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What standards do you want for food safety in the US? Are you interested in science- and evidence-based policies and standards? This won't come as a surprise to many of you here, but I'm certainly a supporter of policies based on legitimate and mainstream science--the weight of scientific evidence in a field.

We all joke around here that the GOP is backwards on so many areas of science, and is in fact actively anti-science. But these anti-science views are certainly not limited to the GOP. In fact, if you heard about this type of funding coming to the US, what would your response be?

MEPs vote to spend €2 million on homeopathy for animals

Thankfully there are some advocates of evidence-based policy speaking out about this--Ben Goldacre will be known to many of you for his outreach against Bad Science, both in book form and in The Guardian. Here's what he said about this funding:

Leading scientist, Dr Ben Goldacre, author of Bad Science criticized the move, “I'm a big fan of doing more research, but it's a basic rule of evidence based medicine that we need to be clear about where the uncertainties are, and what kind of research therefore needs to be done.”

He added, “ Homeopathy is one of the most well studied alternative therapies in humans, and when the best quality trials - the most fair tests - are all pooled together, they show there is no benefit. There is therefore no good argument for spending large amounts of public money on examining what are, after all, dummy sugar pills, which contain no ingredients at all, just the "memory" of an ingredient which homeopaths theorise - using 18th century arguments from before we even knew about atoms and molecules - is remembered by the water, and also remembered by the sugar in the pill.”

From the Respectful Insolence blog, I got this terrific poster that helps us to visualize principles of homeopathy. You can learn a lot about alt-med types of treatments from that blog if you are interested in a deeper understanding of the field.

When I brought this project over to Google+ where I have contact with a lot of active scientists, someone replied to me with this hilarious take on it:

"Can't we just tell the cows that there is antibiotics in their feed, and then count on the placebo effect work? Maybe, we could adjust the breeding cycle timing so that all of the cattle was born in a more productive astrological sign where they will "See a highly productive opportunity in their future" and have them wear power bands with magnets and holograms so that they are protected."

Cows with power bands! Auspicious astrological breeding! Snorf...  Can I please have two million to study that?

Where does it stop? How far down the alt-med road can we go--and do you think that would raise your confidence in the safety of your food?

But in addition to the problems of food safety, this actually could be harmful to animals. Have a look at this story that disturbed me and provided my first awareness that alt-med was the treatment of choice for some farmers:

The Cruel Irony of Organic Standards

The triumph of purist ideology over compassion and science means suffering and death for organic farm animals across America.

The week-old dairy calf, gangly and still, lay on a barn floor, her long-lashed eyes rolled back to expose the blue-white rim. The next morning, when I went to help my neighbor with his newborns, the calf was dead.

I didn't realize that the standards were so harsh on the use of evidence-based treatments in organic farming. It doesn't have to be this way--Canada and the EU handle it differently. But apparently in the US it's alt-med or you are out. Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association adds:

Others remain pure. Allowing one-time therapeutic antibiotics is “a slippery slope,” says Ronnie Cummins, national director of the Organic Consumers Association, and would “undermine consumer confidence in organics. It’s the same position [I have] as on human vaccines. They are dangerous, and that’s why I didn’t vaccinate my kid.”

Vaccines are "dangerous"? Is this the perspective you want driving food safety rules in the US? I thought that the eradication of rinderpest was an excellent and effective science-based policy:

Rinderpest caused hundreds of millions of animal deaths that preceded famines in Africa, Asia, and Europe.

After centuries of efforts to prevent outbreaks of the disease, international authorities announced in May that the disease was the second, after smallpox, to be eradicated through human efforts....

In the 1950s, Dr. Walter Plowright, a British veterinarian, and his colleagues developed in Kenya an attenuated-live virus rinderpest vaccine that proved to be safe and economical. Dr. Plowright, who won the World Food Prize in 1999, died in February 2010.

"Dr. Plowright's contributions to developing and perfecting the vaccine for rinderpest have made its eradication, for the first time in human history, a practical objective," according to the World Food Prize Foundation.

The whole issue was raised again in a recent discussion I got into at a blog by an organic dairy. The story was about one of their prized animals, and what happened when their alt-med treatments didn't work:

When Antibiotics are Necessary-Miley’s Story

It was an interesting look at this from an organic farmer's perspective. I'm glad they eventually got Miley some effective treatment. But in the mean time I didn't realize they were also relying on homeopathy. They offered a link to their text--which they described as "our organic 'playbook'" for animal treatment. From the Amazon page about this book, we see that the author of this book practices in this manner:

Though he began his career as a conventional practitioner, he now specializes in the sustainable and organic/biological treatment of dairy and beef cows, sheep and goats using natural remedies, botanicals, homeopathy and holistic treatment of the farm.

Oh--and by the way--you can buy these treatments from him and his company.

If I see homeopathy and anti-vax perspectives touted as a viable strategy for safe food, I'm gonna call that out. And I have to doubt the credibility of those who advocating it--if they lack that level of understanding of science, that's a real problem for me. I will continue to advocate for science- and evidence-based policy making on all topics: vaccination, food safety, climate change, alt-med treatments, science education, everything, despite the inevitable name-calling that will result from this by the anti-science forces. As a scientist it is my duty to the community.

Originally posted to mem from somerville on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 08:09 AM PDT.

Also republished by Science Matters and Environmental Foodies.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Great job (22+ / 0-)

    and call out on fraud masquerading as science.
    I know we don't always see eye to eye on GE (more on goals than methodology), but it's always great to see you bringing your expertise and debunking skills into the fray.

    I was once a treehouse, I lived in a cake, but I never saw the way the orange slayed the rake... The Llama Song.

    by farmerchuck on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 08:18:28 AM PDT

    •  Hey chuck--nice to see you (8+ / 0-)

      Thanks for the support.

      Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

      by mem from somerville on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 09:07:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's easy to support rational thought (9+ / 0-)

        Don't get "out" like I used too, mostly lurking when I have internet access.

        I was once a treehouse, I lived in a cake, but I never saw the way the orange slayed the rake... The Llama Song.

        by farmerchuck on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 09:15:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  2 million Euros: fine with me. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        alizard, highacidity

        2 million Euros are a drop in the proverbial bucket.  

        I say go right ahead and do the study.

        1)  It will probably even-further debunk homeopathy and help put this subject to rest.

        2)  Canceling the study will only give woo-meisters another excuse to scream Conspiracy! and recruit more followers.

        3)  On the other hand, if the placebo effect works on cows, that would be really interesting.  

        This is like the CERN findings on neutrinos: "everybody knows" that c is the speed limit, so why waste money trying to find the bug, when we can just say a-priori that there must have been a bug and that's that?   How many millions of Euros are going to be spent finding the bug, when there are all those starving people around?  

        (In case someone's irony detector needs a recharge, the point of the preceding paragraph isn't to assert that neutrinos exceed c, it's to assert that finding the flaw in CERN's results is a worthy scientific endeavor, and using "there are people starving" as a counterpoint is a leftie version of what righties do all the time to shut down research they don't like.)

        •  I am totally going in (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          G2geek, Clem Yeobright

          to the bovine power band biz.

