Archive for Ebola

Ten Theses on Farming and Disease

Posted in Evolution, Influenza, Revolution, Sustainable farming, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 6, 2017 by rgwallace

costarica043Every once in a while, we have to take a stab at putting all the pieces together. In some ways these ten theses on farming and disease only touch on what I, and others, have been saying all along. But there’s a growing understanding of the functional relationships health, food justice, and the environment share. They’re not just ticks on a checklist of good things capitalism shits on. Falsifying Hume’s guillotine, embodying a niche construction at the core of our human identity, justice and the ecosystem appear to define each other at a deep level of cause and effect.

1. Contract farmers around the world are suffering cost-price squeezes. Producers are at one and the same time suffering increasing input costs and low or falling prices for their goods at the farm gate. The farmers are forced to chase an economic Red Queen. Individual farmers must increase production if only in an effort to cover for low prices that increases in production across farms helped depress to begin with.

2. The squeeze is a scam agribusiness is running on farmers. In enforcing high farm output, companies are seeking gluts that cheapen ingredients for their processed product lines. High output, producing food beyond global consumer demand, is also about making money off farmers contractually obligated to buy synthetic inputs they don’t need to grow us enough food.

3. The gap between cost and price, also a form of labor discipline, forces many farmers out, leading to plot consolidation as those smallholders and mid-level operations still left buy up abandoned land, banking on economies of scale, debt-financed mechanization, and appreciation in land equity to pull them through the artificial price squeeze.

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Rogue Resistance

Posted in Ecological resilience, Influenza, Revolution, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2017 by rgwallace

Alt_CDCOne can’t help but cheer the online resistance Fed scientists are waging against the anti-science Trump administration. Among them, Rogue NASA, NOAA Uncensored, and everybody’s favorite Alt US Forest Service: only you can prevent fascism.

But some of us were @Alt_CDC long before it was hip or took a Twitter handle.

Didn’t swine flu H1N1, Ebola Makona, H5N2 (and other H5Nx), Zika, cholera in Haiti, the vaccine gap for yellow fever, H7N9, Ebola Reston, MERS in industrialized camel, the opioid epidemic, and a surge in antibiotic resistance emerge under President Obama’s watch?

Wasn’t it the Obama NSF and NIH that failed to fund scientific efforts to explore the roles agribusiness, deforestation, structural adjustment, and global circuits of capital played in these outbreaks? Continue reading

Springer Has Sprung

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution with tags , , , , , , on September 2, 2016 by rgwallace

Wallace_cover_FINAL_Front coverSpringer has just published our new book, Neoliberal Ebola: Modeling Disease Emergence From Finance to Forest and Farm.

It is arguably one of the more sophisticated treatments of globalization’s impact on disease to date, combining economic geographies with epidemiological modeling and the political economies of agriculture and science.

Learn more about the book’s scope, and access its preface and table of contents, at the book website.

With Zika and now yellow fever emerging out of a similar juxtaposition of laissez-faire agroeconomics and structurally adjusted public health, the arguments of the book are as apropos as they were way back in 2014.

The volume is academically priced, but we encourage those unable to afford it to

  1. ask their local library to purchase a copy
  2. consider purchasing a MyCopy print-on-demand for $25 through your local research institution.

Our team is proud of the volume. We hope it marks a turning point in the means by which the new diseases are conceptualized and–the point of it all–controlled.

Losing Zika for the Trees

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2016 by rgwallace

zika mosquito

Children are always ready to believe that adult catastrophes are their fault. –P.D. James (1992)

If you haven’t heard by now, and I’d be surprised as we are full swing in this year’s plague alarm, there is presently a Zika outbreak in Latin America that appears to have begun in Brazil, infecting a million people there alone. The World Health Organization estimates four million will ultimately be infected as the virus spreads across Latin America.

Zika is a RNA virus of the Flavivirus group that includes dengue, yellow fever, West Nile, and chikungunya.

Most adults infected don’t exhibit symptoms. Only one out of five infected actually get sick. Those who do suffer a flu-like syndrome, including fever, rash, joint pain, malaise, dizziness, anorexia, edema, intestinal trouble, and at times conjunctivitis. It’s a comparatively mild infection as far as such diseases go. Zika has been described as a beginner’s chikungunya.

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Is Ebola Vaccine-Resistant?

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution with tags , , , , , , , on November 20, 2015 by rgwallace

Ebola vaccine 1The Freudian unconscious also has a formal aspect and is not merely a matter of content: recall the cases where Freud interprets a dream so that what is repressed/excluded from its content returns as a feature of the form of the dream…the true secret of the dream is not its content…but the form itself. –Slavoj Žižek (2014)

News of Ebola in West Africa is ping ponging between joyous declarations the outbreak is over to abashed announcements of its return.

One is reminded of the Onion‘s farcical September 1939 front page: “WA-“. Both a denouement denied and, in the other direction, the return of the repressed.

Our group’s latest commentary, just published online in the International Journal of Health Services, a review and extension of previous work, proposes an explanation for the never-quite-ending outbreak,

[R]egional neoliberalism may affix the stochastic ‘friction’ of ecological relationships imposed by the forest across populations, which, when above a threshold, keeps the virus from lining up transmission above replacement. Export-led logging, mining, and intensive agriculture may depress such functional noise, permitting novel spillovers [across species] larger forces of infection. Mature outbreaks, meanwhile, can continue to circulate even in the face of efficient vaccines.

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Poultry of Minerva

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, HIV, Influenza, Organic agriculture, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 8, 2015 by rgwallace

Last week I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Peter Shea, the Bill Moyers of the Twin Cities, for The Bat of Minerva show.

What began as a kind of intellectual portraiture, in which we explored how I got studying the evolution of infectious disease, spiraled into about as broad a thesis on the nature of disease and agriculture and prospects for a just future as I have compiled in one place to date.

The reason–and there is a reason–we talked in such a noisy place is revealed halfway through the interview.

For those night owls out there–or nocturnal bats or poultry off their counter-seasonal photoperiods–the show will be broadcasted locally Sunday midnight (Saturday night) on Metro Cable Network/Channel 6

The Palm Oil Sector?

Posted in Evolution, Revolution, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2014 by rgwallace

Palm oil 5And he told them about this new God, the Creator of all the world and all the men and women. He told them that they worshipped false gods, gods of wood and stone. A deep murmur went through the crowd when he said this. He told them that the true God lived on high and that all men when they died went before Him for judgment. Evil men and all the heathen who in their blindness bowed to wood and stone were thrown into a fire that burned like palm-oil. –Chinua Achebe (1958)

There’s something fishy about the bushmeat narrative of Ebola.

In August we explored the way the story internalizes the outbreak to local West Africans. It’s part of the ooga booga epidemiology that detracts from the circuits of capital, originating in New York, London and elsewhere, that fund the development and deforestation driving the emergence of new diseases in the global South.

But in addition, and not unconnected, there’s something missing from the model’s purported etiology. Indeed, Ebola may have almost nothing, or only something tangentially, to do with the bushmeat trade.

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