Investigating Origins of COVID Confounded by China

It is generally accepted that the origin of COVID should be clearly understood and should be supported with factual and scientific documentation. The international public health community should be able to analyze the factors leading to the emergence of the infection that emerged in Wuhan, China during late 2019 and the subsequent worldwide spread.  This information is critical in planning surveillance programs and to develop an appropriate response to an inevitable future pandemic.


The Director-General of the WHO, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus stated that, “For the sake of the millions of people who died and those who are living with long COVID, we must understand the origin of COVID-19 by exploring all hypotheses.” The WHO considers an investigation of the origin of the pandemic as a “scientific and moral imperative to help prevent future outbreaks”.


The WHO in Geneva approached the origin of COVID from a scientific perspective. From the outset China was evasive and non-cooperative with the WHO as to the extent and severity of infection. The Agency belatedly sent an impartial panel of scientists to Wuhan to investigate the origins of the pandemic. This stage-managed tour deprived WHO-nominated virologists and epidemiologists of the opportunity to review source data and to interview scientists and clinicians associated with the outbreak. In the absence of transparency the origin of the infection has become politicized in both the U. S. and China with evident finger pointing and some outlandish and unsupported theories of origin. 


The U.S. House and Senate have voted unanimously to declassify all U. S. intelligence information on the origin of the pandemic.  This will facilitate Congressional enquiries into the origin of the disease. It remains for the President to now enact the legislation that requires release of  “any and all information relating to potential links between the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the origin of coronavirus disease”.  It is questioned whether the President will sign the Bill, although with overwhelming passage in both houses, a veto by the President would be subject to an instant override.


According to Reuters, eight federal agencies have investigated the origin of COVID without attaining unanimity as to the source, whether a natural emergence in wild animals or an accidental laboratory release. This is attributed to the lack of human intelligence in the form of credible whistleblowers or published studies other than those emanating from China that may be presumed to be subject to Government censorship.


To dispel one theory in circulation, it is highly unlikely that SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for COVID-19 was created as a bioweapon. A human coronavirus developed from bats would be lower than a 10th choice among available pathogens. Intending perpetrators of a bioweapon ifor deployment should have a stockpile of effective vaccines or therapeutic agents to protect their forces in advance of an attack. The absence of a specific vaccine and known instability of the virus mitigate against a deliberate attempt at weaponization.


There are two leading theories of the origin of COVID. The first is a spontaneous mutation of a coronavirus in a free-living animal reservoir with the pathogen that crossed over into susceptible human contacts. The fact that the population of China has a predilection for consuming a variety of reptilian and mammalian exotics purchased in both rural and urban wet markets creates the potential for emergence of an infection carried by animals. It is evident that SARS, the progenitor of COVID, that emerged in Foshan with a 7 million population in November 2002 was associated with patients having contact with urban wet markets as opposed to patients in rural areas. Apparent concentration of early cases residing in the vicinity of the Wuhan Huanan Seafood Market was presented as evidence of the animal to human route. This was reinforced by recovery of SARS-CoV-2 virus from animal stalls and locations in the market subsequent to closure. These lines of investigation provide circumstantial evidence but do not confirm that the market was the source of infection.   In a characteristic response, authorities in China initially suppressed information concerning the outbreak and failed to cooperate with international health agencies to control the spread of the disease. More recently in the face of criticism scientists in China have implicated Asian raccoon dogs (Nyctereutes procyonoides) as a carrier of SARS-CoV-2 virus.


The second prevailing theory of the emergence of COVID relates to inappropriate gain of function experiments on bat coronaviruses conducted by the Wuhan Institute of Virology. It is possible that with defective BSL-3 protocols, dissemination of a modified virus pathogenic to humans occurred. This could have been achieved either by spread from infected laboratory personnel or by release of the virus by the aerogenous route. The implicated wet market is three miles distant from the Institute, on the West bank of the Yangtze River that separates the urban area of the City. If China wishes to disprove the lab-leak theory, relevant serologic data and health records should be made available to investigators together with gene sequences of early cases. This data requested by the WHO panel was not released.


This commentator has taken a proverbial 30,000-foot view of the emergence of COVID as we know it, and applied logic in the absence of analyzable data. It would appear to this commentator that the emergence of COVID in the city of Wuhan with a population of 12 million and the home of an Institute working with bat coronaviruses, represents a coincidence of overwhelming proportions. This is in recognition of twenty other metropolitan areas in China each with more than five million inhabitants and presumably without ongoing bat coronavirus research.


China did not do itself any favors by initial denial of the existence of the outbreak and then failing to acknowledge contagious transmission. Refusal to admit impartial and qualified epidemiologists offered by the WHO in the early stages of the outbreak and delays in allowing visits by WHO consultants and then obstructing the WHO mission to investigate the source of the disease represent a presumption of guilt, inconsistent with the actions of a responsible nation. Consistent stonewalling, muzzling of scientists, removal of gene sequences from websites and refusal to provide data, although established standard operating procedures for China, creates the impression that Government has a lot to hide. This Nation has effectively rendered the entire World a disservice and brought upon itself the suffering from the economic impact of lockdowns and high mortality.


