotics and other antimicrobial drugs used in the United States are fed to farm animals for nontherapeutic purposes.

According to the new legislation, "the United States Geological Survey reported in March 2002 that -- (A) antibiotics were present in 48 percent of the streams tested nationwide; and (B) almost half of the tested streams were downstream from agricultural operations."

I'm not sure if any water has been tested in the Northern Indiana counties near the many factory farms that have been springing up like wildfire, but I would be curious to find out.

In another USA Government document published in 2002 by the USA Fish & Wildlife Service titled, “Migratory Bird Mortality” it was stated, “The greatest threat to birds, and all wildlife, continues to be loss and/or degredation of habitat due to human development and disturbance. For migratory birds and other species that require multiple areas for wintering, breeding, and stopover points, the effects of habitat loss can be complex and far-reaching.”

Hmmm... so now we have two FEDERAL GOVERNMENT documents contradicting Mr. Bergen's "assessment" regarding any potential threat to wildlife such a factory might present, one of which documents is actually important new legislation meant to protect the environment, and more urgently, meant to protect human health against the threat of bio-terrorism and the continuing rise of antibiotic-resistant diseases. (Jim Bergen should read it. It's a real eye-opener.)

Here's something which may prove to be disconcerting for some of us...

More than 30,000 Sandhill Cranes and other migratory birds forage for food upon the same ground that the waste from this swine factory is to be discharged on each winter; waste that includes any anitbiotics, bacteria and other potential pathogens contained in a year's accumulation of feces from the 2,496 genetically engineered pigs.

Cranes do a great deal of digging with their bills, often penetrating several inches below the surface in search of a morsel, according to Baker Sanctuary's website (located in Calhoun County, Michigan). Animals such as snails, crayfish, worms, mice, birds, frogs, snakes, and many kinds of insects are consumed in addition to their favorite -- harvested grain such as corn, wheat, and barley -- often left and disced in the fields in this area following harvest time.

Considering the amount of pig waste that will be spread in this region after the hog factory begins operation, be honest, does this sound like a potential threat to wildlife to you?

I'm no expert on the subject, and I'm certainly no scientist, but I like to think I at least have some common sense. But I'm beginning to think it might be in short supply elsewhere (right Jim?)...

Who hires these people, anyway? Sheesh!

One more important quote to consider from the World Health Organization webiste:

A pandemic can start when three conditions have been met: a new influenza virus subtype emerges; it infects humans, causing serious illness; and it spreads easily and sustainably among humans. The H5N1 virus amply meets the first two conditions: it is a new virus for humans (H5N1 viruses have never circulated widely among people), and it has infected more than 100 humans, killing over half of them. No one will have immunity should an H5N1-like pandemic virus emerge.

All prerequisites for the start of a pandemic have therefore been met save one: the establishment of efficient and sustained human-to-human transmission of the virus.
In any case, I saw construction proceeding on the hog factory farm again today.

It's just a short matter of time before, in my humble opinion, the big Indiana avian flu experiment begins.

I'm disappointed...

I'm upset...

I'm scared...

Stay tuned.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Hog Farm Factory Cruelty - To Animals And Humans

It was 10 minutes before the meeting. I'd just managed to get our little boy settled in his seat. The lady sitting on the other side of him stood up up her seat to an elderly lady and her husband... Her frail, thin husband struggled with his oxygen tank, carefully positioning it in the narrow confined space. His hands shook slightly, and I could tell it was quite an effort for him to be here in this hot, stuffy court house.

Five minutes to go and the man at the front of the room leading the meeting stated... "We have to change rooms. We'll move to the Judge's Chambers to see if we can fit more people in. Give us 5 minutes to get the AV equipment set up... then you can all file in."

The Audio-Visual equipment wasn't for the more than 200 highly concerned citizens who had shown up. The equipment was for the lawyer and company representatives of the new hog factory farm before the Board of Zoning Appeals.

Needless to say, there wasn't much more room in the other chambers... and several people still had to stand out in the halls, unable to hear the full proceedings.

