organic pears, are these rules crazy?

alan haighSeptember 1, 2013

I just read an article in Good Fruit Grower Magazine about new rules that will make it impossible for growers of pears to use antibiotics against fire blight and maintain their organic certification.

Most commercial pear growers in CA and the humid parts of the country require the use of oxytetracycline or streptomycin to control fire blight. Production is not feasible without it in CA because of the vigorous growth of pears there. In Washington State, pears aren't so vigorous, so the use of antibiotics isn't necessary.

As far as I can determine, there is absolutely no evidence spraying fruit trees with antibiotics represent any risk to consumers, and the only reason this is being done is the guilt by association with problems of antibiotics in meat and dairy production.

The antibiotics used in meat and dairy reach us through their consumption and contribute to growing resistance of pathogenic bacteria to these useful compounds for humans.

Even the absolute ban of antibiotics in meat and dairy is highly contraversal because of cruelty to animal issues (sick animals may not be treated).

The antibiotics sprayed on pears do not reach humans in any detectible way as they are applied months before harvest.

I'm not an advocate for organic orthodoxy to begin with, but I'm curious about the reaction to these rules by those of you who are.

If I was an organic grower in Washington, I'd be looking forward to much higher profits if the rules are passed.

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My opinion is that fruit and all fresh produce, for that matter, should be labeled somehow as to origin, instead of being treated as a commodity. We are, after all, going to eat it, or give it to someone that we know and love. If I was out shopping for pears, and I knew that they came from your orchard, I would be willing to pay a fair price, knowing that you were responsible for and involved in the growing and harvesting. To me, that knowledge is more important and more valuable than the "Organic" label. There must be places where pears can be grown without the need for antibiotics, all of our fruit does not have to come from California. But I hate to see someone with an established orchard lose the value of their investment. Maybe the California pear growers can come up with an alternate label that allows them to market the fruit successfully.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 10:16AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

I think the over use of antibiotics in the USA is a huge problem. We are all at risk of being severely injured or killed by antibiotic resistant bacteria. The real problem certainly isn't the use on pears and apples but any use contributes to development of resistance. I've read scientific accounts of what's going on in the soil under feedlots of animals treated continuiously with antibiotics. The resistance that develops there does get spread throughout the environment. So the resistant infection contracted while in a hospital or orchard could very well be traced back to antibiotic use on fruits or animals. But the one you pick up in an orchard more likely traces back to over use for common colds and virus infections in humans than to use on fruits.

In Sweden getting an antibiotic when you are sick requires meeting very strict standards. As a result they aren't plagued yet by high levels of resistance. Everyone else should severely restrict all uses of antibiotics. They should be the last line of defense in life or death situations. If we don't many more will suffer and die in our lifetimes. Right now they still allow doctors to use antibiotics as placebos for some mom with a sick kid.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 10:56AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

I used antibiotics when I had fireblight badly, but I found it a lot easier to control by removing the susceptible varieties. I think most of the country will still be OK without antibiotics, as long as susceptible varieties are avoided, the trees are kept well pruned, the orchard monitored regularly, etc.

What would be a big problem is if copper was also restricted, it really helps keep the level of fireblight down. In parts of Europe it has been restricted. Apples and pears without antibiotics or copper will be a risky proposition. Organic grapes will become impossible in most of the country without copper.


    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 11:26AM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

I don't think these rules are crazy,...I'm with fruitnut on this one.
We need to stay out of it as much as possible,..if you can't grow them then don't ..cut down and plant things which do well for your region, well then, the non organic, majority still can use it and need to go next. Over in Europe, tons of honey had to get tossed away because of Streptomycin in it.

Think we have the technology to breed fire blight resistant fruit trees.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 11:35AM
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alan haigh

Fruitnut, I agree with your assessment of overuse of antibiotics by American doctors, maybe not so much as a placebo as to reduce the risk of malpractice suits if someone happens to die or get sicker of a bacterial infection left untreated by antibiotics.

I believe it is often difficult to differentiate between viral and bacterial infections and bacteria often follow viruses in a sickness. However, I bet if you compare results with the more cautious Swedish approach you'd find that this risk is not adequate to justify overprescribing here.

I disagree that there is a reasonable basis for concern that orchard applications pose similar risk and would like to see the requirement of actual evidence before restrictions are put in place. How would the bacterial resistance from spraying fruit trees enter the human cycle? Similar antibiotics already occur in nature, including penicillin.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 11:36AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


Bacteria easily share DNA. So development of a resistant bacteria of any kind can be spread to the bacteria that are a threat to humans.

Water below feedlots eventually ends up in streams in that watershed. The resistant bacteria have been traced from the soil and water under feedlots to adjacent streams. From there it's on to the water elsewhere and oceans.

Dust from west Texas feedlots is continuously spread by wind to NY and beyond.

Bacteria can't be defeated in this battle. We have to outsmart them and right now we aren't being smart about their management.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 11:48AM
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The thing about "organic" is the gov makes the rules. There are enough other problems with organic that this issue doesn't impress me.

Did you know that "organic" coming from outside the US has no requirements of organic proof when it gets here?

We buy meat and produce from the producers in my area and very few are certified because of the hassles of the gov. There are many cases where the local farmers are doing it to a higher standard then organic (example: feeding organic soy to cattle is organic but grass only is best)

It would be better if there was a consumer driven set of standards and the watch dog was the consumers themselves. That is kinda' how it works with a large set of the "foodie" crowd in my area. You lie and get caught and word spreads faster then gossip in a bingo hall. Then the slippery farmer is calling the phone company thinking his phone broke because it quit ringing.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 11:52AM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Harvestman, I'm an RN, and I can tell you that we have a SERIOUS issue with our past practices of overprescribing antibiotics here in the USA, and the creation of "superbugs" that have no resistance to current antibiotic therapies. It is really rather scary. And, applications of antibiotics to plants, feed, etc. can have detrimental effects to our soil microbes as well, killing off helpful and sensitive organisms, while allowing perhaps other, less beneficial but more resistant organisms to flourish. This is one of the reasons I have opted not to treat my FB issues with my pears with streptomycin, and choose instead, to try to catch it early, prune, or simply remove cultivars that cannot withstand the organism. I do agree - more studies need to be conducted to weigh the risk versus positive return for using antibiotics in orchards. I don't think we have enough empirical evidence to make any determinations, but, there should be concern, we should conduct the studies, since that water flows into our watersheds. It's this diluted amount of antibiotic that actually causes the most issues - killing off the most sensitive organisms and leaving those who are more resistant to flourish and continue developing further resistance. Yes, penicllium (not penicillin) exists naturally, but that's nature's checks and balances. We're introducing many more antibiotics in non-natural settings, and altering the biosphere by doing that. To what degree? Don't know, I haven't heard or read studies that are investigating this (although they may be out there). I think more investigation is in order before we take a knee-jerk approach and restrict the use in certain areas, but we do need to know more for sure. I see the aftermath in my industry, it's really frightening. We are "too little too late" now. I would hate to continue down that road in agriculture and not have a "lesson learned" from the medical field.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 12:49PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


It's 20-30 years too late for studying the issue. We know any antibiotic use anywhere can be an issue. Uses for food production, especially animal, should be axed now. The animal industry is an environmental and health disaster from top to bottom. So a steak costs 50 cents more. It's not healthy to eat anyhow.

