Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Caution: Belief in Creationism May Be Hazardous to Your Health (and Mine)

Last September  I published a post on this site called  "America's Regressive Tendencies" in which I discussed disturbing trends in Americans' rejection of science in favor of irrational religious beliefs. It appears that in the meantime, the situation has deteriorated. According to "Teaching Creationism as  Science is Un-American", since that time several bills have introduced in various state legislators that in one form or another denouncing the teaching of the  theory of evolution.

As it turns out, American religious conservatives are not the only ones who refuse to accept scientific evidence that clash with their beliefs. Big business in this country, specifically agribusiness and the Big Meat industry, have refused to change their practices in which they have engaged for years and  which have been proven to be a danger to consumers: the indiscriminate use of antibiotics on livestock. Sadly, under the Obama administration, government regulations restricting this practice, which have long been slipshod, have been weakened even further.

According to "The Scary Dangers of Meat (Even for Those Who Don't Eat It", animals  grown for the purpose of eventual human consumption are usually confined in quarters so crowded that they are standing in their own manure. They are dosed not only to prevent disease that would occur under these horrific conditions (which of course should be outlawed) but also to enhance their growth and increase their weight which in turn means more and quicker profits for producers.

Even taking into account their potential disease exposure, why is it still unhealthful to give non-infected animals antibiotics? For the same reason that indiscriminate use of antibiotics by humans is likewise dangerous. Over time, bacteria exposed such drugs develop resistance, and so the antibiotics become ineffective. This along with other factors such as unsanitary slaughterhouses and meat packers is the reason for numerous outbreaks of food-borne illnesses in America that happen year after year. The situation is aggravated by a decades-old revolving door of meat industry executives being appointed to government regulatory agencies such as the FDA and the Department of Agriculture.  Guess whose interests they're going to look after.

As it is, meat industry generated food poisoning bacteria doesn't just sicken its victim for a few days. Many people die from it. Eventually, pathogens that can no longer be controlled by drugs can develop into superbugs that could threaten the safety of the entire country with resultant deadly diseases.  So why don't lawmakers, especially "patriotic" Republican politicians, supported by  their conservative Christian constituents who are supposedly advocates of "family values" and concerned with national security, put a stop to this  madness of  policies that place the U.S. in such grave peril? After all, isn't it a "family value" to want to protect the health and safety of their loved ones and ensure that they are provided with safe, wholesome food?  Or do these "values" and families themselves along with the welfare of Amerca matter less than the totems of  "free enterprise" and "de-regulation"?

But here's another possible reason for for their reluctance to tackle this issue. Conservative Christians are usually creationists. To acknowledge that through natural selection and mutation, bacteria develop into resistant strains is to grant the validity of the theory of evolution. Denial of this scientific principle is not just a belief with these people. As the opening paragraph of this post  demonstrates, it is an obsession.

So thanks to this strong tie (collusion?) between the powerful interests of religion and capitalism in America  the ignorance of evolution deniers places not just themselves at risk (if only that it were so). Their recklessness and irresponsibility in the public sphere menaces everybody. Something to think about before you bite into your next hamburger.