Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, June 12, 2009


One of the joys and horrors of blogging is all the stuff I get from publicists. Free books to review, for better or for worse; offers to do interviews with various people from heroes of mine to obnoxious cranks; commercial spam; promotions of causes good or evil; you name it. Here's a sampling of today's yield, just to give you an idea.

A+: The American Cancer Society is bragging about the legislation giving the FDA authority to regulate tobacco. Congratulations to them! Here's an excerpt, and I got nothin' to add:

Statement of John R. Seffrin, PhD, CEO
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

WASHINGTON, D.C. – June 11, 2009 – “Today is an historic day for public health, as the U.S. Senate passed legislation by a bipartisan 72-17 vote that will finally put an end to Big Tobacco’s despicable marketing practices that are designed to addict children to its deadly products. Senate passage of the ‘Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act’ (S. 982) has the potential to reduce the scourge of tobacco products, which kill more than 400,000 Americans every year.

“This critical bill, which has been in the works for more than a decade, would finally grant the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate the manufacturing, marketing, and sale of tobacco products.

“Tobacco is virtually the only consumable product not regulated in the U.S. and the tobacco industry exploits this undeserved free pass by spending nearly $40 million every day aggressively marketing its products, especially to children, with enticing candy- and fruit-flavored cigarettes. The legislation would stop the marketing of tobacco products to children, require tobacco companies to list the poisons in their products and mandate larger and more effective warning labels on tobacco product packaging. . . .

“ACS CAN commends Senators Harry Reid (D-NV), Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) for their determination to get this legislation to the President to be signed into law this year, and Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) for his leadership on this legislation and his long-time record of championing public health issues.

“Every day, 3,500 children pick up their first cigarette and 1,000 become addicted smokers. We call on Congress to finish their work on this legislation as quickly as possible so the President can sign it into law.”

C-I am a resolute opponent of factory farms, and it is largely because of the industrial meat production system that I do not personally consume the flesh of tetrapods. I am also well known as a crusader against feeding antibiotics to livestock. However, I have a problem with this:

Farm Sanctuary Issues Statement on the Swine Flu Outbreak

Renowned Public Health Expert and Farm Sanctuary Board Member, Dr. Allan Kornberg, Submits Statement on Public Health and Animal Welfare Implications of the H1N1 (Swine Flu) Outbreak

“The pigs are not to blame for this. In fact, it is the industry that pushes for the ever more expansion of factory farms at all costs that needs to be held accountable for the breeding ground of human as well as animal disease.”

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – May 11, 2009 – Farm Sanctuary, the nation’s leading farm animal protection organization, today released a statement from Dr. Allan Kornberg, a member of the organization’s board of directors. As one of the few public health experts who also retains a deep knowledge of farm animal welfare issues, Dr. Kornberg offers his perspective on the H1N1 (swine flu) outbreak and the health and welfare implications for both humans and farm animals:

“Even though swine flu now is not as deadly as many other illnesses, it is still a public health threat that must be taken seriously, and as such merits a concentrated investigation into its origins. Only by tracing the source of the infection can we hope to prevent future outbreaks (especially those that could prove far more lethal). The most current evidence seems to indicate that the recombinant pig-bird-human strain plaguing the world today germinated on a factory farm — an industrial pig farm in North Carolina (the nation’s top pork-producing state), to be exact. …

“The sheer number of animals being raised indoors in close quarters is serious cause for concern from both an animal welfare and public health standpoint. Add to that the immunosuppression that results from stressful overcrowding, unnatural confinement in gestation crates (2-foot-wide metal enclosures that prevent breeding sows from turning around or lying down comfortably) for months at a time, and the filth and feces that accumulates under the animals’ feet, and you have a virtually perfect laboratory for the development of new disease strains.

“Zoonotic diseases including campylobacter poisoning, acute salmonellosis, E. coli, variant Creutzfeldt- Jakob Disease (the human form of mad cow disease), MRSA and H5N1 (avian influenza) have all been linked directly, or indirectly, to intensive animal agriculture. Swine flu now joins these ranks, and as long as factory farms continue to propagate, this won’t be the last infectious disease to emerge. …

My problem is that they are trying to capitalize on an event in the news -- the emergence of the novel H1N1 virus -- which is probably not related to their cause. While it is possible that this strain of flu originated in a factory farm -- and no, we do not yet know -- in fact the risk of swine and bird flu strains jumping to humans is greatest in the small-scale, subsistence husbandry practices of Asia, where people keep chickens and pigs in their households, in continuous close proximity to people. Industrial meat growers do their best to keep influenza out. Their animals have limited contact with humans, workers with flu like illnesses are obviously told to stay home, and sick animals are culled. So this isn't really honest. Sorry.

F-Whoa, did these clowns come to the wrong circus:

Dear Editor/Producer,

Betsy McCaughey (former Lt Governor of New York State) presents a powerful argument against the proposed White House healthcare plan coming up for vote in July because she says it's based on the European "medical scarcity"

See her June 5 OpEd in The Wall Street Journal:,
and her June 9 article in The American Spectator:

As the major opponent to Hillary Clinton's health plan in the 90s, she packs a formidable punch. Betsy is seen as the one most responsible for exposing and then defeating that plan. Today she has the White House health plan in her cross hairs.

Betsy McCaughey is a super-smart patient advocate with information the public and legislators need to hear before it's too late. Please call me to set up an interview.


/Dean 641-472-2257

Dean Draznin Communications, Inc.

Betsy McCaughey is no patient advocate, she's an insurance company advocate. Her schtick is that health care reform is going to cause reduced spending on medical services, which will deprive us of our God given right to have our pockets picked and our bodies damaged by overtreatment. Sorry Betsy, I'm not buying it. European "medical scarcity" produces healthier, wealthier people. Can't argue with results, now can you?

There's more, but that's enough for today. Keep those cards and letters coming, folks.

1 comment:

C. Corax said...

Just found out about this neat little online tool for placing folks like Betsy McCaughey in context:

Heh. Maybe you should interview her.