Archive for USDA

Book Launch | East Coast

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Farming Human Pathogens book, Revolution with tags , , , , , , on June 6, 2016 by rgwallace

Book Tour Poster 1The East Coast/Twin Cities tour for my new book, Big Farms Make Big Flu, has now been finalized!

A day after the book launch with the Marxist Education Project at Brooklyn Commons, I’ll be talking capitalism and the production (and destruction) of animals with Ashley Dawson, author of Extinction: A Radical History, and food systems analyst Siena Chrisman at the CUNY Grad Center.

We’ll be Levitating the USDA in Washington DC! With 25% book discounts for USDA employees.

And we’ve added an appearance at MIT with Science for the People.

Facebook pages for all events are listed here. All are welcome! Feel free to share the tour poster!

The book can be pre-ordered here.

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Protecting H3N2v’s Privacy

Posted in Evolution, Influenza with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 10, 2013 by rgwallace

US H3N2v.1This past week the Guardian published a series of stunning articles on the extent of surveillance the National Security Agency has been conducting on U.S. citizens and millions of others worldwide.

Proponents of such programs, including President Obama, have contended secretly collecting our internet and phone metadata–when, where and with whom we connect–is about our protection.

I must say that as an evolutionary epidemiologist I find it a fascinating defense, if only because there have been several efforts aimed at producing geographies of deadly influenzas for which it has been nearly impossible to get governments across the globe, including the U.S., to provide the locales and dates of livestock outbreaks.

It’s as if the privacy rights of these viruses–and really the farms over which they spread–are better protected than those of the populations epidemiologists are ostensibly trying to protect.

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A Dangerous Method

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Influenza with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 28, 2011 by rgwallace

There were cameras literally everywhere, in London. So far, he’s managed not to think about them. He remembered Bigend saying they were a symptom of autoimmune disease, the state’s protective mechanisms ‘roiding up into something actively destructive, chronic; watchful eyes, eroding the healthy function of that which they ostensibly protected. –William Gibson (2010)

This summer Ron Fouchier’s lab in the Netherlands conducted an experiment as frightening for its simplicity as for its results. The team produced a human-transmissible version of  highly pathogenic influenza A (H5N1) or bird flu.

Rather than by reverse genetics, wherein a complex round robin of mutations are introduced in an effort to produce a human-specific bird flu, an approach which failed most recently at CDC, the Fouchier group let the virus converge on a solution all on its own. HPAI H5N1 was intranasally inoculated into a group of lab ferrets (whose immune response mimics humans’). Only ten infection generations later the virus went “airborne”—transmitted by respiration—while remaining as deadly as its field cousins (with a 75% case fatality rate). A repeat of the experiment reproduced the result.

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The Scientific American

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Influenza with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2011 by rgwallace

Science is the business right now. If the science works, the business works, and vice versa. –Craig Venter

Bird flu marinates a chicken in its own juices, a satay best avoided whatever the menu special. In such short an order better for the bistro than the barn infected birds rapidly bleed from the inside out.

What to do about this bit of bad news?

Broilers and layers are as much commodities as they are birds. As much engineering problems as living organisms. So ask research and development for a solution comes the answer.

It was, after all, by virtue of its open morphogenesis and behavioral flexibility that the chicken was first domesticated multiple times from red and grey jungle fowl distributed across South and Southeast Asia, artificially selected for the backyard, then scaled up in size and population to its factory model.

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How Mayor Bloomberg Causes Obesity

Posted in Ecological resilience, Organic agriculture, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2010 by rgwallace

Yeah the doctors don’t know, but New York was killing me / Bunch of doctors coming round, they don’t know / That New York is killing me / Yeah I need to go home and take it slow in Jackson, Tennessee -Gil Scott-Heron (2010)

On October 6 Mayor Michael Bloomberg asked the United States Department of Agriculture for permission to enjoin New York City’s 1.7 million food stamp recipients from using their stamps to buy sodas and other sugary drinks.

The request, made with New York State’s assistance, is part of a anti-obesity campaign pursued by the Bloomberg administration that has already included advertisements, greater restrictions on food sold in public schools, and an unsuccessful go at imposing a tax on the sugar drinks.

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