Friday, July 19, 2024
Chris Judd

Ask a lot of questions

Many years ago, I received from an old doctor friend an article that was mentioned in a medical journal, something that had been added to the diet of cattle that, when they were slaughtered, would make the carcass weigh more. The doctor said “you don’t feed this stuff, do you?” Both of us were scratching our heads to think how this feed additive could work. A few weeks after that a mistake by a large abattoir revealed what this feed additive was. It was a feed additive that made the animal on heavy feed just before slaughter retain more water in the carcass!
Both the doctor and I immediately knew how it worked. It slowed down the kidneys, so more water was retained in the carcass. If the feedlot operator fed the product too long before slaughter, the animal might die before getting to the abattoir. When one huge abattoir got too many animals ahead before they were slaughtered, some of them started to die. This was a sign that the kidneys were shutting down. The doctor had no worry about the dairy industry using this feed additive because if a dairy animal gets sick any time, it is expensive.
I later talked to a local feedlot owner who told me that any feedlot owner who didn’t use this feed additive would lose the 50 pounds of extra carcass weight on every steer that was slaughtered. A short time after it was revealed how this additive worked, and it was taken off the market. What I never found out was how this additive ever got approved?
Before this, there was the DDT problem that Rachel Carson uncovered when she wrote her book, Silent Spring. The steady decline in the songbird population got Rachel thinking. DDT killed the potato bugs. Birds ate the bugs and the DDT killed them as well. Then there was the “agent orange” (245t or brush killer) articles that exposed how many servicemen had died after too much contact. Before long, the entire 24d, 24db, mcpa, mcpb, 245t chemical group was more tightly controlled.
There are several more chemical sprays that are being very closely monitored as to their safety. Some have already been linked to genetic mutations. Cancer cases, digestive system problems, and more to be released.
We are now into a newer generation of science that allows companies to genetically modify plants to produce their own insecticide in the growing plant. Instead of spraying corn, beans, tobacco, etc. with insecticide to kill bugs that eat leaves, drill holes in stocks that weaken the stocks enough that the stock falls over and the grain on that stock is lost. Some root worms can destroy entire plants by eating the plant’s roots. This new technology works great by reducing another need to spray plants. However, some residue from this “plant self-produced” poison remains in the plant after harvest and kills the bacteria that help break down the stock residue left in the field. That required an extra pass with a stock chopper to reduce the size of stocks and making it easier for the farmers to incorporate crop residue into the soil.
I can well remember when the LD50 number was the main control on release of a new weed killer or insecticide. LD50 means, lethal dose 50. That’s when 50 per cent of those tested will die when given that amount of the substance. Too often it is years after the release of a new “super herbicide” that after effects or secondary negative side effects are even reported.
Don’t be afraid to ask lots of tough questions before using any new spray, pesticide, vaccine, or household chemical before you buy it or give your final approval.


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