The latest thing out of industrial agriculture isn't too appetizing: Burbling up from the manure pits beneath factory hog farms is an oozing substance that's charmingly being dubbed "poop foam"—and it's un-charmingly explosive, reports Mother Jones. The ooze is wreaking havoc on large hog farms, trapping the toxic gases in manure and causing explosions in the upper Midwest—including one that killed 1,500 pigs. The worst part? Scientists are stumped to its cause. Perhaps more than 25% of operations in Minnesota, Illinois, and Iowa are now grappling with the issue, a University of Minnesota engineer says.
The problem arose in 2009 when a gray, bubbly substance was found at the surface of "fecal soup" in some farms, growing to a thickness of up to four feet. Though distillers' grains entered hog food rations around the time the issue began, the dosing of hogs with daily antibiotics may also have led to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The foam can be eradicated by dumping in low levels of another antibiotic, the bovine growth drug monensin, but some farmers don't know the foam is present. Click for the full article.