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Plastics choking man, fish, cows, birds and wildlife to death

Plastics choking man, fish, cows, birds and wildlife to death thumbnail

Did you have some beef or fish stew for your dinner recently?

Well, you may have eaten some few pieces of plastic as well.

A study by the United Nations Environment Programme two weeks ago found that 15 per cent of all cows slaughtered in Nairobi are full of plastics in their stomachs.

Other studies outside Kenya have also found large amounts of microplastics in Indian Ocean fish.

Unep adds that there will be more plastics in the oceans than fish by 2050.

Scientists warn that dozens of plastic particles accumulate in the bodies of meat lovers over time and could be a long-term health risk. While there is no consensus yet on the effects, preliminary research indicates that plastics poisoning can lead to cancers, birth defects, immune system suppression and developmental problems in children.

This is the scientific evidence the Environment ministry wields as Kenyans enjoy their last week of plastic shopping bags this week.

From Monday next week, anyone found with plastic bags risks a fine of between Sh2 million and Sh4 million, or a jail term of between one and two years, or both. Or a hefty bribe!

The Unep study in Nairobi is carried in a seven-minute video that shows butchers at Dagoretti slaughterhouses mining huge quantities of plastic bags from the bellies of hundreds of slaughtered cows.

“It’s a big problem. We encounter this during slaughter,” says Dr Edna Cherotich, a veterinary officer at Dagoretti slaughterhouses in Nairobi.

“An animal stomach has four compartments and plastics lodge in the rumen. It affects motility of the rumen. Because of poor motility there is low absorption of nutrients into the animal. The animals’ health is affected. These plastics are common in our environment and as a result of less food, especially in dry seasons.”

She says between 10 and 15 per cent of all animals slaughtered at the Dagoretti abattoirs have this problem.

“In a day we slaughter 100 animals, and about 10-15 will have plastics in their rumen,” says Dr Cherotich.


Maurice Karani, a research assistant at the Nairobi-based International Livestock Research institute, says in Kenya, many cows in urban and periurban areas develop Pica, a drastic aberration of their feeding habits.

It is caused mostly by mineral deficiency, under-nutrition and low-roughage feeds. Symptoms of Pica include persistent licking, chewing or eating things that are usually inedible for a cattle, like soil, paper and plastic.

“Once the cow is filled with plastics, it will always feel as if it’s full, so it won’t be feeding. This means the absorption rate will also go down. It may cause death if there’s blockage. The only way to treat this is rumen surgery, but this is expensive for small-scale farmers,” he says.

Karani says milk production also goes down.

Kenya Wildlife Service says wild animals have not been spared the plastics menace.

The baboons are mostly affected because they have a habit of emptying litterbins before disposing them in the park.

This forced the Kenya Wildlife Service to invent baboon-proof bins.

KWS also supports the government’s move to ban certain plastics.

Scientists are now trying to understand what attracts fish to eat plastics in the oceans, and how that can affect people’s health.

They say enticing smell in some litter may cause fish to eat the debris, believing it is food.

This is according to a report published on August 16 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society Journal.

Authors Matthew Savoca, Chris Tyson, Michael McGill and Christina Slager found out that odours from marine plastic debris induce food search behaviours in a forage fish.

It was previously thought that fish ingested the tiny particles of plastics by accident when hoovering up floating pieces of plankton or krill.The four scientists made the conclusion after mixing watery krill and a second solution of broken down plastics.

A small fish of commercial importance as a food fish and as bait was used to see the reaction of fish.

The scientists found out that fish were attracted by high levels of plastic.

Earlier, in January this year, researchers from the University of Ghent in Belgium confirmed that when animals ingest plastics, tiny pieces called microplastics enter the body. When people consume this meat, the microplastics can lodge in tissues and cause complications over time.


The researchers said things are likely to get worse. By the end of the century, they said, seafood eaters could consume as many as 780,000 pieces of plastic a year. That is likely to cause many health problems. They said people need to recycle more and find alternatives to plastic.

The world’s population in 1950 was 2.5 billion, producing 1.5 million tons of plastic.

In 2016, a global population of more than 7 billion people produced over 300 million tons of plastic — with severe consequences for marine plants and animals, according to the UN.

