Puzzling out larkspur resistanceBut it’s not a welcome sight to ranchers in Western Canada and the United States. Large stands can poison up to 10 per cent of a beef herd, according to U.S. researchers. To help counter the toxin, U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers are puzzling out genetic resistance to larkspur poisoning in cattle.
We humans are facing a serious famine in the near future. Our population is growing at such a rate that it will soon be impossible to raise enough food for everyone if we stick to farming in the usual way. That’s why farmers are working so hard to find ways to produce more food, faster. Two ways they are successful in safely raising more meat are by using antibiotics and genetic manipulation in their livestock. There are pros and cons to each of those efforts. The question is which proves to be the best method in terms of producing more meat and ensuring public health?
The use of antibiotics to keep livestock healthier and make the meat safer for human consumption is controversial. It’s true that overuse of antibiotics in livestock has aided germ evolution and the rise of “super bugs” aka as drug-resistant infections. Obviously, breeding bad diseases on farms is not good for public health. However, farmers cannot always easily tell which animals may be sick prior to slaughter therefore if preventative antibiotics are not administered, even to seemingly healthy animals, bad meat could end up in grocery stores and on family dinner plates. That’s certainly not good for public health either.
To understand more of the arguments for and against antibiotic use in livestock, you may want to watch the video below. As you can see from that debate by experts on both sides, there is no readily evident answer to this conundrum. The only thing the experts appear to agree on is that antibiotics should not be used to promote faster growth in animals to get them to market faster. But that compromise doesn't necessarily work to the best outcome either when you remember that a famine looms and getting more meat to market faster is a necessity.
Cattle producers in the United Kingdom are struggling to control bovine tuberculosis. But researchers at the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute are working on a genetic solution to the problem.
Bovine TB is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium bovis. In 2010/2011, the disease cost the UK government £152 million. Between January and November 2013, over 30,000 U.K. cattle were slaughtered in the United Kingdom in an effort to control bovine tuberculosis, according to the U.K.’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
The webinar had more than 60 attendees from the U.S. and Canada representing industry, regulatory agencies, and researchers interested in this emerging issue. The main purpose of the online meeting was to bring key people and organizations together to discuss the current status of PEDv in the U.S. and Canada, identify ongoing research efforts, and to discuss opportunities for collaborative research to deal with the problem.
Next steps are for Genome Alberta to work with the community to identify research gaps that should be addressed and explore funding models to address these research priorities.
Scientists have isolated a new swine virus, distinct from PEDv, from hog manure taken from four different Ohio farms, Reuters reports.
The disease doesn’t infect humans or other species and isn’t a food safety risk, the Ohio Department of Agriculture said.