In the midst of the domestic energy boom, livestock on farms near oil-and-gas drilling operations nationwide have been quietly falling sick and dying, according to the latest report by Food & Environment Reporting Network. Elizabeth Royte wrote the cover story, “What the Frack Is in our Food,” for the December 17, 2012, issue of The Nation magazine.
“In Pennsylvania, the oil and gas industry is already on a tear—drilling thousands of feet into ancient seabeds, then repeatedly fracturing (or ‘fracking’) these wells with millions of gallons of highly pressurized, chemically laced water, which shatters the surrounding shale and releases fossil fuels,” Royte writes. “New York, meanwhile, is on its own natural-resource tear, with hundreds of newly opened breweries, wineries, organic dairies and pastured livestock operations—all of them capitalizing on the metropolitan area’s hunger to localize its diet. But there’s growing evidence that these two impulses, toward energy and food independence, may be at odds with each other.”
The story, the first in-depth look at the potential impact of fracking on food, cites the first and only peer-reviewed report, published earlier this year, suggesting a possible link between fracking and illness in food animals. It includes 24 case studies of farmers in shale-gas states whose livestock have experienced neurological, reproductive, and acute gastrointestinal problems after being exposed—either accidentally or incidentally—to fracking chemicals in the water or air. Read more