Egg Industry News


Weekly Commodity and Energy Report: March 23rd 2023.



At 13H00 on March 23rd CME corn was down 0.3 percent to 631 cents per bushel compared to the previous week. Corn price was influenced by lower ethanol production and a projected higher ending stock as projected in the March WASDE despite noteworthy export orders this past week. Soybeans were down 5.2 percent from last week to 1,421 cents per bushel for May delivery. Soybean meal was 6.6 percent lower to $442 per ton for May delivery. The market has now accepted projections of crop size and higher stocks as documented in the March 8th WASDE Report. Commodity exports that rose this past week were influenced by a moderate fall in the Dollar Index to 102.2.

WTI was 4.0 percent higher at $70.96 per barrel on March 23rd at close of trading due to recession-related World fall in demand.


Factors influencing commodity prices in either direction over the past four

 weeks included:-


  • A mild U.S. recession in 2023 appears more likely following turbulence in the bank sector in the U.S. and Europe. The Federal Reserve increased the benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points at the March 22nd FOMC Meeting tempered by data indicating a gradual decline in inflation. This action to combat inflation was taken despite evidence that progressively higher rates are  stressing banks with two failures last week, albeit in mismanaged institutions. The GDP for the fourth quarter of 2022 attained 2.9 percent. The February 2023 CPI (6.0 percent) and WPI (3.9 percent) were lower than forecast (Transitory downward pressure on markets)


  • It is evident that polarization in the closely divided houses of Congress will result in conflict over raising the debt ceiling and agricultural legislation including the 2023 Farm Bill that includes SNAP and other entitlements. (Ultimately, downward pressure).


  • Geopolitical tensions that impact wheat, corn, oilseeds and vegetable oil exports from Ukraine persist. Extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative for an additional 60 days was accepted by the Russian Federation on March 18th against undisclosed concessions on sanctions. The invader has inflicted extensive and deliberate damage on the agricultural and energy infrastructure of Ukraine including elevators and crushing plants. (Upward pressure on corn and wheat and an indirect effect on soybeans if Black Sea shipping is interrupted.)


  • The March 8th WASDE documented lower soybean and grain production and reduced exports from Argentine due to drought. The U.S. will export less corn resulting in higher ending stocks. Soybean exports will be higher, reducing ending stocks with resulting changes in price. (Lower domestic prices)


  • There is an expectation that Brazil will attain a record soybean harvest of 153 million metric tons with export of 93 million metric tons. Corn harvests from Brazil for the 2022-2023 season will be higher than the previous season although recent dry weather will reduce yields. Corn exports will attain 50 million metric tons (Lower prices in the future subject to favorable reports on crop progress and actual harvests)


  • The Dollar Index (DXY) has ranged from 95 to 116 over 52 weeks but has recently shown less volatility. The DXY was 102.2 on March 23rd. The dollar index influences timing and volume of export orders. (Fluctuation in corn and soybean prices, high value depresses U.S. sales)



The restored and functional ‘legacy’ FAS Export Report released on March 23rd for the week ending March 16th reflecting market year 2022-2023, confirmed that outstanding export orders for corn amounted to 16.35 million metric tons (643.7 million bushels) with 18.6 million metric tons (731.5 million bushels) actually shipped. Net orders for the past week covering the 2022-2023 market year attained a noteworthy 3.1 million metric tons (121.9 million bushels) with 1.4 million metric tons (54.4 million bushels) shipped over the past working week. For the current market year outstanding sales of corn to date are 38.7 percent lower than for the corresponding week a year ago. For market year 2023-2024 outstanding sales this week amounted to 1.95 million metric tons (76.8 million bushels), with 0.1 million metric tons (3.7 million bushels) ordered for the 2023-2024-market year.

(Conversion 39.36 bushels per metric ton)


The FAS Export Report for the week ending March 16th reflecting market year 2022-2023, recorded outstanding export orders for soybeans amounting to 5.9 million metric tons (218.2 million bushels) with 43.5 million metric tons (1,599 million bushels) actually shipped. Net weekly soybean orders attained 0.15 million metric tons (5.6 million bushels) with 0.7 million metric tons (25.9 million bushels) shipped for the past week. For the current market year to date outstanding sales of soybeans are 1.5 percent higher than for the corresponding week a year ago. Sales recorded for market year 2023-2024 amounted to 1.8 million metric tons (64.1 million bushels) with sales of 0.2 million metric tons (7.3 million bushels) this past week. 

(Conversion 36.74 bushels per metric ton)


Egg Week

USDA Weekly Egg Price and Inventory Report, March 22nd 2023.