As to use of antibiotics for humans I'm not sure what the right approach should be. But I would think limiting use would have to be the first step.

This post was edited by fruitnut on Mon, Sep 2, 13 at 19:10

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 1:13PM
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Kippy(SoCal zone 10. Sunset Zone 24)

I have a bit of fire blight on my pears. Pain in the rear, but going to carefully cut it out and hope for the best. No spraying antibiotics.

I have issues with the organic label. Dad was an early (70's) proponent of organic practices but I think he would be frustrated if he saw what it has become today.

Like the horse manure I can collect from horses I know eating hay I can research and then compost, not considered organic. But I can pick up food trash from a restaurant from all kinds of random sources, compost it and it is organic. Go figure.

Or the fish emulsion that was organic one year but not the next due to the cost of the official stamp.

Once I get my garden to the point I am happy with it, I might start the process of getting the official certified organic or I might just keep it "home grown"

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 1:39PM
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alan haigh

I'm not talking about home growers- I've never used an antibiotic in my business of managing small orchards. I also, in no way, meant to suggest the issue of over prescriptions isn't serious, I was just suggesting a reason why our health care system has led to the current practices.

Let's forget about over prescribing in medicine as that isn't relevent to this forum anyway.

What I'm talking about is allowing emotions to play a wider role in decision making than science. In spite of FN's assertions, I'm aware of no actual information about orchards being a source of antibiotic contaminants or being associated with resistant issues even if it's theoretically possible.

I'd be interested in research that supports this supposition as Fruit Grower Magazine suggested there is absolutely none. Of course, they are the voice for conventional fruit production and the chemical companies involved in it, so I'm not taking their word for it either.

I just feel sorry for all the commercial growers who went to all the expense of getting certification for growing organic, have established organic orchards and now may have to take the trees out or switch to conventional and still eat all those expenses. Fire blight pressure is much, much greater in a commercial scale of fruit production.

I think if you were in their position, you'd want more than speculation as a reason.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 2:16PM
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The wife and I have been growing fruit now for over forty years.

We have had many different pear cultivars. Maybe around 12. After 40 years we have only one that can be grown here with out any type of spraying, and that is Magness.

It is wet and humid here in our part of Connecticut. Have always wonder how Magness does in other parts of the country.

Here it has proven it's self over and over. Does not need any sprays for fungus, bacteria, or insecticides.
If I was 50 years younger and wanted to start growing for market, I would plant Magness pears. That is if help was not so hard to come by.

These are a good size beautiful pears that can be taken to the market without every spraying. Plus, thy are very sweet. They are a lot like a large Seckel pear. But, with out the smut problems that Seckel has. Or the leaf dropping that Seckel has.

Any one else out there growing Magness?

Bob Connecticut zone 5b/6a

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 2:33PM
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alan haigh

Here's some quotes from the article,

Dr. Steven Lindow, plant pathologist as UC Berkely, says that while there's clear evidence the use of antibiotics in animal production can increase the number of anti-biotic resistant genes in the environment, the idea of this applying to applications on plants is not supported by evidence, "it's guilt by association".
David Granatstein, sustainable agriculture specialist at WSU said "the products are applied in bloom and leave no residues on fruit".

A study in Oregon showed that the antibiotics degrade on the tree or in the soil and are gone within a week of application.

Biocides, such as triclosan, used in household antibacterial soaps are of much greater concern because they are used so widely at sublethal concentrations that they promote bacterial resistance.

Judging from the poor logic of the last paragraph, by my ignorant reading of it, (can't see how developing resistance to these chemicals will stop medicines from working) I can see how all of these points may be just the cherry picking and partial truths of a pro-industry publication. But they seem to be logical arguments, for the most part, and based on facts on the ground.

Resistance is built by continuous exposure and that is not part of fireblight management where it is not used every season and is only used a couple of times when it is. Not much opportunity for organisms to develop resistance that don't require "eating" the tree like fire blight does. If a human pathogen happens to be around and exposed it seems unlikely that resistance will be developed in these conditions. The use is just too narrow.

Regular ingestion by animals is an entirely different scenario if you break it down piece by piece.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 2:47PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


The amount of antibiotic used on fruit is probably 1/1,000 that used in animal feeding operations. The feedlots and grow houses use it 24/7 365. Plus fruit is healthy food so there is redemptive value. You're not going to find a smoking gun on this type situation. But when it comes to bacteria it's a small world. We're all in the same boat and the boat is leaking badly.


Thanks for the recommendation on Magness pear. I don't need it here having never seen FB but many do need a good disease free pear.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 2:50PM
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alan haigh

Magness has long been touted for FB resistance but it is virtually pollen sterile and takes forever to come into bearing, although the quality arguably makes it worth the wait.

After growing pears at many sites in the NE for quite a while, I have come to doubt that FB is a huge problem for home growers here although that could change at some future time. I find scab and psyla to be much more of a problem, although only certain varieties at certain sites.

I manage so many pear trees and only a small percentage have ever gotten any FB strikes. I've lost only 2 or 3 pear trees since I started doing this here 25 years ago. There are pear trees at most of the orchards I manage, mostly varieties not known for FB resistance.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 8:24PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Axel says Magness is a top five pear for eating quality. And his bears heavily but only with pollinizers grafted in close proximity. For people with FB issues, and that's many who post here, it sounds like a good option.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 9:36PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

My Magness is not fruiting after ten years. I decided to get another one on quince to see if that would speed it up. They are my favorite tasting pear, I never had any better. This year I have half a dozen Euro pears fruiting, my most ever. The only problem I get on them is stinkbugs; the BMSB can make a mess of 'em. I hardly ever get FB on the pears, it was always with the apples.


    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 11:26PM
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bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)


Earlier today, before seeing your comment, I was closely examining my euro pear trees (un-sprayed). The Magness stood out with pristine looking leaves. The Harrow Sweet's leaves didn't look bad (and strangely it put out a single flower about a week ago), but the others all had some issues. Not bad issues, but they looked like leaves that have been through a bit.

Mine is on quince (2nd leaf), so hopefully I won't need to wait 10 years like Scott.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 12:05AM
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alan haigh

I also planted a Magness, waited 8 years and cut it down after all of that (back then I didn't graft). Then I grafted it a couple years ago onto another tree. At this point I don't care how long it takes- I've several bearing varieties of other pears of about equal quality to keep me busy (my tastes aren't quite as finely tuned as Scott's, I expect).

When I started growing pears here my pears all were healthy- it wasn't until 5 years ago that disease and psyla issues made many varieties more difficult to grow than apples.

Bartlett, Duchess, Harrow Delight, Harrow Sweet, Aurora, and Sheldon are all pears that seem to be similarly healthy as Magness, and for me, I find Harrow Sweet, Sheldon and Duchess are more useful because they ripen later when I find pears more interesting and I'm not dealing with stone fruit. Also there's room in my fridge to keep them. They also have a more appealing, thinner skin to my palate than Magness.

