Fracking and the Food Supply

Monday, December 17, 2012

Elizabeth Royte, a contributing reporter for the Food & Environment Reporting Network, talks about the potential impact of fracking on our food supply. Her article “Fracking Our Food Supply” appears in the December 17th issue of The Nation magazine, and it is the first in-depth look at the topic, and how cattle are allegedly falling ill and dying when exposed to fracking fluids across the Midwest.


Elizabeth Royte

Comments [21]

Amy from Manhattan

Oh, frack*a*demic! I thought they were talking about frack*i*demic--an epidemic of fracking. (No, not really. But we seem to be getting one.)

Dec. 18 2012 12:28 AM

that girl -- tnx for info about Joe Bezjak -- he just got released accd' to:

where do you get your gas & " fracktivism" info, esp re: nepa? i mainly know about and a youtube channel or two

Dec. 17 2012 11:14 PM

Hi, The history of the powerful chem/ag lobby is well known, and ignored because they have lots of money to push people around. And in this democracy, how did we let Cheney and his secret group pull this fast one where all is silence about our water safety and these companies use of toxic compounds? We have a right to know but still we are not strong enough to get the information. What does that say about who is running the show of our lives.

Lastly, I would stop all the teeth gnashing about this fracking disaster, and start forcing a demand for developing more clever energy efficient machines, tv's, insulating houses already built, improving building codes for energy efficiency, why are there not solar panels on every roof in NYC, or any big city, and for that matter, on every building. Why are we lagging on building a true national grid for the solar farms and wind farms. Then we wouldn't be depending on poisoning our future water and current food supplies. WHY, WHY, WHY can't we be technologically profiecient and self-suffient???

As a former upstate resident, who once lived on a farm as well, my heart breaks for what is being done to out precious land and precious farmers.

Dec. 17 2012 01:02 PM
Amy from Manhattan

thatgirl: Well, I'm on F&WW's email list, among several other eco-org's., & I hear a lot from them (as well as the other ones) about fracking. The reason I mentioned them in connection w/this segment is that the topic is the effect of fracking on the food supply, & that's the aspect F&WW deals with.

Charles: Of course, these chemicals are only having an effect on organic food, so why should anyone who eats "regular" food be worried? Maybe because those chemicals get into that food *in addition* to the chemicals the farmers put on it, & we know a lot less about their effect on health than about the effect of the standard ones. And if organic food got the same subsidies that conventionally grown food does, it might be available to more than just the elite (although even that is something of a stereotype).

Dec. 17 2012 12:57 PM

Millions of Americans count on Poland Springs every day to supply clean water because their own water systems are polluted with toxins and even cancer-causing additives (such as chlorine).

But Poland Springs sits above the Marcellus Shale deposits.

Contamination of Poland Springs' source of water would turn many worlds upside down.

When you buy a house in a remote, clean place, in order to enjoy the silence, pristine landscape, and the clean air and water -- and then the Frackers come -- one realizes that the world is very small.

Dec. 17 2012 12:53 PM

@jgarbuz from Queens

"A growing number of people requires a growing demand for energy, and so their are concomitant risks. More people; more energy; more risks."

Self-limiting, isn't it? If the more energy you need, the more you poison the environment reducing the population, eventually it balances out.

Or is that too cynical...What if we use solar and wind to frack water into O2 and H2. Liquefy the H2 and transport that for fuel. When the H2 burned for energy, it goes back to being water. More expensive (in the short term) than fossil fuels but far cheaper in the long run since WE CAN STILL LIVE ON EARTH.

Just a thought...

Dec. 17 2012 12:50 PM
Jessie Henshaw from Way Uptown

There's only one movable part of the "rock the hard place" we're up against, that there's really one and only one reason we keep taking ever greater risks with our environment. It's for our economy to keep getting bigger faster, called "growth". Ultimately there's also only one reason an economy needs to grow forever, too, and that's to service the demands of money...

Those are solid facts, easily backed up, pointing to a whole new set of discussions with a real way opening to how we can "dodge this bullet".

Dec. 17 2012 12:44 PM
Amy from Manhattan

The methane released by fracking may not be a different kind from the methane produced by cattle, but there's more of it. And methane is a much stronger greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, so we can't afford to let more methane be released.

