‘Superbug’ Transfer: The Jump From Humans, to Animals, and Back

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus

News media outlets throughout the nation were abuzz last week with the report of new scientific research showing, for the first time, how a strain of infectious Staph began life in humans, then spread to livestock where it became MRSA, and then jumped back to humans. The study was published Tuesday in the online journal mBio.

National Public Radio’s popular blog, The Salt, noted in its lead story Tuesday, that “Researchers have nailed down something scientists, government officials and agribusiness proponents have argued about for years: whether antibiotics in livestock feed give rise to antibiotic-resistant germs that can threaten humans.”

“Finally, a smoking gun connecting livestock antibiotics and superbugs,” said a headline in the online environmental publication Grist, written by contributing writer Tom Laskawy. As one who has covered the topic for years, Laskawy was not understating the importance of the research. Read More >

Oprah Enthusiastically Throws Her Support Behind Meatless Monday

 

Oprah celebrates Meatless Monday

Oprah celebrates Meatless Monday

Talk show host Oprah Winfrey may have just encouraged a large segment of her 30 million viewers to join the Meatless Monday movement following her latest show which gave us a rare glimpse into where some of our meat comes from.

The Meatless Monday campaign’s national awareness has more than doubled in the last 2 years. An FGI Research survey found that 30 percent of Americans are aware of the public health campaign. My guess is that following Oprah’s very public backing and the announcement last month that the food service company Sodexo implemented Meatless Monday national and global awareness is going to sky rocket!

The episode, entitled “Oprah and 378 Staffers Go Vegan: The One Week Challenge” featured celebrated “veganist” Kathy Freston and journalist Michael Pollan, best known for his book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” A large chunk of the show followed Freston encouraging sometimes belligerent but mostly willing Oprah Show staff members to eat a vegan diet for one week and their testimonials on how they did. A few employees said the experience helped them lose weight and become healthier. Following her experience, Oprah decided, quite enthusiastically, that her studio’s café would do Meatless Monday every week.

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Center for a Livable Future helped launch the national Meatless Monday campaign back in 2003. The campaign’s primary focus is to reduce America’s saturated fat consumption by 15%, following the recommendations of the Healthy People 2010 report issued by then U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher in 2000. Key recommendations from the recently released Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 reiterate the message that we need to reduce our consumption of solid and saturated fats.

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NPR Asks CLF Scholar: Is Organically Produced Food More Nutritious?

Strawberries

Center for a Livable Future Visiting Scholar, Kate Clancy, joined two other prominent scientists for a panel discussion Friday on National Public Radio’s Science Friday program. The conversation centered on recent research showing organically grown strawberries have more vitamin C and antioxidants than berries grown conventionally.

Joining Kate in the program were John Reganold, professor of soil sciences at Washington State University, and lead author of the study published in the journal PLoS One; and Charles Benbrook, chief scientist, The Organic Center.

Read a transcript of the program or listen to the audio at NPR.

New Mexico Dairy CAFO Controversy on NPR

Dairy CAFOs in New Mexico are under increased scrutiny today following this morning’s report from NPR’s John Burnett. The reporter discusses the unrelenting pollution caused by large dairy operations in the state along “dairy row,” a section of Interstate 10 between Las  Cruces, NM, and El Paso, TX.  “Everyday, an average cow produces six to seven gallons of milk and 18 gallons of manure,” Burnett tells listeners. “New Mexico has 300,000 milk cows. That totals 5.4 million gallons of manure in the state every day. It’s enough to fill up nine Olympic-size pools. Every single day,” he says. It’s worth a read or listen to. There are photos and audio on NPR’s web site.