However, this is all a bit like politics and tastes vary. I just like for people to know as much about their options as possible. The information posted in the last few followups is far more useful than anything Cornell supplied me when I started growing fruit. I'm still grafting over Highland pears in my nursery that Cornell raved about when I started my business and what of piece of crap that pear is. Hardest pear to grow I've ever dealt with.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 7:09AM
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I've been involved in food animal production - both as a producer and as a veterinarian, for over 30 years - beef, dairy, poultry, swine. Your claims that antibiotics are used/abused 24/7/365 in commercial food-animal production are incorrect.

There are strict allowances as to which antimicrobials are allowed for use in different food-producing animals, and strict slaughter/milk-withholding withdrawal times for each particular drug. Our milk/meat supply is not laden with dangerous antibiotics or synthetic hormones.
Now, are there producers who misuse antimicrobials? Yes.
But they are in the minority, and when meat/milk test positive for levels above the allowed detection limit, those products are excluded from the food chain, and the offending producer is sanctioned.

hoosierquilt touched on what, to my mind, is a larger concern - the over-prescription of antibiotics by the human medical profession for conditions (like the common cold) that don't necessitate antibiotic therapy - and the equally large problem of lack of patient compliance; the doctor prescribes an antibiotic, to be taken for 7-10 days, but after 3 days, you get to feeling better, so you stop taking it...and, in the process, you've potentially contributed to selection of a strain of bacteria that are resistant to that antibiotic.
I see it frequently in my own family; my sister and her family run to the 'doc-in-a-box' at the first sign of a sniffle, and rarely come away without a prescription for an antibiotic. And the veterinary profession is under the same pressure from our clients - they always want a shot or pill - whether it's warranted or not.

I constantly see 'farmers and their overuse of fertilizers' incriminated as the principal cause of the 'dead zone' in the Gulf of Mexico - but I know that successful farmers don't 'over-apply' fertilizers - it's too expensive to put out more than the crop needs. But how many residential folks are constantly fertilizing their lawns or paying 'lawn services' to weed & feed multiple times each season? How much of those over-applied fertilizers/herbicides/pesticides run right off into the storm sewers, creeks, rivers, etc. or seep directly into the groundwater? But, I don't ever see the popular press incriminating them. And, Joe Blow can walk right into Lowe's, WalMart, etc., and get all the high-nitrogen fertilizer, glyphosate/triclopyr, organophosphate/pyrethrins they can carry - with no one questioning whether they're going to mix, apply or use these products properly.

Now, as to the 'certified organic' requirements - many of them are ludicrous 'straining at a gnat' kind of stuff. Not unexpected when a governmental bureaucracy is writing the rules...

    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 1:17PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


Thanks for your input. I'm sure you are closer to the situation than I am.

Are you saying that beef cattle in the big feedlots and chickens in the big grow houses aren't fed prophylactic antibiotics? I worked around the Texas cattle feeders for 30 yrs, mostly in the stocker cattle end of things. My understanding was that cattle in the big feedlots received antibiotics as part of their regular rations. That's my concern, not antibiotics in meat or milk.

This post was edited by fruitnut on Mon, Sep 2, 13 at 16:42

    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 2:01PM
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> As far as I can determine, there is absolutely no evidence spraying fruit trees with antibiotics represent any risk to consumers

To respond to your original post, H'man, I wanted to point out that questions of what the scientific evidence shows (like you suggest above) really never have a place in defining organic agriculture. If antibiotics on fruit trees represented scientifically evidenced risks to consumers shouldn't they be banned from use in the consumer market altogether (not just organic)? Why should the people that now define the organic rules determine any of those questions differently than the people that determine what will be allowed at all? You might not see any point in pursuing organic principles, but even if you think the principles are worthless and stupid, surely you can recognize that organic principles mean something other than anything-goes-except-what-science-can-currently-prove-unsafe-to-consumers. Otherwise how would you differentiate organic agriculture and give it any meaning at all?

Of course, organic now legally means participation in the government-regulated program, but the word "organic" had meaning and was widely used before there was ever a government program, and that meaning is theoretically still behind the rules of the government program. Personally, I wish organic had never been turned into a set of legalistic minimum standards, and I trust that our political system is twisting the meaning of organic over time to suit the interests of the big money players in Washington, but organic used to mean and theoretically still represents a philosophy of assuming the worst about man-made fertilizers, pesticides, and pharmaceuticals.

And I'll point out that there's plenty of scientific precedent for not trusting those things for which, as you say, "there is absolutely no evidence...represent any risk to consumers." Since the establishment of the scientific method how many things have scientists declared free of any evidence of risk only to subsequently discover evidence after those things were put in commercial use? It would require an absurd religious fervor to trust that that long history of scientific insufficiency came to an end yesterday. Of course, "risk to consumers" is just one category of risk. Chemicals and pharmaceuticals also present potential risks to farm workers, to drinking water supplies, to honeybees, to fish, etc. Although there are plenty of people that believe in organic principles and also hold all sorts of related crazy ideas about agriculture, my point is that one need not hold any crazy theories to recognize the potential insufficiency of the collected evidence (with regards to the prudence of using antibiotics on fruit trees or any other questions of organic principles.)

>Even the absolute ban of antibiotics in meat and dairy is highly contraversal because of cruelty to animal issues (sick animals may not be treated).

There's probably some truth there (although USDA organic rules don't ban the use of antibiotics; they just require that the individual animals that require antibiotics be sold without the organic label), but on the other hand antibiotics have propped up and facilitated all sorts of highly objectionable ways of raising animals -- I'm thinking especially of extreme confinement. They've also allowed us to perpetuate health problems (sometimes in favor of other traits like yield) instead of breeding healthier animals better adapted to their circumstances.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 4:07PM
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Lucky/fruitnut, aren't antibiotics routinely given to dairy cows at the end of each lactation?

    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 6:04PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

Since we are talking about meat, I'll weigh in on swine, since that's where most of my experience is.

When I was a pig farmer, we had 600 sows in a modern farrow to feeder operation. We sold 13,000 feeder pigs annually.

The sows received no routine antibiotics in the feed. The only time sows (or boars) were treated with antibiotics (which was with a shot) was when they were sick. In the years I was a pig farmer, I don't recall ever putting antibiotics in the feed for the sows or boars.

The starter feed for pigs did contain an antibiotic, but that was only fed a short time until the pigs were switched to a grower feed, which contained no antibiotics.

Antibiotics were simply not used much on our farm.

Some finishing operations did use a sub-therapeutic antibiotic in the feed. These were always "first-generation" antibiotics, something like BMD, which would not produce "super-bugs" found in hospitals (which are resistant to 3rd and 4th generation antibiotics).

For swine, later generation high powered antibiotics (like azithromycin) are not used. Too expensive (although I do understand Z-paks are given to people's pets - dogs and cats - where cost isn't a consideration).

No growth hormones are used in the swine industry. They are not approved or allowed.

A word about confinement operations.

I have significant experience with non-confinement and confinement operations in swine.

Confinement operations are much more humane IMO. I understand that statement runs counter to the documentaries that showcase the worst confinement operations they can find, but a well run confinement operation takes the well being of the sow and pig as a primary concern.

Pigs are one of the most interesting creatures to observe. Even though I watched it thousands of times, I never tired of watching a litter of pigs nurse. They are as interesting as they are funny. They are extremely coordinated with their noses. They are also very social creatures.