If you are unfamiliar with what a hog farm factory is, once you know the details of how they run --- you might never want to buy pork that comes from such a source again. By rights... and by law, in my humble opinion... they should be required to BRIGHTLY label their meat before reaching the grocery store shelves, so that concerned and caring people such as myself have a choice NOT TO BUY from factory farm operations, like those operated by Belstra Milling Company in Northern Indiana.

For those who don't know, the breeding sow's agony is prolonged for years. As the HFA describes it:

"After impregnation, the sow is locked in a narrow metal gestation crate. The width of the crate varies from 18 to 24 inches, and the length is 7 feet, extending just beyond the sow's own body. She is restrained in this unbedded, cement-floored crate for her entire pregnancy - nearly four months. She is unable to walk or turn around.

She is fed at one end of the crate, while her feces collects at the other. Some crates are so narrow that simply standing up and lying down require strenuous effort. On some factory farms, the sow is literally tied to the floor by a short chain or strap around her neck. Deprived of all exercise and any opportunity to fulfill her behavioral needs, she lives in a constant state of distress."

Picture hundreds upon hundreds of pigs stuffed into a building like sardines excreting their waste -- in fact, studies show that hogs produce 2-4 times the amount of waste than humans do -- and you might begin to imagine the smell... but you may not be aware of the toxins that can become airborne and be emitted into the environment, spreading as far and wide as a five mile radius around such factories.

You might not realize this, but because they are classified a "farm" they don't have to abide by certain sewage treatment laws normal factories of this size would be forced to meet.

You probably aren't even aware of the neurological damage the fumes cause for workers inside such factories... and how their olfactory senses can be permanently damaged. It's no wonder that many of them claim there isn't much smell. The sad truth is, statistically 58% of all hog factory farm workers will develop chronic bronchitis, and as high as 78% will have upper respiratory problems later in life. Most of them aren't even aware that factories such as these are not under OSHA guideline requirements. An employee gets sick, or permanently damaged, working in such environments and it's --- tough luck, next!

The primary gases produced that are of major concern include Hydrogen Sulfide, Carbon Dioxide, Ammonia, and Methane. Each produces it's own range of symptoms. One website claims workers have died from the HS that can reach lethal limits within 2 minutes during periods when the waste is agitated ...and that rescuers have also died in an attempt to save them.

Which brings up the point of how many pigs die on such farms. It's estimated that a swine facility of 1,000 hogs typically produces about 40,000 pounds of dead animals per year. Not only do the decomposing bodies produce odors during storage and transport periods -- if they're even transported out of the vicinity -- they can also attract all manner of pathogens, a cesspool for disease, particularly tuberculosis.

Bellstra Milling Company has no intention of transporting the dead bodies away from it's proposed new 2,496-head hog facility, but instead are planning to use traditional composting methods... you know the kind -- where you put a layer of dead pigs in the ground, poor some sand over them, then add another layer of dead pigs, then poor some more sand over them... and so on... letting the bodies rot and decompose naturally. Picture it! Just imagine what one hot day will do to that compost heap!

"Odor is usually the most obvious impact of hog livestock factories. Odors from livestock factories typically come from four areas: The buildings that house the animals, waste storage and treatment procedures, land application of the waste, and carcass disposal. The swine buildings contribute to about 35% of the odor emissions. The land application of manure contributes to about 40% of odor, and waste storage facilities account for about 20% of swine odors."

And, in this day of fresh water shortages -- indeed, crisis in some countries -- the contamination to groundwater supply, and reduction in water availability caused by such factory farms is almost criminal. It takes 3 gallons of water per day for each pig ...and that does not count the water required for other uses. Some areas surrounding large hog factory farms have experienced water table drops of as much as 150 feet! As for contamination, that's an entire article in itself.

There's more I could tell you, but back to the meeting...

