California crab ban reveals Pacific Ocean under assault

High levels of domoic acid, a neurotoxin harmful to humans and other animals, have been found in Dungeness crabs along the California coastline. The toxin is produced by algae, which are thriving in warmer ocean temperatures.

As a result, for the first time in memory the California Fish and Game Commission this week delayed the recreational Dungeness crab season that was scheduled to begin a week ago for the area stretching from Southern California’s Ventura County to the Oregon state line. The state has also suspended the rock crab harvest, which is normally allowed year round…

Consumers might be annoyed that a favorite seafood will be more scarce, and those who make their living from it are rightly worried about a major financial loss. California’s crabbing industry brings in around $60 million a year for harvesters alone, and the revenues amount to much more when counting the grocery stores and restaurants who sell the catch.

An even more dire concern may be that the contamination of crabs points to the Pacific Ocean facing problems of a magnitude never seen before.

Persistent warm-water conditions along the U.S. West Coast have contributed to the largest toxic algae bloom ever recorded. One type of algae — Pseudo-nitzschia — has poisoned much of the food web, and is drastically affecting marine ecosystems along the West Coast. One sign of that is that sea lions suffering from seizures caused by domoic acid have been washing up on California beaches…

The persistently warm water and poisonous algae have prompted seafood harvest bans up and down the Pacific Coast, affecting California, Oregon and Washington…

This ain’t a tempest in a teapot, folks. Populist nutballs and other flavors of science-haters may find safe haven in politics. Economics, jobs, food safety are all quite another critical batch of questions.

Antibiotics fed to animals threaten childrens’ health

Citing the potential threat to children’s health, as well as to the public at large, the American Academy of Pediatrics took a stand against the use of nontherapeutic antibiotic use in animals.

The AAP technical report, which was published simultaneously in Pediatrics, described how the use of antibiotics in livestock as growth stimulants, and not for treating illnesses, contributes to the threat of antimicrobial resistance and potential infection through the food supply — especially among young children who are most vulnerable to infection.

Jerome Paulson, MD…told MedPage Today that while this is the first report the AAP has issued on the subject, the organization has been engaged in discussions with government agencies and agriculture interests. But he added there has not been much progress on the issue…

Pediatricians play such an important role because children under 5 have the highest incidence of most food-related infections. Children can become infected through food, contact with animals, and environmental exposures such as when animal runoff contaminates surface waters used for drinking and recreation…

More alarmingly, growing proportions of Salmonella and Campylobacter infections are drug-resistant…Of the 100,000 Salmonella infections, 3% were resistant to ceftriaxone, the first-line pediatric therapy for these organisms. Some Salmonella strains have been found to be resistant to five or more classes of antibiotics.

Paulson says that clinicians should talk to patients and families about purchasing antibiotic-free meat and poultry, which can protect their patients, as well as being aware of their own purchasing choices.

“Clinicians bear some responsibility for this problem because we ourselves are not always prudent in our use of antibiotics,” he said. “Unfortunately, too many people still prescribe antibiotics for colds or sore throats without having an appropriate bacterial diagnosis. So, since clinicians are part of the problem, they can be part of the solution.”

Bravo! Voting with your grocery dollars is as important as every other political act you might endorse to build a healthier population in this land, in this era.

Home of Taiwan’s past president becomes a McDonald’s

McDonald’s has turned a house in Taiwan where the son of the former Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek once lived into a restaurant, dividing opinion on the island and in China.

The McCafe opened on Friday in the former residence of Chiang Ching-kuo, near West Lake in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. A side wing of the two-storey wood and brick lakeside villa had already been turned into a Starbucks in October.

Chiang Ching-kuo lived in the western-style villa with his family for a short time in 1948. He fled the mainland in 1949 after the Chinese Nationalist party’s army was defeated by the communists, retreating to Taiwan where he was president from 1978 to 1988…

A McDonald’s spokesperson declined to comment.

For many “important” political figures in recent decades I think this transformation is spot on. We could rent out Richard Nixon’s home to be the World Headquarters of the White Citizen’s Council. The Texas ranch that George W. Bush bought specifically to befuddle ignorant voters into thinking of him as a good ol’ boy instead of the incompetent and petty front man for religious crusades around the world – could become a theme park for Madison Avenue Republicans, e.g., Kinder, Gentler Conservative-land. Complete with plastic promises.