Market Overview

  • The average wholesale unit revenue values for Midwest Extra-large and Large sizes were higher this week by 12.7 percent on average, representing a continuation of the upward move for four weeks after seven previous consecutive weeks of decline. Mediums were up 6.8 percent with a larger gap from Large and indicating restoration in the balance between supply and demand in this size with many pullets commencing production. This past week shell egg inventory was up 5.7 percent inconsistent with increased seasonal demand and presumably lower shelf prices. Retail price is increasing but will be moderated by restoration of the national flock with a lagging rate. Over the coming three weeks the volume of retail purchases will be influenced by seasonal pre-Easter demand. If chains reduce margins consistent with prevailing wholesale prices, higher demand can be anticipated. Eggs are still competitive in price against the comparable costs for other protein foods. Availability and hence prices have been influenced by depletion of close to 44 million hens in 22 large complexes in eleven states extending from the last week in February through mid-December 2022 with the producing flock down on average by 20 million hens during 2022 and continuing into 2023 compared with the pre-HPAI complement.
  • Total industry inventory was higher by 4.4 percent overall this past week to 1.62 million cases with a concurrent 1.3 percent decrease in breaking stock attributed to diversion and the combination of food service and industrial demand. Wholesale unit prices during early 2023 although on a downward trajectory during January and early February have trended upwards and contrast favorably with the two previous years that were characterized by low ex-plant unit revenue.
  • It is now apparent that the inventory held by chains and other significant distributors may be more important over the short term to establishing wholesale price than the USDA regional inventory figures published weekly. This is probably the reason for the 8.7 percent swing in total inventory over two weeks with only a small change in the size of the national flock.
  • Due to the depletion of flocks as a result of HPAI, comparable high unit revenue will now be a reality through the remainder of March and through April 2023. Sporadic outbreaks of HPAI are likely given the seasonal Spring migration of waterfowl. The number and extent of outbreaks cannot be assessed until more information is available concerning the molecular and field epidemiology relating to cases. The USDA has yet to identify modes of transmission for the 2022 epornitic including airborne spread. There have been no case-control studies released on possible deficiencies in biosecurity on affected complexes that presumably demonstrated specific risk factors. APHIS has been remiss in evaluating available data and providing timely practical guidance on prevention as evidenced by releasing a backdated report during the first week of March that was devoid of recommendations to prevent HPAI infection in flocks.
  • The current relationship between producers and chain buyers based on a single price discovery system constitutes an impediment to a free market. The benchmark price amplifies both downward and upward swings as evidenced over the past six months. The benchmark possibly functions to the detriment of the industry over the long term. A CME quotation based on Midwest Large, reflecting demand relative to supply would be more equitable. If feed cost is determined by CME ingredient prices then generic shell eggs should be subject to a Midwest Large quotation.
  • According to the USDA the U.S. flock in production was down 0.4 percent or 1.2 million hens to 299.1 million hens during the week ending March 22nd. The flock in production includes about 3.0 million molted hens that resumed lay during the past week plus 4.0 million pullets attaining production.
  • The ex-farm price for breaking stock was up 8.5 percent this past week to 292.5 cents per dozen.Checks delivered to Midwest plants were up 17.2 percent to 279.0 cents per dozen. Prices for breaking stock will remain high over the period of recovery from HPAI until replacement flocks reach maturity.


The Week in Review


According to the USDA Egg Market News Reports released on March 20th the Midwest wholesale price (rounded to one cent) for Extra-large was up 12.6 percent to $3.30 per dozen. Large size was up 12.7 percent to $3.28 per dozen; the Medium price was up 6.8 percent to $2.90 per dozen as delivered to DCs. Prices should be compared to the USDA benchmark average 6-Region blended nest-run cost of 85.3 cents per dozen in February 2023. This excludes provisions for packing, packaging materials and transport, amounting to 50 cents per dozen in mid-2022, according to the EIC but now probably closer to 55 cents per dozen. The progression of prices during 2023 to date is depicted in the USDA chart reflecting three years of data, updated weekly.

 The March 20th 2023 edition of the USDA Egg Market News Report documented a USDA Combined Region value rounded to the nearest cent, of $3.01 per dozen delivered to warehouses for the week ending March 14th 2023. This average price lags current Midwest weekly values by one week. The USDA Combined range for Large in the Midwest was $2.91 per dozen. At the high end of the range, the price in the South Central region attained $3.11 per dozen. The USDA Combined Price last week was approximately $1.80 above the 3-year average. This past week Midwest Large was approximately $1.85 above the corresponding week in 2022.


Concern Over Spread of H5N1 Avian Influenza to Mammals

The USDA has added ten new cases of H5N1 avian influenza infection of mammals in four states involving five species.  To date, 131 cases have been reported in both terrestrial and marine mammals.  Species that are susceptible include black bears, red foxes, mountain lions, bobcats, raccoons, otters, mink and skunks.


According to an epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, "the Eurasian H5N1 clade currently affecting wild birds and poultry on five continents has a mutation that makes it more recognizable to mammalian airway cells including humans".


HPAI Risks Arising from Live Bird Market Production

EGG-NEWS has regularly commented on the risks inherent to production of broilers for the live bird market (LBM) system in the Northeast. This past week the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture imposed quarantine orders on 207 flocks in Lancaster and Chester Counties following outbreaks of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in the two areas.


According to Dr. Kevin Brightbill, Pennsylvania State Veterinarian, there is anecdotal evidence that owners of some (LBM) flocks have failed to report sick and dying birds presumably as a result of exposure to H5N1 avian influenza virus.


