Artificial growth: At what cost?

Dhaka,  Monday,   2016-09-17
Published : 17 Sep 2016, 00:04:23
A CLOSE LOOK

Artificial growth: At what cost?

Nilratan Halder
Cow fattening has become a cause for serious concern, particularly ahead of the sacrifice of the animal on the occasion of Eid-ul-Azha. Random use of steroid-like substances for the purpose has been reported in the media. Last year, the death of a few such fattened oxen only exposed the danger of overuse of banned medicines for artificial fattening of bovines. Repeated warnings by livestock experts against artificial cow fattening have fallen on deaf ears. One wonders where from do farmers get the idea and more importantly the illegal substances for application to animals they raise for the purpose of selling at a high price on the occasion of Eid.

It would not be wrong to assume that the introducers of the substances to them are none but the cattle traders and their middlemen who make farmers convinced of the merit (!) of fattening cows -a process that would leave for them a hefty profit.

Animal husbandry has been a great art for the humankind for over millions of years. But it is for the first time that measures have been employed for getting something extra beyond animal's normal genetic traits. Sure enough, cross breeding through selection of superior types of a species was long adopted to get positive results. But now more mouths need quicker breed so much so that broiler chicken has been developed without the capacity for reproduction. This bird is precisely meant to be all meat.

The generation that is habituated to consuming such chickens is getting taller and fatter, no doubt, but it is too early to say that the meat is cent per cent safe for human health. Cow fattening is known but not many people are aware of similar procedures followed in expediting growth of fish. Again, growth hormone-rich medicines are applied with fish meal so that the fish fries can assume unexpectedly large shape within the shortest possible time.

Now the concern is if consumption of such artificial foods also influence characters. Artificially raised animals and fish have their shortcomings -their flesh is loose not well built and tastes not as good as the normally raised ones. Consumers of such items have to compromise on their tastes and preferences. Sometimes they feel cheated when they buy a very nice looking bull or fish thinking that it is not artificially hormone-induced.

This time livestock experts instructed buyers of sacrificial animals to be watchful of a few signs which separate the normally raised animals from the artificially raised. A cow that may not look very healthy with sleek fur but very agile and keeps looking around and reacts to sounds and sights is the one that is not artificially fattened. There are other recommended methods, often used by expert butchers, to distinguish the two varieties. However, no such instruction has been issued to know which fish is from river or natural water bodies and which one from the pond where heavy doses of growth medicine was applied.

Following the artificially induced growth, if robotic humans will take the centre stage is yet to be known. But indications are there that it may be the case. Already, young people are addicted to modern gadgets such as smart phones, tabs and computers -not to books. It is often complained -and not for nothing - that they are more used to communicating on social media than socialisation in a face-to-face situation.

Is this the way of feeling the effect of artificial foods? After all, man is what he eats. So, when youths are immersed in social media but forget family members and their obligation to other members of family and society, their qualification to robotic beings of a different species leaves little to doubt. How they will take care of their emotion and passion in real life situation is a matter to be seen. The fact is that human contact cannot flourish simply on social media. No virtual world is a substitute for the real world of flesh and blood.
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