          If you read the details of the study, though, it's not a well-designed study to determine anything new. And if it came out bad, do you really think that would stop people from crying "conspiracy1!!1" anyway?

          Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

          by mem from somerville on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 05:56:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  OK, different story. (0+ / 0-)

            Bad experimental design, bad operationalizations of variables: I have zero tolerance for that kind of bullshit.  

            One would think that a simple double-blind placebo controlled study of pills would be really straightforward and couldn't be botched.  

            But the remedy for that (heh:-) isn't to ditch the whole thing, it's to send it back for a redesign, or to just replace it with a well-designed study.  

            Really: I would love to see the results of a study of homeopathic pills on cows.  I think it would be a hoot.

            Like this:

            Test A, homeopathic pills.
            Control A, non-homeopathic placebo pills.
            Control B, conventional treatment.
            Control C, no treatment (after all, cows don't know that they're getting no treatment, do they?)

            OTOH if cows show a placebo effect, that would be really interesting.  

            For example if the mean of Control A shows a significant difference to the mean of Control C: that would be surprising and interesting, and should prompt a search for a mechanism.

            As for "we have more important things to do than experiments on bullshit," the answer is, it's not unimportant if a substantial portion of the population is relying on it for "medical" treatment.  All the more so if it's getting into the food supply.

            That said, antibiotics ought to be on FDA Schedule II, which should also prevent them being dosed into animal feed.  (Otherwise, can you tell me where I can get some veterinary morphine?:-)

  •  'organic' (31+ / 0-)

    shouldn't exclude safe and effective treatments like vaccinations and antibiotics (when needed, not as a prophylactic treatment). Otherwise you're using magical thinking.

    (Is it time for the pitchforks and torches yet?)

    by PJEvans on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 08:28:10 AM PDT

    •  Agree wholeheartedly (19+ / 0-)

      There are several reasons we never certified back when we were farming. this was one of the big ones.

      I was once a treehouse, I lived in a cake, but I never saw the way the orange slayed the rake... The Llama Song.

      by farmerchuck on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 08:31:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Personal Feeling, I Don't See How Vaccinations (16+ / 0-)

      would be inconsistent with "organic." You're basically introducing a living or once-living organism into contact with an animal to stimulate its own natural immune system.

      I can see many more legitimate concerns about antibiotics.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 08:56:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  They're afraid the animals will become autistic. (17+ / 0-)

        Seriously, they get all itchy over GE'd vaccines and place vaccs in the same category as everything else unnatural.

        As far as antibiotics, the whole question is backwards. It is the wholesale low level use of antibiotics that is the real wrecking ball to public and animal health. While organic disciples wring their hands over whether to aid a sick cow with antibiotics, we have a larger industry more than happy to create conditions ripe to create disease, kept at bay by the continual feeding of antibiotics. I mean, farmers are regularly feeding animals Cipro for Christ's sake. (There are a couple which pose no threat to us or nature at large, fine with me if farmers feel the need to go there.) Scientists involved in disease control and prevention are jumping up and down over this, but industry so far has stalled real attempts to shut down this system of "animal care".

        All problems contain the seeds of their own solutions and all solutions contain the seeds of the next set of problem. - Jonas Salk

        by the fan man on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 09:10:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I agree on the overuse of antibiotics (16+ / 0-)

          in both humans and animals. The evidence is clear on the consequences.

          But the stringency of the rules on antibiotics in the organic cases is just absurd. And I think a lot of people might not be aware of the situation.

          Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

          by mem from somerville on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 09:13:40 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It is absurd and it may change, but not with (8+ / 0-)

            the help of the OCU. It is a political decision, not science based. By permitting the use of antibiotics, even when necessary for the health of the animal, as they put it, it's a "slippery slope".

            I hope Catesby weighs in, she actually farms. She dropped organics exactly because of this rigid stance. Her animals are healthier than her organic counterparts.

            All problems contain the seeds of their own solutions and all solutions contain the seeds of the next set of problem. - Jonas Salk

            by the fan man on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 10:08:11 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  LOL (4+ / 0-)

              I just posted a comment and then read down and saw this.  Thanks for saying such nice things.  I blush :)

              But I agree with everything you have been saying.

              I don't understand farmers who feed antibiotics constantly.  We have enough trouble in veterinary medicine with resistance.  I know several ranchers around here that do it, because they're looking to squeeze every last pound of weight gain they can.  And frankly, antibiotics are really cheap.

              It is not until a disease runs rampant through their herd and they lose almost everything that they realize how short-sighted this is.

              •  We don't really have a common heritage (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                alizard, G2geek, mem from somerville

                that values quality above cost when it comes to food. I've told growers I know that because food is a necessity, people tend to treat it like utilities. They want it abundant and cheap. It's changing, in large part because of the poor quality of what consumers are exposed to from the industry at large, in part because once people taste food that has pedigree, they taste what they're missing.

                As far as you're concerned, continue to blush. :)

                All problems contain the seeds of their own solutions and all solutions contain the seeds of the next set of problem. - Jonas Salk

                by the fan man on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 03:33:19 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Organic laws (0+ / 0-)

                I have read elsewhere in this site that organic milk laws keep people from giving cows antibiotics, because once a cow has been treated with them it can no longer be organic ever.

                I buy organic milk because I don't want the residue of the various hormones, anti biotics and such in my food. But even I understand will eventually work its way through and out of the system and the cow will once again be give clean milk.

                It is the heart that makes a man rich. He is rich according to what he is not what he has -Henry Ward Beecher

                by PSWaterspirit on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 06:36:09 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  the fact that the organic guy is an anti-vaxer.... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ebohlman, mem from somerville

            .... is just off-the-charts outrageous, and we ought to go bombarding his organization with email demanding he be fired ASAP for that shit.  

            We can agree about X and disagree about Y, and I even support throwing 2 million Euros at sugar pills for cows.  But anti-vaxism is just off the charts in terms of Teh Stoopid, and that shit should be shut down post haste.  

            Got an address I can fire off a fiery email to?  

        •  yup it's hard to find non medicated chick starter (9+ / 0-)

          I use game bird instead as it has no antibiotics in it though the protein a little much I haven't had problems......

          I can't even believe that the actual treatment of a sick animal would have anything to do with organic standards...the problem is casual feeding of antibiotics to promote growth and keep them alive in the hellhole conditions many factory farmed animals live in.......

          Vaya con Dios Don Alejo
          I want to die a slave to principles. Not to men.
          Emiliano Zapata

          by buddabelly on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 12:17:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  The USDA allows the use of both (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      northsylvania, G2geek

      vaccinations and antibiotics on organic farms.  

      Farmers may use vaccines to protect the health of animals, and they are required to use antibiotics when necessary to treat a sick animal to prevent animal cruelty. However, when antibiotics must be used to treat an animal, that animal must be clearly identified and can no longer be sold as 'organic.' The practice of avoiding antibiotic use unless necessary helps to prevent the creation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and in the long run is better for human health.