The quarantine order would allow samples to be taken from flocks at regular intervals and has enjoined owners to disclose any unreported illnesses.


Not only is the live bird market system a danger to commercial poultry production, wet markets provide a possible means of transmitting H5N1 to customers and bird handlers.


In the 21st century, there is no justification for an archaic system of distributing poultry.  Both kosher and halal certified broilers and ducks are available in supermarkets and specialty stores, that were processed under USDA or state supervision.  Live bird markets and their suppliers represent a danger to the poultry industry and to the public.


Spurious Report of Human HPAI In Ukraine

A ProMED-Mail post dated March 19th reported on a story distributed by TASS, the official news service of the Russian Federation, of an outbreak of HPAI. According to the release, now disproved, an apparent outbreak of avian influenza affected villagers of Velyka Oleksandrivka located near Kherson, that is under the control of the Republic of Ukraine. According to the TASS report, 18 villagers were hospitalized with two fatalities. 


It is possible that a strain of human influenza that has been reported from five other villages in the vicinity was responsible for the cases.


The ProMED moderator of the original post rightly suggested disinformation, given the source of the article and the absence of confirmatory laboratory diagnostic procedures. Health authorities in Ukraine, vigorously denied the report that emanated from the Russian Federation.


Regrettably the ProMED posting will circulate on social media in truncated form deleting the source and the denial.


California to Restore Groundwater in the Central Valley

The California State Water Resource Control Board has approved a recommendation by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to divert 600,000 acre-feet of water from the San Joaquin River to the Central Valley and adjacent wildlife refuges.  The projected volume of water is equivalent to the annual demand by Metro Los Angles with a population of 12.5 million.


The state maintains that this action will save water that would otherwise be unused and is required to replenish aquifers. As a result of a three-year severe drought wells in the Central Valley have run dry and ground subsidence has resulted in damage to buildings and canal infrastructure.


The proposed action under the direction of Governor Gavin Newsom has generated opposition from activist groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Union of Concerned Scientists.  Their objections appear to be based on the fact that “Big Ag” will benefit at the expense of smaller landowners downstream along the San Joaquin River.  In response a representative of the State Water Resources Council stated, “The amount of water that will be diverted is relatively low compared to the volume of water that will flowing through the system.”


Governor Newsom has stated his intent to recharge groundwater each year by 500,000 acre-feet to offset losses by abstraction for irrigation and livestock.  Depletion of groundwater in the Central Valley has totaled 36 million acre-feet over the past 20 years, far in excess of the rate of recharging.


Minnesota to Serve Free Breakfasts and Lunches for All School Students

Minnesota is considering legislation to allow all school children to eat breakfast and lunch in irrespective of parental income.


Senator Heather Gustafson (D-FL) stated, "feeding kids at school is the right thing to do".  She added, "being hungry makes learning almost impossible".


To qualify for free and reduced priced meals, schools must enroll in a federal program with the state paying for students who do not qualify for a subsidy.  The vote to place $380 million in the state budget to cover universal school meals was approved by a 38 to 26 bipartisan majority.


Uncertainty Over Labor Contract Impacting Volume at West Coast Ports

Gene Saroka, Executive Director of the Port of Los Angeles, has predicted significant volume declines in containers processed on West Coast ports during 2023 with volume down from pre-COVID levels.  Failure to agree on a long-term labor contract has created uncertainty among importers who have moved freight to Gulf and East Coast ports. This move is facilitated by widening of the Panama Canal that reducing the duration of voyages by very large container vessels from ports in Asia to the U. S.


The ports of Charleston, SC. and Savannah, GA. are benefitting at the expense of Long Beach and Los Angeles.  In comparison to January 2020, volume in Los Angeles during January 2023 was down 10 percent and Long Beach, by 15 percent.  In contrast, imports through Savannah, were up 12 percent and through Charleston, 20 percent.


It is noted that West Coast ports have not benefitted from investment in modernization with only $1.2 billion in improvements over the decade through 2020.  In contrast, eastern Gulf Coast ports received $11 billion for dredging of channels, introduction of mechanization and improved ship-to-rail transfer.


Ag Property Solutions Develops New Website

Ag Property Solutions based in Emmetsburg, IA. supplies innovative and customized solutions including planning, design, construction and equipping livestock facilities.  The Company was founded by producers and is proud of their record of integrity and efficiency.  Ag Property Solutions undertakes complete turnkey hog, dairy and poultry projects for a range of production capacities including expansion and remodeling.


The website www.agpropertysolutions.com describes the capabilities of the company and provides examples of completed projects. 


For further information contact Michelle Kubat, Marketing Manager mkubat@agpropertysolutions.com (855) 345-6333 ext. 103



Update on the U. S. COVID Situation

Currently, there is no federal regulation mandating reporting of cases of COVID to the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  With the extensive use of home diagnostic kits, most asymptomatic and mild cases do not enter the CDC database.


Effective March 8th, the cumulative number of U.S. cases of COVID, since inception of the pandemic, has attained 103.7 million. This figure is an undercount with, possibly more than one third of the population having been infected.  The cumulative death toll of 1.1 million also understates the impact of COVID since individual states imposed different criteria for certification of cause of death.