That said, they are very vicious to one another. Many people have heard that pigs have a "pecking order" but fail to understand how aggressively that is sorted out. Pigs have no morals nor mercy.

The strongest not only take down the weaker, but fight them off food and water -they sometime guard the food or water source - completely content to let the weaker starve or die of thirst. Over and over, I've seen dominant pigs torment weak pigs. They purposely go after them. A screaming pig will draw other pigs to it like a magnet - where they can participate in the torment. They treat each other like the worst stories of humanity X10. If a dead pig isn't removed, the remaining live ones will cannibalize the dead one (even if there is plenty of tasty high quality feed available).

In non-confinement operations, I've observed lots of frozen piglets (where the temperature can't be controlled). Sows also lay on a lot more pigs in non-confinement operations. She gets hot and plops down on pigs. They will sqeal for all they are worth, but the is sow hot and panting and won't get up, totally unmoved by their screams.

In confinement operations, farrowing crates are designed to make the sow lie down slowly (allowing the pigs to get out from underneath - that's their purpose). Additionally the sows are in buildings with (cool cells - i.e. air conditioning) or have drip or mist type cooling which significantly improves the comfort of the sow since pigs can't sweat like humans.

In a farrowing crate, the sows (and pigs) had water at the touch of their nose on a nipple water (indeed they would play with them as a toy and sometimes squirt you when you walked by). The sows had all they wanted to eat. The pigs could more safely nurse at their leisure or eat a high quality "creep" feed if they wanted. I think from their perspective, the pigs had a good life. At least they seemed happy.

All that said, I think peaches are easier to keep happy. They are much kinder to one another and seem content as long as the temps don't go much above 95. I don't think they will like it if SWD bores into their skin. That won't make them happy.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 11:30PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

As a medical technologist whose whole career has been working with bacteria. I have an answer. Stop treating humans, and tear the hospitals down. The superbugs are created in the hospitals. So if you want to stop resistant strains from developing (I have isolated them many times),
stop treating humans. And until you do so, we will have the superbugs, The overuse by humans outside of the hospital, and the use in the farming industry are not really creating superbugs. Hospitals have created every single strain I know of. If you know different please point out the strain created outside of the hospital? So you can ban the use of antibiotics in the meat and fruit industry, but be aware that will absolutely have zero effect on stopping superbugs.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 6:19AM
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Olpea, you forgot to mention that peaches smell better.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 11:53AM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)


The superbugs are created in the hospitals

I seem to remember something about an influenza pandemic in 1918/19. I don't believe it's source was a hospital.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 3:48PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


No that wasn't hospital born but it's a virus not bacterial. Thanks all the same. It feels like you were sticking up for me....:)

I'm not convinced all the issues are from hospital use. I've heard too many reports of the ills of over use of antibiotics outside of hospitals. In Sweden and elsewhere that superbugs are better controlled, the use of antibiotics are severely restricted outside the hospital. At least that's my understanding.

Also resistant bacteria are an issue in places like pro football facilities. I'm concerned around any place like a public swimming pool or gym.

But all in all maybe I'm wrong to be overly concerned about ag use of antibiotics.

This post was edited by fruitnut on Tue, Sep 3, 13 at 17:53

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 4:59PM
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alan haigh

Well, this has been an informative discussion for me, especially by helping me realize that goats and sheep are much nicer animals than pigs. I like their meat better too.

I hate having to say I'm kidding, but that's the internet for you- very hard to communicate whimsy. People are so expecting sarcasm much of the time.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 5:33PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

"I seem to remember something about an influenza pandemic in 1918/19. I don't believe it's source was a hospital"

Correct and it is also not a superbug. It's not even a bacteria, you don't use antibiotics to treat viruses. Being exposed to one antibiotic cannot by definition create a superbug. So if not the hospital, it must be a place where bacteria are exposed to multiple broad spectrum antibiotics.
In the hospital medical staff pass the bugs along to each patient, which may be getting different treatment, thus the superbugs are born. All superbug infections I know of are obtained in hospitals. Well not true really, some have spread out these days to being the dominant bacteria type, all over!. This is what's scary, Every hospital harbor's them.
Common ones we see all the time are
MRSA - methicillin resistant Staff. Aureus
VRSA - vancomycin resistant Staff. Aureus
VRE - vancomycin resistant Enterococcus
Sometimes KPC, and the TB resistant strain in which no antibiotic works.

KPC is actually an enzeme produced by some bacteria. Mostly Enterobacteriaceae. Producing this enzeme makes them resistant to beta-lactam antibiotics such as penicillins, cephamycins, and carbapenems. I believe about 10 KPC enzemes are known.

Using the term KPC usually refers to the bacteria that carries the enzeme, most common is Klebsiella pneumoniae, a member of the Klebsiella genus of Enterobacteriaceae. The enzeme was discovered in the bacteria, and is thus named after it. KPC=K. pneumoniae carbapenemase. First detected in the USA in 1996 and is now world wide.

This post was edited by Drew51 on Tue, Sep 3, 13 at 20:09

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 7:18PM
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alan haigh

Drew, are you saying that the over use of antibiotics has not been the source of the problem- even the over prescribing of antibiotics has not bee scientifically connected to any reduction in antibiotic efficacy?

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 5:47AM
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This sounds more like they are growing the in the wrong regions. It is also a repercussion of monoculture, and widespread shipment of infected trees. A little bit of diversity and knowing what is in your area can make a big difference, as well as making sure your trees do not come from an area which has fireblight or diseases as a problem. Im sure it doesnt help that many of us are told to trim and shape trees, opening wounds (yes, pears tend to need less trimming). Im sure commercial orchards using NPK isnt helping either.

The only reason animals need medication is because almost all are fed corn meal, which is not what cows chickens and even pigs to some extent should not have as a main source of diet. It also doesnt help when many keep them in closed paddocks, in close proximity to the other cattle.

They have been trying to stop many plant diseases for a long time (think chestnut blight or dutch elm disease). The gros michelle banana was almost wiped out by virus, so they started using the cavendish as a back up. The even grew them in the same spots as the affected michele, so now even though the plant was immune to some degree, monoculture enabled the virus to spead more so.

Antibiotics in general are overused and over perscribed (I dare say most medication is). The other problem is people not following through with treatment. They were having this problem in russian jails with TB. Inmates wouldnt or coudnt finish the medication, and the TB in the gulag was advancing too fast for drs. People take medication for anything now and it seems we use this same though process on everything else. Look at ritlalin. I know people who are/were on it who should not have. Most of the time the teacher coerces the parent into going to the dr to get it. Funny thing? How many kids dont pay attention in class, talk out of turn and are "energetic"? Every single kid I have ever known ..

There is also re occurences of once thought "defeated" sicknesses like small pox polio cholora and even some recent plague outbreaks.

I guess in terms of plants I dont see the point of medication like we do to people. Does it make sense to put resources into a food crop that causes so many problems? Does it make sense to grow these plants in regions in which susceptability to disease due to climate?

