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CAFO California – One of the Most Polluted Places on Earth

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California’s San Joaquin Valley is an agricultural powerhouse in the U.S., producing more than $17 billion a year in crops on some 7 million acres of fields.1 The region is also home to CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) animals, including cattle. At the valley’s largest feedlot, Harris Ranch, 100,000 cattle are packed in over a stretch of 800 acres.

While it’s no secret that California is saddled with a sizable problem of air pollution, many people picture urban traffic as the source of the area’s ever-present smog. Lesser known is the fact that, as news outlet Undark reported, trucks working for Harris Ranch drive a collective 6,000 miles a day just hauling food to CAFOs, releasing nitrogen oxides (NOx) along the way.

Once in the air, NOx reacts to form nitric acid, which combines with ammonia emissions from the CAFOs, to form ammonium nitrate. Ammonium nitrate, in turn, may account for up to half of the particulate pollution 2.5 (PM2.5) in the agricultural mecca’s air.2 PM2.5, or fine-particle pollution, is less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter and is responsible for reduced visibility as well as some of the worst health problems associated with air pollution.

These particulates can enter your lungs and bloodstream, leading to heart attacks, worsened heart and lung diseases, respiratory problems and aggravated asthma.3 It’s no coincidence that 1 in 6 children living in California’s Central Valley suffers from asthma, according to the California Air Resources Board, which notes:4


“California’s unique climate makes us a leading agricultural producer, but some of the areas with the most productive farmland of the state also suffer from the worst air quality in the nation. This not only impacts crops, but also impacts public health.”

‘Cows Plus Cars’ Ruining California’s Air

Speaking to Undark, Steve Brown of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth System Research Laboratory broke down California’s air pollution problem by stating, “[It’s] cows plus cars.”5 Those at the root of the problem, like Harris Ranch, have little incentive to change.

Even In-N-Out, California’s popular fast food chain that advertises fresh, locally-sourced food, gets its meat from Harris Farms CAFO.6 Further, CAFOs even receive government backing that allows their polluting practices to continue.

Case in point: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Andrew Wheeler signed a rule in November 2018 that would make CAFOs exempt from reporting animal waste emissions.

What’s more, Harris Ranch hasn’t taken even basic steps to curb air pollution, such as swapping out its diesel trucks for those powered by low-emission natural gas, even though the government would give them about $2 million to do so.7

California has put policies in place to reduce NOx pollution from fossil fuel sources, which has led to NOx declining by 9 percent a year in urban areas like Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento.8

However, a study published in Science Advances revealed agriculture, and particularly agricultural soils treated with nitrogen fertilizer, to be a major source of NOx pollution in California, contributing 20 to 51 percent of the total NOx emissions in the state.9

“These soil NOx emissions are sourced to N [nitrogen] fertilizer applications in Central Valley croplands,” the researchers explained. “Where agriculture is an important source of NOx, strategies to reduce nonpoint emissions will need to incorporate soil management approaches and policies that are fundamentally different from fossil fuel sources.”10

Just how bad is the air pollution in California’s Central Valley, where 4 million people reside? According to the EPA, “the San Joaquin Valley has some of the nation’s worst air quality, failing to meet federal health standards for both ozone (smog) and particulate pollution.”11

It blames the pollution on “heavy truck traffic on I-5 and Highway 99; diesel-burning locomotives, tractors and irrigation pumps; and wood-burning stoves and fireplaces” — failing to mention agriculture, which appears to be the greatest polluter of all. NOx pollution, in particular, may be responsible for 1 in 8 premature deaths worldwide, along with being linked to cancer, birth defects, heart disease and asthma.12

California Dairy CAFOs Also Problematic

The San Joaquin Valley is also home to a large number of dairy CAFOs, which together produce 20 percent of U.S. milk, making California the No. 1 milk producer in the country.13 There are nearly 2 million milk cows in California, which produce over 3 billion gallons of milk — and 35 million tons of manure — annually.14 The nonprofit environmental research and advocacy organization Californians Against Waste noted:15


Most of California’s dairy farms are in the Central Valley, which suffers from both air and water pollution … researchers have also estimated that one cow can emit between 100 to 200 liters of methane per day.


