Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Just like Hurricane Katrina...

It's a sad fact of living in the USA that most government officials and politicians will not do anything to protect our health and welfare until AFTER a disaster has struck or a State of Emergency declared...

Take hurricane Katrina for one example -- the levies had to break before ANYTHING would be done about them. Over 1,000 people had to die to prove a point, the point being the levies were underbuilt for that area. And the health, safety and welfare of tens of thousands of people were at risk for a very long time, blissfully unaware of the danger.

The polititians knew BEFORE it happened. The studies had been done, the reports filed, even the media reported what "could happen" if something wasn't done. A National Geographic article a few years BEFORE it happened painted a picture in striking detail -- frighteningly similar to what actually happened in the aftermath.

Just like hurricane Katrina, another "disaster about to happen" is nearing it's "race against the clock" as the hog factory moves forward with construction.

And just like Katrina, the government is well aware of the scientific studies and reports that have been completed. In fact, they funded a large amount of them.

They know the dangers to public health these factories represent:

- Salmonella Outbreaks Linked to Produce on the Rise
- Antimicrobial Resistance of Enterococcus Species Isolated from Produce
- Development of New Tools to Control the Swine Production-related Emerging Threats to Public Health
- Fate of Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhimurium on Carrots and Radishes Grown in Fields Treated with Contaminated Manure Composts or Irrigation Water
- Occurrence and Diversity of Tetracycline Resistance Genes in Lagoons and Groundwater Underlying Two Swine Production Facilities
- Researchers Discuss Health Implications of Meat Production and Consumption
- Prevalence and Antimicrobial Resistance of Enterococcus Species Isolated from Retail Meats

And even this one regarding a food poisoning outbreak after a fair...

- An Outbreak of Escherichia coli O157 Infection Following Exposure to a Contaminated Building

Which concludes: "Absence of evidence implicating specific food or beverage sources and the recovery of E coli O157 from the rafters suggest that airborne dispersion of bacteria contributed to the contamination. Because E coli O157 can survive in the environment for more than 10 months, humans may be at risk of infection long after an environment is initially contaminated."

They know the dangers to air, water, soil and wildlife:

- Teschoviruses as Indicators of Porcine Fecal Contamination of Surface Water
- Field-Scale Evaluation of Phosphorus Leaching in Acid Sandy Soils Receiving Swine Waste
- Preliminary Investigation of Air Bubbling and Dietary Sulfur Reduction to Mitigate Hydrogen Sulfide and Odor from Swine Waste
- Enteric Viruses of Humans and Animals in Aquatic Environments
- Manure -- Can it cause harm to wildlife/environment through soil?

And just like Katrina, several major press articles and books have already been written about what "could happen" when you mix such a large concentration of swine into a large population of birds into a large concentration of people:

- Democracy Now! Radio - Mike Davis on The Monster at Our Door: The Global Threat of Avian Flu
- Pork Production is Linked to the Risk of Flu Epidemics and Infections
- Are Swine Workers in the United States at Increased Risk of Infection with Zoonotic Influenza Virus?
- USA Government's
"Field Manual For Wild Diseases - chapter 22/avian flu
- Avian Flu And Dangers to Migratory Birds (.pdf)
- Influenza viruses in birds, humans, swine
- History of Spanish Flu
- More Waters Test Positive for Drugs
- Vetrinary Tutorial: Standard Avian Viruses Found in Pigs
- Building Sewerless Cities
- Overview of Avian Influenza
- Molecular Basis for the Generation in Pigs of Influenza A Viruses with Pandemic Potential

Important Quote: "Human infections with swine influenza viruses have been documented in the U.S. at least 9 times since 1974, including fatal infections, as well as in Europe and in New Zealand. A recent study of swine farm families in Wisconsin documented statistically significant levels of exposure to swine influenza viruses, compared to an urban control population from Milwaukee."