The only real solution is to completely ban the sale and shipment of all plants and trees out of city or area. That would cause more problems with trade and state/provincial revenue. I couldnt imagine what would happen if we (Canada) stopped getting apples from NZ and citrus from the US. but realistically, it is the only way to contain diseases. IF this were a city and lets say, cholora, the people wouldnt be able to leave or anyone able to come in.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 8:13AM
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There are probably multiple causes for drug resistant bacteria.

The loss of efficacy of penicillins vs common respiratory germs like Hemophilus influenza and some types of strep are likely due to doctors overprescribing antibiotics in the office.

The development of drug-resistant TB is probably multifactorial, including patient non-compliance with 6-12 month drug regimens needed to clear infections and misuse of the anti-TB drugs in 3rd world countries. Trying to treat TB in very sick HIV patients may also be a contributing factor, as their immune systems have trouble clearing the germs even with the help of the antibiotics.

The development of the multiple-drug-resistant bacteria like the VRE and MRSA that Drew referenced above seem to be from use of antibiotics in hospitals especially ICUs. We cannot really say they are from overuse, but more likely continued long term use in very sick patients who cannot clear the infection, plus instances of inadequate sterilization, frequent transmission of germs between patients by hospital workers, and the tendency of the germs to transfer DNA that confers drug resistance among themselves, even between germs of other species. There are clearly many factors involved.

The fact that antibiotics have been very overused in animals especially in some feedlot operations has not been 'proven' to my knowledge to be directly linked to human infections with superbugs (I could be wrong) but as I understand it, there is some evidence that some strains of bacteria which have apparently developed resistance in feedlot operations have been identified in humans in a 'carrier state' so it is only a matter of time until infections from them are more proven (sorry for my uncertainty but I have not kept abreast of all of the developments in this field in the medical literature in the past couple years)

Streptomycin, used to treat fireblight, formerly was an antibiotic used to treat a variety of infections in the 60s-70s but due to better antibiotics with less side effects its use has been pretty much confined to some cases of TB in more recent years - I am not sure even if it is still used there. I think it is still used in animals though.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 8:33AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a


No, no doubt antibiotics have been overused. I guess my point was the most dangerous superbugs were developed in hospital ICU's and long term critical care units. These long term units are a growing industry fed on government moneys. Also Eboone brings up a point that these were not from overuse, but regular long term use on critical patients. Patients with long term problems such as kidney failure or older diabetic patients with complications often catch infections as they are spending so much time in the germ ridden hospitals. Also we tend to keep people who suffer from TMB alive a lot longer than nature intended. This could be classified as abuse of antibiotics. TMB=too many birthdays. People need their Social Security checks, or are unwilling to let go and ask for every known procedure to keep them alive. BTW I probably have VRE and MRSA all over me. My wife still works and is exposed daily. My wife works in one of these long term critical care hospitals. A place where somebody in the ICU for 2 months is not uncommon. Picture the movie Coma, and that's kinda what it is like. Patients not moving and not talking, just laying there. Not much of a life? I can't think of many places more terrible to end up in. A huge industry fed on Medicare. Millions can be made!! Many Fortune 500 companies are in this field. My wife's company is among them with thousands of facilities across the states.
How TB became resistant is unknown to me? Eboone's insights are probably correct. I no longer keep up. I'm retired now. And I do not miss reading the medical journals. It's a relief not to keep up anymore! I also found TB fascinating as it is really an animal-fungi. Bacteriologists consider it a bacteria. Mycologist consider it a fungus. It looks like a fungus in culture. A Mycobacterium. It is unusual as most bacteria have protein coats and TB has a lipid coat. Why it is hard to treat. It's hard to treat in HIV patients because they lack the ability to make
"super macrophages" Many granular white blood cells join together to form a super cell to fight TB. The antibiotic weakens it enough for the giants to eat the bacteria, or at least wall it off. Since HIV patients have compromised and virus infected immune systems, these seldom form. A close relative and fellow mycobacterium is leprosy. Hopefully no resistant strains of that will ever develop else we might have leper colonies again! Currently it is easy to treat and is no longer deforming humans.

Eboone mentions the transfer of DNA, this is usually via plasmids, so it is easily passed.

One point I was trying to make in a sarcastic indirect way is the meat and fruit industry use of antibiotics is of little concern considering the other uses which are certainly multiple times more dangerous. As mentioned outdated antibiotics for humans are used in these industries, so resistance to them is of little concern.

This post was edited by Drew51 on Wed, Sep 4, 13 at 9:21

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 9:14AM
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Calorie counts and chemical use have been finally put on labesl for food products, from fast food to cereal. It will only be a matter of time until the public will get a wiff of antibiotics and more info on sprays that the produce dept. in supermarkets will be labeled with chemical application and anti-biotic applications to fruit and vegetables. Then, the home orchard and pick your own orchards will come back in a big way.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 10:22AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Thank you eboone and Drew, it's nice to have professionals weigh in.

I guess my number one take away, which I already knew, is that your own immune system is your number one line of defense. Better keep that up as much as possible. Eating fruit should help.

Number two is the TMB syndrome and the immune compromised population. I didn't appreciate how much that plays into development of superbugs. I've long thought it a shame how so many people end up spending several years at lives end in nursing homes. I realize some of that is unavoidable but some is people just allowing themselves to become too weak and overweight to get around.

This post was edited by fruitnut on Wed, Sep 4, 13 at 11:41

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 11:03AM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)


I have an answer. Stop treating humans, and tear the hospitals down.

I guess your blanket statement did not set well with me. You and I are probably more on the same page but it's just the dogmatic way you said this that bothers me. I'm no educated person as compared to you but I am very thankful for the ability to use the emergency services a hospital provides. (and I don't mean using the ER as a doctor's office). I have taken it upon myself to learn as much as I can to treat my family with herbs and homeopathy, but these are no real help when an 18-month-old gets pneumonia and his oxygen level is in the 70's.

I gave birth 5 times in a hospital and twice at home. The home births were an exceptional experience, however knowing that a hospital was just a few miles away, just in case, gave me a real sense of security. I'm not sure I would have wanted to take my chances with my first birth. At the same time I do believe that much about hospitals is designed to bring in money and it's real big business.

I guess I'm old-fashioned and still believe in the sanctity of human life. Hospitals still, for the most part, operate because of this principle. When hospitals become more like veterinary clinics then we may not have to worry about new super bugs, but that will come at a great cost to humanity.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 11:55AM
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alan haigh

MH, it seems Drew has seen an awful lot that should be changed but he knows it's not going to happen because of corporate forces that overwhelm political decision making. It would have to make someone a tad cynical if you went in with any tenderness.

Thank you Drew for your explanation. I appreciate it.

Don't blame people for squeezing every last moment out of existence. Until we engineer it out it is imbedded in our DNA to cling on to life, however diminished.

I too hate how much of our resources are spent to extend lives a few months when that money could be used so much more productively elsewhere. It's a very difficult issue, even when hundreds of thousands of dollars are used to provide a few more months to a life- it it's you or someone you love you want to take it.

Sanctity of life doesn't answer the question- whose life? Resources are taken from some lives to help other lives. Money that could be used for prenatal health care and so forth.

