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The Ministry of Food and Drugs

So yesterday here was a wash, with the only content I had to bring to the intarweb was bitching about the content other people made. I don't do that often.

Today, I will make up for it with a lively discussion, some amusing links, and a queez later.

By now, none, some, many, or all of you may have heard about the fact that the Food and Drug Administration has approved LMP 102 for use on ready-to-eat food. If you keep reading, you'll know more about it than you probably want to, certainly more than the major news outlets want you to.


So what the hell is LMP 102?

It is a melange of bacterophages used to destroy the most deadly (statistically, based on rate of infection) of all the bacteria we consume through mass market products, listeria monocytogenes.

O.K. So what? Some company managed to figure out a way to nail a problem that has been a big killer for a long time, right? Pop the champagne corks!

However, when you look at some of the background data, it quickly becomes apparent that there is something up here. This is a problem which kills 20% of the people it affects, which comes down to something like 2500 people a year stateside?! I think there are that many people in the surrounding five blocks of my local C-Town who eat these foods. Lord knows my roommate is making up for any who are not.

The FDA approval means that hot dogs, lunch meat, snackables, and (woe!) potted meat products will be treated. All the wonderful foods that are pre-cooked, but not delivered cooked. Also, or you veggies/vegans out there who just considered not caring, they will probably use it on fruits and veggies as well.

In fact, most of you guys are probably already dealing with this, while the rest of us cruel meat eaters are new to the problem. There are already many phage-based pesticides used in organic farming. Don't ask me how that is more healthy than a chemical pesticide, but I guess it has less overall environmental impact. This means that you can enjoy peaceful rivers and lakes, complete with soaring eagles and hopping fish while you die of cervical cancer. That's right. The same bug that they genetically modified to create that vaccine is the same one they are using this process to kill in your lunch meat or broccoli (as the case may be). Somehow, I don't think the marketing demographic for $12.99 a pound organic grapes and $2.99 a dozen hot dogs share much venn diagram space.

I looked, but could not find any numbers estimating the number of consumers of lunch meats ad hot dogs out there. It has to be in the millions. According to one piece of market data, it was approaching a US 5$ billion industry in 2001! That is the type of stat Oscar Meyer usually subjects you to on the sideshow while you are waiting for a movie. My main question is, why the hell is suddenly everyone open to exposure to the potential long-term health effects of the endotoxin byproducts of this phage-treatment process, when the actual problem it solves affects such a small number of people? I mean, an infinitesimal number of people. This would be like re-engineering the lollipop so that dumb kids and negligent parents would never have to face the sad Darwinian reality of a blow-pop suffocation death ever again.

Seems kinda crazy to me. Crazy like banning peanuts from all airline flights to prevent the few dozen people with serious peanut allergies (a fraction of whom could die if they come in contact with peanut particles) from ever encountering them. The difference there, I guess, is that flying on an airplane does not constitute an assumed risk of exposure to peanuts. Personally, I don't view eating/buying a hot dog or sandwich as an invitation to partake in some yummy leftovers of a specialized bacteria fighting program.

I'm not getting all foil-hat about this. The whole deal may be something as simple as government kickbacks to Intralytix, Inc. They certainly have the proper connections (John D. Vazzana, CEO, has many connections to Steelcloud, a DOD pet partner). However, given the fear of genetically altered foods, it amazes me that the FDA is O.K. with this process, but scared of lab-tested food products.

By the way, I am not totally against phage therapy. I first read about it a few months ago, in relation to the opening of one of the new Russian clinics. Using your own bugs to kill those bugs seems a much smarter idea than saying "this chemical compound(s) in these amounts will kill everyone's bugs, despite how diverse and varied your bodies and immune systems are). The Russians have had great success with it, and it certainly seems to be an interesting alternative to antibiotics. The FDA will never approve it here though, because there is no way a major company could ever make bazillions of dollars off of it, since it is an approach which has a cure catered to each patient. Medicine should be like legos people!

The other scary aspect of the whole bacterophage treatment thing is that I first heard about this weeks ago, from a comic strip. How long did we hear about genetically modified corn being used to make fucking nacho chips? The amount of testing that has been done to try to assess long-term effects of phage-treatment of packaged meats is negligible. It is largely based on a few animal studies, and a handful of human trials. That does not appear to be on anyone's radar. Where the fuck is Sheila Brofslosky when you need her?


What is my point? My point is that I bet someone in the TSA knows who dies in the last Potter book.

