Scientists in China have identified a strain of H1N1 that is rapidly spreading amongst workers in the country's pig farms. They warn that the fast spreading strain of swine flu has pandemic potential, if it is not contained quickly, according to The New York Times.
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The dangers of working shoulder-to-shoulder in a meat processing plant have come to the forefront as the novel coronavirus has exposed the fragility of the meat industry's supply chain. Factory farming is also resource intensive, leading to deforestation and fueling the climate crisis. It also accounts for 99 percent of the meat that Americans consume.
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Countries around the world are seeing a mounting threat from antibiotic resistance. After decades of overprescribing antibiotics and overusing them in factory farming, rivers are polluted with antibiotics and complications from drug-resistant infections are projected to cost $100 trillion by 2050, according to Scientific American.
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New Jersey senator and presidential hopeful Cory Booker put forth the Farm System Reform Act of 2019, in recognition of the environmental impact of industrial agriculture, which would put a stop to any new factory farms, as The Hill reported.
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- If Factory Farm Conditions Are Unhealthy for Animals, They're Bad ... ›
By Tia Schwab
In 2014, the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, commissioned by the UK government and Wellcome Trust, estimated that 700,000 people around the world die each year due to drug-resistant infections. A follow-up report two years later showed no change in this estimate of casualties. Without action, that number could grow to 10 million per year by 2050. A leading cause of antibiotic resistance? The misuse and overuse of antibiotics on factory farms.
Antibiotic Resistance<p><strong>The problem</strong>: In 2017, nearly <a href="https://www.fda.gov/media/119332/download" target="_blank">11 million</a> kilograms of antibiotics—including 5.6 million kilograms of medically important antibiotics—were sold in the U.S. for factory-farmed animals. Factory farms use antibiotics to make livestock grow faster and control the spread of disease in cramped and unhealthy living conditions. While antibiotics do kill some bacteria in animals, resistant bacteria can, and often do, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/narms/faq.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fnarms%2Fanimals.html" target="_blank">survive and multiply</a>, contaminating meat and animal products during slaughter and processing.</p><p><strong>What it means for you</strong>: People can be exposed to antibiotic-resistant bacteria by handling or eating contaminated animal products, coming into contact with contaminated water or touching farm animals, which of course makes a farmworker's job especially hazardous. Even if you don't eat much meat or dairy, you're vulnerable: Resistant pathogens can enter water streams through animal manure and contaminate irrigated produce.</p><p><strong>Development</strong>s: The European Union has been much more aggressive than the U.S. in regulating antibiotic use on factory farms, <a href="https://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-05-1687_en.htm" target="_blank">banning</a> the use of all antibiotics for growth promotion in 2006. But the U.S. is making some progress, too. Under <a href="https://www.fda.gov/media/83488/download" target="_blank">new rules</a> issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which went into effect in January 2017, antibiotics that are important for human medicine can no longer be used for growth promotion or feed efficiency in cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys and other animals raised for food.</p><p>Additionally, <a href="https://tinyurl.com/yyavm2of" target="_blank">95 percent</a> of medically important antibiotics used in animal water and feed for therapeutic purposes were reclassified so they can no longer be purchased over the counter, and a veterinarian would have to sign off for their use in animals. As a result, domestic sales and distribution of medically important antimicrobials approved for use in factory farmed animals decreased by 43 percent from 2015 (the year of peak sales) through 2017, <a href="https://www.fda.gov/media/119332/download" target="_blank">reports</a> the FDA.</p><p>However, the agency still allows routine antibiotic use in factory farms for disease prevention in crowded and stressed animals, so these new rules aren't nearly enough, says Matthew Wellington, antibiotics program director for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund.