If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the U.S. would save:

● 100 billion gallons of water, enough to supply all the homes in New England for almost 4 months;
● 1.5 billion pounds of crops otherwise fed to livestock, enough to feed the state of New Mexico for more than a year;
● 70 million gallons of gas — enough to fuel all the cars of Canada and Mexico combined with plenty to spare;
● 3 million acres of land, an area more than twice the size of Delaware;
● 33 tons of antibiotics.

If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the U.S. would prevent:

● Greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 1.2 million tons of CO2, as much as produced by all of France;
● 3 million tons of soil erosion and $70 million in resulting economic damages;
● 4.5 million tons of animal excrement;
● Almost 7 tons of ammonia emissions, a major air pollutant

According to Environmental Defense, if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads.

Globally, we feed 756 million tons of grain to farmed animals. As Princeton bioethicist Peter Singer notes in his new book, if we fed that grain to the 1.4 billion people who are living in abject poverty, each of them would be provided more than half a ton of grain, or about 3 pounds of grain/day — that’s twice the grain they would need to survive. And that doesn’t even include the 225 million tons of soy that are produced every year, almost all of which is fed to farmed animals. He writes, “The world is not running out of food. The problem is that we — the relatively affluent — have found a way to consume four or five times as much food as would be possible, if we were to eat the crops we grow directly.”

A recent United Nations report titled Livestock’s Long Shadow concluded that the meat industry causes almost 40% more greenhouse gas emissions than all the world’s transportation systems — that’s all the cars, trucks, SUVs, planes and ships in the world combined. The report also concluded that factory farming is one of the biggest contributors to the most serious environmental problems at every level — local and global.

Researchers at the University of Chicago concluded that switching from standard American diet to a vegan diet is more effective in the fight against global warming than switching from a standard American car to a hybrid.

In its report, the U.N. found that the meat industry causes local and global environmental problems even beyond global warming. It said that the meat industry should be a main focus in every discussion of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortages and pollution, and loss of biodiversity. Read the rest of this entry »

Address by H.E. Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, President of the United Nations general assembly, to the informal general assembly thematic dialogue on the global food crisis and the right to food, April 6, 2009.

Excellencies, Mr. Under-Secretary-General and High Representative of the Least Developed States, Colleague and friend, Special Rapporteur Olivier de Schutter, Representatives of the Rome agencies and of the United Nations System, Brothers and Sisters All,

I am very pleased to open this informal dialogue of the General Assembly on the global food crisis. Today’s discussion will bring to our Membership not only a diversity of views, but also of disciplines and knowledge. It is most appropriate that the General Assembly avail itself of various sources of knowledge and expertise, for indeed, the crisis we are examining in depth today, the Global Food Crisis and the Right to Food, is not independent or separate from the converging crises that are confronting us as an international community: climate change, the financial and economic crisis, the energy crisis, and the food crisis. Rather these crises converge, interact, fuel and aggravate each other. Read the rest of this entry »

A new study finds that a botanical drug could provide the key to new treatments for peanut allergies. Lead author Xiu-Min Li, MD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Director of Center for Chinese Herbal Therapy for Allergy and Asthma at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and colleagues found Food Allergy Herbal Formula (FAHF-2) produced long-term protection following treatment against peanut-induced anaphylaxis in mice. FAHF-2 treatment protected peanut allergic mice from anaphylaxis for more than 36 weeks after treatment was discontinued. This is one-quarter of the mouse lifespan. These findings update previous research done by Dr. Li and her colleagues, where the same drug was shown to be effective for preventing anaphylactic reactions for up to four weeks following treatment.

“Food allergy is a serious and sometimes fatal condition for which there is no cure,” said Dr. Li. “Approximately 80% of fatal or near-fatal anaphylaxis cases are due to peanut allergy in this country. There is an urgent need for effective therapies to prevent and treat those who suffer from food allergies and FAHF-2 could prove to be a major advancement in this field.”

FAHF-2 has received investigational new drug approval of the Food and Drug Administration and currently human clinical trials are being conducted at Mount Sinai to evaluate the safety and early efficacy of FAHF-2 on multiple food allergies including peanut, tree nut, fish and shellfish. “This study reinforces previous studies showing that this botanical drug has the potential to be developed into the first available and effective treatment for patients with peanut allergies and other food allergies,” said study co-author Hugh Sampson, MD, Professor of Pediatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Dr. Sampson is also Director of the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute and Dean for Translational Biomedical Science at The Mount Sinai Medical Center.

http://www.mountsinai.org/?citype=News&ciid=02092009

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), an association that represents most of the makers of nonprescription over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medicines in children, recently announced that its members are voluntarily modifying the product labels for consumers of OTC cough and cold medicines to state “do not use” in children under 4 years of age. The announcement comes a week after federal authorities said they had little data on the benefits of such medicines for very young children.

In January 2008, after the FDA warned of the serious risk such medicines pose for children younger than two, pharmaceutical firms stopped marketing them for that age group. American pediatricians welcomed the move, although they would like to see it extended for children up to the age of five.

Studies have shown that despite the billions of dollars spent every year in this country on over-the-counter cough syrups, most such medicines do little if anything to relieve coughs, and they can cause serious side effects.

Over-the-counter cough syrups generally contain drugs in too low a dose to be effective, or contain combinations of drugs that have never been proven to treat coughs, said Dr. Richard Irwin, chairman of a cough guidelines committee for the American College of Chest Physicians.

However a small amount of honey may just do the trick. Read the rest of this entry »

There’s a old saying, “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime.” Women For Women International is teaching women in Rwanda and Sudan how produce food that will feed them for a lifetime. The women are trained to grow crops that not only feed their families, but also earn them a profit.

The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that poor countries will spend up to one hundred seventy billion dollars this year to import food. This is an increase of forty percent from last year. The United Nations agency says the rising price of food over the past year is a serious problem because most hungry people also live in poverty. Read the rest of this entry »

Plastic bags are made from oil: it takes about 430,000 gallons of oil to produce 100 million plastic bags, and the U.S. goes through 380 billion of them a year.

A statistics class at Indiana U did the math: more than 1.6 billion gallons of oil are used each year for plastic bags alone. The more we use plastic bags, the more we waste oil.

Compounding the problem is the fact that, not only do we make tons of plastic bags (and use lots of oil in the process) we only recycle 1 percent. One lousy percent. It’s pitiful.

But the plastic problem gets worse. Under perfect conditions a bag takes a thousand years to biodegrade, and in a landfill, plastic bags decompose even slower. If buried, they block the natural flow of oxygen and water through the soil. If burned, they release dangerous toxins and carcinogens into the air. The damage is even more severe when the bags end up in the ocean, where thousands of sea turtles and other marine life die each year after mistaking plastic bags for food. Read the rest of this entry »