October 24, 2009

Sustainable Health Care & Evolution

On UCTV this morning, I happened to tune in to Prof. Lucy Shapiro sharing some sobering information about some health care issues that are more boring and more important than the public option.
I am reminded of Pogo's warning about our true enemy - it's us. Our own search for individual security and survival lead us to take pills we don't really need, and then when we really need them they don't work because the germs have evolved.
Shapiro says that natural genetic engineering is far more hazardous to our health than what we cook up in the lab. She discusses the realities of quarantine, which would limit our personal freedom far more than the terrorists can. But she doesn't address the question of the effect of human genetic engineering on the ecological systems which provide our food and water.
For example, one recent proposal alleges we can protect ourselves from almonds contaminated by salmonella by sterilizing the almonds with heat, but then they are no longer raw and some of the enzymatic value of live food is lost. Similarly, bagged lettuce that has been contaminated by e. coli has led to scorched-earth plans to genocide all natural plants (that could harbor actual wild animals and their dangerous poop) if these plants are growing anywhere near the monocultural lettuce, even though this eradication will make farms less healthy overall.
But food that is fresh and grown in a natural way is healthier than food grown in an ecological desert and then incubated in a plastic bag. And healthier food is required for healthier people whose immune systems are strong enough to resist germs.
To paraphrase a quote often attributed to a famous musician, "evolution happens." It happens to germs and humans alike. And it happens to individuals.
And it is what makes or breaks a species. Germs can only make us strong if we let them, if we are strong enough to face the entropic economic reality of diminishing returns. Perhaps a modern-day Pogo can help.

No comments: