Archive for antibiotics

Cave Man

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Organic agriculture with tags , , , , , , , , on April 21, 2012 by rgwallace

A new study reports several bacterial strains isolated from New Mexico’s Lechuguilla Cave, shut away for over four million years, are resistant to up to fourteen different commercially available antibiotics.

The implications are profound. At the risk of the overdramatic, they speak to the nature of our very existence, as well as, more practically, our relationship and responses to the pathogens that feed on us.

The horror of many a pathogen isn’t just that they can ‘think’ by an emergent cognition, or in how they outwit us by way of a near-ontological Hegelian dialectic, daily evolving resistance not only to every drug we’ve ever designed but every one we will design. It’s that, if the cave bacteria are any indication, they outfox us in the course of solving some other problem entirely.

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The Declensionist Diet

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Influenza, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 9, 2011 by rgwallace

We continue with the ‘big picture’ of food crises I co-authored with Richard Kock and Robyn Alders. This is the second of three excerpts. The first can be found here.

We argued the causes of our ongoing and oncoming food crises are manifold, rooted in present-day policies as well as humanity’s history, as far back as even our species’ origins.

The past offers us some unlikely lessons. Agriculture, for one, wasn’t so much a bright idea as a damning necessity for populations forced upon overhunting to scavenge for food. Subsequent shifts in food regimes, including those under way today, were likewise defined by such path-dependent contingency.

At the same time, history appears to have produced an illusion of inevitable existence. Humanity was able to repeatedly overcome food and other resource limitations, even as archaeological strata are also littered with dead civilizations. These near-misses, however, can offer no sample sufficiently representative for guaranteeing humanity a future.

Indeed, we now face a complex of problems of another nature entirely.

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That’s the Thicke

Posted in Ecological resilience, Organic agriculture, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , , on December 16, 2010 by rgwallace

The logistics of a just, equitable and healthy agricultural landscape here in the United States would remain a problem if Michael Pollan himself, Wendell Berry, or better yet Fred Magdoff were appointed Secretary of Agriculture.

Decades-long efforts pealing back agribusiness both as paradigm and infrastructure, however successful, would require a parallel program. With what would we replace the present landscape?

As a black hole about its horizon, a poverty in imagination orbits the question stateside. The vacuum is most recently felt in the developing animus between public health officials and artisan cheesemakers. What Europe has long streamlined into amicable regulation, the U.S. has lurched into clumsy opposition: cheese wheels are increasingly treated as suitcase bombs filled with Listeria.

After 60 years of industrial production Americans have literally forgotten the logistics of real food.

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