Worldlog Week 35 – 2011

2 September 2011

This summer I worked as an intern for the Dutch current affairs programme 'EenVandaag'. I spent one day as a journalist and created a programme about the Social Mega Stall Dialogue. The State Secretary of Agriculture started a 'dialogue' on the Internet with citizens about whether mega stalls are something to be desired, but the citizens have said they don't feel they were heard in the discussion. That was reason enough for me to go deeper during my summer internship into the mega stall dialogue, or better put the 'mega stall monologue'. Want to see the programme? It's available here for viewing, but in Dutch.

The Independent had an interesting piece on a study which proved that the world is eating less meat thanks to the increasing numbers of Flexitarians: 'Flexitarians' driving global move away from meat consumption'.

People are moving towards eating less meat for a variety of reasons, including animal welfare and damage to nature and the environment. However, more and more people are choosing a plant-based diet for their health.

Health organisations are sending out warnings more often stating that intensive cattle farming is dangerous to public health. Just this week, the Health Council of the Netherlands (an independent advisory body to the Dutch government) urged a reduction in the amount of antibiotics and to not always use the same ones in the cattle farming industry – just as human health care. A growing number of pathogenic bacteria originating from the cattle sector are actually resistant to many kinds of antibiotics, making them difficult to treat.

In Denmark, the Statens Serum Institut published a report on the transmissibility of antibiotic resistant MRSA bacteria from person to person. The report showed that in Denmark in 2010, the first people were infected with the pig type CC398 MRSA bacteria without them being in contact with swine. During parliamentary questions, I requested that the Minister of Public Health find out whether Dutch nationals have infected each other with a cattle-related variety of the antibiotic-resistant MRSA bacteria.

According to the MRSA annual report, this situation covers 15 people and it labels this development 'troubling'. The number of cases of CC398 infection last year made up 10% of total MRSA infections. This is a rise in relation to 2009 of 25%.

If people in the Netherlands have been infected with the cattle-related bacteria without actually having been in contact with animals, then this could mean the antibiotic-resistant bacteria has mutated. This worries me enormously. The Minister therefore needs to conduct additional research and take preventative measures to contain the huge risks involved with elevated antibiotic use in the cattle-farming industry.

To conclude, some good news for the orca Morgan, found sick and weak last year in Dutch waters, then taken in by the Dutch Dolfinarium. Morgan's chances of soon being able to swim in the sea increase with every passing day. Recordings have been taken of an orca population near Norway's Lofoten islands that match Morgan's sound recordings. This could mean they are family. In order to return Morgan successfully to the ocean, we must find his family, so we need further research to determine if they really are Morgan's direct family.

One last little piece of news, I am extremely pleased that the Dutch political system is offering women the opportunity to combine motherhood with a political career. I am going to take pregnancy leave in the first quarter of 2012 and during that time, Anja Hazekamp (Member of the Provincial Council for the Party for the Animals in Groningen) shall be my temporary replacement. After that I shall return to my parliamentary work as quickly as possible! 😉

See you next week!