There is not enough money to pay for all the procedures that can extend life for everyone- there will always be inequality and probably increasingly so in life extending medical procedures. It will become a huge political issue in the near future, I believe, as the rich buy health procedures that drastically extend their life spans beyond the rest of us.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 5:17PM
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" re occurences of once thought "defeated" sicknesses like small pox "

Not that one. If smallpox is ever spotted again (and not kept secret) it will immediately be the headline of every paper and newscast in the world.

Back to antibiotics on pears. I can see how the "organic" enthusiasts might prohibit an artificial antibiotic, but many antibiotics were discovered, not created. I always assumed the "terra" in terramycin was from its soil origin, and I once read that the world's soils were scoured for new antibiotics right after WWII. Why would organic growers be opposed to these?

Finally, I have always read of antibiotics (usually streptomycin) being used to prevent fireblight, not treat it. Use in treating is often recommended against specifically for eliminating more risk in developing antibiotic-resistant strains of the bacteria.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 7:36PM
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I'm not a bio-chemist, nor do I play one on the Internet. :)

Our soil food web and natural bodies of water are made up of all kinds of flora and fauna, which includes a wide array of bacterium. in most cases the good and bad guy bacteria are kept in balance, almost in spite of our best intentions. Fire blight is a gram-negative bacteria. Water and soil contains helpful gram-negative bacterium that convert harmful/toxic ammonia to nitrates that can be readily utilized by plants (aquatic and land). You have toxic soup or dead dirt without these guys.

Streptomycin, oxytetracycline and terramycin are full-spectrum anti-biotics, which will kill both gram-positive and gram-negative bacterium indiscriminately. These broad-spectrum anti-biotics remain in the soil and end up in water ways, freely killing good and bad bacterium. This is a lot like shooting rats with a bazooka.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 11:04PM
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alan haigh

Mr. Clint, where is the science in your explanation? There are naturally occurring antibiotics that kill "indiscrimately" and the ones that are used in controlling fire blight don't remain in the soil or penetrate it.

Where has this "dead dirt" ever been created as the result of these treatments? Is there any evidence of the soil biology being adversely affected by FB sprays?

Legislation based on ideology can be very destructive.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 5:40AM
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Small pox was only recently "eradicated", but so was polio and a few others. We wont ever be able to eliminate diseases like this, theyll sit until they mutate. Its what they do.

Harvestman/drew -

Many chemicals, let alone antibiotics are thought to pollute the soil web. Over fertilization can strip top soil an even salt the soil - look at the SW and some places in India. I wouldnt be surprised if antibiotics sit in the soil. Its been found in ground water and drinking water (mostly because of our urine ofc).

It doesnt take much to assume that they can leech into the soil, but I cannot find anything saying such. I do know that many chemicals we spray damage soil bourn organisms. Over medication would most likely leech into ground water, which is just as scary in itself.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 7:30AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

@ fruitnut

Eating fruit is a darn good idea for reasons you mention. And yes, you are really thinking on the right track. Overweight people are there too. The record for my wife's hospital is over 900 pounds. And he could still walk too.
I was harsh, cynical, and extremely sarcastic. Venting my frustration at a system going out of control. I owe my livelihood in all respects to hospitals. For my health, and my finances. You know some great people work at hospitals. I'm very fond of ER doctors. I have met so many unselfish people in the ER. Even though I have VIP status at a local hospital. Knowing the staff, and all. The last time I was in the ER waiting room I spent 3 seconds there. Yeah, the staff came and got me in that fast. My wife worked there for over 15 years. Still this hospital gave my dad a "superbug" A nurse broke the sterile field when cathing him. And sure enough he had to be put on big gun antibiotics. So if an insider like me can still get bad service, good luck to the rest of you.
Anyway after that I made my wife do any procedures he needed. Since she worked there, they didn't care.
Anyways congrats on the births, Amazing!
I have 2 kids, boy and a girl. Now 28 and 31, Neither are in the medical field. My wife being an ER nurse most of her career (now an educator of baby nurses at the hospital mentioned in other posts) approached raising our kids quite different. Like when my son cut his hand badly she said "don't drip any of that blood on the carpet!" :) Nothing panics her, She has seen hundreds of people die, and live sometimes too. No doubt it has changed her. I could not do her job. She is amazing to say the least, and no doubt my better half. She still does procedures at the hospital she works at as nobody can approach her skill, and when a hard stick, or a patient problem, or a doctor problem, or a new policy needs to be written, they call Linda. When a "code blue" happens she still responds to make sure the doctors follow protocol correctly and will advise them if they mess up. Luckily all the staff and even the CEO know they have a gem, and they pay her extremely well. When the government changes it all and pays everybody the same, the medical field will lose people like this. She is a genius, to give you an idea she learned to read by herself when she was 4 years old. I'm one lucky man to have such a great woman care for me.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 8:16AM
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Drew - Seeing the perception of american medicine (to canadians that is), is not usually good (whether the perception is based on reality or not). Its nice to hear about doctors who care.

There is a pediatrician/birth dr here that has been around forever. He calls women fat and makes fun of them when theyre pegnant (ive heard this from many friends and family who have dealt with him). He did a hit and run on a family friend and his influence as a dr made it almost impossible to sue.

I wish everyone could be like your wife in the medical field. I dont see your words as cynical, I see you as a realist :D

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 9:20AM
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alan haigh

"Luckily all the staff and even the CEO know they have a gem, and they pay her extremely well." I don't look forward to the decline that will be induced if the gov takes over medical care and pay everyone the same.

But that's what the gov does in most other industrialized countries without demonstrable reduction in health care efficacy, only cost. Of course a lot of doctors in this country make more money not by merit but by prescribing unnecessary medical procedures.

I do believe in merit based pay, however, to get the best quality of work in any profession.

A radiologist friend of mine told me about the formation of the Kaiser medical system- that it was originally a more or less socialist program to help take care of the medical needs of laborers constructing an extremely important and large dam in CA. They drew on primarily very motivated and dedicated doctors not pursuing the highest pay they could get.

Her opinion is that there is only a finite number of doctors who operate under this kind of self-sacrificial belief system and that we are already losing many potentially great doctors because of pay that has recently vastly decreased for most doctors (while education costs skyrocket)- from pressure from both the Gov (medicare) and insurance companies.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 9:45AM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)


Sanctity of life doesn't answer the question- whose life? Resources are taken from some lives to help other lives. Money that could be used for prenatal health care and so forth.

This gave me pause to think. I remembered hearing a radio show regarding DDT and how the environmentalists had pushed for it to be banned, causing untold deaths due to malaria. I searched and found reference to it:

Here is a link that might be useful: Environmentalism and Human Sacrifice

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 10:10AM
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alan haigh

Milehigh, whenever someone takes a position that puts one very large and widely disperate group into a sweeping hugely negative category you can be pretty sure you've fallen into the realm of ideological rhetoric rather than reasonable discussion, whether they are talking about African Americans, evangelicals, homosexuals or Hisidic Jews.

The claims the writer makes about the motives and character of ALL environmentalists represents a particularly bigoted version of this category, IMO- could be a guest on the Rush Laumbaugh show and have nothing to argue about with the host.

Environmentalists and people interested in the environmental sciences I've known have tended to also be very concerned about the welfare of humanity, probably much more so than the average person, even if good intentions sometimes lead to bad results.

