Monday, April 14, 2008

Plum Crazy

Regardless which side of the CAFO issue you side with, this little piece of news might scare the bleep out of you. I can't believe they would even consider this:
Dangerous Cattle Virus On U.S. Mainland?

Bush Administration Likely To Build New Foot And Mouth Research Facility Near Farms

(AP) WASHINGTON, April 11, 2008 (link to full story)

For those who aren't familiar with the disease, here's a brief excerpt which may give you some idea of it's volatility:
Foot-and-mouth virus can be carried on a worker's breath or clothes, or vehicles leaving a lab, and is so contagious it has been confined to Plum Island, off Long Island's northeastern tip, for more than a half-century - far from commercial livestock...

The existing lab is 100 miles northeast of New York City in Long Island Sound, accessible only by ferry or helicopter. Researchers there who work with the live virus are not permitted to own animals at home that would be susceptible, and they must wait at least a week before attending outside events where such animals might perform, such as a circus.

...An epidemic in 2001 devastated Britain's livestock industry, as the government slaughtered 6 million sheep, cows and pigs. Last year, in a less serious outbreak, Britain's health and safety agency concluded the virus probably escaped from a site shared by a government research center and a vaccine maker. Other outbreaks have occurred in Taiwan in 1997 and China last year and in 2006.

And quite frankly, I was not amused when I read this part:
The Homeland Security Department is convinced it can safely operate the lab on the mainland, saying containment procedures at high-security labs have improved.

Uh, yeah, right -- like they can prevent dangers such as lysteria, salmonella, E. coli, etc. from entering our water and food supply? (The most recent salmonella-in-cereal recall is a prime example -- first chickens, then eggs, then salad fixings ...and now, even puffed wheat?! What the...?)

When did HSD become experts on Agriculture (or food safety, for that matter)?

Oh yeah, that's right -- they have a whole 5 years experience in that arena -- since that's when these types of facilities were transferred under their umbrella (2003). Silly me... it must have slipped my mind. (sarcasm intended)

Pause for thought:
Asked about the administration's finalist sites located near livestock, [Dr. Robert] Breeze said: "It seems a little odd. It goes against the ... safety program of the last 50 years."

The former head of the U.S. Agriculture Department's Agricultural Research Service said Americans are not prepared for a foot-and-mouth outbreak that has been avoided on the mainland since 1929.

"The horrific prospect of exterminating potentially millions of animals is not something this country's ready for," said Dr. Floyd Horn.


I'm not so certain there hasn't been an outbreak since 1929. In case you missed this quote when reading the article:
The chairman, Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., and the head of the investigations subcommittee, Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., are threatening to subpoena records they say Homeland Security is withholding from Congress. Those records include reports about "Crimson Sky," an internal review about a publicized 1978 accidental release of foot-and-mouth disease on Plum Island and reports about any previously undisclosed virus releases on the island during the past half century. (emphasis added by me)

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