      USDA National Organic Program

      The problem is economic not ideological.  There is no cruelty inherent in organic standards, only economic limitations that can lead a farmer, in the anecdotal evidence, to allow a calf to die.  Which was probably then used as organic veal.

      If animal cruelty bothers you, I would refrain from consuming all animal products, and not blame the concept of organic food.

      An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. -Benjamin Franklin

      by martinjedlicka on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 02:19:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The USDA does not allow (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        alizard, mem from somerville, G2geek

        acceptance of previously dead animals into the food supply.  The inspectors have to make sure the animals are healthy enough while alive.  Granted, this is probably a really cursory inspection, but dead won't cut it.

        So the farmer could eat that calf, but he couldn't sell it for meat.

      •  the problem is (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mikidee

        that this purity mindset--that a short course of antibiotics renders an animal to be non-organic instantly--leads to reliance on crank science. It is a systemic problem, like a lot of non-evidence-based topics.

        And the fact that one of the big advocates for organics thinks vaccines are dangerous should give people pause in their assumptions about how organic advocates view evidence-based topics.

        Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

        by mem from somerville on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 06:15:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Homeopathy is dangerous when used to (9+ / 0-)

    treat malaria, HIV, or any myriad of diseases which modern medicine has a cure or control. For what many consumers use it for - psychosomatic conditions which medicine cannot aid, it is a safe placebo. ((I knew a women who regularly had painful outbreaks of mouth cancer sores. Went to doctors (before acyclovir), nothing helped. Took a homeopathic remedy, poof, gone!)) . Alarm bells go off when I see ads for homeopathic cures for malaria pitched to people traveling to Africa.

    Many go to homeopathy after being told by doctors "it's all in your head". Of course, placebos only work if you think they do and the power of the body to heal itself when released from chronic stress is pretty powerful. Before doctors had medicines to treat a variety of conditions we take for granted, every doc spent a long time listening to chronic complainers and had a bottle of sugar pills to give his patients.  They worked often enough to keep them on hand.

    I wouldn't spend a dime on its study.

    All problems contain the seeds of their own solutions and all solutions contain the seeds of the next set of problem. - Jonas Salk

    by the fan man on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 08:59:00 AM PDT

    •  I think you mean (11+ / 0-)

      cancre rather than cancer, but otherwise 100% with you.

      I was once a treehouse, I lived in a cake, but I never saw the way the orange slayed the rake... The Llama Song.

      by farmerchuck on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 09:06:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yeah, one of the things I didn't go into (11+ / 0-)

      was the effect these things have on farmers in developing world situations. But rinderpest is a good example of the benefit of agricultural technology for everyone.

      Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

      by mem from somerville on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 09:09:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  that's the thing (15+ / 0-)

      if humans want to choose homeopathy, fine.  they have the capacity to believe it's helping.  cows can't produce a placebo effect, because they have no clue what's going on.

      i'm as dirty hippie as it gets when it comes to this sort of thing, but i also have a degree in biology, so i can only go so far in embracing alternative meds.

      My goal is to make the world safe for anarchy. - 4Freedom

      by Cedwyn on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 09:17:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  True and still depends on the disease. Some (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cedwyn, yaque, Larsstephens

        conditions will go into remission on their own, some will appear to be in remission so the placebo appears to work. I know at least two farmers who swear by homeopathic remedies for their animals. I can only say I think it has all to do with the way the animals are kept and treated (and what they are not exposed to) and nothing to do with the "remedy".

        All problems contain the seeds of their own solutions and all solutions contain the seeds of the next set of problem. - Jonas Salk

        by the fan man on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 10:19:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  that, and many animals respond (8+ / 0-)

          very well to extra attention and care...
          I also think a lot of folks confuse Naturopathy and homeopathy, although they are completely different. Use of herbal remedies to treat minor ailments at least sometimes) has a chemical and physical basis. I remember recently reading the contents list for a horse med, labeled as homeopathic, which contained a very effective herbal extract (german pharmacopia) combined with a completely ridiculous dilution of arsenate or something.

          I was once a treehouse, I lived in a cake, but I never saw the way the orange slayed the rake... The Llama Song.

          by farmerchuck on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 10:28:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yup. For years we heard that herbal (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ninkasi23, martini, northsylvania, G2geek

            remedies were ineffective until science caught up with folk knowledge. (That's not to say there aren't herbal remedies that have been touted that have been proved ineffective. Plenty of that as well.)

            All problems contain the seeds of their own solutions and all solutions contain the seeds of the next set of problem. - Jonas Salk

            by the fan man on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 11:25:11 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  A separate issue with herbals though (7+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              yaque, ninkasi23, akeitz, BYw, Catesby, G2geek, mikidee

              is they aren't tested for dosages or impurities the way other meds are. There are numerous studies that have shown all kinds of crap--like mercury and arsenic--in herbal medicines.
              Herbal Medicines Can Be Lethal, Pathologist Warns

              And there certainly are biological effects of plants and other "natural" substances. But they aren't always good effects.

              Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

              by mem from somerville on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 11:33:48 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I've actually seldom purchased herbals (6+ / 0-)

                either for myself or the animals, as we can usually grow or find growing what we need, but the controls on herbals are very much lacking and ignorance is most assuredly not bliss.

                I was once a treehouse, I lived in a cake, but I never saw the way the orange slayed the rake... The Llama Song.

                by farmerchuck on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 12:11:47 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  and when I had cancer, I went to an oncologist (5+ / 0-)

                  not an herbalist, My Lyme was treated (is being treated!!!) with doxycycline...

                  I was once a treehouse, I lived in a cake, but I never saw the way the orange slayed the rake... The Llama Song.

                  by farmerchuck on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 12:14:41 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Great book "Goatwalking", pastoralist wanders (3+ / 0-)

                  with sheep in southwest and Mexico. Hears about all sorts of herbal cures for animals and people and comes to the simple conclusion: don't rely on folklore, history, or anything else except what repeated experience shows you what actually works. Critical rationality comes in handy. Buddha said much the same.

                  First off, when you say "I had cancer" that makes me very happy.

                  All problems contain the seeds of their own solutions and all solutions contain the seeds of the next set of problem. - Jonas Salk

                  by the fan man on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 03:59:48 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  it's been 2 years (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    the fan man, mem from somerville

                    Haven't seen an oncologist in a year, as I lost my insurance, but believe I'm still in remission.

                    I was once a treehouse, I lived in a cake, but I never saw the way the orange slayed the rake... The Llama Song.

                    by farmerchuck on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 04:06:48 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I don't know what to say. Wonderful country. (0+ / 0-)

                      Not eligible for Medicaid?

                      All problems contain the seeds of their own solutions and all solutions contain the seeds of the next set of problem. - Jonas Salk

                      by the fan man on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 09:03:47 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  been in appeals process (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        the fan man

                        since january with mass-care. They keep losing my paperwork. Someone made an anonymous claim that I had large amounts of money (actually I'm in chapter 7)...they are investigating.

                        I was once a treehouse, I lived in a cake, but I never saw the way the orange slayed the rake... The Llama Song.

