Doc’s Blog

New Monsanto Technology 

Monsanto says their people and Harvard University scientists have come up with yet  another way to kill pesticide resistant pests. They claim that they can use something called PACE (phage-assisted continuous evolution) technology, to quickly identify proteins that have superior properties to kill pests.  Since this new method is 100 times faster, they hope to subdue the resistant pests before the culprits develop even more resistance.  Good Luck, Monsanto. The bugs and weeds have outfoxed you at every turn so far. I bet they will do it again. 


Their press release did not address the probability that newly identified “killer” proteins could and would probably have deleterious effects on other organisms besides the targeted species.  Biological overkill has happened before.  Will these new toxins be any different?

One of their spokesperson said they wanted to help the farmer get the most out of every acre.  Why don’t they do research to try to grow toxin-free food on every acre and bring safe, healthy food to the consumer?

I guess you have to give Monsanto credit, though.  They are persistent. They keep trying to fleece the public even while their empire is in a tailspin, with sales down over 25 percent, and most of Europe trying to kick them out. 

Yogurt for Livestock: Deja Vu, all over again!


It is well documented that antibiotics in livestock feed lead to the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria—a severe threat to human health. A researcher at Iowa State University is investigating the use of Lactobacillus acidophilus as an aid to reduce the use of antibiotics in livestock feed. L. acidophilous is found in yogurt. 


When I just a kid, I spent a lot of time on my Uncle Gustav’s farm in Missouri. That was 75 years ago. He and Aunt Anna seasonally milked eight or ten cows - by hand.  The milk was ‘separated’ and the cream was sold to a company in St. Louis.  The skim milk quickly went “sour” as a result of the naturally occurring Lactobacillus acidophilus.  He fed the clabbered milk to his pigs and chickens.  They were all productive and healthy. 

In the 1960’s I started using and recommending lactobacillus products in my veterinary practice.  I used a product called Kulactic - from a company in Mason City, Iowa. I prescribed it for diarrhea and other intestinal problems in animals and sometimes even in humans.  Some folks ridiculed the idea, but, those that used it liked the results. 

Commercial Lactobacillus products have been available for at least 50 years. I wonder why the universities waited so long to research a natural product. I’m guessing they were caught up in the antibiotic craze and totally enthralled by the lavish amounts of grant-money available for antibiotic research.

It is gratifying to see university scientists finally taking a look at the empirical technology of a bygone era.
Kudos to these researchers. 

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Tools of the Trade.

The other day when I had my van in for service, I noticed the fine array of wrenches and other tools available for use by the mechanic.  Since I am a guy who feels fully equipped if I have more than one adjustable crescent wrench, I was impressed not only by the sheer numbers of the different tools but also by the specific applications for some of them.  Given the necessary skills, the mechanic had all the tools he needed to take apart and put back together the complex engines that power today’s vehicles

I remembered then some things I learned years ago from my good friend and veterinary colleague, Dr. Bob Scott.  Bob had a unique way of looking at things and could translate complicated subjects into an easy to understand broad overview using simple analogies.  Here is his view of the role of minerals in plants and animals.

Plants are made up of air and water.  If you combine carbon, as from carbon dioxide with oxygen and hydrogen (also from air or water), you have the basic building block of starch, sugar or carbohydrates.   Add nitrogen to this basic formula and you have an amino acid or a basic building block for protein. 

If you burn a plant thus reducing it to ash you are left with that part of the plant that came from the soil -- usually around 5 %.   Therefore, 95% of the makeup of plants comes from air and water, combined by the sunshine generated miracle of photosynthesis. 

Minerals are nature’s “tools” that enables this process to proceed.   They are basic to the enzyme systems that catalyze the storage of the sun’s energy into the chemical bonds within the plant itself.  The major elements are the big wrenches, and the smaller wrenches are the trace minerals.  All are essential. Any deficiency or imbalance limits the production and the quality of the crops grown.  If some elements are lacking in the soil, they will be lacking in the crop.  If they are lacking in the crop, they will be lacking in the animal that eats the crop.

When an animal consumes plants the same tools used by the plant to combine the CHO & N to store energy are needed to break down chemical bonds and release energy to power the metabolic processes of life and production.    If the plant doesn’t have enough built-in tools (minerals), extra tools must be provided.  Most of our soils are so depleted in minerals that it is almost a given that some mineral supplementation is necessary, especially to arrive at the high levels of productivity that we strive for today.  Without the mineral tools, proper digestion and assimilation of the energy in the feeds simply does not take place.

Even without computers, animals are smarter than man when it comes to balancing their individual needs for the elements of nutrition, especially the major, minor and trace minerals. Providing a choice in mineral supplementation allows the animals to pick the tools they need without being totally locked-in to only the tools recommended by the computer.

Most farmers probably wouldn’t think much of a mechanic that tried to overhaul a tractor with a screwdriver, a pair of pliers and a couple of crescent wrenches.  Unfortunately, in their role as animal caretakers, some livestock men seem to think that a cheap sack of high calcium minerals and a trace mineral salt block are all the tools needed by our livestock to utilize fully the energy stored in our feeds.  They are wrong!