This doesn’t include the methane that continues to be generated through bacterial decomposition in waste storage lagoons. Methane gas is 25 times more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.”


… The release of methane gas and the waste piles can cause major pollution problems … The decomposition of animal wastes in the dairy can cause methane and ammonia gases to be released into the atmosphere.


Methane contributes to greenhouse gases, which can lead to global warming, while ammonia can cause respiratory problems, as fine particulate matter formulates in the air. Dust generated from animal activity also causes respiratory diseases, such as asthma.”


Residents in the area complain of health problems, including migraines, from the contaminated air and say they’re unable to go outside during the summer due to the stench.16 When manure is stored in lagoons or applied to fields, ammonia can volatize into the air at the time of application, whereas additional emissions can be released later as the soil breaks down.


It’s a similar situation occurring elsewhere in the U.S. When a chicken CAFO in Kentucky was monitored for one year, more than 10 tons of ammonia were emitted into the air.17 Ammonia, which is formed when microbes digest nitrogen in manure, has a pungent odor and can lead to chemical burns, cough and chronic lung disease. Other toxic air pollutants commonly released by CAFOs include:18

  • Hydrogen sulfide, which has a rotten egg odor and can cause inflammation of eye and respiratory tract membranes, loss of olfactory neurons and even death
  • Methane, an odorless but highly flammable greenhouse gas
  • Particulate matter, including particles from feed, bedding, dry manure, soil, animal dander and feathers, which can cause chronic bronchitis and respiratory symptoms, declines in lung function and organic dust toxic syndrome, a severe flu-like illness

How the Almond Industry Contributes to Polluted Air

California alone supports more than 12 percent of the U.S. food economy,19 which includes nearly 1 million acres of almond crops, supplying 80 percent of global demand.20

It’s not unusual for almond fields to measure PM2.5 levels upward of 142 micrograms per cubic meter of air, which is quadruple the standard set by the EPA. Most of the problem stems from dust created by the almond harvesting process, which makes up 15 percent of the PM2.5 in some areas.21

“Machines crawl through the plots of almond trees, shaking each one to force the almonds to drop. The nuts are then blown and swept into piles,” Undark reported. “The process kicks up massive clouds of dust and debris … Less dusty harvesting methods exist, but they require expensive investments in new machinery.”22

For two to three months a year, the almond harvest leaves trees, cars and homes coated in dust.23 Sometimes the plumes of dust are so thick that visibility is reduced on nearby roadways, necessitating warnings when harvests are taking place.

The EPA estimated that almond harvesting kicks up nearly 41 pounds of dust per acre,24 and each orchard may be harvested three times in a season, leading to copious amounts of pollution. For comparison, wheat harvesting raises closer to 6 pounds of dust per acre.

Oil Industry and Forest Fires Add to California’s Air Woes

Dense oil fields — up to 9,000 wells running on 10,000 acres at one location in Kern County, the worst county in the U.S. in terms of air quality25 — add to the pollution problems facing the state. According to Undark: 26


Most of the light oil has already been tapped over the last century, so San Joaquin Valley oil wells tend to produce some of the thickest, dirtiest petroleum in the nation. To bring up the more viscous remaining oil, drillers burn natural gas to create steam, which they inject into the wells. This process, according to the state emissions inventory, accounts for roughly 4 percent of the valley’s particulate pollution.”

Forest fires, in particular those that have ravaged Northern California in 2018, only make California’s air that much deadlier. In November 2018, parts of California earned the dubious distinction of having the worst air quality worldwide due to wildfire smoke in the area.27

Taken together, the problem of CAFOs, almonds, oil and wildfires raise serious issues for air quality in the state year-round. The American Lung Association’s State of the Air 2018 report confirmed this, finding that over 35 million Californians — or 90 percent — reside in counties that received a failing grade for at least one pollutant.28

Californians Also Exposed to Pesticide Pollution

Aside from air quality, those living in agricultural regions must also deal with pesticide pollution, and this is true of those living in Salinas Valley, California, dubbed the world’s “salad bowl” because of its high production of greens, peppers, broccoli and a host of other vegetable crops.


