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Plastic Pollution and Mutant Cows in Texas

10 March 2009

US - Cattle downwind from industrial facilities in Texas suffer genetic damage, according to new research.

For 200 years, Randy Mumme’s family has raised cattle on the same plot of southeast Texas land. Then, about 10 years ago, something began to change, reports Scientific American. His steers were losing weight. Cows were miscarrying; one gave birth to a calf with three legs. Many calves were stillborn.

The family’s ranching practices had not changed over the centuries, but the environment had. His ranch is four miles downwind of large industrial plants that spew tons of carcinogens and other toxic substances into the air. Mumme and other ranchers in Point Comfort suspect the factories are contributing to the ill health of their cattle.

Now scientists have found DNA evidence that suggests the ranchers’ suspicions might be true, heightening concerns about their cattle as well as their own health, says Scientific American.

Tests have revealed that herds as far as six miles downwind of the factories have more DNA disturbances than other herds not downwind, according to scientists at Texas A & M University. The changes in chromosome structure and other genetic damage can increase the animal’s risk of cancer and reproductive damage.

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