This means war, sir!

19-03-2012 | |
John Mosig Aquafeed

Following on from the last blog (Antibiotics in fish feed), it looks as like those nasty E. coli have been doing their homework. More worrying still, according to a recent US FDA study, they – the E. coli – have come up with some handy answers for their survival if the recent trials done on the use of antibiotics in pig feed mean anything.

Could it possibly be that the Bad Bacteria have declared war on everything and anything that threatens their right to exist?
And the biggest threat to their existence is antibiotics, identified, designed, produced and delivered to the battle field by those most affected – us humans and the animals we depend on for our livelihood and wellbeing.
If they have – and I’m being a bit blog in cheek here – does that mean we have the right, nay, the obligation sir, for the protection and salvation of our species to fight back? 
If you’re a naysayer, and believe that we should allow Nature to take Her course, then read no further. You’ve withdrawn to your bio-cave and no doubt we’ll see you again when we’ve returned to the Stone Age and hunter gathering is back in vogue.
If you believe that we should meet this challenge head on, then we have to ask ourselves, where do we draw the line in relation to ‘collateral’ damage? Because the collateral damage here could be the very environment web that holds the whole show together.

In the field

I’ve been covering the fallout from a chain of events triggered by the mortalities and deformities discovered on Sunland Fish Hatchery in sub-tropical Queensland for another publication.
One camp believes, based on some pretty solid science, that the events are caused by spray drift from pesticides used on the neighbouring macadamia grove.
The other side of the debate – and we’re talking City Hall and all the power that blind authority can muster here – feels the evidence is inconclusive (Noosa Fish Health Investigation Taskforce).
Without detracting from the bacteria vs. anti-bacteria thrust of this blog, what should have been a co-operative effort to find out why the small holdings along the neighbouring road have become a cancer cluster for humans, a death trap for livestock and fish, and seen the adjacent drainage lake chain become a vastly diminished aquatic system, has become a territorial battleground for the parties involved. 
And to be perfectly honest, you’d be excused for believing that some of the people involved are better equipped intellectually to argue how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.
Of course the beneficiaries from putting the microscope to the blind eye are bountiful. Starting with the local tourist industry and stretching through pesticide users protecting their productivity to the chemical companies protecting their sales. You whistle and I’ll point.

Environment vs. productivity

And the point being Mosig? The point being dear reader – and at the risk of sounding like a fully paid up member of the Green Taliban – that there is a very real danger that we will break so many strands of the environmental web in the name of productivity that we could destroy the very thing we’re trying to protect – our way of life. In Africa they’ll tell you that in a fight between elephants, it is the grass that gets trampled.
Now, as the nutrition industry, we aren’t in a position to save the planet, but we do rely heavily on antibiotics to provide a worthwhile service to our customers. And while I’m not advocating that we abandon their use, I’d like to think that we are using antibiotics responsibly, making sure our clients are aware of the implications, and monitoring closely the technological – read genetic – advances of the bacteria so that we’re not caught short.
Sure it comes with a price tag. But as Kurt Vonnegut said – we could have saved the earth but we were too damned cheap.

More about