The area is known for heavy spraying of organophosphate pesticides, leading to the CHAMACOS Study, which followed hundreds of pregnant women living in the region. The children were followed through age 12 to assess what impact the pesticides had on their development.29 It turns out the impact was quite dramatic, and mothers’ exposure to organophosphates during pregnancy was associated with:30

  • Shorter duration of pregnancy
  • Poorer neonatal reflexes
  • Lower IQ and poorer cognitive functioning in children
  • Increased risk of attention problems in children

Regenerative Agriculture Is the Solution

While CAFOs degrade the ecosystems around them, causing air, water and soil pollution along the way, regenerative agriculture rebuilds them, in large part by increasing soil organic matter and soil biodiversity. According to the nonprofit Regeneration International:31


“Regenerative agriculture leads to healthy soil, capable of producing high quality, nutrient dense food while simultaneously improving, rather than degrading land, and ultimately leading to productive farms and healthy communities and economies.


It is a dynamic and holistic, incorporating permaculture and organic farming practices, including conservation tillage, cover crops, crop rotation, composting, mobile animal shelters and pasture cropping, to increase food production, farmers’ income and especially, topsoil.”

You can help shape the future of our food system and help reduce pollution by being mindful of your own choices. Be sure to look and ask for biodynamic certified produce, for example, and AGA (American Grassfed Association) certified grass fed animal products.

Also seek out organic produce and animal products whenever possible, and boycott the CAFO meat, dairy and poultry that is a major source of air and water pollution and soil degradation in California and worldwide.

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Post-vaccine surge? Michigan’s spring coronavirus case spike close to previous year’s autumn high

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(Natural News) The spike in new Wuhan coronavirus infections recorded in Michigan over the spring is similar to a spike seen during the 2020 fall season. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, the state’s daily coronavirus case count averaged more than 7,000 for almost two weeks – before taking a slight dip to 6,891 on April 20. This echoed similar figures back in November and December 2020, which saw sharp rises in infections for those two months before plunging.

Back in autumn of last year, Michigan averaged more than 7,000 cases per day for a span of 10 days. New infections dropped slightly, then briefly spiked as the December holidays approached. It then fell to the low 1,000s for the succeeding two months – until ascending again in March.

According to University of Michigan internal medicine professor Dr. Vikas Parekh, the sudden increase in new infections could be attributed to several factors. Among the factors he cited was re-openings, which increased people’s interactions and mobility. Parekh said the loosened restrictions contributed to the spread of the highly contagious U.K. B117 variant.

“As the B117 variant spreads nationally, we will likely see other stats [with] their own surges – although I hope none are as bad as Michigan,” the professor remarked. He continued: “The milestone just tells us we are not yet in the clear, especially as we still have large portions of our population who are not vaccinated yet.”

Parekh also expressed optimism over the lower daily caseloads the Great Lakes State reported. He said he believes both cases and hospitalizations have plateaued and will likely decline soon. The professor commented: “[COVID-19] positivity has been declining now for one week, which is usually a leading indicator of case decline.”

Meanwhile, the state cited younger populations and youth sports, such as basketball, wrestling and hockey, to increase new COVID-19 infections. Because of this, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called to suspend youth sports and indoor dining in the state. She also exhorted high schools to conduct remote class sessions for two weeks to curb the spread of the pathogen.

Michigan still experienced the spike in cases despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country

During the opening stages of the U.S.’s immunization drive against COVID-19, Michigan boasted of having one of the highest vaccination rates nationwide. A report by Bridge Michigan even noted the initial “frenzy for vaccines” that “far exceeded the state’s limited supply.” But things have appeared to turn around for Michigan, as it now struggles to reach the 70 percent vaccination rate needed for herd immunity.

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Scottish mom’s legs turn into a pair of “giant blisters” after first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine

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(Natural News) Sarah Beuckmann of Glasgow, Scotland, felt a tingling sensation in her legs and noticed a rash flaring up around her ankles a week after getting her first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine on March 18.

She also had flu-like symptoms right after the vaccination.

Beuckmann called her doctor to arrange an appointment the morning she noticed the rash, but by the afternoon her skin was already breaking out into blood-filled blisters. Blisters also appeared on her legs, hands, face, arms and bottom.