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Comments

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
misterpardonme
Sep. 15th, 2006 04:13 pm (UTC)
i read about potted meat in a book once, how it is the most revolting food product that is mass-marketed in the US. so naturally, when i saw some at my local dollar store the other weekend i picked up a can. let me tell you, libby's potted meat is indistinguishable from cat food. I consider myself a connoisseur of cheap, low-quality, unhealthy edibles, (for example, i think vienna sausages are a delictable treat), but potted meat was beyod disgusting. i could only finish 3/4 of the can.

delascabezas
Sep. 15th, 2006 04:15 pm (UTC)
potted meat is the devil
but there was a time and a place where it was the best anyone could get.
wangch61
Sep. 15th, 2006 04:31 pm (UTC)
vienna sausages rock.

we put those in rice...its good shit
delascabezas
Sep. 15th, 2006 04:35 pm (UTC)
by 'we' i hope you mean your family
and not people from the planet you represent the landing force of.
shabbyrosy
Sep. 15th, 2006 05:16 pm (UTC)
the filipinos rock the vienna sausage and rice too. i'm hungry.
delascabezas
Sep. 15th, 2006 05:32 pm (UTC)
yikes
i've had them before, and i can't say i was amazed.
in fact, i can't think of them as an appetite stimulant. and i have definitely eaten some wierd shit.
misterpardonme
Sep. 15th, 2006 04:14 pm (UTC)
whoops- sorry, didn't meant to reference cats.
delascabezas
Sep. 15th, 2006 04:16 pm (UTC)
heh
roof rabbit pie i tells ya!
fructa
Sep. 15th, 2006 04:30 pm (UTC)
infantesimal
" This is a problem which kills 20% of the people it affects, which comes down to something like 2500 people a year stateside?! I think there are that many people in the surrounding five blocks of my local C-Town who eat these foods. [...] My main question is, why the hell is suddenly everyone open to exposure to the potential long-term health effects of the endotoxin byproducts of this phage-treatment process, when the actual problem it solves affects such a small number of people? I mean, an infinitesimal number of people. This would be like re-engineering the lollipop so that dumb kids and negligent parents would never have to face the sad Darwinian reality of a blow-pop suffocation death ever again."

So tell me, how many people died in 9/11? And how long and wide-ranging have the repercussions of THAT been?

just saying...
delascabezas
Sep. 15th, 2006 04:35 pm (UTC)
it is not how many died, it is how they died
i completely concur, by the way. there was a great report a couple weeks ago showing you were far more likely to be hit by lightning than die in a terrorist attack, yet the changes wrought over the fear of being blown up have cost billions, whereas i have seen very little change in the movement of lightning rods.

9/11 was not something that was ostensibly planned (or so the evidence/lack of evidence shows) by a branch of the us government as a consumer-based plan. this is.

buildings blowing up because planes hit them make headlines. old people dying from bad salami does not. that is what doesn't make sense here.
fructa
Sep. 15th, 2006 04:46 pm (UTC)
Re: it is not how many died, it is how they died
Maybe it *should* have been how many died, as it should be (but clearly isn't, for whatever reason) in the virulent salami case. Or at least it should be by now...

So you're saying that the plan of innoculating salamis with something that (surprise surprise) could make lots of other people sick would make more sense to you if there were headline stories about old people dying from their lunch?

Maybe you should go into lightning rod sales, Mr. Nightshade.
delascabezas
Sep. 15th, 2006 04:50 pm (UTC)
it would make no more sense to rational human beings
but, to a government agency, public awareness is the biggest motivator. if people don't care about the "problem", then very often, there is no impetus for the tenta..er.. arms of uncle sam to do anything about it.
dawestruck
Sep. 15th, 2006 04:39 pm (UTC)
I like how you said "I'm not getting all foil-hat about this" and then you cite evidence in support of a conspiracy theory.
delascabezas
Sep. 15th, 2006 04:49 pm (UTC)
all depends on the crew you hang with
the foil hatters i know who are talking about this very thing? allow me to give you some theories:

-the additive is the second phase of the flouride project, which is designed to make our bodies more inhabitable to parasitic aliens, coming soon!

-the phage product's endotoxic leavings are actually supposed to help fight an outbreak of a disease the gubbment lost control of, and can't raise alarms about, so this is the innoculation method (hence the reason to spray fruits and veggies)

-the specifically engineered phages will create endotoxins that can be screened and/or monitoried in measurable amounts in all manner of ways (not writing off sattelite imaging)

-the phage introduction is a way to discredit creationists, by providing them with a visible proof of mutation in the field

and so on, and so on...

i don't see me poionting to some government kickbacks (with information that is all public domain) quite as foil hat. the guys who are still boiling rainwater, and now NOT eating hot dogs, because they think this will give the plesiasaur nation which pulls the strings for the illuminati? those are the folks i am talking about.
dawestruck
Sep. 15th, 2006 05:47 pm (UTC)
yikes
I mean...yikes.
timaeusdaspirge
Sep. 15th, 2006 06:51 pm (UTC)
let's be honest here
when the parasitic aliens come, all they'll have to do is take over steve jobs. within a year, you'll see an iImplant - all the benefits of an ipod, in a handy little bug parasite form. then, just mass market our new overlords and *bam* done. instant world takeover
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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