Wednesday, January 19


Canadians should expect to see more mad cow cases dating from after the 1997 ruminant feed ban, says a beef industry spokesman. "I was on a conference call the other day, and we were batting around the hypothetical scenario - it's November, and we've just gotten our eighth case," said Ron Axelson, general manager of the Alberta Cattle Feeders' Association. "We've got to ask ourselves what the next step's going to be at that point. Because we will find more." Whew! Good thing that's just in Canada, which our beef industry has absolutely nothing to do with.

Tuesday, January 18


So even if the overall funding mechanism weren't corrupt, or if their physiology weren't way off from ours, it turns out that animal experiments are unreliable for yet another reason - one that harkens back to Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. This was a conjecture that the act of observing something for the purpose of measuring it might have an effect on the measurement itself. Now we hear from Contemporary Topics in Laboratory Animal Science that "Mice, rabbits, rats, beagles, geese, and other animals all show measurable physiological stress responses to routine laboratory procedures that have been up until now viewed as relatively benign."

"For example, a mouse who is picked up and briefly held experiences several physiological reactions. As stress-response hormones flood the bloodstream, the mouse exhibits a racing pulse and a spike in blood pressure. These symptoms can persist for up to an hour after each event. Immune response is also affected. In rats and mice, the growth of tumors is strongly influenced by how much the animals are handled.

The study's author notes that "Research on tumor development, immune function, endocrine and cardiovascular disorders, neoplasms, developmental defects, and psychological phenomena are particularly vulnerable to data being contaminated by animals' stress effects."


Charlie Bell has died of cancer in his hometown of Sydney, Australia. Bell lasted less than a year on the job, having replaced Jim Cantalupo, who died suddenly in April of a heart attack after a little more than a year as CEO. Both causes of death are well-documented as illnesses related to meat consumption, but who knows? Maybe it was just the stress of trying to turn around a company that's been doing the wrong thing for so long. Either way, I believe it was David Peterson who quipped that CEO of McDonald's seems to be a more dangerous job than Iraqi policeman.

Monday, January 17


There are many ways to interpret (read: spin) the upcoming dietary guidelines, but it's clear that the USDA is being forced to move more toward reality, and away from the meat-and-dairy-dominated "four food groups" nonsense of the previous generation. My favorite way of putting it comes from Newsday, which calls it "practically a vegetarian manifesto. Uncle Sam wants you to eat a plant-based diet."