                        by farmerchuck on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 09:52:56 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Sure, buried on your farm. That brings up (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          farmerchuck

                          a whole other subject: you never know who your enemies are. We lost a rental deposit in part because of rumors from "friendly neighbors". Really slapped my awake. No more friendly chatter that has anything to do with me, my finances, marriage or anything of consequence. Now I know why people stick to "nice weather we're having".

                          All problems contain the seeds of their own solutions and all solutions contain the seeds of the next set of problem. - Jonas Salk

                          by the fan man on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 10:28:35 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  yeah...but I sure miss (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            the fan man

                            being transparent. luckily there are still parts of me I haven't gotten back yet, I have that as an excuse for being a bit closed in, and it's true, so I don't have to lie.

                            I was once a treehouse, I lived in a cake, but I never saw the way the orange slayed the rake... The Llama Song.

                            by farmerchuck on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 01:35:33 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                  •  On a completely idiotic note, (0+ / 0-)

                    the guy in Goatwalking walked goats, not sheep, hence the title.

                    All problems contain the seeds of their own solutions and all solutions contain the seeds of the next set of problem. - Jonas Salk

                    by the fan man on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 09:04:17 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

              •  Let's take an easy one: willow bark. (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Catesby, mem from somerville, G2geek

                Certainly effective, and eventually the active ingredient was isolated and manufactured. Many others have never been standardized or fully evaluated. Some, like echinacea, have been shown to be ineffective but still have popular appeal. I understand what you're say re impurities or crappy manufacture and the health food industry is absolutely opposed to standardization or regulatory intervention. Shows you where their heart is really at. What I'm referring to is the old standard "herbs don't do anything" claptrap that was spouted by the AMA in the seventies. Now, they understand some herbs do have a pronounced biochemical effect, not always good either. Doctors routinely ask patients what supplements they are taking, since as you point out, they can have adverse effects with medication. St Johns Wort and anti-depressives come to mind. More recently fish oil (not an herb, but an effective natural substance) has been shown to interfere with some chemotherapy.

                I don't take herbal remedies for the exact reasons you list. Non standardized, not evaluated, with god know what as filler.

                All problems contain the seeds of their own solutions and all solutions contain the seeds of the next set of problem. - Jonas Salk

                by the fan man on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 01:27:44 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  A perspective ... (4+ / 0-)

      Overseas, I see an MD who also does homeopathy.  At times, when ill, I have received very 'traditional' prescriptions and advice.  At times, I have received traditional combined with 'homeopathy'. At times, homeopathy. And, there have been the occasions where it was 'go home and rest, it will pass' without any drugs.  Compared to my treatment in the US via multiple doctors, my confidence in that care -- through thoughtful attention to detail on her part and, well, my relative time to heal -- is much higher.  Now, there is entirely the potential that this 100% placebo effect and this is far from anything like a scientific study but, well, shouldn't I have the same impact when my US doctor prescribes drugs?  Unlike you, I do reasons to spend money on study ... rejecting the idea of study is anti-scientific in itself, isn't it?

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 09:50:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sure, but ya don't keep doing the same experiment (9+ / 0-)

        until you get the results that you want.

        All you have to do is double-blind. Group A, w/ symptom X, is given the homeopathic remedy. Group B, also w/ symptom X, is given an identical pill w/o the homeopathic (lack of) ingredient. Neither subjects nor experimenter know whether any individual subject is receiving straight sugar, or sugar w/ one ppt whatever.

        If Group B consistently recovers in a manner statistically identical to Group A, then the homeopathic ingredient does nothing.

        We can keep running studies until the homeopathic ingredient DOES do something, but that's hardly good science.

    •  right with you except for the last sentence. (0+ / 0-)

      I say spend the measly 2 million Euros.

      One more nail in the coffin of woo.

      Otherwise the woo-meisters will scream Conspiracy! and have yet another excuse.

      •  I would love to nail that coffin (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek

        but do you really think that would end the CT? Really?

        Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

        by mem from somerville on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 06:16:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  it would shake it out. (0+ / 0-)

          It would make the CT more and more ridiculous to the point where it would lose a lot of people who would otherwise believe a less shrill version of it.

          For example:

          "The medical establishment doesn't want research on alt med."  That's already self-evidently true from comments you can find all over the place, e.g. go look up "Respectful Insolence" on Scienceblogs.  So when that arguement is used, it has enough credibility to lend some to more outrageous statements.  

          vs.

          "The medical establishment contrives to conduct bad studies of alt med so they can shoot them down."   That entails actual conspiring and expending much $ and effort to achieve a goal by promoting fraud: far less likely, and far less believable.  

          Once they go from the former to the latter, they lose audience.

          •  I call bullshit on this (0+ / 0-)
            "The medical establishment doesn't want research on alt med."  That's already self-evidently true from comments you can find all over the place, e.g. go look up "Respectful Insolence" on Scienceblogs.

            Every researcher dreams of finding effective treatments from all kinds of sources. What active researchers don't want is money spent unwisely on stuff that has already been dismissed over and over, or that has no theoretical basis whatsoever, while the projects with legitimate foundations and substance go unfunded.

            Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

            by mem from somerville on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 06:09:22 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  My family has used homeopathy for years. My kids (8+ / 0-)

    grew up with a homeopath (an MD homeopath) as their primary doc.  Both are healthy as horses.  We've had many many homeopathic successes.

    I know it offends some, but could it be that.....the US science business itself is conservative?  That there's an extremely well organized and well funded lobby for orthodox corporate (they call themselves "science-based") medicine?  Favoring one particular tribe, the allopaths, and their big-pharma allies?

    Remember, it was not many years ago that, for example, chiropractic was illegal here in MA.

    I don't want to incur the wrath of the Kos Gods on this, and I won't be commenting further.  But this is a diary specifically attacking something (homeopathy), and to not allow other points of view would seem bizarre.

    •  Bring evidence (16+ / 0-)

      not anecdotes, and we can discuss. Who isn't allowing you that?

      Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

      by mem from somerville on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 09:22:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If it happens to you... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek

        is it evidence or anecdote? Unfortunately most people don't have access to facilities to run double bind trials. That some people are poor and desperate enough to run trials on themselves is sadly pathetic, but when doctors are paid to say you're not sick, as they are in many cases, it makes "science" look bad. I put science in quotation marks because if a diagnosis is driven by profit, that's where it belongs.
        As for treating animals, if they present symptoms of a disease that disease should be treated. The EU is much more sensible on organic certification.

        •  If I tell you (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ebohlman

          I'm "healthy as a horse" as are hooper's kids, and I tell you I rely on evidence-based medicine--is that all you need?

          Really--this is something I don't understand: how do you make calls on stuff in your life that requires a decision? Stuff that matters and can affect your personal safety and that of your family? If someone said, "My grandfather drove a Model T for 30 years and never had an accident or injury" would this convince you of the safety of the Model T?

          I don't understand what other people's process is if it doesn't rely on accumulated data.

          Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

          by mem from somerville on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 05:47:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Let me be really blunt about this: (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            northsylvania

            Why do poor people play the lottery more than rich people?

            Sometimes because they're just plain stoopid, which I call "paying the math tax" (the tax on math-stupid people).