Another important quote: "H5N1 is able to infect people because it is able to cross the species-barrier. In human populations, where domestic pigs and wild and domestic birds live in close proximity with people, the mingling and exchange of human and animal viruses can more easily occur."

And from the U.S. Agricultural Department - Animal Production and Health Division Report/Epidemiology Section: "Swine appear to be important in the epidemiology of
infection of turkeys with swine influenza virus when they are in close proximity. Other mammals do not appear to be involved in the epidemiology of HPAI. The infection of humans with an H5 avian influenza virus in Hong Hong in 1997 has resulted in a reconsideration of the role of the avian species in the epidemiology of human influenza."

And just like hurricane Katrina, the National Geographic has done an interesting documentary. See "Need more worries? Watch this..."

And so, here in a tiny community nestled on the boarders of Jasper and Polaski Counties, the ticking time bomb shall begin soon.

But polititians and Government officials are standing back with their "wait-and-see" shades on. How much of our environment will have to be destroyed before they take action? How much of our fresh water, air and soil will have to be ruined? How many wild animals and birds will have to die first? How many people will have to be harmed first? How many will have to die first?

If this past decade is anything to go by ...anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000+ people will have to die first, before they actually do anything. By the time they finish cleaning up the mess, who knows how many... ?

That's a little disconcerting when you really think about it.

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

Bird Flu Pandemic Recipe

Here is the recipe...

- Take a high concentration of about 2,496 disease-prone pigs.
- Mix them into a large bird feeding area, about 20,000 birds.
- Mix in a large concentration of humans, about 40,000 to 50,000.

Secret Ingredient:
Now, make those pigs start having babies -- thousands of piglets a year. After all, piglets are much more susceptable to airborn diseases and other pathogens.

Special Instructions:
Next, the piglets that survive and are strong enough, pack them into trucks and haul them right through that large concentration of birds all over the country for fattening before slaughter. (You want to make sure those germs carry around the USA fast, right?)

Optional Toppings:
Just for good measure, compost the dead piglets that don't survive right on the "farm" property. (You attract a whole lot more insects this way so you can increase the chance for success of your recipe.) Oh... and mix in the pig sewage with all of its pathogens and drugs right into the soil that all those birds are eating on. (After all, you want your recipe to carry as far and wide as you can. Don't let it sit just in our country... let the migratory birds carry it to 3 or 4 countries to share with their friends.)

Ask any expert on avian flu what he thinks of this recipe.

Want to stop it before it has a chance to "bake" in the Jasper County, Indiana, USA oven?

Write to the following senators -- Sen. Richard G. Lugar, Sen. Evan Bayh, Sen. James A. Lewis, and a few more. While you're at it, how about Gov. Mitch Daniels ...

And Protest The
Belstra/Harper Sow Unit - Farm ID # 6383
Jasper County, Indiana

-- and be sure to send your protest to the Office Of Environmental Management, too!

For your convenience, all above links open in a separate window. Help us stop this hog factory farm today. Thank you! We appreciate you!

Keywords: Richard Lugar, Evan Bayh, James Lewis, Indiana Senators, factory farm protest, hog farm protest, bird flu, bird flu pandemic, avian flu pandemic, avian flu, Jasper County, Jasper County Indiana, Indiana hog farm, Indiana Office of Environmental Management

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

DNR Letter to IDEM re Hog Factory in Jasper County

I'm surprised the link I posted to the Post-Tribune article is no longer working. (It now leads to a blank page over at their website. Sorry about that, folks.)

So, I'm not 100% certain how long this link to the new Associated Press article will be active, but I thought I would post it anyay. Another batch of quotes from the DNR catches my attention in the above article. Quote:
Jim Bergens, the property manager of the Jasper-Pulaski area, told the Post-Tribune of Merrillville he isn’t concerned about the cranes eating the manure as they scavenge for waste grain in harvested fields.

DNR spokesman Michael Ellis said a letter that Glen Salmon, the DNR’s director of Fish and Wildlife, sent to IDEM declares that the wildlife area’s wetlands “are major use areas for the sandhill crane and other water birds in both the spring and fall migrations.”