When we changed court rooms, I ended up having to stand way back in the hallway, barely able to hear the proceedings. In fact, I stood directly behind 3 or 4 workers from one of their other factory farms -- and I gotta tell ya, the fumes coming off their clothing scortched my throat, burned my eyes, causing me several bouts of dizziness... so I'm assuming -- keep in mind, I'm just guessing here -- that maybe the farm they work on does not follow the very stiff "shower-in/shower-out" polices PIC insist on...

But I'm also guessing, in small communities like Jasper County, managers and owners of such factory farms can get away with bending a few rules...

For instance, after already having been kicked out of another area they had planned to build just north of this planned location, they rushed the original "special exception permit" through the Zoning Board by using a land deal where they were going to buy 20 acres contained inside 20 acres owned by the sellers of the land, Harper Farms. In this way they wouldn't have to inform other area landholders about what they proposed to do... but they screwed up. The land deal wasn't completed in time, and by law, they were required to inform adjoining landowners of their proposal.

One adjoining property owner didn't even know what was going on until she looked out her kitchen window and saw the construction in progress.

Needless to say, I'm beginning to think they have the local politicians "eating out of their hands" ...since this isn't the only formality the were able to get away with...

The IDEM permit, a large part of what this meeting was about, was issued without any notification at all to any of the many residents within a wide range of the proposed hog factory site.

It's interesting to note that the meeting was held in Rennselaer -- almost an hour's drive south from the proposed site. And that the owners, workers and managers live almost an hour's drive north of the proposed site. Neither the decision makers, nor the owners will be affected by any potential contamination and/or destruction to their homes, air, and environment.

In fact, when the Board convened the meeting and asked if any residents had a lawyer there to present their case, he practically sneered at them for not being able to bring one. You see... the residents did have a lawyer from a very large firm ...a lawyer who was very eager to take the case, had even drawn up a complete strategy... then 2 days before the hearing he quit -- citing "conflict of interest" for his firm. Yes, in small towns, big companies have a long reach of power.

Why did Bellstra Milling Company chose the number 2,496 head of hog for their facility (even though they are building it for a much higher capacity)? According to one individual present at the meeting ...because this keeps them under the radar of Federal regulations -- that magic number 2,500. Oh, did I mention they supply the majority of seed and feed to farmers in this region? That's gotta be some kinda leverage to keep some people's mouths shut, don't you think?

I was disgusted by the small town politics, the flagrant disregard for residents who will be forced to suffer and endure the contamination to their area -- some already fighting major illnesses, some cancer survivors, and many old, frail ...trying to live out their retirment years in peace. It's truly heartbreaking.

But here's what really BURNED me... in fact, made me FURIOUS!

The representative from the DNR.

You know, a lady from the Audobon Society was there, quoting the dangers and impacts to Sandhill Cranes in this area that such a factory farm can cause. The DNR rep -- who gets paid by taxpayers and hunting/fishing license revenues -- basically stated that was "hogwash" but he neglected to provide any environmental studies or any other proof to substantiate any of his statements.

Now, you see... here's something the entire USA should be truly upset about in my humble opinion.

The proposed cesspool of hog waste and factory CAFO style farming is planned to be built right next to the Jasper/Pulaski game reserve, one of the largest Sandhill Crane migration resting areas in the State. This is the largest wildlife conservation and reserve area in North Central Indiana ...and they already have concerns over tuberculosis, in fact are right now closely monitoring deer in the region. Plus, the grasslands, small lakes, rivers and streams feeding the reserve have had algae problems in the past -- problems which have high probabilities of resurfacing, according to some studies completed on environmental damages caused in and around hog factory farms.

Bottom line, Bellstra Milling Company won their right to proceed in a 4-1 vote in their favor -- however the more than 1,000 on the protest petition and more than 200 angry residents who showed up for the meeting plan to appeal --- if they can just scrape enough money together for a good lawyer well-experienced in matters such as this --- and gather support from people who truly care about the future we're leaving behind for our children.

If you're interested in helping fight the good fight, contact me and I'll put you in touch with the people leading the way to hopefully prevent this factory from operating next to so many precious wildlife resources.

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