Given the obvious deficiencies in counting cases, the CDC recorded 170,576 incident infections during the week of March 8th, down 15 percent from the previous week.  For the same week, 1,862 fatalities were recorded, down 19 percent.  Hospital admissions are a relatively accurate method of determining trends in COVID infection since diagnostic procedures are documented. There was a ten percent decrease in new admissions and a corresponding decline in the 23,112 hospitalized during the week of March 8th. Concurrently there were 3,084 patients with COVID in Intensive Care Units. Most of the hospitalizations involved the elderly, the non-vaccinated and those with predisposing conditions.


The Omicron sub-lineages XBB.1.5 represented 90 percent of all sequenced viruses isolated from new cases with the remainder identified as sub-variants of Omicron SARS-CoV-2 virus. 


Clearly, the impact of COVID is waning but the infection is taking a toll on the elderly and the still susceptible non-vaccinated or incompletely vaccinated in our population.


Recent epidemiological studies in South Korea have shown that acceptable protection from severe, clinical symptoms and hospitalization can be attained with two initial mRNA vaccines followed by the administration of two boosters.  In the interests of simplicity it appears that the FDA will recommend a single annual booster.  In contrast, the study conducted in South Korean recommended boosting at six-month intervals rather than as a single, annual dose administered concurrently with the seasonal influenza vaccine in the fall as contemplated for the U.S.


Walmart Offers Easter Basket at 2022 Price

Despite the 9.5 percent inflation in food cost year-on-year, Walmart is offering a 2023 Easter basket for $100 containing seasonal essentials at the same price as last year.  The offer includes ham, green beans, pie and fixings to serve an Easter meal for a family.


Walmart stated, "We are proud to continue showing up for our customers in the ways that matter most to them.  We are committed to keeping prices low and making the shopping experience easier and more convenient for the important celebrations to the little moments in between".  For additional information access <www.walmart.com/eastersavings>.


Georgia Power Announces Commercial Operation of Vogtle Unit 3 Nuclear Reactor

Georgia Power has announced that the Vogtle Unit-3 Reactor has reached initial criticality.  This means that the nuclear reaction is self-sustaining as a prerequisite for generation of electrical power. This is the first reactor to commence operation in the U.S. since May 2016.


Nuclear power is an obvious approach to reducing reliance on fossil fuels and the technology can now be maintained with operational safety.  The question of disposal of nuclear waste has yet to be resolved and should be addressed since disposal sites have been identified and appropriate methods of sequestering spent rods have been developed.  Unfortunately, a not-in-my-backyard mentality persists among state and regional legislators. This serves as a barrier to safe and permanent disposal that would facilitate reliable clean-power generation and offset the deleterious effects of greenhouse gas emissions from coal, gas and oil.


Currently the U.S relies on aging nuclear plants to supply 18 percent of power consumed. This is surpassed by renewable sources at 22 percent and the remainder fossil fuels with power demand growing at one percent annually. In contrast France relies on nuclear generation for 70 percent of electric power.


Proposed E.U. Caps on Nitrogen Levels Threaten Farmers

Dutch farmers are turning to street protests against proposed limits on nitrogen emissions.  If implemented, the restrictions would seriously limit agriculture and reduce food production.


In contrast, environmentalists are protesting tax rules that grant exemptions to refineries and power-generating plants burning coal.

Protests are preceding regional elections in Holland in an attempt to persuade incumbent and aspirant members of the Dutch Parliament to support either farmers or environmentalist in a nation strongly divided by conflicting opinions.


China Reports Human Case of H5N1 Avian Infuenza

According to a March 16th posting on ProMED-Mail, authorities in China have diagnosed a case of H5N1 influenza in a 52-year-old woman in Jiangsu Province.  No details were provided on her condition although the report noted recent contact with live poultry.


Sequencing of the isolate confirmed H5N1 clade common to the current panornitic in Asia, Europe and the Americas.   This is the second human case in 2023 following a diagnosis of H5N1 in a child living in Ecuador.  The isolate in China was different from the H5N1 clade that has circulated in Cambodia among contacts with chickens for two years.


FDA Supervision of Indian Pharmaceutical Plants Questioned

Amid calls for the food-related responsibilities of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to be transferred to a new agency, there are questions over the extent of supervision exercised by the FDA over foreign pharmaceutical plants.  The Economist recently highlighted the problems of Marion Biotech and Maiden Pharma that were allegedly responsible for mortality in children in Gambia and Uzbekistan as a result of cough syrup manufactured with a toxic ingredient.  Both Marion and Maiden are small, privately-held companies that are presumably under the jurisdiction of Pharmexcil, a trade group in India that operates with government recognition.


India has approximately 10,000 pharmaceutical plants operated by 3,000 companies producing drugs valued at $50 billion, annually.  Approximately 40 percent of America’s generic drugs are imported from India.


In 2022, the Food and Drug Administration sanctioned four large companies in India, blocking specific shipments.  It is widely acknowledged that drug manufacturers in India operate with a strong profit motive and minimal government supervision.  Domestic whistleblowers are ignored or threatened with government sanctions for disparaging the image of the Indian pharmaceutical industry and impacting exports.  In the absence of a functional legal system, civil litigation is ineffective.