Although the DNR believes the hog farm will not have a detrimental effect on the wildlife area, Ellis said, “in case anything would happen, our concerns are on the record.”
I have a copy of the letter mentioned by Michael Ellis in the news article above. Here is a copy so you can see for yourself the "concerns" they have mentioned "for the record".

------ copy ------

Indiana Department of Natural Resources
Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr., Governer
Kyle J- Hupfer, Director

October 24, 2005

Office of Land Quality
Solid Waste Permits Section
Confined Feeding Operation
100N. Senate Ave., N 1154
Indianapolis, IN 46204


oct 26 2005

Environmental Management

RE: Belstra/Harper Sow Unit application dated 20 September 2005

Section 22, T31N,R5W

Jasper County

Farm ID #6383

Annual Waste Number AW-5517

The land immediately north of the sow unit is owned by the State of Indiana, Department of Natural Resources and operated as Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area. While we do not oppose the construction and operation of the sow unit there are a few management concerns that we would like call to your attention.

As a "State Fish & Wildlife Area, one of our main-programs is to provide hunting opportunities. The State property adjacent to the proposed sow unit is one of our more popular hunting areas, especially for turkey hunting in the spring and squirrel and deer hunting in the late summer and fall. Also, our public rifle shooting range is located approximately 1 mile NE of the sow unit.

It should also be noted that the fish and wildlife area contains some high quality water areas that are important to wildlife including endangered or threatened species. The wetland areas are major use areas for the sandhill crane and other water birds in both the spring and fall migrations.

We use many habitat manipulation methods in the operation of the fish and wildlife area.

One that should be noted is prescribed fire control burns. Much of the fish and wildlife area is burned on a 3 to 10 year rotation. The 160 acre block immediately north of the proposed sow unit is scheduled to be burned in the late winter or early spring of 2007.

We trust that the adherence of your project to IDEM regulation will ensure compatibility with the operation of this public fish and wildlife area. The land use management for this fish and wildlife area is not expected to change. Thank you in advance for recognizing the above management points.

Glen Salmon
Division of Fish & Wildlife

cc: Malcolm De Kryger
Belstra/Harper Sow Unit
P.O. Box 460
DeMotte. IN 46310

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Jasper Co Indiana Hog Farm draws more attention

It hit the front page today of the Chesterton/Valparaiso Post-Tribune with the headline: "Hog farm could ruffle crane migration haven"

Excellent article. Way to go Post-Tribune!

And the article emphasizes something I mentioned before on this blog. Here's quotes from the self-proclaimed expert-on-Cranes DNR official, Jim Bergens, who has been told by his boss that he can no longer talk to press (or anyone else) on this subject.
Bergens said he is not concerned about the cranes eating the manure when they probe into the soil with their beaks for food. Most of them are eating waste grain off fields that people have already tampered with, Bergens said.

“There’s fertilizer, there’s all kinds of other things in the soil,” Bergens said. “When they’re feeding on waste grain, they’re probably not probing the soil at all.”

Bergens said his two-decades worth of background knowledge on the birds is enough to help him come to these conclusions.
And now I have to wonder what cranes Jim was actually observing to gain this knowledge?

Since marrying my husband and moving here less than 2500 yards from the new hog factory under construction, I've been thrilled to watch the majestic Sandhill cranes surrounding our yard -- hundreds and hundreds of them -- feeding on the leftover corn that is usually disced into the ground after harvest.

Jim, being the expert he claims he is, should already know that CORN is their favorite food. He should also be aware that they will dig as deep as they can to get it, even if it has been disced down deep after harvest. Yes, maybe he is completely aware of this...

But maybe Jim isn't all that well-versed on hog sewage, and perhaps that's why he "thinks" it will pose no problem, even if it's knifed 6" to 8" into the soil.

