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Other diseases - Aids - Flu - linked to animals

2/17/2004 1:37 PM
Rob Mercure
Other diseases - Aids - Flu - linked to animals
I apologize for "sniping" "late in the game" on this post but my excuse is a downed computer and a downed Rob due to a knee injury. Anyhoo, the constant recombination of genes that creates many flus has been linked/caused by the common practice of recycling human/swine/and avain (duck) wastes in the orient. The genes of "global pandemic" flu of the 1910-20s which killed more soldiers in WWI than enemy fire did have recently been sequenced and determined to contain avian flu material - again confirming the bird flu/pig flu/human flu link.  
Also the best "guesstimate" to the origin of AIDs is a mutation of the "green monkey retrovirus" which most likely arose, possibly more than once, from human interaction with these monkeys during butchering for consumption.  
Now, to openly admit my bias I have been a quasi-vegetarian for over 25 years (occasional meals fo fish - especially when in Jamaica :)) and I stopped consuming the flesh of warm blooded creatures originally due the the contamination from pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones (in rural SW Virginia there was no access to "free ranged" "organic" meats in 1979). Since then I've come to the conclusion that the only good reason to be a meat eater at this time in society is "cultural" - if you mother's meatloaf or the Christmas turkey provide satisfaction then this is a valid reason and certain dishes maintain a cultural tradition (my mother's parents were from South Carolina and we ate a lot of pork when I was a kid). But before the WWII meat was generally expensive and most folks didn't eat meat with every meal although it was often used as "seasoning." The "big slab of meat" was usually reserved for Sunday dinner - in my family it was often pork chops or a chicken.  
Our real problem with meat consumption is that we eat "celebratory" or "feast" or "Sunday" meat dishes every day - this is neither healthy nor environmentally sustainable (fer example the greatest single source of surface water contamination in the USA is feedlots, etc.).  
My humble opinion.  
2/17/2004 10:50 PM
snipe away! Another POV is always interesting.  
The big meal of meat is far from an American invention/tradition as I am sure you're aware: it's considered a cultural universal, or at least it was when I took Anthropology (and quickly learned everything worth knowing. ;) ) I was amazed, honestly to find out how many cultures consider day to day a veggie thing but a celebration is a meat thing where the guys generally go out and kill something. We do eat more meat on a per capita basis etc and it has caused a variety of interesting effects, not all of them good certainly.  
In HS I worked in an immune research lab at Sloane Kettering (ontogeny of the immune system, under Dr's Kim & Rothlein fwiw) we used colostrum deprived piglets (the so-called "germ free" pigs) in a variety of immune system experiments (fwiw I never saw a pig get hurt while I was there.. we generally used cells from the pig obtained by drawing blood). While I don't know much in the scheme of things, I think I am pretty sure that if we didn't get flu A from source A, we'd get flu B from source B. We may have spead the cycle up a lot, but does the converse imply that it goes away? I find that difficult to accept. I often argued that cancer and heart attacks are on the rise bc people aren't dying of the other stuff that used to kill them. Do you know anyone who's had scarlet fever or polio in our generation? (say post 1950) Doomsayers blame everything else it seems. If you live long enough, something is going to break - that's how things work. Cars, computers, people.. there will always be a weakest link or an SPF.. and off you go. Like this new "link" between breast cancer and antibiotics.. I did not read the article, but how in hades do they make this connection? I mean is it really the AB, or is it a genetic predisposition in the subjects that also makes them more inclined to get infections requiring AB's & which also puts them in a risk group for breast cancer? It seems pretty goofy at first glance to stop taking all antibiotics.. but I'm sure there is more to it than I am aware.  
Pathogens are successful bc they mutate; it's one of the fundamental arguments behind sexual reproduction from an evolutionary POV - it's the one way we have a chance to keep ahead of the little buggers.. sooner or later they mutate into forms that cause us grief no matter what.
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2/18/2004 6:25 AM
Well, average height and body mass index has risen quite a bit in the last 100 years indicating a general rise in both childhood and adult nutrition. This does coincide with a rise in meat eating. I don't think that makes us less healthy. However, in the last 20-25 years or so, the real cost per calorie of food has plummeted. As a result, even the poor can afford more than enough nourishment to make them fat. Maybe they can't own their own home, live in a safe neighborhood, afford decent health-care, or own dependable transportation, but they can eat themselves out of shape just as easily as the more wealthy. Of course being in shape has become expensive. Health club memberships, personal trainers, hell even running shoes are enough to put a serious dent in your spending money. Eating less is the cheapest solution, but the least fun.  
So, I don't think cheap and frequent meat consumption has done anything but help the countries health. Meat has very low calorie content per volume, and as a result tends to make people eat less calories in a meal. The real problem is cheap high-calorie snack items like 1-liter soda bottles, chips and cookies, and calorie dense foods like pastas and bread. I know plenty of overweight vegatarians too.
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