</p><p>"The FDA should implement ambitious reduction targets for antibiotic use in the meat industry, and ensure that these medicines are used to treat sick animals or control a verified disease outbreak, not for routine disease prevention," Wellington <a href="https://tinyurl.com/yyavm2of" target="_blank">said</a> in a statement, according to the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy.</p><p>National Resources Defense Council Senior Attorney Avinash Kar <a href="https://tinyurl.com/yyavm2of" target="_blank">agrees</a>. "Far more antibiotics important to humans still go to cows and pigs—usually when they're not sick—than to people, putting the health of every single one of us in jeopardy."</p>
Water and Pollution<p><strong>The problem</strong>: Livestock in this country produce between 3 and 20 times more waste than people in the U.S. produce, according to a <a href="https://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyNET.exe/P10089B1.TXT?ZyActionD=ZyDocument&Client=EPA&Index=2000+Thru+2005&Docs=&Query=&Time=&EndTime=&SearchMethod=1&TocRestrict=n&Toc=&TocEntry=&QField=&QFieldYear=&QFieldMonth=&QFieldDay=&IntQFieldOp=0&ExtQFieldOp=0&XmlQuery=&File=D%3A%5Czyfiles%5CIndex%20Data%5C00thru05%5CTxt%5C00000024%5CP10089B1.txt&User=ANONYMOUS&Password=anonymous&SortMethod=h%7C-&MaximumDocuments=1&FuzzyDegree=0&ImageQuality=r75g8/r75g8/x150y150g16/i425&Display=hpfr&DefSeekPage=x&SearchBack=ZyActionL&Back=ZyActionS&BackDesc=Results%20page&MaximumPages=1&ZyEntry=1&SeekPage=x&ZyPURL" target="_blank">2005 report</a> issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). That's as much as 1.2-1.37 billion tons of manure a year. Some estimates are even higher.</p><p>Manure can contain "pathogens such as <em>E. coli</em>, growth hormones, antibiotics, chemicals used as additives to the manure or to clean equipment, animal blood, silage leachate from corn feed, or copper sulfate used in footbaths for cows," <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/docs/understanding_cafos_nalboh.pdf" target="_blank">according to</a> a 2010 report by the National Association of Local Boards of Health. Though sewage treatment plants are required for human waste, no such treatment facility exists for livestock waste.</p><p>Since this amount far exceeds what can be used as fertilizer, animal waste from factory farms typically enters massive, open-air waste lagoons, which <a href="https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/manureirrigation/" target="_blank">spread airborne pathogens</a> to people who live nearby. If animal waste is applied as fertilizer and exceeds the soil's capacity for absorption, or if there is a leak or break in the manure storage or containment unit, the animal waste runs off into oceans, lakes, rivers, streams and groundwater.</p><p>Extreme weather increases the possibility of such breaks. Hurricane Florence, for example, flooded <a href="https://www.npr.org/2018/09/22/650698240/hurricane-s-aftermath-floods-hog-lagoons-in-north-carolina" target="_blank">at least 50</a> hog lagoons when it struck the Carolinas last year, and satellite photos <a href="https://stonepierpress.org/goodfoodnews/mapping-factory-farms" target="_blank">captured</a> the damage.</p><p>Whether or not the manure is contained or spread as fertilizer, it can release many different types of harmful gases, including ammonia and hydrogen sulfide, as well as <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/docs/understanding_cafos_nalboh.pdf" target="_blank">particulate matter</a> comprised of fecal matter, feed materials, pollen, bacteria, fungi, skin cells and silicates, into the air.</p><p><strong>What it means for you</strong>: Pathogens can cause diarrhea and severe illness or even death for those with weakened immune systems, and nitrates in drinking water have been <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/docs/understanding_cafos_nalboh.pdf" target="_blank">connected</a> to <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40572-016-0085-0" target="_blank">neural tube defects and limb deficiencies in newborns</a> (among other things), as well as miscarriages and poor general health. For infants, it can mean blue baby syndrome and even death.</p><p>Gases like ammonia and hydrogen sulfide can <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/docs/understanding_cafos_nalboh.pdf" target="_blank">cause</a> dizziness, eye irritation, respiratory illness, nausea, sore throats, seizures, comas and death. Particulate matter in the air can <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/docs/understanding_cafos_nalboh.pdf" target="_blank">lead</a> to chronic bronchitis, chronic respiratory symptoms, declines in lung function and organic dust toxic syndrome. