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A different take on vaccines

The Felt Lab, a community-based technology hub located in the Quarry building at 140 King St. in St. Jacobs, will host a series of collaborative art workshops through the spring and summer run by Isabella Stefanescu of the Inter Arts Matrix.

Even vaccines – for humans and animals alike – come with homeopathic alternatives, as those attending an upcoming seminar held by Bio-Ag Consultants & Distributors will discover.

The company provides yearly seminars such as the one taking place on January 16 in order to educate the public on farming and health issues, says its marketing manager.

“This year we are doing half on large animal vaccinations and the other half on human vaccinations – we just bring people some different perspectives on that issue and let them decide for themselves,” said Kate Fisher.

Bio-Ag president Murray Bask, manager Betty Ann Glauser and marketing manager Kate Fisher were part of the team that organized the company’s latest seminar on livestock and human vaccinations. [elena maystruk / the observer]
This year’s event will feature an in-depth look at the history and affects of vaccinations for both humans and livestock. The seminar will present the audience with arguments for and against vaccinating animals and humans as well as provide ideas on homeopathic alternatives to conventional vaccines.

“We have speakers from all over the world that have come; very, very, educated, respected people that you may not ever get the chance to hear speak outside of the academic world. That, I think, is really valuable,” Fisher said of past presentations.

First on the podium will be a New York State large animal veterinarian Cynthia Lankenau, who will present her thoughts on the nature of vaccines. Lankau will discuss her research and misgivings regarding the efficacy of conventional livestock vaccines. Among her examples she will present finding regarding the connection between vaccines and relatively recent findings regarding conditions such as Bleeding Calf Syndrome (bovine neonatal pancytopenia or BNP) which emerged in 2007 with many cases being reported each year ever since, she claims.

In her presentation she will argue that “the practice of vaccination is neither safe nor effective,” outlining the history of the practice up to its uses today as an integral part of livestock practices as well within the medical community at large. Lankenau will show that that the decision to use vaccinations is a difficult one riddled with complications for those who are aware of the possible risks as well as benefits.

“People want to learn about what the alternatives are, why they would want to have an alternative and how they would go about homeopathic vaccinations. That’s why we chose Dr. Cynthia Lankenau,” Fisher said.

To offer a point of view on human vaccinations will be Neil Z. Miller, a medical research journalist and the director of the Think Twice Global Vaccine Institute. The organization offers information on childhood immunizations and other human vaccines.

“The human side, I think is very different. With livestock they will look into effectiveness, safety; with humans it’s more moral. Sometimes it’s a religious, sometimes a safety issue. Sometimes the drivers are different for why they are interested in the issue,” Fisher said.

Bio-Ag is a family-owned company operated out of Wellesley Township. It specializes in farm consulting and the distribution of nutritional supplements for livestock including organic products. The company’s main focus is livestock and nutritional products, but their annual seminars have a wider premise that strives to engage the community at large.

Seminar topics can range from farm-specific issues to more general topics like genetically modified foods. This year Bio-Ag expects a crowd of farmers, clients and the general public at the seminar which will focus on both livestock and humans.

“The human side, I think is very different. With livestock they will look into effectiveness, safety; with humans it’s more moral. Sometimes it’s a religious, sometimes a safety issue. Sometimes the drivers are different for why they are interested in the issue,” Fisher said.

Bio-Ag seminars are not necessarily a reflection of the company’s policies, she added as opinions on various topics can vary depending on the expert that speaks. Fisher said this year’s seminar is no different, as it will offer the point of view of just two experts on a topic that is both diverse and controversial.

“It means so many things to different people. A mother, it might be important for her to see some of the different perspectives on the issue before she makes the choice. For an older person it might help them understand some of the controversy around it so that they could make decisions to vaccinate themselves now or in the future.”

A general educational outreach is the goal of the yearly seminars. This year’s topic was chosen precisely because of its controversial nature and relation to the public at large.

“Educational outreach is what we are doing but it’s a public safety concern and controversy that has arisen around vaccines, that’s why we felt it was important.”

Registration for the event ended on January 2, but some last-minute spots may still be available for people who call the company directly, Fisher said, adding that they expect a full house, as in previous years.

Both speakers will be presenting their prepared speeches and taking questions from 10 a.m. until about 3 p.m. on the day.

“As a company we feel that looking at the big picture of farming systems is critically important so we bring people in just to teach people about everything we can to fill that thirst for knowledge,” Fisher said.


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