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Friday, November 30, 2012

Why Are Cow Tails Falling Off? (Or, Frack Your Food)

Posted by on Fri, Nov 30, 2012 at 2:28 PM

The Nation, in collaboration with the Food & Environment Reporting Network nonprofit, has a chilling story about early-warning signs of how fracking could seriously frack up the US food supply. Fracking, for those fuzzy on the details, involves "drilling thousands of feet into ancient seabeds, then repeatedly fracturing (or 'fracking') these wells with millions of gallons of highly pressurized, chemically laced water, which shatters the surrounding shale and releases fossil fuels."

Sounds healthful, doesn't it?

The story is ugly. Preliminary investigations of fracking areas show all kinds of mysterious problems in livestock, pets, and people—birth defects, deaths, rashes, overworked kidneys, urinating blood, limps, infections, crowns and fillings falling out of people's teeth, and the titular tails falling off.

The story also gets into why there isn't more outcry about this—in part, because people either aren't looking for it or have incentives to turn a blind eye. One rancher had her air and water tested after fracking wells opened three miles away, several of her cows mysteriously dropped dead, and she started to get sick. Tests showed lots of problematic stuff (acetone, acetone, selenium): "State health and agriculture officials acknowledged Schilke’s air and water tests but told her she had nothing to worry about. Her doctors, however, diagnosed her with neurotoxic damage and constricted airways."

And unless animals are visibly melting from chemical poisoning, the USDA isn't interested:

Veterinarians don’t know how long the chemicals may remain in animals, and the Food Safety Inspection Service, part of the US Department of Agriculture, isn’t looking for them in carcasses. Inspectors in slaughterhouses examine organs only if they look diseased. “It’s gross appearance, not microscopic,” Bamberger says of the inspections—which means that animals either tainted or sickened by those chemicals could enter the food chain undetected.

Read the whole ominous thing here.


Comments (16) RSS

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wingedkat 1
Fracking is terrifying.
Posted by wingedkat on November 30, 2012 at 2:57 PM · Report this
espato 2
It seems we may be only fracking ourselves. thanks for the link.
Posted by espato on November 30, 2012 at 3:00 PM · Report this
"now further tainted with such deep-earth compounds as sodium, chloride"

Holy shit. Sodium and chloride. How terrifying! Hide your salt shakers.

That article is such a poorly written scare job. It betrays a total lack of understanding of chemistry, toxicology or statistics.
Posted by F on November 30, 2012 at 4:53 PM · Report this
VelhoSorriso 4
Ditto @1 and @2.

Thanks, again, for the link!
Posted by VelhoSorriso on November 30, 2012 at 6:30 PM · Report this
samktg 5
Shit like this makes me glad to be vegetarian, but no one should have to worry about the safety of their food. Fucked up.
Posted by samktg on November 30, 2012 at 6:41 PM · Report this
Nelson Bradley 6
Here in economically depressed Western New York, many are worried that Cuomo will cave for the money. We need more press like this to persuade the Gov to keep the frack out.
Posted by Nelson Bradley on November 30, 2012 at 6:54 PM · Report this
watchout5 7

You're crops aren't safe from fracking. They breathe our same air and feed off the same water. In this fight we are allies. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
Posted by watchout5 on November 30, 2012 at 7:30 PM · Report this
long-time reader 8
Please reconsider use of phrases such as "chemically laced water".

Every substance is a chemical. Even water itself.

If they're fracking by using toxin-laced water (and they are), then write that. Perpetuating the notion that "chemical=poison" contributes to widespread scientific ignorance.
Posted by long-time reader on November 30, 2012 at 8:05 PM · Report this
Thanks to fracking the US is set to overtake Saudi Arabia as the world's biggest energy producer sometime in the next decade. The environmental consequences of this new technology need to be studied, but this isn't something that can be stopped or should be stopped. The US becoming an energy exporter in a world where fossil fuels are becoming increasingly scarce, could mean the difference between another American century and our country becoming a second rate power.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on November 30, 2012 at 8:30 PM · Report this
@9 - read the rest of the IEA report - the US is projected to be the world's biggest energy producer by the mid 2025s, and keep that status all the way to, wait for it, 2030. Wow. 5 years! Totally worth ruining the one thing that actually does make America great - a fantastically productive agriculture system - for five years of being better than Saudi Arabia. Woopdeedoo.
Posted by boyd main on November 30, 2012 at 9:01 PM · Report this
@10 The IEA report also said that the US would likely be energy independent by 2035 due to increased natural gas production. You don't think not having to worry so much about who controls the Strait of Hormuz would be a good thing?
Posted by Ken Mehlman on November 30, 2012 at 10:16 PM · Report this
NaFun 12
@11 There is no such thing as true energy independence. Canada is a net energy exporter and their fuel prices are the same as ours.
Posted by NaFun on November 30, 2012 at 11:18 PM · Report this
@12 Those high fuel prices don't seem to have harmed the Canadian economy though.

@10 BTW it's US oil production that is projected to briefly exceed that of Saudi Arabia, before falling beck to a lower level. Once you throw coal and natural gas into the mix we'll be outproducing the Saudis for a lot longer than five years.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on December 1, 2012 at 2:57 AM · Report this
@3 (and to a lesser extent @8), yeah I'd take this story with a massive grain of deadly sodium chloride.

I will just say that I've seen that rancher lady on PBS and she pings by bullshit detector off the chart. There's other people in North Dakota who have had problems with spills and accidents and such, but she seems to be the only one suffering from whatever generic fracking related malady she claims her out-of-state doctors say she's suffering from. All of the information from the experts she consulted is being filtered through her, and I frankly am not going to buy it until we can actually get it straight from them.
Posted by Jk on December 1, 2012 at 7:31 AM · Report this
@14 here are more accounts from some people, though not everyone mentioned, because some of them are dead now.…
Posted by erly on December 1, 2012 at 3:48 PM · Report this
Fistique 16
We could replace the current FDA with a pumpkin in a fedora and it would be exactly as effective and much cheaper.
Posted by Fistique on December 2, 2012 at 8:36 AM · Report this

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