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/docs/understanding_cafos_nalboh.pdf" target="_blank">reported</a> that children raised in communities near factory farms are more likely to develop asthma or bronchitis, and that people who live near factory farms may experience mental health deterioration and increased sensitization to smells.</p><p><strong>Developments</strong>: It is difficult to hold factory farms accountable for polluting surrounding air and water, largely for political reasons. The GOP-controlled Congress and the Trump administration excused big livestock farms from reporting air emissions, for instance, following a <a href="https://www.motherjones.com/food/2018/12/factory-farms-no-longer-have-to-report-their-air-emissions-that-could-be-dangerous-for-their-neighbors/" target="_blank">decade-long push</a> for special treatment by the livestock industry.</p><p>The exemption indicates "further denial of the impact that these [emissions] are having, whether it's on climate or whether it's on public health," <a href="https://www.motherjones.com/food/2018/12/factory-farms-no-longer-have-to-report-their-air-emissions-that-could-be-dangerous-for-their-neighbors/" target="_blank">says</a> Carrie Apfel, an attorney for Earthjustice. In a 2017 <a href="https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2017-09/documents/_epaoig_20170919-17-p-0396.pdf" target="_blank">report</a> from the EPA's Office of the Inspector General, the agency admitted it has not found a good way to track emissions from factory farms and know whether the farms are complying with the Clean Air Act.</p><p>No federal agency even has reliable information on the number and locations of factory farms, which of course makes accountability even harder to establish.</p>
Foodborne Illness<p><strong></strong><strong>The problem</strong>: The U.S. has "shockingly high levels of foodborne illness," <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/animals-farmed/2018/feb/21/dirty-meat-shocking-hygiene-failings-discovered-in-us-pig-and-chicken-plants" target="_blank">according</a> to an investigation jointly conducted by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and The Guardian, and unsanitary conditions at factory farms are a leading contributor.</p><p>Studying 47 meat plants across the U.S., investigators found that hygiene incidents occur at rates experts described as "deeply worrying." One dataset covered 13 large red meat and poultry plants between 2015 and 2017 and found an average of more than 150 violations a week, and 15,000 violations over the entire period. Violations included unsanitary factory conditions and meat contaminated with blood, septicemic disease and feces.</p><p>"The rates at which outbreaks of infectious food poisoning occur in the U.S. are significantly higher than in the UK, or the EU," Erik Millstone, a food safety expert at Sussex University told The Guardian.</p><p>Poor sanitary practices allow bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella, which live in the intestinal tracts of infected livestock, to contaminate meat or animal products during slaughter or processing. Contamination occurs at higher rates on factory farms because crowded and unclean living conditions increase the likelihood of transmission between animals.</p><p>It also stresses out animals, which suppresses their immune response, making them more susceptible to disease. The grain-based diets used to fatten cattle can also quickly increase the risk of <em>E. coli</em> infection. In poultry, the practice of processing dead hens into "<a href="https://www.huffpost.com/entry/e-coli-salmonella-and-oth_b_415240?guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAANkjLwmsnRglc1VCMlqcRi5-MysjhEUaB6ddNuzRBu4D7mS_Kc5u2RYcFwbWFy3rsSXK8Rh26fF32cF4wb3DP6yf0ECvgxMz6hOVz-kY2KxgbY_3lEMErrMEjYYFOkCdXibwPndBfr_fztIA1Gw6EbO5sRlbajNmkUFhG382YQg&guccounter=2" target="_blank">spent hen meal</a>" to be fed to live hens has increased the spread of <em>Salmonella</em>.</p><p><strong>What it means for yo</strong>u: According to the CDC, roughly <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/foodborneburden/estimates-overview.html" target="_blank">48 million</a> people in the U.S. suffer from foodborne illnesses annually, with 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths each year. <em>Salmonella</em> accounts for approximately 11 percent of infections, and kills more people every year than any other bacterial foodborne illness.