MEAT-The problem finally acknowledged

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This Baltimore Sun reported on a study released last week by the National Research Council, a nine member panel from the National Academies of Science. The study was commissioned 2 years ago by the Bay Program initiated by the Governors of Bay States who wanted to know the reason for the failure of the Bay Program to meet its goals. The reports understandingly questioned whether farming Best Management Practices (BMPs) were effective. This now becomes of renewed importance because Maryland’s response to the new EPA mandated TMDL rather than directly reducing fertilizer, manure, and sediment is again depending on the effectiveness of buffers, cover crops and a dozen other untested BMPs.

This report reinforced previously expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of BMPs by USGS and others and therefore the viability of Maryland’s response and EPA’s acceptance of the Maryland Plan. This report is also important because for the first time a major scientific study hinted at the primary cause of Chesapeake Bay pollution and suggested a remedy. It calls for states and the federal government to promote greater individual responsibility for reducing bay pollution, including encouraging people to reduce their consumption of meat.

Why? Between 1997 and 2007 we increased the number of red meat and dairy producing animals by 6300 per day and increased the number of CAFO sites by a factor of 3. Each one of the animals requires corn feed and each bushel of corn is over fertilized. Two pounds of unused fertilizer is applied for each pound used by the crop, more in drought years. Each animal increases the amount of untreated manure which along with the fertilizer is the primary contaminate of aquifers and surface water. Epidemiology studies have increasingly pointed to red meat and dairy as the primary factors in increased risk of heart disease and cancer, which is now at epidemic stage. Corn based sugar and fat used in processed food is the major cause of our obesity and diabetes epidemics. Until Americans break their addiction to high fat and sugar based food these epidemics will continue along with the loss of the Nations most important natural resources. Finally the National Academies of Science are publically acknowledging the true problem. 

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