The bigotry displayed by the writer of this article is the kind of thing that leads to true human tragedy, including genocide.

I know you didn't read it that way and may have a much different take, but that's my reading of it.

I know you are a very kind and decent person from your input on this forum, so please don't be offended by my take on the article. You are probably not all that familiar with the tactics of the writer as you live in a world far away from urban duplicity, I'm guessing. There is an underlying political agenda being served here that has nothing to do with what is in the words of the article, IMO.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 12:41PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

" I remembered hearing a radio show regarding DDT and how the environmentalists had pushed for it to be banned, causing untold deaths due to malaria."


I think that claim originally came from a movie called "3 Billion and Counting"

While, I'm not on the Anti-DDT bandwagon, I strongly question the claim banning DDT caused millions or billions of deaths.

The whole premise rests on the assumption that humans would have been successful eradicating all the mosquitoes carrying the parasite. It's possible humankind could have done it, as has been the case with other diseases, but it's certainly not a certainty.

That said, DDT received much more negative press than it deserved. It replaced pesticides that were far more dangerous and damaging to the environment. It does concentrate in predatory birds, but even then it was blamed for much more destruction than it caused (Most of the decimated eagle population was the result of farmer's/ranchers shooting eagles as a pest. Some places even had bounties on eagles.)

I too appreciate your kind heart in what you are trying to communicate. It's evident you care about people. The world could use more of that.

I agree with Hman, there is so much ideological rhetoric on anything remotely political, it can be hard to know what information to trust. I used to believe there couldn't be such a thing as "man-made" global warming, because I was sucked into the rhetoric from the right.

Of course it goes both ways. Groups like Mother Earth News or the Environmental Working Group are extremely biased. They just mention one side of the argument. People read these mags/newsletters as their primary source for environmental/horticultural information. These groups are experts at omitting critical information.

As mentioned, people like Rush Limbaugh do the same. He'll state things like "10% of the people pay 70% of the federal income taxes" leaving the impression that it's unfair. That is, until one realizes that same 10% make most of income in the U.S. (The top 1% earn 25% of the nation's income.) Not only that but the top 10% own 80% of the nation's financial assets (The top 1% own close to 40% of the assets.) It's when I see the whole picture I quit feeling bad for the wealthiest people in America and get disgusted when they act like it's the end of the world (or the end of all the jobs) if they have to pay a few more percentage points in income tax.

Here is a link that might be useful: Dist of Wealth in America

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 3:03PM
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alan haigh

Olpea, it's funny how you took it there to wealth distribution. I too think we are talking about the same group of propaganda pushers if that's what you're suggesting.

I don't believe that both sides, that is the right and the left, are equally prone to absolute fabrication of false information. The 1% (and their vast political entourage) are very nervous because they have the most to lose in a democracy if the vast majority has a different take on what's fair than they do whether it's cutting into corporate profits or through taxation.

I'll never forget being at a party where I got to listen to Roger Ailes speak off the record to friends (I was eaves dropping) about his fears that given straight political information, the middle class and poor would gladly tax the rich of everything they've earned. Many believe that's what's happened in much of Europe and England following WWII.

Of course, historically, most revolutionaries distrust democracy as well, believing that the majority always falls to the propaganda of the corporate overlords.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 3:28PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

"I used to believe there couldn't be such a thing as "man-made" global warming, because I was sucked into the rhetoric from the right. "

I was sucked into the data, and it convinced me that we have little to do with the warming. I have no idea what the right says about it? I don't really pay attention to politics that much. I really don't see a difference between the right and the left? Seems both have more to do with being elected than anything resembling the truth. Obama was against Gay marriage, and against any wars, seems that is no longer the case. They will say anything, and so I don't even listen really. Historic data is what I looked at. Like when the earth had double the amount of co2 and it was cooler. Historic data does not support that increased co2 increases temps. I'm a lab rat and love science and the scientific method is the golden rule for me. So it made no sense these claims about co2??? Then I figured out it was a way to make money, then the idea of manmade global warming made perfect sense. The head of the weather channel and others were fired when they tried to point out the truth. it's a shame that scientists have to bow to political/financial pressure. How NASA left the cold data points out of the calculations. As was discovered when those emails leaked. Claims about the warmest summer in history and all that turn out to be false, as the data was manipulated for financial gain. So many grants to affirm global warming, of course the scientists will give them exactly what they ask for.But if you disregard the opinions and look at the raw data it is clear as a bell sounding, even with the left out data points.

We are way overdue for an ice age looking at historic data. This actually concerns me. It appears that we could have an ice age soon. Maybe not in my lifetime, but within 500 years. If true we should try and warm the atmosphere as much as possible, Other natural dangers are lurking too. Like the super volcano at Yellowstone. It's thousands of years overdue to blow. That will make Mt St Helens look like a match.
My comments about hospitals is based on current regulations, and future regulations that will go into effect.
It seems they will make costs go way up. I wish government would stick to health regulations and not hospital financial regulations. Let the market decide costs,. Price fixing never worked, and never will.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 5:24PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

"As mentioned, people like Rush Limbaugh do the same. He'll state things like "10% of the people pay 70% of the federal income taxes" leaving the impression that it's unfair. That is, until one realizes that same 10% make most of income in the U.S. (The top 1% earn 25% of the nation's income.)"

OK, then they most certainly are being ripped off in taxes!
I never knew that! The taxes should be lowered! As obviously they are paying a higher percentage in taxes then what they are earning. i think the top 1% pay about 50% of the taxes!
Btw I believe if you earn 50K you're in the top 10%.
I can't speak for you but I earn more than that and I'm broke, no I cannot pay anymore without selling assets. You know you can pay more than you owe, they will take it, so please feel free to do so. Why you want me to pay more is beyond my ability to understand? With all taxes, state, sales etc. I pay well over 50% of my income to taxes, and that certainly is anything but fair.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 7:27PM
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alan haigh

Well Drew, you've lost me there. We've already gone over the climate change subject ad nauseum on this forum so I'm not going to start it up again beyond just saying I strongly disagree with you as do about 95% of the people whose lives are spent studying climate. Always a chance they could be wrong, but more often it is the outliers who are.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 7:38PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

It's actually 90%. And it is beyond me as to why? The evidence is very clear and not hard to understand. I actually hope it is true as we might be able to delay the inevitable coming ice age. Nobody thinks we won't have an ice age, it's just a matter of when. But I don't believe we are causing most of the warming. To me it's obviously the sun's activities in recent decades. That soon is going to change btw. We are expected to have a long lack of sunspots. But that prediction could be wrong?
Nobody will ever get me to believe that changing the atmosphere by .02% is the cause of this all. I just do not buy it, never will. If it were 2% then I would believe it. But .02%? I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell ya too!
(nobody disputes the numbers I just gave).
Next you'll try and tell me we caused the hole in the ozone too! Ha! What a joke that was! Banning Freon caused a massive release of Freon into the atmosphere, and the hole disappeared HA! Now that was funny!!
The most co2 in the atmosphere ever in my lifetime was this spring. It's still increasing too. Expected to keep increasing. I myself think that earth changes are caused by man, but not because of global warming. Interruption of ecosystems is more likely the cause IMHO.
I'm more concerned about the decreasing oxygen than the increasing carbon dioxide.
Oxygen is being tied up, and not by co2, as their is not enough co2 to tie up that much o2.
No matter what the amount of carbon on earth never changes. Where it is located does, but the number is constant.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 8:09PM
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Drew, which geological age did the earth have high CO2 and was cooler?

