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Why Are Americans Failing Science?

May 28, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOften when there is a discussion between those in agriculture and those who just eat, it seems battle lines are drawn between science and emotion. Both are considered when making decisions for your family’s food.

We like the illusion that Americans are smarter than those from other countries, but so often reading comments online I can’t help but think there needs to be more biology books less American Idol in American homes.

It reaches a fever pitch with recalls and other issues. It spirals to kitchen sink arguments faster all the time. For some basics let’s look at some definitions – facts, if you will.

Virus: any of a group of submicroscopic entities consisting of a single nucleic acid chain surrounded by a protein coat and capable of replication only within the cells of living organisms: many are pathogenic

Bacteria: Group of microscopic, single-celled organisms that inhabit virtually all environments, including soil, water, organic matter, and the bodies of multicellular animals. Bacteria are distinguished in part by their morphological and genetic features; for instance, they may have spherical, rodlike, or spiral shapes.

These definitions are important. They’re important in food, they’re important in life! If you’re using products in your home they may not do what you think. Bacteria can be useful – cheese is made with bacteria! Remember these two things…because the third is important.

Any conversation about animal agriculture brings up antibiotics. What are they? From a basic medical site:

Antibiotic: A drug used to treat bacterial infections. Antibiotics have no effect on viral infections. Originally, an antibiotic was a substance produced by one microorganism that selectively inhibits the growth of another. Synthetic antibiotics, usually chemically related to natural antibiotics, have since been produced that accomplish comparable tasks.

I’m using some emphasis here because I want people to understand this. Memorize it…take it to heart. “Antibiotics have NO EFFECT on viral infections.” If you take antibiotics for a cold (virus) all you’re doing is dosing your body with unneeded antibiotics.

This is as important to your home as it is to agriculture producers.

Recently a story was on the internet about PEDV, a virus (remember the above!) that affects pigs – ” Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv), which has killed up to 7 million pigs and pushed pork prices to record highs since it was first identified in the United States a year ago.”

Some are using the story and others like it to push the “rampant antibiotic use” in feedlots. The pigs affected aren’t feedlot age, for one, and more importantly it is a virus – antibiotics won’t kill it. For some perspectives about PEDV check out Chris Chinn’s post and another from my friend Wanda.

Knowing these differences helps you make home as well as food decisions. Worried about spreading a flu or other virus? Antibacterial things won’t do a thing but consume your money!

Food production isn’t always pretty, but from where we sit, misleading information is downright ugly – and expensive!

One Comment leave one →
  1. May 28, 2014 10:35 PM

    Reblogged this on Slow Money Food and commented:

    I don’t usually crosspost things between the “food side” and “farm side” but this one is important to understand. For your family, your food choices, your home choices – be sure you understand the differences here.

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