Monday, March 09, 2009

A toxic home on the range?

For 200 years, Randy Mumme’s family has raised cattle on the same plot of southeast Texas land. Then, about 10 years ago, something began to change. His steers were losing weight. Cows were miscarrying; one gave birth to a calf with three legs. Many calves were stillborn. The family’s ranching practices had not changed over the centuries, but the environment had: His ranch is four miles downwind of large industrial plants that spew tons of carcinogens and other toxic substances into the air. Mumme and other ranchers in Point Comfort suspect the factories are contributing to the ill-health of their cattle. Now scientists have found DNA evidence that suggests the ranchers’ suspicions might be true, heightening concerns about their cattle as well as their own health. Tests have revealed that herds as far as six miles downwind of the factories have more DNA disturbances than other herds not downwind, according to scientists at Texas A & M University. The changes in chromosome structure and other genetic damage can increase the animal’s risk of cancer and reproductive damage...Environmental Health News

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A toxic home on the range?
To: Leslie Berliant

Just read your Blog on Sustainablog about a Story titled “Emissions from Plastic Manufacturing Damaging Cattle DNA.

From your blog contents is it obvious that all you did was regurgitated from another blog/web site that was written by Matthew Cimitile, who sold his review to Environmental Health News. While the posting of this story was first printed in a journal titled Ecotoxicological Journal.
This paper had its genesis from a PhD thesis written by a Wesley Bissett who prior to joining the Texas A & M large animal division was a practicing Veterinarian near where these quaint? and old fashioned ranchers live.
If you have not (and I truly suspect you have not) read the research report titled ”geostatistical analysis of biomarkers of genotoxicity in cattle, Bos taurus and Bos taurus x Bos indicus, sentinels near industrial facilities”” and its genesis “ “Ecosystem Health at the Texas Coastal Bend: a Spatial analysis of exposure and response – a thesis by W. Bissett. “” you should.
My blood boiled when I did my research on this hatchet job because the answer to the question asked by “” a British Farm Web magazine site that has posted an artic le asking the question regurgitated from the artic le by Matthew Cimitile’s first posted in Environmental Health News. The question was “United States -Mystery Illness in cattle?” to me this is no mystery and is very clear to me- that the ranchers and the environment did it. And these ranchers who claim to manage their cattle business as their fathers did over 200 years ago is a bunch of malarkey.
Why do I feel this way – well what I have read and seen over the years is that ranchers and farmers have and continue to pollute and expose us all to toxics (especially genotoxics), and want to sit back and blame their environmental damage on anyone they can. Just look at the million mile dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico coming from the mouth of the Mississippi river.
Now lets’ look at some facts. Mr. Bissitt stated in his PHD thesis that a chemical company just south of these ranchers listed a release of some 900kgs of Acetaldehyde emitted by that company during the year 2002 (it should be interesting to note that his on-site study consisted of only a three month study period of these emissions that covered the whole year of 2002). And he further stated that if the genotoxicity could be traced to that company then the cause would be this Acetaldehyde.
When I read that statement I started to research the sources of Acetaldehyde because if the only source of this chemical was from this facility I would have to maybe change my mind about these ranchers.
Ms. Berilinat do you know what I found? and it was a very simple search of Google. This chemical (Acetaldyde) is produced by growing vegetation including fruits, trees, and cotton (which is a major crop in the area around these ranchers). It is also generated by the rotting of plants, and emitted by plants under stress (such as the long term draught that existed in South Texas); along with the waste products of animals such as cattle (you know poop and urine).
Also the largest source of this chemical (acetaldehyde) is wildfires and fires intentionally set by ranchers to clear their grazing land and their crop lands.
I then searched reports written by the U. S. EPA. In one document that I found they made a very damming statement. This report titled “Sources of genotoxicity and cancer risk in ambient air” published by the EPA in the December 1992 issue of Pharmacogenetics. This report stated the following: “Products of incomplete combustion are identified as a major source of carcinogenic risk in urban areas, especially from small non-industrial sources. The major ubiquitous emission sources outdoors in populated areas are residential home heating and motor vehicles. Indoors the major combustion source is environmental tobacco smoke. Polycyclic organic matter adsorbed onto the particles emitted from incomplete combustion are estimated to make the largest contribution to human genotoxic and cancer risk. Mutagenic emission factors combined with dispersion modeling indicated that automobiles and heating sources were major sources of mutagens. Ambient air studies to apportion the sources of mutagens in non-industrial areas confirmed this prediction”. Their report stated that the small particles of material in the smoke provided a place for other organic compounds to be exposed to heat and ultraviolet rays to break those compounds down into genotoxic compounds. Could this be from the pesticides; insecticides; cotton plant defoliants; and other potentially genotoxic chemicals that ranchers and farmers spray from crop dusters during growing and harvesting periods of the year.
Another fact that needs to be included. During 2002 Texas and many parts of the world suffered severe draught conditions. In May of 2002 (Just prior to the start of Bissett’s sample collection) there were very large wildfires in New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, and mainly in Mexico and South America. I found a satellite photo of the smoke from the fires in Mexico and South America that covered the Gulf States including the Texas Gulf Coast. This cloud contained genotoxic compounds along with small particles of material in the range of less than 2 microns to 10 microns in size that are known to harm people with breathing disorders. To see this satellite photo type in Mexico fires 2002 on Google. The specific photo is dated May 2nd, 2002. So during 2002 the cattle owned by these ranchers along with millions of other animals that live outdoors were exposed to genotoxic compounds 24 hours a day for the total period that the wildfires burned. And during normal years these cattlemen burn their pastures and crop lands while their cattle must breathe this air that is laden with genotoxic compounds generated by these very same cattlemen for many days at a time. This during the time that calves are developing within their mothers who breath these genotoxins and carry it through their blood systems to the fetus. Could that be why their were stillborns, and other mutagenic effects noted.
Ms. Berliant another area you may want to explore is the current management practices that are employed by ranchers.
Are you aware that (still in some areas) ranchers dig a hole in the ground and fill it with a mixture of insectides and poisons for other organisms that infect cattle? They then herd their cattle into these holes filled with these toxic materials and have the cattle to be totally covered by this mixture. The cattle then emerge with these toxic materials in their mouths and perhaps in their lungs and stomachs. This has been the common practice for many years. Now some ranchers just swab this toxic mixture on the backs of their cattle. What effect do these toxic (and potentially genotoxic compounds) have on the DNA of Cattle? These pits now are considered toxic dumps, and as they sit there they are contaminating the surface water and groundwater used for cattle drinking water and some wells that are supposed to provide safe clean water for human consumption.
Then they shoot the cattle full of estrogens to encourage them to grow bigger, and what effect would this have on their children (perhaps their sons will have breasts and undeveloped capability to bring future sons and daughters into the world). Also what effect do these mutagenic compounds have on the DNA of these Cattle?
So Ms. Berliant in the future you should question the validity of information that you so easily push on to your readers. I would expect that you are a woman of integrity, and want to bring the truth to those who look up to you for the truth.
If you do not publish this rebuttal then I must only consider that you do not stand for truth and the American way.

This also goes for the Westerner