August 14, 2018

Meta-Analysis, Coyotes, and Lyme Disease

Recently I had posted a link to a “study” conducted at Pepperdine University about the diet of Northeastern coyotes, compared to Western coyotes’ and a possible link to the spread and/or perpetuation of Lyme Disease in the Northeast.

On March 4, 2018, I wrote an article sharing, in part, the publisher of Maine Sportsman Magazine, Jon Lund’s, observation that the increased population of coyotes in Maine was causing an increase in Lyme Disease-carrying ticks which in turn was the cause of up-turns in the incidences of the disease. I wrote: “In the March 2018 edition, he asks, “Are Coyotes to Blame for Increase in Ticks?” His simple explanation is that the presence of an increased population of coyotes in Maine is causing a reduction in the fox population – the trickle-down effect of an increase in ticks, particularly the tick that carries Lyme disease. The reality is that coyotes compete with and kill, directly and indirectly, the red fox that is sufficiently more adept at killing the small rodents that carry and perpetuate the Deer (Lyme) tick. In an effort to mitigate what appears to be a festering and growing incidence of Lyme disease in Maine, Lund is wondering if it is time, due to the necessity of a public health risk, to make a more serious effort at reducing the coyote population.”

According to the Meta-Analysis linked to, their conclusions do not support Lund’s theory. While I only have the Abstract of the study, I can only provide what is written there. But first, let me explain something in case readers don’t know what a meta-analysis is. A meta-analysis is “a statistical analysis that combines the results of multiple scientific studies.” (Source)

In this instance, scientists simple took data from 18 different studies about coyote diet and determined that while coyotes in the Northeast readily ate more deer, they proportionately did not eat more or less small predators (like the fox that Lund claims eat the rodents that carry the Lyme tick). The Abstract states: “Our results show that deer occur significantly more in the diet of Northeastern coyotes than in the diet of Midwestern coyotes, while small mammals occur significantly less. The occurrence of rabbits, hares, birds, vegetation, and fruit do not differ significantly by region. This supports the hypothesis that Northeastern coyotes, due to their larger size and hybridization with wolves, are better adapted at hunting large prey. Although Northeastern coyotes eat fewer small mammals than Midwestern coyotes, small mammals are still a common component of the Northeastern coyote diet. Thus the abundance of Northeastern coyotes is not likely to be positively correlated to the incidence of Lyme disease.”

It’s worth pointing out a few things. Again I’ll state that I don’t have access to the full study, however, there does seem to be some degree of contradiction but that contradiction may be insignificant.

Second, it appears from this information that because the Northeastern coyote eats far more deer, due mostly in size and cross-breeding with wolves, it may be due to a bigger appetite because the animal was bigger than the Western coyote. A conclusion on my part.

Third, this information clearly states that Northeastern coyotes eat fewer small mammals than their Western counterparts, but evidently not enough to make any sort of difference.

Fourth, this study concludes that it is “not likely” fewer small mammals consumed “positively correlated to the incidence of Lyme disease.”

It would appear that this analysis has only proven that Northeastern coyotes eat more deer than Western coyotes.

There is nothing conclusive, that I can see, that the presence of an increased population of coyotes has no effect on Lyme ticks.

Do any of the studies have data that go back to a time before the “Eastern coyote” became an invasive species? Have any of these studies taken place in long enough periods of time to take into account a changing coyote diet due to changing conditions on the ground? In other words, depending on conditions on the ground, a coyotes’ diet can have large fluctuations in amount and prey diet. Are these factored in? Will a changing diet also change the incidence of Lyme disease?

There are a lot of questions that remain unanswered. Because of this meta-analysis, I wouldn’t be too quick to disregard Jon Lund’s hypothesis about the direct correlation between coyotes and Lyme disease.

What got along superbly before the invasive species arrived. I would surmise we could get along marvelously without them now.