</p><p><strong>Developments</strong>: In January 2011, President Obama <a href="https://www.fda.gov/food/food-safety-modernization-act-fsma/international-capacity-building-under-fsma" target="_blank">signed</a> the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the <a href="https://tinyurl.com/kl4oqm" target="_blank">first</a> major piece of federal legislation addressing food safety since 1938. FSMA grants the FDA new authority to regulate the way food is grown, harvested and processed, and new powers such as mandatory recall authority.</p><p>The FSMA "basically codified this principle that everybody responsible for producing food should be doing what the best science says is appropriate to prevent hazards and reduce the risk of illness," <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/20/health/food-safety-illness-rise-cdc/index.html" target="_blank">according</a> to Mike Taylor, co-chairman of Stop Foodborne Illness and a former deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine at the FDA. "So we're moving in the right direction."</p><p>However, almost a decade later, the FSMA is still being phased in, due to a shortage of trained food-inspectors and a lack of funding. "Congress has gotten about halfway to what it said was needed to successfully implement" the Act, Taylor said.</p>
The Flu<p><strong></strong><strong>The problem</strong>: Both the number and density of animals on factory farms increase the risk of new virulent pathogens, <a href="https://www.ciwf.org.uk/media/22780/swine_flu_report_05_05_2009.pdf" target="_blank">according</a> to the U.S. Council for Agriculture, Science and Technology. In addition, transporting animals over long distances to processing facilities brings different influenza strains into contact with each other so they combine and spread quickly.</p><p>Pigs — susceptible to both avian and human flu viruses — can serve as ground zero for all sorts of new strains. Because of intensive pig farming practices, "the North American swine flu virus has jumped onto an evolutionary fast track, churning out variants every year," <a href="https://tinyurl.com/yybhkxaq" target="_blank">according</a> to a report published in the journal Science.</p><p><strong>What it means for you</strong>: These viruses can become pandemics. In fact, viral geneticists <a href="https://www.wired.com/2009/05/swineflufarm/" target="_blank">link</a> the genetic lineage of H1N1, a kind of swine flu, to a strain that emerged in 1998 in U.S. factory pig farms. The CDC has <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/2009-h1n1-pandemic.html" target="_blank">estimated</a> that between 151,700 and 575,400 people worldwide died from the 2009 H1N1 virus infection during the first year the virus circulated.</p>
Breast, Prostate and Colon Cancer<p><strong></strong><strong>The problem</strong>: Factory farms in the U.S. use hormones to stimulate growth in an estimated <a href="https://www.foodandwatereurope.org/factsheet/food-safety-consequences-of-factory-farms/" target="_blank">two-thirds</a> of beef cattle. On dairy farms, around <a href="https://www.foodandwatereurope.org/factsheet/food-safety-consequences-of-factory-farms/" target="_blank">54 percent</a> of cows are injected with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), a growth hormone that increases milk production.</p><p><strong>What it means for you</strong>: The health effects of consuming animal products treated with these growth hormones is an ongoing international debate. Some <a href="https://www.foodandwatereurope.org/factsheet/food-safety-consequences-of-factory-farms/" target="_blank">studies</a> have linked growth hormone residues in meat to reproductive issues and breast, prostate and colon cancer, and IGF-1, an insulin-like growth hormone, has been linked to colon and breast cancer. However, the <a href="https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/product-safety-information/report-food-and-drug-administrations-review-safety-recombinant-bovine-somatotropin" target="_blank">FDA</a>, the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK15180/" target="_blank">National Institutes of Health</a> and the <a href="https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/127845/9789241209885_eng.pdf;jsessionid=BB8751F0CE011D6249BDE6C98211465C?sequence=1" target="_blank">World Health Organization</a> have independently found that dairy products and meat from cows treated with rBGH are safe for human consumption.</p><p>Because risk assessments vary, the EU, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Israel and Argentina have banned the use of rBGH as a precautionary measure. The EU has also <a href="https://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/chemical_safety/meat_hormones_en" target="_blank">banned</a> the use of six hormones in cattle and imported beef.