            But sometimes because they make the not-entirely-irrational calculation that the probability of winning the lottery is higher than the probability of getting any kind of wealth by working their way up from one slavey-job to another to another.  

            Same case for alt med.

            If you simply DO NOT HAVE ACCESS to the medical system, and that includes having to wait 18 hours in an ER full of contagious people (another social darwinist nightmare), then what?  

            Then you make the not-entirely-irrational calculation that spending a few bucks on a bottle of pills with parts-per-trillion of God Knows What in them, is less of a long shot.

            And if you have a successful placebo reaction, it was worth the expense.  If you drop dead, your surviving relatives don't say "it was the sugar pills that killed him!"  The anecdotal reporting selects for the successful outcomes.  

            The moral of the story is:

            SINGLE PAYER!
            SINGLE PAYER!
            SINGLE PAYER, DAMMIT!

            •  Can you please show (0+ / 0-)

              the lottery stats? You make an awful lot of data-free claims, you know....

              I have no dispute with the possibility that people choose fakery + hope sometimes. Or the fact that some people buy antibiotics over-the-counter from bodegas to treat their kids.

              That doesn't make it a good basis for policy decision making.

              Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

              by mem from somerville on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 07:28:39 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  you can do the research first hand. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                northsylvania

                Go to a supermarket in a ghetto and just observe the lottery ticket buying.

                Next go to a supermarket in an upscale suburb and observe the lottery ticket buying.

                Speaking of significant differences, if you wanted to collect the stats I'm betting you'd see a p < .001 difference between the two.

                As for policy, every possible basis for policy decision making is convergent on single payer.  The private insurance system we have here is a monstrous tumor on our health care, that we "accept" only because most of us know nothing else.  I'm not even going to debate that item, the results are so unequivocal that anyone who opposes single payer is "not even wrong."

                •  This is a terrible experimental design (0+ / 0-)
                  Go to a supermarket in a ghetto and just observe the lottery ticket buying....

                  But that said--where was anyone debating single payer? I don't even have any idea what you are talking about or what you think you are debating with yourself.

                  Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

                  by mem from somerville on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 06:14:29 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  He/she is debating single payer (0+ / 0-)

                    because people with no recourse to any legitimate medicine will try any kind of pseudomedicine they think might work. Poverty + desperation + ignorance can be lethal.

                    •  Oddly (0+ / 0-)

                      the same can be said about organic standards for farm animals, with this equation:

                      economic incentive + organic regs + ignorance = lethal

                      Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

                      by mem from somerville on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 03:35:06 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  The only way (0+ / 0-)

                        I can see that economic incentive makes it into the equation is, if the good folks who factory farm think organic farmers will go belly up trying to cure their livestock with anodynes, they'll either quit or organic meat will be so expensive no one can afford it due to the factored in overheads.

                        •  I thought catesby's explanation (0+ / 0-)

                          was pretty clear:

                          http://www.dailykos.com/...

                          Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

                          by mem from somerville on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 02:02:41 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Exactly (0+ / 0-)

                            He's got a choice between ethical and organic. If organic certification was more sensible, as it is here, he wouldn't have that problem. It's an economic disincentive (dead livestock) as well as a moral one (ditto) not to farm organically in the States. Cui bono? The folks who would like to see organic foods disappear so they can feed us turbo meat.

                          •  Um... (0+ / 0-)

                            you are mis-representing who established the standards. It was purity trolls like Cummins who set this in place.

                            Maybe he's a tool of big "turbo meat". But as I'm not a conspiracy theorist I wouldn't presume that. I prefer Occam's Razor which suggests he's either stupid or ignorant by choice.

                            Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

                            by mem from somerville on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 08:34:06 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  How was he chosen and why? (0+ / 0-)

                            DEFRA, and I suppose the EU ag entities as well take advice when they set up rules and regs. You have to be in the business for your opinions to have weight.
                            Some real boners make it through, for instance not planting certain kinds of heritage runner beans in an area where commercial farmers are growing hybrids, and having RFID chips implanted in sheep and then having to fill out paperwork when the flock goes from one field to the next (and our fields are small compared with most of Europe), but on the whole cranks don't get a look in. Why do they suddenly have so much say with the USDA?

    •  Shrug. (14+ / 0-)

      What 'points of view' need to be 'allowed'?  Democrats are the party of science.  Science shows homeopathy to be nothing but placebo effect.  If you can get along on placebos, more power to you.  But saying that you need to present 'alternative views' to science is more than just silly, it's dangerous.

    •  Umm... (16+ / 0-)

      Do the math. W/ homeopathic preparations, dilutions of one part in a billion are common.

      One part in a billion of just about anything is below the noise floor. Quite simply, there's nothing there.

      As a counterpoint- if water were so good at picking up little bitty tiny traces of whatever it touched, wouldn't toxins accumulate a whole lot quicker than whatever your active is?

      And wouldn't the water vapor in the air long since have killed us all?

      I'm really glad that your kids are healthy. It wasn't the sugar pills.

      •  I agree on homeopathy (4+ / 0-)

        but not on

        One part in a billion of just about anything is below the noise floor. Quite simply, there's nothing there.

        EPA Regional screening levels for tap water, based on a one-in-one million excess cancer risk, for some compounds are below 1 ppb. Examples, working backward from vinyl chloride:

        Vinyl chloride = 0.016 ppb

        Vinyl bromide = 0.15 ppb

        1,2,3-trichloropropane = 0.00072 ppb

        1,2,3-trichloropropene = 0.62 ppb

        Terbufos = 0.91 ppb

        Sodium fluoroacetate = 0.73 ppb

        Simazine = 0.56 ppb

        Quinolene = 0.022 ppb

        There are several others, including many PCB congengers and certain pesticides.

        Link to RSLs, if you're curious.

    •  No, it couldn't. (6+ / 0-)

      If homeopathy had science backing it, it would eventually be accepted by the mainstream medical establishment because (1) it would work and (2) even though it doesn't work, it makes heaps of money, and doctors/drug companies LOOOOOOOOOOOVE money.

      "This is about the human heart, and if that sounds corny, so be it." -- Keith Olbermann

      by allergywoman on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 10:06:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  and then they wouldn't credit alt med.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        hooper

        ..... because doing so would be giving power to the other tribe.

        This is the insidious thing:

        There's plenty of quackery and bullshit out there.

        But occasionally something works.

        Intellectual honesty would compel giving credit where credit is due: "yep, alt med was right about this one", for example that nutrition is relevant to disease outcomes (something that mainstream medicine denied ferociously during the 70s and halfway through the 80s).  

        Giving credit where credit is due, would also bolster the credibility of science-based medicine in the public mind.  

        The insidious thing is that when science-based medicine goes all tribal and self-protective, the public recognizes it, and science-based medicine takes a serious credibility hit.  

        We can't afford that.  It's long overdue to cut it out.

        •  can you please cite (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          allergywoman

          evidence where someone said that nutrition was irrelevant to disease outcomes?

          That has the whiff of being pulled from the nethers....

          Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

          by mem from somerville on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 06:35:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sure, get me the keys to the time machine.... (0+ / 0-)

            .... and I'll be glad to go back to high school where I read that stuff.  

            Basically it was in reaction to the "natural foods" movement that existed at the time.  Various quotes from the anti's back then, to the effect that all this "concern" about the food supply was so much hand-waving, and that the then-mainstream diet (rich in fats and suchlike as it was), was perfectly OK and in need of no changes.  

            It even went to the point of dumping on people who promoted eating more fresh fruits & vegetables.  No shit.  

            I saw that crap enough that it stuck in my head.  Today we'd spot it as a PR spin campaign, like MonsterSanto's attempts to ban dairies from saying "BGH-free" on their milk bottles.  (IMHO, MonsterSanto deserves to die an ignominious corporate death.  And I am not a knee-jerk against GMOs; it has to do with egregious corporate practices.)

    •  strangely enough I agree with you about.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hooper

      .... the tribal aspect of this.  There is a subset of the medical profession that react to this stuff almost like an allergy.  

      If you want to see some of it go here:

      http://scienceblogs.com/...

      These folks are great at duck hunting (shooting down quacks) but they get positively irrational about anything that isn't drugs or surgery.  For example teaching relaxation and meditation to hospital patients.  (Sheesh!)

      That doesn't help the cause of science-based medicine one bit.

  •  Ronnie Cummins convinced me of something (20+ / 0-)
    Ronnie Cummins, national director of the Organic Consumers Association, and would “undermine consumer confidence in organics. It’s the same position [I have] as on human vaccines. They are dangerous, and that’s why I didn’t vaccinate my kid.”

    Thus, this is a strong statement as to why not to join the Organic Consumers Association ... even as organic food is one of the better pathways forward for improved nutrition and reduced agricultural impacts on the planet.

    Cummins choice to not 'vaccinate my kid' helps foster very real health risks for others and society. That one sentence and that decision is a serious stain on Cummins and the "Association".

    Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

    by A Siegel on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 09:41:19 AM PDT

  •  A lot of homeopathic drugs that I've seen (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    yaque, northsylvania, G2geek

    are simply diluted old drugs. With lots of side effects etc. In homeopathic preps they are diluted 10 times or more over their original dosage but people are told to take a lot of them so the end result is similar to taking a slightly lower dose of an old, cheap and not very good drug. Actually, some of them do work.
    There are other homeopathic preps that contain virtually nothing as you're describing.

    •  I saw this last week (13+ / 0-)

      and it continues to crack me up:

      Homeopathic leak threatens catastrophe

      An accidental release of highly dilute homeopathic waste from a research institute in Swindon has led to calls for the centre to be shut down.  Plant operators have admitted responsibility for massive safety blunders after a spilled drop of an enormously dilute test product was cleaned by a caretaker, and in complete disregard of all safety procedures, allowed to enter the water system after he emptied his mop bucket down the drain....

      Go read the whole thing--the part about the firetrucks had me absolutely rolling.

      Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

      by mem from somerville on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 10:30:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm amazed no one has posted this! (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BradyB, mem from somerville, mikidee

      •  just say Fukushima. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mem from somerville

        A homeopathic leak of radionuclides compared to the megadoses being spewed up the stacks of coal-fired power plants as the normal output of coal combustion.

        •  ok (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          G2geek

          that made me laugh: homeopathic radionucleotides.

          Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

          by mem from somerville on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 07:30:03 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  typo alert, and a fiendish idea (0+ / 0-)

            It's "radionuclides," not "radionucleotides."  Unless there's a pun in there about homeopathy.

            Actually, you've just suggested something really interesting and fun that I'm going to try on the anti-nukers, along the following lines:

            "What makes the Fukushima events so dangerous is that the stuff got into the ocean.  According to the homeopathic principle of dilution, that makes it much more dangerous... (etc.)"   And see if the anti-nukers agree.  I'll craft the verbiage more carefully and pointedly when I actually post something like this, to be sure it's got more emphasis on homeopathy.  It will be interesting to see who takes the bait!;-)

            •  giggle (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              G2geek

              yes, sorry for the typo--it's one of those auto-finger things because of my field. I have a similar problem with some fluorescence-related words.

              And I would totally rec that Fukishima homeopathy diary.

              Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

              by mem from somerville on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 08:28:11 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  i'm going to do it as a comment. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                mem from somerville

                I'll wait until I find the right thread, e.g. someone who seems to be making sciencey arguements against nuclear power, based on various claims about Fukushima, and then I'll slip that one into the stream and see what happens.

                Now of course Fukushima really is a big deal, and no doubt there will be delayed casualties and all that: but in any case far less than we get from equivalent power produced from coal, not even counting climate change.  And the answer to Fukushima isn't go crawl into a cave, it's to start building the new-generation reactor designs that are intrinsically safe (melt-proof).

                But what I find outrageous is, the earthquake & tsunami killed something like 20,000 people, and yet there's this deafening silence about all that, and enormous "concern" over the reactor meltdowns.  The degree of difference in the "concern level" demonstrates that the "concern" is really selfish in nature: it's a way to promote the anti-nuke agenda rather than actual concern for the wellbeing of the Japanese people.

        •  Take issue with this. Got radioactive (0+ / 0-)

          meat and grain in the US? (We certainly have widespread mercury contamination from coal plants which we find in fish, but measurably significant radioactivity from coal, no.) They have it in Japan.

          You're right, there's enough radium, thorium and uranium in coal ash to prompt at least one scientist to speculate on the economics of reclaiming these valuable nucleotides from the waste. When coal ash slurry dams break, you can usually find significant radium in the downstream waste depending on the type of coal used. What happened in Japan is as akin to the Bp oil spill as the sop of coal plants.

          All problems contain the seeds of their own solutions and all solutions contain the seeds of the next set of problem. - Jonas Salk

          by the fan man on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 08:20:40 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I really love your diaries. (6+ / 0-)

    I am still laughing over "Storm."   It was, I think, a classic.

    This one's pretty damn good too.    I love the part involving the toilet.

    •  Heh, Storm really is excellent (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      yaque, PeterHug, bryfry, NNadir

      I can only wish for a fraction of that effectiveness. And I know some of the hard-core believers will never be reached. But there are some folks who can.

      That is why we both keep hanging out here, I suspect :)

      Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

      by mem from somerville on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 10:33:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You know, before the invention of blogging... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mem from somerville

        ...I thought - maybe niavely - that it was only the Republicans - or at least a large subset of them - who were routinely rote anti-science types.

        Regrettably I have come to understand that contempt for science is a broad cultural undertaking and is to some extent independent of political affiliation.

        For the record though, I don't intentionally eat meat.   Some parts of this position involve environmental concerns, and some involve health concerns.   The indiscriminate use of antibiotics is most certainly causing the evolution of resistant species, and this is a very real problem.

        I sometimes think that the age of antibiotics will be short.    The MRE and VRE species that are now appearing in hospitals are a real concern.   People do actually die from these.