 

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Meta-Analysis of Coyote Diet Reveals Differences by Geographical Region

Abstract

It has been posited that coyotes (Canis latrans) in the Northeast eat more deer than those in the Midwest or other parts of the country due to their increased size. Further, it has also been posited that Northeastern coyotes do not frequently eat small mammals, creating a trophic cascade that increases the incidence of Lyme disease. However, no one has synthesized the many studies of coyote diets to quantitatively test these hypotheses. We examined 18 studies of the diet of coyotes from the Northeast and the Midwest and conducted a meta-analysis to test the hypothesis that the diet of coyotes in the Northeast differs from that of coyotes in the Midwest. Our results show that deer occur significantly more in the diet of Northeastern coyotes than in the diet of Midwestern coyotes, while small mammals occur significantly less. The occurrence of rabbits, hares, birds, vegetation, and fruit do not differ significantly by region. This supports the hypothesis that Northeastern coyotes, due to their larger size and hybridization with wolves, are better adapted at hunting large prey. Although Northeastern coyotes eat fewer small mammals than Midwestern coyotes, small mammals are still a common component of the Northeastern coyote diet. Thus the abundance of Northeastern coyotes is not likely to be positively correlated to the incidence of Lyme disease.<<<Read More>>>

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Subway Chicken Ain’t But Half Chicken

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — If you think that chicken sandwich you ordered at Subway did not fully taste like fowl, you may have been right.

According to a Canadian study, a DNA test showed only half of Subway’s oven-roasted patty is made with real chicken.

Subway was among five fast-food restaurants whose chicken the Canadian Broadcast Corporation had tested.

The results showed the Oven Roasted Chicken patties averaged 53.6 percent chicken DNA while the Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki strips came in at 42.8 percent.

The sandwich chain refuted the results of the DNA test in a released statement:<<<Read More>>>

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Federal Government’s Dietary Guidelines Should Not Be Distorted By Environmental Activism

Press Release from National Center for Public Policy Research:

Climate Change Activists Have Been Pushing to Influence Report Out Today

Dietary Guidelines Should Promote Health and Disease Risk Reduction, Not Focus on Promoting a Smaller Carbon Footprint in Food Production, Expert Says

New York, NY/Washington DC – The Obama Administration’s Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services joint Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is releasing its report today at 1 PM ET.

National Center Senior Fellow and Risk Analysis Division Director Jeff Stier has warned about the outcome of the report, writing in the Washington Examiner last year, “At a closed-door meeting (in March), administration officials and their advisers will plot to insert the global warming agenda into dietary guidelines mandated by Congress.

Below is a statement from Jeff Stier:

The process leading to today’s report was heavily influenced by activists’ plans to change the nation’s dietary guidelines to promote foods that they believe have “a smaller carbon footprint.”

In the past, as required by Congress, the federal government’s dietary guidelines were intended exclusively to ‘promote health and reduce risk for major chronic diseases.’

This is no longer the case. For the first time in the history of the guidelines, ‘sustainability’ has been a prominent part of the agenda. Actual items on their Dietary Guidelines working group agenda included ‘immigration,’ ‘global climate change’ and ‘agriculture/aquaculture sustainability.’

What’s more, if the Obama administration allows this theme to become part of the new dietary guidelines to be released later this year, it will cost the public money and not make us any healthier.

By favoring foods which activists think have a smaller carbon footprint, the new guidelines will increase the prices you pay for your food. It will also increase the cost to all taxpayers, since the Dietary Guidelines are used to set policy for food stamps (SNAP) and military diets.
New York City-based Jeff Stier is a Senior Fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research in Washington, D.C., and heads its Risk Analysis Division. Stier is a frequent guest on CNBC, and has addressed health policy on CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC, as well as network newscasts. Stier’s National Center op-eds have been published in top outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, the New York Post, Newsday, Forbes, the Washington Examiner and National Review Online. He also frequently discusses risk issues on Twitter at @JeffaStier.

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, three percent from foundations, and three percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors.

Contributions are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated.

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Hijacking Dietary Guidelines (of all things!) for Politicial Gains

USDA’s Switch From Science-Based Nutrition Advice to Green Agenda Harms Americans

Health Policy Expert Warns Against Politicization of Diet Advice

Issues Such as Climate Change Don’t Belong in Government Policymaking About Healthy Eating, Says Health Policy Expert Jeff Stier

New York, NY/Washington DC – The naming of an “environmental nutritionist” to a top USDA nutrition post is drawing fire from the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Risk Analysis Division.

In an op-ed published in Friday’s Des Moines Register, “Iowan’s USDA Appointment Raises Concern,” Risk Analysis Division Director Jeff Stier writes, “The appointment of Iowa’s Angela Tagtow, a controversial ‘environmental nutritionist’ and local food activist, to head the United States Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion is causing more headaches for the agency, already facing criticism about politicization of federal nutrition advice and its consequences for public health.”

Stier earlier criticized the federal Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) and its work to establish new recommendations for federal nutrition policy. Stier’s concerns have been widely echoed over recent months, given the DGAC’s mission creep towards environmental activism. The DGAC is meeting this week in Washington.