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 8:10PM
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Just for the record,

The hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica is still seasonally present, just no longer mainstream media news...well we all know how that goes.
It does seem to be gradually recovering to the levels it existed at pre CFC's (1950's) and some estimates have it normalized by the end of the century.
I don't think it's a joke, I think it's a nice example of one of the few times multiple governments made hard choices for the preservation of the planet.

I am not going to get drawn in to the climate change issue except to say I agree "the evidence is very clear and not hard to understand" I am at a loss with those who continue in it's denial.
You must be getting some different evidence than that available to the rest of the scientific community, care to share?

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 8:59PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

"I was sucked into the data, and it convinced me that we have little to do with the warming. I have no idea what the right says about it?"


That was poor wording on my part to introduce "right" and "left" regarding the issue of global warming. I hope my comments weren't offensive to you. I appreciate your comments on this forum and I've learned from your posts (especially your recent posts about hospitals). Your considerable experience in the field allowed a perspective very interesting and thought provoking to me. I'm glad you shared it.

In my mind, global warming boils down to this. It's proven in a lab that "greenhouse" gases like CO2 and methane capture and reflect heat back underneath themselves (like plastic on a greenhouse). There are scientifically determined values of how much radiation is trapped depending on the concentration of the gases in a lab chamber. Since that science has all the markings of good experimentation (i.e. repeatable, predictable, control vs. experiment, etc.) I don't think anyone would call that part of the science, junk science.

So the question for me becomes, since it is undeniable in a lab, what is to keep the same thing from happening at a larger scale. It would seem to me it wouldn't be that hard to predict the long term temperature rise of the earth from a given concentration of CO2, since those values are easily predictable in greenhouse lab experiments, taking into consideration the sun's variable radiation output from things like sunspots. Certainly, it would be very difficult or impossible to predict short term effects, but long term, it wouldn't seem terribly difficult science.

I'm talking really big picture here. Greenhouse gases trap and reflect back more heat. The concentration of greenhouse gases on the planet is measurably increasing. Ergo that would equal a hotter planet. The oceans can absorb more CO2, but the concentration of CO2 is still rising faster than the oceans can absorb.

To me, one can get lost in the historical temperature data. There are so many data points any one group can prove global warming or global cooling, depending on which data is examined. For practical present day circumstances, the planet could be burned up by the time enough long term data was accumulated to "prove" the planet is being subjected to global warming.

So the question that remains, "why wouldn't the earth heat up (long term) if we are covering the planet in "plastic" is the question most lost in discussions.

As far as the wealthy complaining about higher taxes. I was referring to the top brackets. They're the ones who unjustifiably howl when their tax rates move up a few points (Not all, just some. People like Warren Buffet favor higher tax rates for top earners).

I remember in his first election, Obama wanted to move the top marginal rate from 35% to 38%. As I recall it would only affect income above $250,000 per year for single head of household people. Not that singles making $250,000 would be affected on the $250,000 they earned, rather only income above $250,000 would be taxed at the slightly higher rate.

But somehow middle class people thought the tax was on them

For 2012, the current top tax rate of 35% applied only to income above $388,000.

In 2012 the average household income in the U.S. was 50K. That's not at all the group I'm talking about.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 11:55PM
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Global warming is real; it's not just caused by one factor but by many factors such as, earth's wobble, the amount of sun’s spots, volcanic activity, oceans’ currents, the amount of salinity in the oceans, tectonic plate dynamics, and the greatest contributor of global warming are us, humans.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 1:58AM
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We are actually in the icehouse period, which according to many theories CO2 levels are less abundant during these epochs.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 1:59AM
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Then humans evolved...and have increased the CO2 levels...

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 2:03AM
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alan haigh

Olpea, you could have have been an incredibly good teacher, judging from the way you communicate in posts.

I think that people, rich and poor, believe howling loudly at the first spank will reduce the strength of the remaining punishment. Therefore the rich, gun owners, defenders of privacy from government snooping, etc. howl at the first evidence of a movement against their interests.

I don't think this response (the exaggerated yelps of pain) is necessarily a conscious one, and all actors believe their response is a rational one even if it seems irrational to the objective observer.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 6:19AM
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I believe Olpea is consistently one of the most considerate, well reasoned communicators on this forum. I think we are fortunate to have him. Whether you agree with him or not, I have no recollection of his ever putting out a demeaning or snide comment, just a patient parsing out of the facts as best he understands them.
I wish I could say the same about myself. The forum would be more pleasant and useful for all of us if we could follow his example.

Olpea, hope the praise from a stranger doesn't make you uncomfortable, but I really do believe that sort of merit should be recognized.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 7:42AM
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Olpea is a woman ( and what a woman!)

Drew - I still wish to know what epoch the CO2 levels were higher then now and the earth was cooler.

Also, the further south you are, the less effected you are so far by climate change. ITs happened here and noticeably.

And lets be clear, it is not GLOBAL WARMING. This gives the idea that the entire earth is warming, it is not. It is CLIMATE CHANGE. The only time I can think of when the earth was actually warming as a whole, was post ice age, and the PETM.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 8:17AM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

Wow, what a thread this is. I woke up thinking about pear trees and antibiotics, gram negative and gram positive, DDT and CO2. So much intelligence and politeness here! I just love it.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 9:39AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)


I think that's some of the nicest comments anyone has ever said to me. It does make me feel a bit uncomfortable, not because of praise coming from a stranger, but because it's undeserved. But thank you so much anyway.

'Olpea is a woman ( and what a woman!)'

That's so funny Canadian. You made my day (still laughing as I type :-)

I'm definitely a man. What's so funny is that confusion over my gender is not uncommon on this forum. This is the third time someone has mentioned it.

I laugh about it because, to me I see myself with so very little feminine qualities (I promise I don't cross dress.) I think women are extraordinarily beautiful and I'm very attracted to them (at least the one I'm married to) so I'm not gay either.

But every time someone is confused about this, it cracks me up. I don't understand it.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 10:41AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Olpea, I expect people that think you are a woman are not from the midwest. Midwesterners are more reserved and self-effacing than non-midwesterners. I never thought you were a woman, even before I knew your real name, because I am from the midwest myself.


    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 12:13PM
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alan haigh

I never thought olpea was a woman either and I'm most definitely not of the midwest. I was raised in the west by NYC parents. Found out later I was more NYC than LA.

"I think that's some of the nicest comments anyone has ever said to me. It does make me feel a bit uncomfortable, not because of praise coming from a stranger, but because it's undeserved. But thank you so much anyway." is definitely not something I'd write, but it does make a sweet read.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 12:44PM
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Olpea, yeah, we may not talk all the time, but it was a joke, seeing as ive seen the confusion myself (or am I covering my butt? lol)

Either way, we went from organic pear growig to climate change, to bacteria to cross dressing. Could this be the best thread ever?

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 1:03PM
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