</p><p><strong>Developments</strong>: U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines allow beef products to be <a href="https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/food-labeling/meat-and-poultry-labeling-terms/meat-and-poultry-labeling-terms#15" target="_blank">labeled</a> with "no hormones administered" and dairy products to be <a href="https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-1994-02-10/html/94-3214.htm" target="_blank">labeled</a> "from cows not treated with rBST/rBGH" if the producer provides sufficient documentation that this is true. Consumers can use this information to make their own decisions about the risks associated with hormone-treated animal products.</p>
What You Can Do<p>You can vote for local initiatives that establish health and welfare regulations for factory farms, but only a tiny number of states, including <a href="https://ballotpedia.org/California_Proposition_12,_Farm_Animal_Confinement_Initiative_(2018)" target="_blank">California</a> and <a href="https://ballotpedia.org/Massachusetts_Minimum_Size_Requirements_for_Farm_Animal_Containment,_Question_3_(2016)" target="_blank">Massachusetts</a>, are even putting relevant propositions on the ballot.</p><p>Another option is to support any of the nonprofits that are, in lieu of effective government action, taking these factory farms to task. The <a href="https://www.ewg.org/" target="_blank">Environmental Working Group</a>, <a href="https://earthjustice.org/" target="_blank">Earthjustice</a> and the <a href="https://aldf.org/focus-area/farmed-animals/" target="_blank">Animal Legal Defense Fund</a> are among those working hard to check the worst practices of these factory farms. Another good organization is the <a href="https://sraproject.org/" target="_blank">Socially Responsible Agricultural Project</a>, which works with local residents to fight the development of factory farms in their own backyards.</p><p>Buying humanely raised animal products from farms and farmers you trust is another way to push back against factory farming. Sadly, products from these smaller farms make up only a fraction of the total. In the U.S., roughly <a href="https://www.sentienceinstitute.org/us-factory-farming-estimates" target="_blank">99 percent</a> of chickens, turkeys, eggs and pork, and <a href="https://www.sentienceinstitute.org/us-factory-farming-estimates" target="_blank">70 percent</a> of cows, are raised on factory farms.</p><p>You can support lab-grown "clean" burgers, chicken and pork by buying it once it becomes widely available. Made from animal cells, the process completely spares the animal and eliminates the factory farm. "The resulting product is 100 percent real meat, but without the antibiotics, <em>E. coli</em>, <em>Salmonella</em>, or waste contamination," <a href="https://www.gfi.org/images/uploads/2018/06/GFI1pager.pdf" target="_blank">writes</a> the Good Food Institute.</p><p>In the meantime, you can register your objection to factory farming by doing your bit to reduce demand for their products. In short, eat less meat and dairy, and more plant-based proteins.</p><p>More than $13 billion has been invested in plant-based meat, egg and dairy companies in 2017 and 2018 alone, <a href="https://www.gfi.org/state-of-the-industry" target="_blank">according</a> to the Good Food Institute, and Beyond Meat's initial public offering debut in May marked the most successful one since the year 2000.</p><p>Lest you think that what you do on your own can't possibly make a difference, consider one of the major drivers behind all this new investment: consumers are demanding change.</p><p>"Shifting consumer values have created a favorable market for alternatives to animal-based foods, and we have already seen fast-paced growth in this space across retail and foodservice markets," says Bruce Friedrich, executive director of the Good Food Institute.</p>
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By Alex Robinson
Leah Garcés used to hate poultry farmers.
The animal rights activist, who opposes factory farming, had an adversarial relationship with chicken farmers until around five years ago, when she sat down to listen to one. She met a poultry farmer called Craig Watts in rural North Carolina and learned that the problems stemming from factory farming extended beyond animal cruelty.
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By Brian Barth
There's something of a civil war brewing in the organic movement.
By Dan Nosowitz
A hot-button issue in the UK focuses on something most Americans don't even know about: a particular method of disinfecting raw poultry.
We're going to make this very simple. These are the 5 non-negotiable policies an ideal climate plan must include:
1. A Halt on All New Fossil Fuel Development<div id="ebbb9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="T2NPPI1576661509"><blockquote class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned data-instgrm-version="4" style=" background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% - 2px); width:calc(100% - 2px);"> <div style="padding:8px;"> <div style=" background:#F8F8F8; line-height:0; margin-top:40px; padding:50% 0; text-align:center; width:100%;"> <div style=" background:url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAACwAAAAsCAMAAAApWqozAAAAGFBMVEUiIiI9PT0eHh4gIB4hIBkcHBwcHBwcHBydr+JQAAAACHRSTlMABA4YHyQsM5jtaMwAAADfSURBVDjL7ZVBEgMhCAQBAf//42xcNbpAqakcM0ftUmFAAIBE81IqBJdS3lS6zs3bIpB9WED3YYXFPmHRfT8sgyrCP1x8uEUxLMzNWElFOYCV6mHWWwMzdPEKHlhLw7NWJqkHc4uIZphavDzA2JPzUDsBZziNae2S6owH8xPmX8G7zzgKEOPUoYHvGz1TBCxMkd3kwNVbU0gKHkx+iZILf77IofhrY1nYFnB/lQPb79drWOyJVa/DAvg9B/rLB4cC+Nqgdz/TvBbBnr6GBReqn/nRmDgaQEej7WhonozjF+Y2I/fZou/qAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); display:block; height:44px; margin:0 auto -44px; position:relative; top:-22px; width:44px;"> </div></div><p style=" margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;"> <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/BsrBa_plUhH/" style=" color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;" target="_top">AbolishFossilFuels on Instagram: “#Truth #AbolishFossilFuels #ActOnClimate #KeepItInTheGround #ExxonKnew #MniWiconi #WaterIsLife #ProtectTheSacred #NoBPP #NoLine9”</a></p> </div></blockquote></div><p>This means <a href="https://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/campaign/ban-fracking-everywhere" target="_blank">banning fracking everywhere</a>, ending dangerous build-outs of pipelines and other harmful <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/fossil-fuels" target="_self">fossil fuel</a> infrastructure, banning public land extraction, and stopping the export of crude oil and natural gas. This also means excluding the use of market-based mechanisms like cap and trade or carbon taxes, which have been proven <a href="https://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/sites/default/files/ibsp_1711_ejpaytopollute-webfin2_0.pdf" target="_blank">ineffective</a> at reducing fossil fuel use and production. The best policy cuts these emissions off at the source.</p>
2. An Aggressive Timeline for a Shift to 100% Clean, Renewable Energy<div id="48939" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1BJJJP1576661509"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1168660071510880257" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">"That conversation, it's starting to happen, but it is painfully slow and difficult." https://t.co/DXcUaZ8SiA @cleantechnica</div> — EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)<a href="https://twitter.com/EcoWatch/statuses/1168660071510880257">1567465248.0</a></blockquote></div><p>This means shifting to clean, <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/fossil-fuels" target="_self">renewable energies</a> (like wind, solar, tidal, or geothermal) by 2030, stopping the use of "<a href="https://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/sites/default/files/rpt_1807_rpsnationalscores-web4_0.pdf" target="_blank">clean washing</a>" (posing dirty energy like nuclear, wood, black liquor, waste methane, waste incineration, renewable energy credits, coal as clean), investing in expanded and better public mass transit, transitioning to zero-emission transportation, and promoting <a href="https://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/insight/100-percent-clean-energy-2035-stop-global-warming" target="_blank">energy efficiency</a> and conservation across the country.</p>
3. A Federal Commitment to Public Water<div id="aa62f" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="CPFD541576661509"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1168368229712109574" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Clean drinking water is a human right. And anyone who violates that right must be held accountable. I stand in soli… https://t.co/iB53mQNvDM</div> — Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan Omar)<a href="https://twitter.com/IlhanMN/statuses/1168368229712109574">1567395667.0</a></blockquote></div><p>This means dedicating at least <a href="https://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/sites/default/files/fs_1902_waterjobsjustice-wateractupd2-web.pdf" target="_blank">$35 billion</a> each year to renovating our nation's deteriorating public water infrastructure; addressing water contamination from PFOA, PFOS and other PFASs (widespread, persistent lab-made toxics); replacing all lead service lines; stopping sewer overflows; dedicating money to help small, rural and indigenous communities; and promoting affordable water service for all regardless of income (see: <a href="https://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/news/reps-lawrence-and-khanna-senator-sanders-introduce-water-act-address-water-justice-america" target="_blank">WATER Act</a>).</p>