In that context, “the appointment of ‘food crusader’ Angela Tagtow to a USDA position responsible for assessing and implementing the Committee’s recommendations is cause for serious concern,” says Stier.

In the op-ed, Stier writes, “By using the government’s official dietary guidelines as a tool to advance her well-established environmentalist agenda, Tagtow would undermine the USDA’s mandate – to provide families with science-based, impartial nutrition advice. The USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services administer the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), which makes recommendations regarding the congressionally mandated Dietary Guidelines. The guidelines, currently being revised, are the basis for Federal food and nutrition programs and welfare benefits such as SNAP and educational campaigns, including MyPlate (formerly the Food Pyramid). The USDA touts them to be ‘authoritative advice for people two years and older about how good dietary habits can promote health and reduce risk for major chronic diseases.'”

Stier writes, “According to Politico, recent DGAC meetings raised eyebrows because ‘hot-button issues, such as diet and climate change’ are being discussed in an unprecedented way. The committee has even dedicated one of five subcommittees to ‘Food Sustainability and Safety’ to discuss how the food we eat contributes to climate change, and how the government should recommend changes to our diets based on those concerns.”

While Stier agrees that maintaining a food supply and environmental protection are important, he says, “these issues don’t belong in discussions of healthy eating. But that hasn’t stopped the DGAC from delving deeply into them over the past year. In the January meeting of the DGAC, committee member Miriam Nelson gushed about the importance of promoting foods that have the “littlest impact on the environment,” and invited testimony from sustainability expert Kate Clancy, who argued it would be “perilous” not to take global climate change into account when dispensing dietary advice.

Stier’s earlier criticism drew rebuke from the USDA, for being “premature.” In April, a USDA spokesperson seemed to back away from the row by minimizing DGAC’s role in policy-making, saying ,”the committee is still in the early stages of its work, so it is premature to guess what their recommendations might be, and even more premature to speculate about what will be included in the final dietary guidelines.”

That seems to have changed, Stier notes. “But the appointment of Tagtow to the USDA office responsible for not only developing and promoting the Dietary Guidelines, but advancing prominent programs such as MyPlate, the re-vamped version of the well-known food pyramid, suggests that the agency is doubling down on raising the profile of our diet’s alleged affect on the climate, and other issue that have more to do with political science, than nutritional science.”

Stier slams Tagtow’s firm’s mission statement as code language for politically charged activism.

Her firm’s goal was “to establish healthier food systems that are resilient, sustainable, ecologically sound, socially acceptable and economically viable…”

Stier points out that Tagtow has written that we should select meat and dairy products from animals that have only been fed grass diets.

In the op-ed, Stier challenges the USDA’s new nutrition expert for repeating the “myth that meat is an environmentally-reckless form of protein, suggesting a plant-based diet instead. She says we should reduce our consumption of meat, lean or not, not because of any potential health benefits, but in order to ‘conserve natural resources and energy.'”

Stier also debunks Tagtow’s alleged economic justifications for her radical agenda. “Tagtow has suggested that Iowans could improve the state’s economy by only eating food grown in the state, at least part of the year. She touted a Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture study claiming that ‘if Iowans ate five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, and Iowa farmers supplied that produce for three months of the year, these additional crops would add $300 million and more than 4,000 jobs to the Iowa economy.'”

“She fails to mention that in her utopian Iowa, residents wouldn’t likely enjoy the benefits of staples like oranges or pineapples for those months. Nor does she consider the devastation to Iowa’s agricultural community if her agro-protectionist ideals were implemented in other states. Well, now she’s headed to the federal government to promote her narrow ideology.”

Stier concludes, “The maxim that, in government, ‘personnel is policy’ is especially true here, given Tagtow’s policy-making role. The priorities she’s spent her career advancing are far from the consensus among mainstream nutritionists. Her appointment is a slap in the face to thousands of men and women in nutrition who daily work tirelessly and impartially to help Americans eat better. And it casts doubt over whether USDA is willing to dispense nutrition advice based on science rather than an activist agenda.”

Stier has written on this issue in the past, raising concerns over the Committee’s direction in a March piece in the Washington Examiner and in the Daily Caller in April of this year. He is available for press requests on this issue.

New York City-based Jeff Stier is a Senior Fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research in Washington, D.C., and heads its Risk Analysis Division. Stier is a frequent guest on CNBC, and has addressed health policy on CNN, Fox News Channel and Al Jazeera America, as well as network newscasts. Stier’s National Center op-eds have been published in top outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, the New York Post , Newsday, Forbes, the Washington Examiner and National Review Online. He also frequently discusses risk issues on Twitter at @JeffaStier.