        I was peripherally involved in the development of linezolid, which has an interesting story.   The drug was an entirely new class of antibiotic.   Of course the pharmaceutical company that developed it - at that time it was Pharmacia - hoped for big sales.    However doctors used the drug as only a last resort, hoping to keep it in the armory when all else failed.    This resulted in low sales, with the result that pharmaceutical companies were inclined not to develop new classes of antibiotics.

        After Pfizer acquired - and destroyed the intellectual capital of - Pharmacia, they received a $1.2 billion fine in connection with the marketing of linezolid, in effect for trying to promote off label use.

        Pfizer pays $1.2 billion fine.

        I don't know that I have a solution for the economic and moral issues here, but it is an interesting case.

        •  Yeah, it is funny how it turned out (0+ / 0-)

          and the strange bedfellows formed by raw-milkies who are nutcase libertarians and alt-med type lefties is just bizarre to me. Same with anti-vaxxers.

          The Venn diagrams have curious overlaps in many places.

          Overuse of antibiotics is clearly an issue--but it was effective and we learned a lot. And there will be new ones. Fascinating paper came out not too long ago that showed resistance is a very old property, it's not actually new.

          Antibiotic resistance is ancient

          Bad news is that whatever we come up with there will be some resistance somewhere waiting to emerge. The good news is this probably also means there are new strategies and types out there that nature has already worked out.

          A couple of weeks ago I was also looking at another strategy, bacteriophages. These had been explored in the 1930s as a means to target infectious bugs, but the work totally faded once penicillin came along. They might make a comeback.

          We'll find new tricks that work for a while, until biology catches up. It's the way things always work.

          Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

          by mem from somerville on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 07:33:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Here is a more useful link (0+ / 0-)

          on the ancient resistance work:

          http://www.nytimes.com/...

          Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

          by mem from somerville on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 07:45:33 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Having a sister-in-law who believes in homeopathy (8+ / 0-)

    and watching her nearly die twice by driving herself down to 85 pound weight, I have an even less benign view of evil.

    You have to eat.  You have to eat food.  You have to eat food that has protein, carbohydrates and sugar in it.

    You cannot swill hemp tea and take wheatgrass enemas and hope to survive.

    They people who sell a few hundred dollars a month to a woman on a pension should be jailed.

    "Don't dream it, be it" - Brad, Janet and Frank

    by captainlaser on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 10:45:04 AM PDT

    •  There was a paper that showed (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TiaRachel, yaque, tytalus, BYw, ebohlman

      that relying on these faith-based types of medications really can be dangerous, including if you eschew standard care.

      Alternative remedies 'dangerous' for kids says report

      In 30 cases, the issues were "probably or definitely" related to complementary medicine, and in 17 the patient was regarded as being harmed by a failure to use conventional medicine.

      I can't stop adults from making stupid choices. But I hate when it trickles down on their kids.

      And that doesn't speak to the financial toll either, which can have additional negative consequences.

      Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

      by mem from somerville on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 11:00:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  how'bout "Christian Science hospitals".... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NNadir

        .... where kids on the pediatric ward are denied pain meds and told that if they moan and scream they will go to hell?

        1st Amendment freedom of religion be damned, when it comes to child abuse.  

        •  "holy" hell.... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          G2geek

          I hadn't heard that--got citation?

          Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

          by mem from somerville on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 06:56:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  DKos diary a couple years ago. (0+ / 0-)

            Try keyword searching "christian science" to see if anything comes up.  

            I just did a cursory run through with "christian science"+(hospital) and there were too many hits to go through all of them.  

            A Google search of "christian science hospital child abuse" brought up this:

            http://www.theatlantic.com/...

            Bottom line, the CS church is engaged in an unmitigated evil, a pattern of child abuse rivaling that of the Catholic church's child molestation.  There are fewer CS victims but they very often end up dead.

  •  Absolutely! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    northsylvania, G2geek

    But if you think conventional medicine is evidence based, I'm afraid you're in for a big surprise (mostly):

    http://www.businessweek.com/...

    •  I think effective treatments (9+ / 0-)

      are evidence based. And I would combat non-evidence-based treatments from where ever they emanate.

      The irony of it being insurers demanding the evidence does not escape me.

      Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

      by mem from somerville on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 10:55:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Something else that universal/national health care (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mem from somerville, yaque, elmo, G2geek

      could help solve -- assuming some form of treatment record was open for data collection. (Though I disagree that conventional medicine is not 'evidence based' -- it's just that the 'evidence' is an accumulation of observations by various doctors, not scientifically collected & analyzed data. Well, not entirely. It's an Apprenticeship model.)

      Though one real problem with medicine (the biological world in general) is that we're all so damn complicated.
       When I was teaching bio 101, I had one student railing against animal studies (this was at the beginning of the pig-dissection classes. They're byproducts of food, btw) -- why can't they use computers or something like that?

      Because you can't program the things you don't know (those are usually the things we're trying to figure out). And we don't know a whole lot.

      (She thought we should use inmates instead of cute fluffy animals. So.)

      •  You don't need universal healthcare (0+ / 0-)

        for global data collection; and given that a lot of this research is being conducted at the behest of private insurers and hurts someone's financial interest, it is an argument against a single payer model.  

        In a single payer model political pressure can be used to suppress potentially inconvenient research.

        •  Eh. (4+ / 0-)

          Without universal data  collection, you've still got an incomplete sample set. Only those who get health care/treatment will be included, of course -- and without universal coverage by definition someone (lots of someones) will be left out. Take a look at what can be done in Europe, where they've got decades worth of basic stats to play with.

          And of course this data doesn't have to be assembled/contained by one organization -- that just makes it easier. Assures that the same data points are recorded, that the various info is equally accessible, etc.

          One huge reason, though,  for that organization to be governmental is so that all the info (stripped of individual identifiers, probably) is available, to any researcher.

          given that a lot of this research is being conducted at the behest of private insurers and hurts someone's financial interest...

          ...political pressure can be used to suppress potentially inconvenient research.


          I see it completely opposite -- these are reasons to get private $$ out of research/health care, not to continue handing everything over to them.  At the very least, make them openly available to independent eyes.

          You seem to be assuming corruption. I just wonder why you assume that corruption is less problematic when private entities have nearly all the control.

          •  I assume differential corruption of different (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            TiaRachel

            entities.   With more entities acting, the private sector is harder to corrupt identically than a single government entity (Congress).  

            I'm more curious about something else:  What has Europe done with its data?

            •  Population-type studies, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mem from somerville

              show up at various times in journals. Sometimes the sort of thing where you can go back and say "these people are all sick now, is there any common factor that we can find in their life-long medical records that could help explain it?"  Twin studies show up in the popular press every now & then, sometimes re: genitic issues. That sort of thing.

              It's really more "what's been done with european health data" than 'what europe's done with the data', though.

              I think you're insufficiently cynical re: corporations (and those who run them).

              Independent gov't agencies are possible, even in our own history, and they (at least theoretically) have obligations to the populace (FOIA requests might be a nuisance, but they exist).  Not so private organizations. Their only obligation is to make money for their owners. In a public context (providing widespread public services), that seems almost by definition corrupt to me.

            •  bad assumption. (0+ / 0-)

              You neglect herd effects and flocking behavior.  