“I ended up asking my husband to take me to A&E,” said Beuckmann, referring to “accident and emergency,” the equivalent of an emergency room (ER). “When I got there, my heart rate was sitting at 160bpm, which they were very concerned about. I got put on an ECG machine.”

Doctors determine AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine triggers the rash

Medics carried out tests for HIV, herpes and other skin conditions to work out what triggered the rash, but all results came back negative. Doctors finally determined that the vaccine caused her rare reaction after carrying out two biopsies.

“Once they found that it was a reaction to the vaccine, they put me on steroids and that really seems to be helping my progress,” said Beuckmann. She had been advised by her doctor not to get the second dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine because of her reaction.

Beuckmann spent 16 days at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. She was discharged to recover at home. The 34-year-old mother of one is currently wheelchair-bound due to the bandages on her legs and blisters on the soles of her feet. She may need physiotherapy to help strengthen her leg muscles.

“They are starting to heal and they’re looking a lot better than they were but as the blisters started to get worse, they all sort of merged together,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

With the blisters merging, her legs have looked like a pair of “giant blisters.” Beuckmann admitted that at one point she feared her legs might have to be amputated.

Dermatologist agrees COVID-19 vaccine causes the blisters

Dr. Emma Wedgeworth, a consultant dermatologist and spokeswoman at the British Skin Foundation, agreed that Beuckmann had likely suffered a reaction to the vaccine.

“Vaccines are designed to activate the immune system. Occasionally people will have quite dramatic activation of their immune systems which, as happened in this case, can manifest in their skin” Wedgeworth told MailOnline. “This poor lady had a very severe reaction, which thankfully is extremely rare.”

It is not clear why Beuckmann, who works in retail, was invited for a vaccine. Scotland’s vaccine rollout was focused on people over the age of 50 when she got vaccinated, although vaccines are available to those who are considered at risk from the virus, or live with someone considered vulnerable.

At least 20 million Briton have had AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which drug regulators say causes a rash in one percent of cases. They say rashes caused by the jab tend to go away within a week.

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Trojan labs? Chinese biotech company offers to build COVID testing labs in six states

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In 2012, BGI acquired Complete Genomics, a DNA sequencing company and equipment maker. The funds for the $117.6 million purchase were raised from Chinese venture capitals. The company has expanded its footprint globally. According to its website, BGI conducts business in more than 100 countries and areas and has 11 offices and labs in the U.S.

People are concerned about China’s access to American DNA data

Some said that with Complete Genomics providing an American base, BGI would have access to more DNA samples from Americans, helping it compile a huge database of genetic information. Some also worried about the protection of the genetic information’s privacy.

According to a 2019 report from the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), BGI “has formed numerous partnerships with U.S. healthcare providers and research organizations to provide large-scale genetic sequencing to support medical research efforts,”

There are three main reasons why many people in the biotech community and government have expressed concerns about China’s access to American DNA data.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, Evanina discussed the very likely scenario in which Chinese companies would be able to micro-target American individuals and offer customized preventative solutions based on their DNA.

Evanina asked: “Do we want to have another nation systematically eliminate our healthcare services? Are we okay with that as a nation?”

The second concern is that China may use DNA to track and attack American individuals. As the USCC report states: “China could target vulnerabilities in specific individuals brought to light by genomic data or health records. Individuals targeted in such attacks would likely be strategically identified persons, such as diplomats, politicians, high-ranking federal officials or military leadership.”

The third concern is that China may devise bioweapons to target non-Asians. Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, discussed it in his article “What Will China Do With Your DNA?” published by The Epoch Times in March 2019.

He wrote: “We know that the Asian genome is genetically distinct from the Caucasian and African in many ways. … Would it be possible to bioengineer a very virulent version of, say, smallpox, that was easily transmitted, fatal to other races, but to which the Chinese enjoyed a natural immunity? … Given our present ability to manipulate genomes, if such a bio-weapon can be imagined, it can probably – given enough time and resources – be realized.”

An article from Technocracy said: “China’s aggressive collection of American DNA should be doubly alarming because it can only spell one ultimate outcome: biowarfare. That is, genetically engineering viruses or other diseases that will be selectively harmful to U.S. populations.”

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