More people are addicted to opioid painkillers than ever before. The face of addiction is changing what once seemed relegated to desperate souls hiding in the shadows now impacts our friends, families and co-workers. In about 2009, overdose deaths surpassed the number of car crash deaths in the United States and has grown dramatically. Since then investigative agencies have kept a strict record of overdose data and have observed dramatic increases especially in the 2000s. Western Pennsylvania has been exceptionally hard hit by these overdose deaths. Statistics deduce a lot of the overdose deaths are due to Prescription opioids and also heroin overdoses.
The trend has been observed more in younger people. Also interesting to know that it is seen in more rural compared to urban areas and so it looks a lot different than some of the overdose mortality data that has been recorded from previous years. Luckily, there are NGO’s that are working in direction if educating people against the ill effects of these drugs and help them understand that if they are able to get relief from severe pain from less addictive options such as ibuprofen, they should shun usage of the former. Educating people about the dangers of opioid misuse may be an important step in managing this public health crisis. One such group is Allied Against Opioid Abuse (AAOA) which works in this direction. They educate the addicts against the use of such prescription drugs and the rights, risks and responsibilities that come associated with them. They also advocate the use of safe and non-addictive alternatives to these drugs and address the opioid abuse epidemic by learning about the safe use, storage and disposal of prescription opioids with the plenty of resources available with them.
Food around us seems to be plentiful. Around the country grocery stores are fully stocked, produce and other goods are relatively cheap and most people have easy access to a wide variety of foods. However, more than 42 million Americans suffer from food insecurity and the farming industry is on the decline. On one hand the United States does have a uniquely advantageous position in the world regarding food supply. Americans spend less than 10% of their household income on food while in other countries like Cameroon or Kenya it can be closer to 50%. Part of the reason for such cheap food is due to trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA which removed most taxes on goods coming into the United States from Canada and Mexico. Cheaper labor and lower regulations in Mexico ultimately means cheaper goods.
But in an effort to drive the food economy many believe that the American farmer has been left behind. Prompting over reliance on foreign sources of food, young people who are starting to farm are facing huge obstacles like accessing affordable farmland, accessing credit and capital that they need to succeed. It is reported that fewer university graduates will volunteer for areas like agriculture. At the same time other countries like China have been doubling down on their farm industry. From 2001 to 2008 China invested roughly four billion dollars in its agricultural research and development and today some estimate the number of Chinese farmers to nearly equal the total population of the United States. Currently the population of the United States continues to grow and there is potentially less space to grow food but more people who need it.
It is estimated that two-thirds of farmer owned land in the US will transition ownership soon, so if there are not young farmers ready and willing to take on this land we will see that land transition out of Agriculture and potentially sold to corporate farms or bought by non-farm owners. Without young farmers filling in for a huge number of retiring farmers, more and more food production will move out of the country leaving the Unites States of America at the mercy of its neighbors. Some states have even started offering student loan forgiveness to new farmers adding to the current list of forgivable occupations such as teaching and law enforcement. Such initiatives by the state governments can help the farmers produce goods, feed their communities and at the same time be profitable businesses. Along with some of the state governments mentioned above, groups like National Young Farmers Coalition which works with young farmers by providing access to market, credit and new agricultural techniques which help them to successfully adapt to this profession.
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