Given the frequency of adverse reactions and evidence of contaminated and impotent drugs, the safety of generics imported from India is questioned.  We have only the FDA standing between unscrupulous manufacturers and consumers in the U. S.


Two questions arise.  Is the FDA maintaining appropriate surveillance over drugs manufactured in India and other Asian nations?  If not, do they require additional resources to conduct in-company inspections that, it is understood, occur at infrequent intervals?  The second question is why the U. S. is dependent on nations, such as China and India, for generic drugs?  Why can these products not be manufactured locally, given that the pharmaceutical industry is not labor intensive but is reliant on trained technicians and quality control personnel?


Separating food from the FDA will allow the Agency to concentrate on drugs and medical devices for which it apparently has an adequate functional organizational structure and staffing.


Who confirmed my daily generic was safe?


Alltech Publishes White Paper on Organic Selenium

Dr. Richard Murphy, Director of Research at Alltech, has published a white paper. Organic Selenium: A Comparison of Form, Source and Function.  In commenting on his work, Dr. Murphy stated, “Peer-reviewed research has clearly shown that dietary intervention with organic selenium results in significantly enhanced production and health benefits for all species.”


He added, “Organic selenium has been found to be a more effective source than inorganic selenium products, resulting in an increased number of live young per animal, the stimulation of immune function, overall improvement in animal health and an enhanced shelf life for meat, milk and eggs.” 


Dr. Murphy noted that the numerous selenium sources available on the market vary in terms of their stability and shelf-life.  Organic selenium sourced from yeast has high stability in premixes and in compounded feed, even with pelleting.


Alltech offer selenium yeast as Sel-Plex® that has been the subject of more than 300 performance studies.


Legislation to Allow Year-Round E-15

Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE) has introduced the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act.  This legislation would harmonize state regulations and allow for year-round use of E-15 ethanol blend. The Bill is supported by a bipartisan group of senators from all corn-producing states. Senator Fischer stated, “Our bipartisan legislation is the only permanent, nationwide solution to unleashing the power of year-round E-15.  It’s why we’ve been able to bring together a diverse group of stakeholders from the oil, gas, biofuel, agriculture and transportation sectors to support our legislation.”


U. S. Representatives Adrian Smith (R-NE) and Angie Craig (D-MN) have introduced companion legislation in the House.


The major obstacle to E-15 blend will be the number of vehicles equipped to receive a higher level of ethanol.  The second problem will be delivering higher blends. This will require either separate tanks or multiblend pumps.  Irrespective of the system adopted, capital investment will be required with federal funding.  This will conflict with current Administration policy of expanding electric charging stations for electric vehicles.  Increasing the blend rate will resolve the problem of the ongoing ‘blend ceiling’. Although the cost to consumers of E-15 blend will be lower than E-10, the advantage will be offset by lower miles per gallon since ethanol effectively dilutes the energy content of gasoline.


Greater demand for fuel ethanol is currently limited by the 10 percent “blend ceiling”. Extending to an E-15 blend would result in diversion of more corn to ethanol with a consequential increase in the price of livestock feeds that will ultimately be inflationary.  The move to E-15 will increase production of ethanol with the consequences of more abstraction of water from aquifers and release carbon dioxide from plants to the atmosphere.


Dollar Tree to Suspend Sales of Shell Eggs

Dollar Tree announced on March 14th that due to high wholesale prices, it would suspend sales of shell eggs.  This is an overreaction since prices are declining and there is continuing demand for eggs and other refrigerated foods.  If customers cannot purchase eggs at Dollar Tree stores, they may well shift their purchases to deep discounters including Aldi.  It is generally accepted that higher price items carry larger margins and Dollar Tree has successively moved up unit prices, introducing a $3-$5 range in 2,000 stores. Their decision appears contrary to engendering additional custom and contributing to the bottom line and will be reversed.


Russia Experiencing Impact of Sanctions

In an address to the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, Vladimir Putin, the President of the Russian Federation, blamed sanctions for the 4.7 percent decline in GDP. He stated “It is evident that sanctions are now affecting a wide range of businesses forcing Russia to shift trade to ‘friendly’ nations”. Putin also noted, “These problems as you know were not created by us,” a statement that can be regarded as a high water mark in cynicism and self-denial. 


Sanctions were imposed on the Russian Federation following the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine thirteen months ago. Deliberate shelling has destroyed agricultural and industrial infrastructure. Curbs on export of Russian commodities, restrictions on strategic imports and isolation of the Russian economy should hasten peace talks and a withdrawal of Russian forces from occupied eastern states of Ukraine.  Crimea is probably lost to Ukraine but entry of the nation into the European Union and NATO are real possibilities with long-term detrimental consequences for the Russian Federation.


The invasion has created artificial shortages of commodities previously exported by Ukraine and has affected their prices ultimately to the disadvantage of livestock producers and consumers worldwide.


Approval of Kansas City Southern and Canadian Pacific Railway Merger

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board has approved the purchase of Kansas City Southern Railway Company by Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. in a transaction valued at $31 billion.  This will create a single carrier extending from Canada to Mexico operating 20,000 miles of track and employing 20,000.