Dec. 17 2012 12:41 PM
thatgirl from manhattan

Amy - There are dozens of very active anti-fracking groups in every state--many of whom have been very active longer than F&WW. Food & Water Watch does do anti-fracking advocacy, but it's not the sole thing they do.

Dec. 17 2012 12:39 PM
Henry from Manhattan

For an environmental discussion, we sure are talking a lot about beef and dairy, you know, the foods with the largest environmental impact, local or otherwise.

Most of out food doesn’t come from New York State, I’m not saying the fracking issue isn’t important, but we’re hardly going to run out of food.

Dec. 17 2012 12:39 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

A growing number of people requires a growing demand for energy, and so their are concomitant risks. More people; more energy; more risks.

Dec. 17 2012 12:39 PM
Julian from Manhattan

France has a lot of nuclear reactors, but Germany has only a few which are slated to close in the next few years.

Dec. 17 2012 12:38 PM

Did the guest just say 97 billion head of cattle are slaughtered each year? Twelve for each person on the planet? Is this right?

Dec. 17 2012 12:37 PM
thatgirl from manhattan

PA is a "wild west" scenario vis a vis fracking, since moment one. Because of their oil drilling heritage (and greedy, lunk-headed electeds), this was ushered in without a thought toward the future--only immediate profit. Those who've taken lucrative leases for their land will simply abandon it.

Now we have the gas/oil companies pointing to fracking and selling the gas to China as a way out of our fiscal mess. Wave the flag!

Dec. 17 2012 12:35 PM
Amy from Manhattan

One of the most active anti-fracking groups is called Food and Water Watch. Did Ms. Royte have any contact w/them?

Dec. 17 2012 12:35 PM

Oh my god, do you mean that my artisanal cheese and $9 per pound organic tomatoes are at risk? I am like so bummed, what will I do? Do you know of any good mail order websites I can get my custom food from? I cannot bring myself to eat what 99% of the population will eat - I am SO worth much more than that!

Dec. 17 2012 12:33 PM
thatgirl from manhattan

Joe Bezjak of Fayette County caught Williams Mountain Midstream workers dumping mine water on his property once before. He had pictures and everything. He threw them off his property then. Got taken to court. Court order slapped on HIM by Judge Nancy Vernon. Judge didn't care about his story or his pictures. He was told to leave the workers alone, with court order to that effect slapped on him. DEP was contacted and DEP issued a violation because of the dumping incident.

When the workers showed up again and started doing the same thing - dumping mine water on his cow pasture - he asked the workers to leave after until DEP approved a plan of remediation. (There are cattle grazing in the affected field, the stream is also impacted.) They go to authorities. He's declared in violation of court order - contempt of court - by Judge Nancy Vernon. Judge Vernon sends him immediately to jail, where he is currently being held, without bail, without visitors, and without his medications. He is 76 years old.

Dec. 17 2012 12:31 PM

I believe more studies needs to be done and Ms Royte's assertions are correct. But is there any data prior to drilling as certain compounds like methane occur naturally.

Dec. 17 2012 12:30 PM
Jf from The future

Did you hear those chemicals? Dont we have geneva conventions against those chemicals?this is chemical warfare against farmers americans and all nature. A lot of solar pollution is a nice day. Free energy from the sun. Non toxic, no electric company. We are the most idiotic civilization in the universe. How can we stop this suicide cult from ruling us and destroying our future. We need help.

Dec. 17 2012 12:28 PM

We know how this goes. We had decades of tobacco companies blocking research, misrepresenting research, presenting cooked research, and just plain lying. _Before_ tobacco, we had something that very few people know about — lead in paint. The paint industry knew in the _1930s_ that lead in paint was a hazard, especially for children. The industry did nothing and blocked study and reporting.

What reason do we have to believe that we won't see decades of Congress and state and local governments prostrating themselves before the fracking industry before we see anything like the truth?

Dec. 17 2012 12:21 PM

Cows without tails cannot swat flies so are very uncomfortable. There are animal rights groups that complain about commercial docking of dairy cows ( for sanitation)

Dec. 17 2012 12:20 PM

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