4. A Transition Away From Corporate Agriculture<div id="0dc3f" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="V93KW91576661509"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1169381876722753541" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">.@KamalaHarris — it's about more than personal choices with food. Any real climate plan must tackle agriculture meg… https://t.co/MymVFZYSyi</div> — Food & Water Action (@Food & Water Action)<a href="https://twitter.com/fwaction/statuses/1169381876722753541">1567637340.0</a></blockquote></div><p>This means <a href="https://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/insight/urgent-case-ban-factory-farms" target="_blank">banning factory farming</a>, breaking up corporate agricultural consolidation, restoring control over agricultural siting and practices to local governments, holding vertically integrated companies accountable for the pollution created by the animals they own and rejecting false solutions like <a href="https://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/news/agricultural-revolution-must-exclude-burning-animal-poop" target="_blank">manure-to-energy schemes</a>.</p>
5. A Just, Fair, and Equitable Process<div id="e1046" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="UWB2MD1576661509"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1110999367043842049" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Check out this new @foodandwater report -- Building Climate Justice: Investing in Energy Efficiency for a Fair and… https://t.co/nzwyFcJG25</div> — Frack Action (@Frack Action)<a href="https://twitter.com/FrackAction/statuses/1110999367043842049">1553717865.0</a></blockquote></div><p>This means substantially investing in upgrading the energy efficiency of our nation's buildings to create millions of high-quality jobs, targeting these <a href="https://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/insight/building-climate-justice-investing-energy-efficiency-fair-and-just-transition" target="_blank">investments</a> in lower-income populations and communities of color in both urban and rural areas, implementing pro-labor policies to ensure green jobs are worker and union-friendly, and funding transition programs for fossil fuel workers.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from our media associate <a href="https://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/news/perfect-climate-plan-5-bullet-points" target="_blank">Food and Water Watch</a>.</em></p>
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By Tia Schwab
It has been almost a year since Hurricane Florence slammed the Carolinas, dumping a record 30 inches of rainfall in some parts of the states. At least 52 people died, and property and economic losses reached $24 billion, with nearly $17 billion in North Carolina alone. Flood waters also killed an estimated 3.5 million chickens and 5,500 hogs.
The Public Health Menace No One Knows About<p>The health and environmental impact of CAFOs is indeed enormous. "CAFOs are large-scale facilities that house thousands if not tens of thousands of animals in very small spaces," said Ho. "One CAFO can produce as much manure as a medium-size city in the United States" — with one critical difference: A medium-size city in the U.S. is required under the Clean Water Act to have a municipal wastewater treatment plant. CAFOs have no such treatment plant.<br></p><p>When animal manure escapes from CAFOs into nearby water sources, it can have devastating <a href="https://stonepierpress.org/goodfoodnews/factory-farms-public-health" target="_blank">health consequences</a> for people and ecosystems. Manure can contain nitrogen and phosphorus, pathogens such as <em>E. coli</em>, growth hormones, antibiotics, chemicals used as additives to the manure or to clean equipment, animal blood and silage leachate from corn feed, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/docs/understanding_cafos_nalboh.pdf" target="_blank">reports</a> the National Association of Local Boards of Health. Ammonia is also often found in surface waters surrounding CAFOs. When exposed to air, ammonium converts into nitrate, and elevated nitrate levels in drinking water have been connected to poor general health, birth defects and miscarriages. For infants, it can mean blue baby syndrome and even death.</p><p><a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/21/us/california-central-valley-tainted-water.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share" target="_blank">The New York Times</a> recently exposed the devastating effects of nitrate contamination from animal manure in low-income farmworker communities in California's Central Valley. The widespread application of chemical fertilizers and dairy cow manure has made the water unsafe for drinking, cooking and even showering. Camille Pannu, the director of the Aoki Water Justice Clinic at the University of California, Davis, likens the situation to the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/25/us/flint-water-crisis.html?module=inline" target="_blank">water crisis</a> in Flint, Michigan. "Flint is everywhere here."</p>