The merger was regarded by the regulatory authority as an end-to-end operation without overlapping routes.  The combination will enhance efficiency and create competition among the six large U.S. railways.  This might create some benefits for the U.S. poultry industry.



Survey of SNAP Recipients

Results of a survey conducted by market research company Numerator, documented the responses of SNAP recipients for their purchases of groceries as impacted by COVID.  In an article in Supermarket News on March 15th, Numerator compared SNAP and non-SNAP consumers.


  • SNAP recipients represent the lowest percentile in terms of purchasing power with 61 percent in the bottom 30th
  • Almost half have children in the home compared to one third of non-SNAP households.  SNAP recipient households are twice as likely to be African-American or Hispanic in demographic compared to non-SNAP households. 
  • Approximately 20 percent of SNAP households are “overwhelmed with financial burdens”.  More than half are concerned about job stability compared to one third of non-SNAP recipients. 
  • Despite SNAP benefits, one quarter of recipients are encountering food insecurity.
  • SNAP recipients experience health problems and disability at a higher rate than non-SNAP recipients.

  • SNAP recipients spend disproportionately greater amounts per unit of purchase compared to non-SNAP recipients.  This difference may arise from SNAP recipients buying their needs from dollar stores or small groceries that predominate in inner cities.  Many SNAP recipients do not have access to large supermarkets or deep discount groceries. 
  • Regional and ethnic grocery stores that are attracting SNAP recipients include Market Basket, Ranch Market and Wegmans.
  • Due to lack of personal or inadequate public transport, SNAP recipients require delivery services.  SNAP recipients use Walmart +, DoorDash and Albertsons Fresh.



Proposed Pipeline Projects to Sequester Carbon Dioxide Opposed

Previously EGG-NEWS reported on proposals to pipe carbon dioxide produced by ethanol plants in Midwest states to the High Plains where sequestration at more than a mile underground could be accomplished. The permitting of pipelines is now actively opposed by landowners who fear possible rupture with discharge of carbon dioxide. Those farming above the strata proposed for disposal are concerned over upward migration and contamination of aquifers with carbon dioxide resulting in acidification.  This would be deleterious for both agriculture and livestock production.


The project to establish pipelines with sequestration followed an extensive evaluation by the Department of Energy in 2021. The motivation for an extensive system of pipelines raises a significant question as to the current methods for disposal of carbon dioxide produced by ethanol plants.  When fermented, corn producers equal quantities of ethanol, dried distillers grains and carbon dioxide.  If this greenhouse gas is not disposed of in an environmentally acceptable manner, it is deleterious to the environment. Release of large quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by ethanol plants belies the contention that fuel ethanol is beneficial to the environment.  Do we have a situation in which the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency are working at cross purposes?  Disposal of carbon dioxide should have been considered and resolved before ethanol plants were designed and erected. Is this problem analogous to the failure to develop an acceptable program of disposal of nuclear waste from generating plants that were established 65 years ago?


Purina Prebiotic and Probiotic Combination Suppresses SE

Published research by scientists at the Purina Animal Nutrition Research Laboratory in combination with university and private test facilities demonstrated the benefits of a combination of probiotics and prebiotics (Fulfill® Plus) to suppress Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) infection in both pullets and laying hens.


In the first of a series of trials1, cage-housed day-old pullets were challenged with 1.8x109 CFU on day 21 as a positive control.  The second treatment was fed the pre-and-probiotic combination at a level of 1.5 lb./ton.  Pullets were sampled for SE shedding at 6, 10, 14 and 18-days post infection.  The pre and probiotic combination numerically suppressed SE counts in the caeca by 0.5 log10 at 18 days post-infection.  Fulfill® Plus significantly reduced the number of caecal samples yielding SE compared to the untreated, positive controls.


In a subsequent trial2 to evaluate the pre and probiotic combination, Fulfill® Plus was fed to caged pullets from 10 weeks of age.  At 17 weeks, pullets were individually challenged with a dose of 3 x 106 CFU SE per bird.  The pre-and-probiotic combination was administered at week 10 and significantly reduced the level of isolation of SE from the caeca of pullets in addition to reducing recovery from ovaries over the 10 to 77 week period.


1 Kimminau, E. A. et al., Applied Research Note:  Combination of Probiotic and Prebiotic Impacts Salmonella    Enteritidis Infection in Layer Pullets, Journal of Applied Poultry Research. doi.org/10.1016/j.japr.2022.100286

2 Kimminau, E. A., Combination of Probiotic and Prebiotic Impacts Salmonella Enteritidis Infection in Layer Hens, Journal of Applied Poultry Research. doi.org/10.1016/j.japr.2021.100200.


HPAI Mortality in Bald Eagles Attributed Indirectly to Climate Change

Field research has shown that bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) in western states have been deprived of salmon carcasses, their natural source of food during the spawning season.  Climate change and human intervention in waterways has reduced the population of salmon in rivers resulting in a movement of eagle populations in the Pacific Northwest to farmland.  Eagles are now taking free-range chickens where available and are consuming carcasses of dead calves. Since the onset of HPAI, eagles are predators of migratory waterfowl and are infected from predation and scavenging on carcasses of birds that have died of the disease.


