I was terribly disheartened to read the VC Reporter publish such a profoundly ignorant piece as Mr. Moomjean’s “To be or not to be ... a gender” (Right Persuasion, 2/27). History is replete with examples of individuals who were identified throughout their lifetimes as of one gender or another, but upon their deaths, were found to be quite different. In fact, in the ’30s through the ’70s, there existed in medical practice a set of procedures called sexual assignment surgery to handle the various inconsistencies in the natural world of human sexuality. When Mr. Moomjean so ignorantly indicates that on Facebook one “chooses” a gender, he indicates that this is somehow a conscious selection of gender. The action on Facebook is not a selection of gender, you ignoramous, it is the selection of an arbitrary label which best describes one’s gender. To so trivialize this aspect of humanity shows Mr. Moomjean to be a profoundly ignorant person. Please, VC Reporter, do not allow your pages to be a sounding board for such a profoundly ignorant piece.
Risk of a serious public health issue
Re: Eye on the Environment: biodigesters (2/27)
In the piece by David Goldstein, the discussion of biodigesters caught my eye, especially the thoughts on horse manure and sewage byproducts. This subject is of interest for several technical and public health reasons. Some time ago I was the water quality planner for Ventura County and rewrote its area-wide regional water quality control plan under section 208 of the Clean Water Act. Thus I am somewhat familiar with the subject, the Ventura area, its sewer plants and water quality. I left the county in the mid-1980s to take a position as regional adviser covering environmental issues impacting 22 nations in Africa for the Department of State and USAID. Main issues were water quality and public health. As to credentials for discussing this, I have a Ph.D. in water quality and a degree in medicine.
The LA/RWQCB (Regional Water Quality Control Board), unfortunately, is either not conversant with some of these public health issues and or is in a non-action stance when it comes to discussing such issues. These issues are the generation and release of antibiotic-resistant microbes by livestock, including horses, when given antibiotics, as well as sewer plants that generate antibiotic-resistant microbes in industrial volumes and then release them with their downstream effluent discharge. Antibiotic-resistant genes (ARGs) usually make it completely through these plants. Colleagues in academia are finding ARGs in drinking water systems that obtain water from rivers with upstream sewage discharge. The ARGs are so small that they easily pass through the filter systems in the typical sewer plant found in Ventura; these genes are unaffected by chlorine at typical dosage levels and contact times and unaffected by UV. Thus they are found at levels of around 10 to the sixth or seventh per milliliter in recycled water, which is a more advanced treatment byproduct of sewage effluent. The basin plan shows that the reaches of the Ventura River are within the recreational category but the lab tests for this are so faulty that serious pathogens and the ARGs fail to be recognized. The LA/RWQCB is aware of this but seems to be moribund. These released resistant pathogens can and do set up environmental niches and also can transfer to environmental microbes (aquatic and terrestrial).
While composting is presumed to kill bacteria, this presumption is faulty, as documented by several peer-reviewed studies. The resistant bacteria often rebloom within the cooled compost and thus allow for the transfer of antibiotic-resistant organisms to humans. Once within the gut, the genes are transferred to the gut biota and the genetic information can multiply and remain there for years. Because of the numbers of gut microbes, interspecies transfer can take place leading to higher orders of resistance.
We are running out of functional antibiotics in medicine because of advancing resistance while at the same time the pharmaceutical industry is disinterested in pursuing new drugs. Thus, we have several critical curves coalescing into a point, and consequently into a serious public health issue. Failing development of new drugs, many elective surgeries now taken for granted will, because of the risk for an unstoppable infection, be drastically reduced.