              Those different entities, all acting according to the same simple rules (e.g. maximize shareholder value), all end up displaying much the same behavior, like fish in a school or birds in a flock.

              And you can't vote for their Directors, much less their CEOs.  

        •  political pressure can always be used. (0+ / 0-)

          As if political pressure isn't being used right now by the insurance monsters?  

          As if political pressure isn't being used by the coal lobby against NASA and NOAA on climate issues?  

          Bottom line is, we have to take the money-interest out of all of this stuff if we want to get clean outcomes.  That means restricting corporate personhood to forbid all involvement in politics by "legal entities" and their mouthpieces.  That means forbidding "proxy speech" by lobbyists as we forbid "proxy voting" in elections.  

    •  This link (0+ / 0-)

      only goes to prove that a lot of "science" is just faith. I approve of hard evidence, but it seems sadly lacking across the board.

  •  thank you for this mem (3+ / 0-)

    I had no idea about the standards for organics being like this. And thank you for calling out bunk when you see it!

    Republishing to Environment Foodies.

  •  Very enlightening, however (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Leftcandid

    The OCA, in line with USDA Organic labeling standards has a policy against therapuetic pharmaceuticals for animals that are subsequently sold, labeled and thus represented as 'organic'.   That doesn't prevent the farmer from treating the animal with antibiotics and then selling it as non-organic.  

    To blame the demise of the calf on organic standards is to ignore the decision of the farmer to let it die for reasons that are more economic than ideological.  If it's cruelty you wish to avoid completely, then I would refrain from consuming animal products.

    I do agree that Mr. Cumming's comment about vaccines was not only irrelevant but irresponsible.  The current backlash against vaccines is the result of a latter-day luddism that's quite alarming.

    An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. -Benjamin Franklin

    by martinjedlicka on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 01:45:19 PM PDT

    •  Here is the reality of the situation (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      the fan man, mem from somerville

      Ranchers tend to have one customer that they sell all their cattle (or sheep or swine etc.) to.  They usually get contracts in advance.

      An organic rancher will have an organic buyer, naturally.  This same buyer may or may not also buy non-organic livestock.

      But one thing I can tell you about all livestock buyers is that they are extremely penny-pinching.  If there is any way to cut down a price, they will.

      Every single buyer in an area will know which rancher has what kind of stock.  So what do you think will happen when an organic rancher goes to sell a non-organic animal?

      They know damned well the animal has been sick, and that it is a potential 'downer' with a much higher likelihood it will die on the way to slaughter, and be a complete loss.

      No buyer will give that rancher anything but a fraction of the normal price for that animal.

      Economics have to drive farming practices because if the farm goes bankrupt, there are no farming practices.

      This requirement virtually guarantees an organic animal will be left untreated, because unless it recovers naturally, it will be a big loss.  That's just a fact.

      And for those into organics, if this is what they want, ok then, just so long as they know what it really entails.  It just doesn't work for me and my ranch.

    •  Actually (0+ / 0-)

      I'm a way better environmentalist because I don't eat meat, so this actually doesn't impact me very directly. </snark>

      I'm really most disturbed by the mindset that leads to such a bad policy. Raised to the power of crank by Cummins.

      But, as you note, a single dose of antibiotic for an ill animal removes it completely from organic farming. And a lot of people are unaware of this. I think people need to know who they are relying on for safe food standards.

      Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic. --The Onion

      by mem from somerville on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 06:33:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Wow, interesting diary! (3+ / 0-)

    So glad I read it. I plan to come back and read it (and the comments) more carefully. I didn't know about the harsh standards for organics here. It really surprised me.

    Thanks for all the information.

  •  I have a sheep dairy, and everyone asks me (8+ / 0-)

    if I will become organic, and are surprised when I tell them I think it's unethical.

    Being a rancher, I hear what goes on when all the tourists and customers go home.  Sure, the organic ranch has a lovely story for them that makes them feel good, but the truth is, I find the reality to be very cruel.

    If an animal gets sick on an organic ranch, the farmer can  treat it, but they then have to sell it.  This means he makes a huge immediate loss on the animal as he has to sell the animal for pennies on the dollar, because everyone knows an animal being sold from an organic ranch is likely to be sick.

    Or, he can do what is normally done and that is to take the chance that there will be no loss - by leaving the animal untreated and hope that the animal 'shakes it off'.  Which means the animal suffers enormously, and usually dies.

    I could never do that.  I give all my animals the best of veterinary care when and if they need it.  If they get any internal medicines, they are out of the milk stream for the rest of the year, but that's much better than the organic alternative.  

    This makes handling parasites difficult.  And my sheep are at greater risk of parasites being pasture-fed to start off with.  They would be much healthier if I fed them on the lot, as then they do not eat off the ground, but even I succumb to 'the story' and people want to see the sheep in the fields.  So we do use some 'natural' methods, such as strict rotation of the fields, and encouraging the growth of chicory.

    How well that works, I really couldn't say.  But given that my other choice is nothing, and it does no harm, then I'm good with it.

    But if a sheep shown any actual symptoms of a worm problem, then out of the milk stream she goes and she gets proper medicines.

    And it doesn't matter how clean your ranch or how well fed your animals are.  Those things really help, but animals will still get sick.  People bring in germs.  Birds drop them.  Snails carry them.  Insects.  It's impossible to seal off your ranch completely from the outside world, although I do require human visitors to disinfect their shoes, wash their hands and they are not allowed to touch the livestock (unless they're the vet).

  •  Yes the GOP is largely anti-sicence (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ebohlman, G2geek

    but as you show it is by no means exclusively their game.
    And there are some Rs who are scientists. Most of them are Rs on the conservative fiscal side , not the bible banging types.
    I just published a letter to the editor on this very issue and the response has been incredible. People have been responding now for a full week. At latest count, there have been 988 responses and counting. I fully expect it exceed 1,000. This is small local McClatchy paper in a city of about 100,000 and a rural community of about another 100K.

    I am preparing short post on this extraordinary event with samples.
     

    "There is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats ..." - Kenneth Grahame -

    by RonK on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 05:45:02 PM PDT

  •  don't forget the opposition to (0+ / 0-)

    irradiation to prolong shelf life.  ( http://en.wikipedia.org/... ).  Oh, and the unpasteurized milk crowd, and the anti-fluoridation crowd.  Actually, the first anti-fluoridation idiots were on the other team, as parodied in the character of General Ripper in Dr. Strangelove.  Somehow, our side has been infected.

    It's like these people want to get food poisoning and have their teeth fall out.

    Global warming is the inconvenient truth, nuclear power is the inconvenient alternative.

    by eigenlambda on Tue Sep 27, 2011 at 02:40:25 PM PDT

    •  You think? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eigenlambda
      It's like these people want to get food poisoning and have their teeth fall out.

      You make that sound like a bad thing. ;-)

      It's all part of living in a "post-oil" village, as described by the nutjobs who promote such nonsense.

      An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.
      -- H. L. Mencken

      by bryfry on Tue Sep 27, 2011 at 03:13:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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