OTC Eye-drops from India Caused Blindness

EGG-NEWS has reported previously on eye infections arising from the use of contaminated eye drops manufactured by Global Pharma and Delsam Pharma, both manufacturers of OTC preparations in India. The brand most implicated was sold by drug stores in the U.S as EzriCare Artificial Tears.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been 68 cases of ophthalmitis of varying severity in sixteen states.  The outbreak required 16 hospitalizations with eight afflicted by blindness, four involving enucleations and three fatalities.


The pathogen responsible for the outbreak is an extensively drug-resistant strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa.  This strain, prevalent in India and previously unknown in the U. S., is carbapenem-resistant and carries genes expressing extended spectrum β-lactamase and metallo-β-lactamase.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued warnings and the Food and Drug Administration has recalled both EzriCare and Delsam Pharma products.


According to Dr. Marissa Grossman, a CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer, the pathogen can be carried asymptomatically and screening is now underway in a number of healthcare facilities.  There is evidence that the infection may be transmitted from patients to unaffected contacts.  Introduction of a Pseudomonas carrying VIN and GES genes is a potentially serious health hazard.


 It is questioned whether FDA has inspected the pharmaceutical plants producing the contaminated products and whether further surveillance will be instituted as a result of the outbreak. Once again EGG-NEWS questions why the U.S has to import eye drops from India or for that matter any other nation. We must re-shore manufacture of pharmaceuticals including OTCs and generics.


H9N2 LPAI Diagnosed in Taiwan

According to a posting on ProMED-Mail on March 20th, the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed a diagnosis of avian influenza strain H9N2 in a poultry farm. The location was not disclosed but the flock of non-confined ducks was depleted.  The current concern relates to the fact that there is a history of human respiratory infection associated with H9N2 avian influenza virus with 90 percent of the cases reported from China.


The Taiwan Department of Disease Control and Prevention is monitoring the situation with surveillance of farm workers and their families.


Taiwan will attempt to eradicate H9N2, although this may be an insurmountable task.  China, Israel, South Korea, Pakistan, Egypt, Iran and the UAE have implemented vaccination to suppress the infection.  This zoonotic infection is especially a risk in nations with wet market sale of poultry to both rural and urban populations.



Solar Farms Degrade Property Values only Slightly

A posting on Inside Climate News reported on a study involving 1.8 million homes in six states to determine the impact of an adjacent solar farm on property values.  Research was conducted by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and included homes in Minnesota, North Carolina, New Jersey, California, Connecticut and Massachusetts.


 The price differential between houses within one-half mile and two to four miles from a utility-scale solar plant averaged 1.5 percent disfavoring those close to an array.  In the case of California and Connecticut, house values were higher by 0.9 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.  The highest devaluation figures were in North Carolina and New Jersey with 5.8 percent and a 5.6 percent reduction in value.


The study was conducted to determine the effect of large solar arrays that have generated resistance in local communities. The major objection has been based on a reduction in property values. In addition spurious claims of health effects have appeared on social media posts adding to opposition to solar arrays. 


The 1.5 percent decline in property values as determined by the Department of Energy Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory refutes the claims of up to a 40 percent reduction as advanced at recent meetings of some local zoning boards.



FDA Commissioner Defends Food-Related Activities of the Agency

Using social media, Dr. Robert Califf is responding to criticism of the FDA with respect to food- related issues that occurring before and now during his tenure.  In a recent post he stated, “There should be no question in anyone’s mind that the FDA is a top priority for me.  We have accomplished a tremendous amount in the last ten years to make the American food supply safe as it has ever been and improve the nutritional quality of foods.”


These self-adulatory statements are at variance with facts that indicate a lack of concern over regulation of food.  These include:-

  • Past outbreaks of salmonellosis and colibacillosis associated with leafy greens grown in California and Arizona.  It is obvious that irrigation water is contaminated with ruminant  feces and that there is no positive kill step required to prevent infection of consumers. Resolution through prevention is not being directly addressed by the FDA.


  • Revelations that fruit juices contain violative levels of heavy metals.


  • Failure to conduct field inspections of food plants during the 20-month COVID period

  • Neglecting oversight of the few large plants producing a high proportion of the Nation’s infant formula.  The FDA delayed responding to a whistleblower’s document alleging concealment of contamination and falsification of records.


  • The FDA has been passive in promoting healthy food options including restrictions on levels of salt and fat in processed foods.


  • The Regan Udall Review demonstrated serious deficiencies in the organizational structure of the food-related missions within the FDA.  Despite recommendations to centralize responsibility and authority, Dr. Califf has proposed an organization structure that is inappropriate to the challenges facing the Agency. Irrespective of his social media posts, widespread criticism of his management is mounting and his requests for additional funds will generate resistance from both sides of the aisle in Congress.



EGG-NEWS joins many commentators including Attorney William Marler in calling for a separate food safety agency that should combine the currently split functions of the FDA and FSIS.





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