NPPC slams new report blaming ag industry for health issues, deaths

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) is questioning the accuracy of a new study linking health issues to animal ag production.

Michael Formica is the assistant vice president and general counsel with NPPC. “It’s junk science. It really is a series of modeling estimates that are run though other modeling estimates, which are based on a profound misunderstanding of both agriculture as well as the actual risk of these chemicals,” he says.

The study led by five universities, including two in the Midwest, says poor air quality tied to food production is estimated to cause almost 16,000 deaths a year with 80 percent connected to livestock production.

The report says ammonia released from manure and nitrogen fertilizer reacts with other pollutants to form fine particulate matter 2.5 (PM 2.5) in the air, and chronic exposure to that can increase risks of asthma, heart disease, cancer and strokes.

Formica tells Brownfield the data that’s cited doesn’t fall in line with environmental standards. “There are some things in there that are just bewildering to me. Some of the assumptions on the amount of ammonia associated with different species is wildly inconsistent with all of the data that the EPA has developed to this point,” Formica says.

He says the report is another example of false information about the ag industry. “These attacks keep coming,” he says. “The barbarians are continually trying to attack us and we have to continue to fight back and not be silenced by them, speak up and tell our story,” he says.

The study was led by researchers at the University of Minnesota, Carnegie Mellon University, Oxford University, the University of Washington and the University of Illinois.

It was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America on Monday.

  • The report by the National Academy of Science, and not the first time, is target political garbage, and for pigs, more slop.

    Park McGraw
    Experimental Physicist, NASA Fellow
    Friends of Family Once Operated a Pig Farm near Leaf River IL

  • I’m surprised the National Academy allowed a non-peer-reviewed article to be published under its name. I’ve read the six-page report and, as an experienced journalist and researcher, I’m alarmed at the number of red flags this thing throws up. First, there is the “estimate” that nearly one-third of air pollution deaths in the U.S. are caused by ag practices. One would think rural communities would be inordinately impacted by air pollution deaths, but they don’t seem to be. Second, there is no empirical data quoted in the report. No one did any field work or original data gathering (e.g., air sampling in rural areas.) And thirdly, the frequent use of the word “estimated” indicates the report is nothing more than educated guessing, and not worthy of the credibility normally afforded articles published in the PNAS.

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