Considering that pig sewage will contain the bacteria and drugs that those 2,496 pigs excrete every day, and considering it will be collecting into manure pits mixing nicely together BEFORE being spread on the soil -- without purification treatments of any kind -- here's a few links to some research Jim REALLY NEEDS to read, in my humble opinion:

1. Fate of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in Manure-Amended Soil

Above report indicates the length of time E. coli (common in livestock manure, particularly swine manure) can survive in soils, and the serious threat to public health.

- "Escherichia coli O157:H7 cells survived for up to 77, >226, and 231 days in manure-amended autoclaved soil held at 5, 15, and 21°C, respectively."
(That's anywhere from over 2 months to as high as 7-1/2 months!!)

- "E. coli O157:H7 cells were inactivated more rapidly in both autoclaved and unautoclaved soils amended with manure at a ratio of 1 part manure to 10 parts soil at 15 and 21°C than in soil samples containing dilute amounts of manure."

(Remember, Jim, in the BZA meeting Belstra reps. stated they only plan to use 500 acres in this area to spread TONS of hog waste. Now Jim, do you honestly think they won't be spreading it where it's likely to be "foraged" through and eaten by wildlife? Jim, IT'S RIGHT BESIDE THE WILD GAME RESERVE for which you are the DNR "property manager".)

An interesting point made in the above scientific study:

"Animals from which food is derived are recognized as reservoirs of many significant food-borne pathogens, including Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella spp., and Campylobacter spp."

The study was intended to be used to reduce the risk of E. coli O157:H7 transmission to foods produced from soils using livestock waste for fertizlizer.

Now, if it's dangerous to OUR health, and dangerous to use without CAREFUL application on land proucing fresh fruit/veggies... and since E. coli can be LETHAL to birds (you know this, right Jim?) do you think it just might affect the more than 20,000 cranes stopping to eat here each year? Now picture those birds flying off with their new viruses as they continue on their migratory journey...

What do you think, Jim?

2. In another study: "The persistence of L. monocytogenes for several weeks in manure-amended soil suggests listeriae could be transmitted through soil to fresh produce or to shoes, clothing, and hands of field workers, especially during the cold months."

3. In yet another study - "Thus, flies that come in contact with contaminated materials (i.e., manure, food, and water) are capable of transmitting Salmonella." ...and it also states... "In summary, the high nutrient content of sewage results in a good fertilizer, but the ability of Salmonella to survive in the fertilized soil may help perpetuate the presence of Salmonella species outside animal hosts."

And how about this quote from the same scientific study mentioned directly above... "Salmonella is frequently isolated from water sources, which serve as bacterial reservoirs and may aid transmission between hosts."

It won't just be our maginificent Sandhill Cranes drinking from ditches that may (or to be fair, may not) contain this bacteria from possible [in my humble opinion -- likely] leaching into water sources surrounding the manure spreading acres designated by this hog factory. Just think of all those wild deer, rabbits, foxes, moles, frogs, and... the list goes on.

Look, I can quote study after study after study that has been done regarding the bacteria associated with swine manure (and other concentrated farming livestock manure) -- it's enough to make some people sick just in reading about it.

I haven't even started on the avian flus that are found naturally in swine. Of course, you're already aware of the dangers of mixing a large concentration of swine in amongst a large concentration of birds, right Jim?

Another study for you Jim, in regards to avian HA viruses -- "These results show that the receptor-binding specificity of the HA is altered early after the transmission of an avian virus to humans and pigs and, therefore, may be a prerequisite for the highly effective replication and spread which characterize epidemic strains."

Yes Jim, you've probably already read some of the many vetrinary tutorials out there on the subject of avian flus and swine.

The Grey Book on Animal Disease: "Swine appear to be important in the epidemiology of infection of turkeys with swine influenza virus when they are in close proximity."

Jim... did you forget about the wild turkeys and quail running around this area?

