Web_livestockThe gas industry’s practice of ‘fracking’ poses such a significant risk to the health of livestock that it should be halted until its impact on food safety can be further assessed, according to the UK’s ‘Independent’ newspaper (September 17), which cited a study co-authored by a professor at Cornell University in the United States.

According to the report, Professor Robert Oswald, who is an expert on molecular medicine, compiled 24 incidents across six US states where livestock on farms adjacent to drilling sites died or suffered illness, including reproductive and neurological problems, potentially following exposure to fracking chemicals.  The most common health impact on animals was reproductive failure – abortions, stillbirths, irregular cycles, and failure to breed. One of the incidents involved the leakage of wastewater from a fracking site in Louisiana, which allegedly left 17 cows dead from respiratory failure.  In Pennsylvania, a herd suffered a 50 per cent stillbirth rate after cows grazed in a field contaminated with spillage from a waste pit.

In this first study into the links between hydraulic fracturing and sickness in farm animals, Prof Oswald warned that his findings of deaths and deformities in American livestock are so alarming that growth in the mining practice of fracking should be halted while further research is conducted. He said in the report that farmers living in intensively drilled areas should be very concerned not only about the potential exposure of their crops and herds to contaminants in the water, air, and soil, but also about their own health. Among humans, the most commonly reported health problems were burning of the eyes, nose and throat; headaches; nosebleeds; rashes; vomiting and diarrhea – all consistent with the symptoms being recorded in Queensland and NSW.

These are very serious concerns and it seems to the Foster Community Association that our farmers and the broader community should take heed and insist that the practice of fracking be banned until its impact on animal health, food safety and human health has been rigorously and independently assessed and proven to be safe. Otherwise, it seems we are playing Russian roulette with everyone’s future. A summary of Prof Oswald’s report, Animals as Sentinels of Human Health in Hydraulic Fracking, can be found at: http://www.psr.org/environment-and-health/environmental-health-policy-institute/responses/animals-as-sentinels-of-human-health.html

Linda Giddy, Foster Community Association CSG Project Group