The main cause of death in the world is not bullets or car accidents; are the so-called cardiovascular diseases. One in three people who die on the planet does so as a result of heart failure caused by the accumulation of fat and cholesterol on the walls of their coronary arteries. 45%, before the age of 70. The second is cancer, one death in six.
The third is chronic lung disease, an inflammation caused by prolonged exposure to irritants that injure the lungs and airways. The fourth is diabetes. The fifth is dementia, especially in the form of Alzheimer’s. Four of the top five causes of death for humans worldwide are linked to their diet. The fifth, to a derivative of its diet: environmental pollution.
“Diet causes more deaths on a global scale than anything else, including smoking,” says the latest report from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, in Seattle, USA. By bad, it refers to the following risk factors: excess sodium, red meat and sugar, and the consequent shortage of legumes, whole grains, seeds and vegetables, whose fiber is key to balancing cholesterol levels.
More prone to diabetes
The American Diabetes Association says that people who consume a lot of animal protein are 22% more likely to have diabetes than those who don’t. The World Health Organization (WHO) maintains that just 50 grams of processed meat per day (salted, cured, fermented, smoked or subjected to other processes to improve its taste or preservation) increases the probability of developing cancer by 18%. colon, that red meat is probably carcinogenic and that, cooked at high temperatures or with food in direct contact with the flame or a hot surface, such as barbecue or frying pan, other types of carcinogenic chemicals are added, such as aromatic hydrocarbons polycyclic and heterocyclic aromatic amines.
The WHO records 600 million illnesses and 420,000 deaths a year from food poisoning, most linked to E. Coli, Salmonella, and Campylobacter. They are bacteria found in the intestines and feces of animals, and contaminate the product during slaughter or processing. It especially affects birds. According to the American Consumers Association, 97% of chicken sold in US supermarkets is contaminated with harmful bacteria.
Bathe the chicken
In the US, one of the world’s largest exporters of poultry meat, the technique of bathing chicken in an antimicrobial solution of chlorinated water to kill bacteria and other pathogens has become popular. The process is cheaper for the industry than the systemic implementation of hygienic measures throughout the breeding, death and processing of animals. For this reason, its sale is prohibited in the European Union. But, to offer the necessary guarantees, one would have to rely on the health certificate system.
In 2017, an investigation by the Brazilian Federal Police uncovered an extensive bribery network at at least 19 Brazilian meat-processing companies, including JBS (the world’s largest exporter of beef) and BRF (the world’s largest exporter of poultry meat). of the world). At the press conference, Police Chief Mauricio Moscardi explained that the companies “used acids and other chemical products, in some cases carcinogens, to disguise the physical characteristics of the rotten product and its smell.” They also modified the expiration dates of the products and inflated their weight by injecting water into the meat, to sell it in Europe, China and the Middle East. Then-Minister of Agriculture Blairo Maggi ordered the suspension of 33 government officials accused of being involved in the scandal. The current Minister of Agriculture, Tereza Cristina Dias, has already announced that the Jair Bolsonaro government wants to pass a bill to establish self-control systems for agricultural products and meat processors.
Meanwhile, the investigation approved by the Brazilian Supreme Court for alleged irregular financing of the Bolsonaro campaign with donations from the JBS meat group is pending.
Confined and crowded hatchlings
The intensively-produced farms that produce most of the meat, milk and eggs we consume are characterized by high-concentration confinement of livestock. These conditions require the systematic use of antibiotics and pesticides to contain the spread of diseases resulting from overcrowding of animals.
It is estimated that more than 70% of the use of antibiotics in the world occurs on farms. Not only to reduce infections, but as a growth stimulant. For this reason, they have become the main source of superbugs, strains resistant to most of the known antibiotics.
For years, the WHO has highlighted superbugs as one of the greatest threats to the human species, after climate change. “The ability of bacteria, parasites, viruses, and fungi to resist these medications threatens to send us to a time when we were unable to easily treat infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhea, and salmonellosis,” says their latest report.
The immune fungus
Something similar occurs with fungi such as Candida Auris, which kills humans and is immune to drugs thanks to the indiscriminate use of fungicides in monocultures that this type of production requires. Interestingly, the most serious infection of Cándida Auris (at least, known) was at the Hospital Universitari i Politècnic La Fe in Valencia, where 372 patients were colonized, 85 developed yeast infection invasive (entered your bloodstream) and in these cases the death rate can reach 41% at 30 days. Four completely different strains have been identified that separated thousands of years ago and have developed resistance on their own and at the same time, with the use of azoles in agriculture. Bayer / Monsanto has started paying for cancer cases caused by exposure to its popular glyphosate herbicides.
In the past five years, the world population has doubled, but meat consumption has increased fivefold. In the 1960s, 70 million tons were produced annually; In 2018, 336.4 million were produced, a figure that does not stop increasing. The agro-livestock industry needs more resources than any other. Right now it occupies more than half of the habitable planet and drinks 70% of the available water. It also produces 24% of greenhouse gases. It is also the main cause of deforestation. “It is fairly well established that deforestation is a powerful vehicle for the transmission of infectious diseases,” specialist Andy MacDonald, from the University of California’s Earth Research Institute, told the journal National Geographic in November 2019. “The more we degrade and clear the forest, the more likely we are to find ourselves in situations where epidemics occur.”
Tree lack diseases
In the past two decades, MacDonald has documented the cascading effect of deforestation in different parts of the globe, including the spread of deadly diseases such as the Nipah virus, whose natural host has hitherto been the fruit bat, or Lassa fever, or of the Anopheles darlingi mosquito –transmitter of Malaria– that has made its August in the destruction of the Amazon. Another companion to deforestation and monoculture is fire, as we have recently seen in Brazil. It is an empire inhabited by “productive” species: soybeans, wheat, rice and corn.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that 75% of crop diversity was lost in the industrialization process that characterized the 20th century. Like the chlorine bath, protecting monocultures with antifungals and carcinogenic herbicides is a more convenient and cheaper process than working on the development of a sustainable food project for the planet and its population. In rational terms, meat is the least productive food source we know of. You need many more resources than you provide. A fact to keep in mind if we want to feed 10,000 million people in 2050, on a planet characterized by extreme and hostile meteorology.