Tying Data Patterns to Factory Farms<p>To put factory farms on the map, the Stanford team figured out how to teach a computer algorithm to analyze data patterns. They got <a href="https://woods.stanford.edu/news/machine-learning-environmental-enforcer" target="_blank">help</a> from Google's advances in image learning, the USDA's National Agricultural Imagery Program (NAIP), and the <a href="https://www.ewg.org/" target="_blank">EWG</a> and <a href="https://waterkeeper.org/" target="_blank">Waterkeeper Alliance</a>.<br></p><p>The environmental groups supplied locations of CAFOs they had collected manually. The researchers matched those locations to NAIP satellite images, hand-validating the presence of CAFOs using these same processes. Once CAFOs were confirmed, the team combined this information with open-source image-recognition tools released by Google, which were already trained to identify different types of objects, buildings, people and animals in photos.</p><p>In receiving this information, the algorithm was retrained to identify CAFOs by looking for certain visual cues. "Swine farms were identifiable by compact rectangular barns abutted by large liquid manure pits, and poultry by long rectangular barns and dry manure storage," noted the researchers in their report. The algorithm could then be applied to unscanned locations to identify unseen CAFOs.</p><p>Handan-Nader explained this process as the retraining of an existing technology. "Instead of working with a baby, we got a toddler, who knows what an arm is, but maybe doesn't know what an entire person looks like," said Handan-Nader. In this case, the arm is a building, and an entire person is a CAFO.</p><p>To improve the tool's accuracy, the team also fed the algorithm photos of stadium bleachers, airplane hangars and mobile home parks, which only appear to match the CAFO visual cues. "Just as humans learn from being tricked, so does a computer," said Handan-Nader.</p><p>There's another way to look at the research effort, she added. They were "very unglamorously looking at poop for months and months."</p><p>It paid off. Ho and Handan-Nader identified 15 percent more poultry farms than what was found through a manual census. The researchers <a href="https://woods.stanford.edu/news/machine-learning-environmental-enforcer" target="_blank">estimated</a> their algorithm could identify 95 percent of existing large-scale facilities using fewer than 10 percent of the resources required for a manual census.</p><p>"Dr. Ho's work makes my job much easier," said Soren Rundquist, the director of spatial analysis at the EWG. "While humans will always need to validate and quality check computer-generated results, any innovation for locating CAFOs will make the process much more efficient. This is paramount when keeping up with an industry that can grow quickly, having an immediate impact on the environment and public health."</p>
Replacing Guesswork With Evidence<p>The tool works with conventional satellite imagery, but future iterations could be trained to identify new spectral signatures, like building materials, lagoons, or actual discharges into waterways. The tool could also help detect other forms of environmental degradation, like oil spills. Stephen Luby, a professor of medicine at Stanford University, is already using a similar technology to track brick kilns, a huge source of air pollution.</p><p>Katie Cantrell envisions using the tool to provide solid evidence of the harm done by factory farming. "This mapping project provides an invaluable resource for advocates at the local, state, and national level," she said. "They can use it to document correlations between the location and density of CAFOs and socioeconomic data, health data such as asthma and mortality rates, and air and water pollution data, that can hopefully help drive better regulation and protection of front-line communities." Added EWG's Rundquist, "The need for this utility is becoming more important as public information around these operations becomes more opaque and unavailable."</p><p>In the meantime, Missouri voted last month to prevent counties from passing more stringent laws regulating CAFOs. Now, local standards for health and environmental protection cannot be tougher than those of the state. In doing so, Missouri joins <a href="https://psmag.com/news/missouri-outlaws-rural-residents-last-line-of-protection-against-cafos" target="_blank">seven</a> other states this year who have considered strengthening protections for CAFOs, which raises the question: Who is strengthening protections for our environment and local communities?</p>
By Ketura Persellin
You've likely heard that eating meat and poultry isn't good for your health or the planet. Recent news from Washington may make meat even less palatable: Pork inspections may be taken over by the industry itself, if a Trump administration proposal goes into effect, putting tests for deadly pathogens into the hands of the industry.