Now let's take a little journey into antibiotic resistent pathogens. (Keep in mind, Jim, they feed a LOT of drugs to these pigs and plenty of it will be excreted into the manure pits.)

- check out "Occurrence and Diversity of Tetracycline Resistance Genes in Lagoons and Groundwater Underlying Two Swine Production Facilities"

There's a WHOLE LOT more studies similar to the above. Just search the journals, Jim.

What about other diseases and/or pathogens?

Here's something you might want to read, Jim:

Infectious Swine Hepatitis E Virus Is Present in Pig Manure Storage Facilities on United States Farms... Quote from Abstract: "Pit manure slurry is a potential source of HEV infection and for contamination of the environment. Contamination of drinking or surface water with HEV was not found on or near the pig farms."

Whew! It's not in our water (maybe) ...but what about the soil?

What other diseases can pigs carry?

Let's take a quick trip to China's mysterious pig disease that was killing humans earlier this year through this link.

Or here's another study - "Results of this study indicate that swine in the United States harbor STEC that can potentially cause human illness."

Look, maybe you know a lot about Sandhill Cranes, Jim (I'm a bit doubtful) but I'm thinking maybe you don't know a whole lot about concentrated livestock operation manures and the pathogens they carry, so let me help you out even further:

- how about starting here Analyses of Livestock Production, Waste Storage, and Pathogen Levels and Prevalences in Farm Manures

- and another study "...Our results indicate that not incorporating contaminated livestock wastes into soil is a potential intervention measure that may help to limit the spread of zoonotic agents further up the food chain. The implications of these findings are discussed in relation to current advice for livestock waste disposal."

- and another study "...concerns have been raised that increased slurry generation as a consequence of more intensive farming practices could lead to increased survival of zoonotic agents in the environment."

- and another study "The long-term survival of E. coli O157:H7 in manure emphasizes the need for appropriate farm waste management to curtail environmental spread of this bacterium..."

- and another study "Overall, the diversity in E. coli populations in manure slurry storage facilities is significant..."

There are hundreds more studies, Jim, but I don't want to overwhelm you.

Now, there was one particular comment you made that really UPSET me. It is most CERTAINLY NOT something anyone charged with the responsibility of protecting our wildlife should ever say:

"Recently, Bergens said, endangered whooping cranes have joined the migration path. Some of them have been found in Jasper County as recently as mid-November. They are part of a 'nonessential experimental' project, Bergens said. 'If something were to happen to these birds,' Bergens said about the whooping cranes, 'they're not essential to the actual wild population.'"

I'm wondering if both Jim Bergens and Malcolm DeKryger, Belstra’s vice president, think the same way about "the small population of people in the surrounding area."

Looks like they BOTH completely forgot about the thousands of people who visit the Game Reserve each year, directly in the path of those warm summer breezes that blow up from the south. Kinda seems to me like the entire State of Indiana might be opening itself up for some Common Law civil suits on this issue once the hog factory is in operation.

But, I'm no lawyer. And I'm no scientist. And even more important, I'm not the person in charge of protecting wildlife and/or tax-paying voting residents in this region, or the many visitors to this area.

Jim, on the other hand, is going to have an awful stink to deal with (pardon the pun)...

Hey Jim, I'm thinking it's time for you to take a long sabatical, go back to school and freshen up on a few of those many courses you claim to have taken, and while you're gone, how about letting someone who REALLY CARES about our wildlife step up to manage the Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area game reserve.

Would you like me to put in a recommendation for you with your boss, Glen Salmon (Director/Division of Fish & Wildlife/DNR), to see if it will help you take the time off for this important study? I'd be happy to!

Uh-oh, on second thought Jim, we might not find much luck with Glen's support for you to take time off and learn more about this situation. You see -- I just read a copy of the letter Glen sent to IDEM regarding approval of this whole mess. Hmmm... maybe I should post a copy here for the public to read.

What do you say, fellow Netizens? Would you like me to post a copy Glen's letter to IDEM here?

Place your VOTE in the comments section.