Stier has testified at FDA scientific meetings, met with members of Congress and their staff about science policy, met with OMB/OIRA officials, submitted testimony to state government legislative hearings, and testified at the United Nations (video here).

Stier previously worked in both the office of the mayor and in the corporation counsel’s office during the Giuliani administration in New York City. His responsibilities included planning environmental agency programs, legal analysis of proposed legislation, and health policy. Mr. Stier also is chairman of the board of the Jewish International Connection, NY. While earning his law degree at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, he served two terms as editor-in-chief of the Cardozo Law Forum.

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, three percent from foundations, and three percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors.

Contributions are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated.

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Don’t Go Insane – Eat Meat

“It’s no secret that many vegetarians are also radical environmentalists and climate alarmists who are obsessed and hysterical about the planet burning up. Perhaps the University of Graz in Austria has discovered one reason why: their “unhealthy” diet.

A new University of Graz study concludes that vegetarians are more often ill and have a lower quality of living than meat-eaters. According to the German press release, vegetarians “have cancer and heart attacks more often”. The release also says that they show more psychological disorders than meat eaters. Consequently, the report writes, they are a greater burden on the health care system.”<<<Read More>>>

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Obama Says No More Eating Foods That Cause Global Warming

Obama Administration to Insert Global Warming Activism into Dietary Guidelines Mandated by Congress

Climate Change Activists to Meet Food Police at Closed-Door Meeting March 14

New York, NY / Washington DC – At a closed-door meeting to take place March 14, the Obama Administration’s Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services plan to update the nation’s “dietary guidelines” — a document with significant repercussions for food stamps, military and school meals programs — to include anti-global warming activism.

In an article, “Obama administration pollutes guidelines for healthy eating with unhealthy ideologies,” published Sunday by the Washington Examiner, National Center Senior Fellow and Risk Analysis Division Director Jeff Stier says environmental activists within the U.S. government plan to change the nation’s dietary guidelines to promote foods that they believe have “a smaller carbon footprint.”

In the past, says Stier, the federal government’s dietary guidelines were intended exclusively to “promote health and reduce risk for major chronic diseases.”

No more, says Stier: “For the first time in the history of the guidelines, ‘sustainability’ is part of the agenda. Actual items on their Dietary Guidelines working group agenda include ‘immigration,’ ‘global climate change’ and ‘agriculture/aquaculture sustainability.'”

What’s more, says Stier, these new guidelines will cost the public money: “By favoring foods which activists think have a smaller carbon footprint, the new guidelines will increase the prices you pay for your food. It will also increase the cost to all taxpayers, since the Dietary Guidelines are used to set policy for food stamps (SNAP) and military diets,” he says.

“The food guidelines, by law, are supposed to be based on a ‘preponderance of scientific and medical knowledge,'” said Amy Ridenour, chairman of the National Center for Public Policy Research, who has studied climate change polices for over a quarter century. “Science can say with authority that eating green vegetables is good for you. It can’t say that humans are causing catastrophic global warming with any more certainty than it can explain why the planet hasn’t warmed since the Clinton Administration. Moms and Dads across America deserve — and, as taxpayers, have paid for — dietary guidelines they can use to help them feed their families wisely. No one benefits from causing people to wonder if the nutritional advice they are getting from their government isn’t focused on nutrition at all, but has been polluted by environmental activists.”

The full Washington Examiner article can be read here.

New York City-based Jeff Stier is a Senior Fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research in Washington, D.C., and heads its Risk Analysis Division. Stier is a frequent guest on CNBC, and has addressed health policy on CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, as well as network newscasts. Stier’s National Center op-eds have been published in top outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, the New York Post, Newsday, Forbes, the Washington Examiner and National Review Online. He also frequently discusses risk issues on Twitter at @JeffaStier.

Washington-based Amy Ridenour, founding CEO of the National Center and currently co-CEO with her husband, David Ridenour, has been interviewed on television or radio thousands of times, and had her op-ed published in newspapers thousands of times, on nearly every major public policy issue since the National Center’s 1982 founding. Newspapers running her op-eds within the year include the Denver Post, Providence Journal, Las Vegas Sun, Arizona Daily Star, Boston Herald, Deseret News, Duluth News Tribune, Orange County Register, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Omaha World-Herald and many others. She discusses issues on Twitter at @AmyRidenour.
The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations, and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors.

Contributions are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated.

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