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Posts Tagged ‘agriculture’

It’s not often that I make us of this blog to write about my firsthand experiences. But I’m here today to do just that. Thanks to a slew of antibiotic allergies — for which I broke out in dangerous quantities of hives — I have been limited only to doxycycline-family antibiotics since the mid 1990s. I’ve always wondered since then — with a foreboding sense that I’ve been thrown into the antibiotic dark ages — what would happen in the event my old standby, doxycycline, failed to work in the event of a severe infection. As antibiotics go, doxycycline, like its better-known counterpart tetracycline, is not a new or particularly heavy-duty drug. If anything, this class of antibiotics is seriously overused — ubiquitous in agriculture and dermatology alike.

Recently, I was talking to an old friend and, quite coincidentally, learned that my friend belongs to the same bizarre club: limited to the use of doxycycline, as an antibiotic treatment, because all others have begun to provoke serious allergic reactions. She’s the fourth-such person I’ve met to have become so over-reactive to multiple classes of antibiotics as an adult, and yet anecdotally the trend would appear to be on the uptick. In a recent case, a child not known to be allergic to blueberries made medical headlines after researchers determined that antibiotic residues — not the blueberries themselves — had provoked a life-threatening reaction. It’s not just factory-farmed animals that pose antibiotic-linked health risks. Antibiotics have shown up in corn, potatoes and even lettuce, researchers have found. (more…)

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The Buzz About Bees

Remember that story a few years back about the mysterious honeybee affliction known as Colony Collapse Disorder? It didn’t remain in the headlines for long but it should have: Honeybees pollinate up to 1/3 of the world’s crops. Lose them and we lose a great deal of human civilization to malnutrition.

I was reminded of this sad phenomena over the holidays when, from city to city, county to county, I kept stepping over dead and dying honeybees. Not just one, but several. Not merely one week, but several weeks in a row. Three years earlier — and what first brought CCD to my attention when I came online in search of an explanation — I took a walk in a local park and saw hundreds of bees dying on the ground. It was all I could do to keep my dog from stepping on them, a number of them still trying, fruitlessly so, to fly. A few weeks later at another park, I saw the same phenomena. The carnage became so commonplace that year that I eventually lost count.

Now here comes a late-breaking 2009 headline nearly lost amidst end-of-year festivities:

Bayer ‘Disappointed’ in Ruling on Chemical That May Harm Bees | Bloomberg.com

Bayer’s newest chemical wonder, Spirotetramat, was not on the market when CCD surfaced, but what is alarming about this story is that the EPA apparently approved it, critics allege, knowing that it could heighten or accelerate the harm to a critical link in the food chain.

Our food chain.

(more…)

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