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Thursday, May 03, 2007

E-Coli Vaccine Threatens Food Supply

The presence of high levels E. Coli bacteria is an excellent indicator of poor health conditions at farms, lack of proper sanitation, and compromised immune systems in farm animals. This bacteria is easy to detect in cattle feces, and although the underlying problems are often hard to find, they are always problems that need to be found and fixed.

E. Coli is found in everyday food and water supplies, and there's plenty of it living in your own intestines right now. The problem is that when there's too much of it, especially of the strains found in cattle, it can be dangerous. The good thing is that when there's a lot of the bacteria in cattle, it raises much needed alarms about farm health practices.

Now, the U.S. Dept of Agriculture is sponsoring a program to vaccinate cattle against the bacteria - reducing the ability of E. Coli to proliferate in the intestines of the vaccinated animals.

Wait. Shouldn't they be sponsoring a program for randomized testing of cattle feces in order to find farms that may be committing health violations? I mean, with the recent spinach contamination linked to cattle runoff, it would behoove the government to step in. This is one clear case where government oversight is needed and is in the best interests of America's health.

Enter the USDA vaccination program. Rather than improve the health, sanitation and overall well being of the plants and livestock we eat, we can just try to kill off the bacteria using modern biotechnology. A successful vaccination program would allow livestock to eat low quality, high-grain, low-fiber diets which, not coincidentally, make cows grow faster for less money. (Why work to improve farm conditions when you can save money with a federally-funded injection?)

Yet another government program masked as something for the public good that's actually just good for the bottom-line of industrial cattle farmers. And yet another good reason to stick with grass-fed, or, better yet, to go vegan.

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