By 2030, the amount of household waste will almost double to 3000 million tons annually.

In Kenya, 24 million plastic bags are used monthly, half ending up as solid waste.

This figure gives Environment CS Judi Wakhungu sleepless nights.

For her, the country has suffered greatly from the negative effects of plastic bags.

Wakhungu banned the production and use of certain plastics through a gazette notice dated February 27.

Carrier bags constructed with handles and with or without gussets, or flat bags without handles and with or without gussets will no longer be allowed in the market from Monday next week.

Manufacturers who had been given up to August 28 to declare their stock and phase out plans are required to stop providing plastic single-use carrier bags to customers on the same date.

National Environment Management Authority will declare plastics in manufacturers’ possession a waste after the deadline.

On July 1, Nema had written to 104 companies to declare their stock and phase-out plan.

However, a few had responded, with some manufacturers complaining that jobs will be lost and dreams shattered for those who have heavily invested.

Kenya Association of Manufacturers CEO Phyllis Wakiaga raised concerns that the ban will affect industries relying on plastics for packaging.

However, Nema has clarified that plastic bags used for industrial primary packaging at the source will not be affected.

It says plastics for industrial use will not be available or given freely outside the industry setting. Nema says the bags must be labelled clearly by the industry manufacturing it.

But Wakiaga told the Star the ban as gazetted is a total ban on all plastics as it affects plastic flat bags used as main packaging material for the entire industry.

“To date, despite the Environment ministry’s and Nema’s public comments that the ban does not affect industrial packaging, there has been no legal document exempting industrial packaging,” she said.


The ban has, however, started gaining momentum after UN environment supported it.

Unep executive director Erik Solheim says plastics have dire consequences on health, economy and environment.

Solheim says plastics kill wildlife when they ingest.

“Tourism is very important in Kenya’s economy, and no one wants to go to a national park where plastics are lying around,” he said.

Solheim said for economic, health and environment sake, the decision is brave.

“Nations that have taken the environment more seriously in the world are the most prosperous in terms of export opportunity, economic opportunity,” Solheim said, adding that the bags are doing Kenya’s economy more damage than good.

Solheim said the loss associated with plastics to the tourism sector should be calculated.

He said the UN is keen on supporting Kenya to adopt renewable energy.

“Whether we refer to green economy, the blue economy, circular economy or other macroeconomics concepts involving environment, the private sector is at the centre of the issue and, therefore, at the centre of the solution,” he says.

Vision 2030 Secretariat DG Julius Muia dismissed claims that more than 6,000 people will be rendered jobless, as claimed by KAM.

“If you look at it from a circular economic point of view, it is a fact that if you use other bags other than plastic, like for instance cotton, the savings are a lot more because you can reuse that cotton over 20 times,” he said.

Muia urged manufacturers with massive investments to adopt new technologies that are cleaner.

He said: “Unemployment cannot be addressed by manufacturing plastics”.

Paper bags, clothing bags, canvas bags, sisal bags, papyrus bags or shoppers own bags are now likely to step in as the alternatives.

the star

12 Comments on "Plastics choking man, fish, cows, birds and wildlife to death"

  1. Apneaman on Mon, 21st Aug 2017 12:55 pm 

    Plastic Plastic everywhere. Plastic is so ubiquitous in my life, I even choke my chicken with it.

  2. peakyeast on Mon, 21st Aug 2017 12:57 pm 

    Have no worries CRISPR is here. All we need to do is to change a few gut bacteria to be able to break down plastics – and while we are at it cardboard, woodchips and so forth…

  3. Shortend on Mon, 21st Aug 2017 1:31 pm 

    Damn, Mr Robinson wasn’t kidding when he told Dustin Hoffman the future is “Plastics”, back in 1968. Hope he took his advice and is now retired living with Bob Barker in Palm Springs

  4. Apneaman on Mon, 21st Aug 2017 2:04 pm 

    George Carlin: The Universe Wanted Plastic

  5. Sissyfuss on Mon, 21st Aug 2017 2:15 pm 

    It’s heartwarming to know that humanity is finally cooperating with Nature in the culling of excess useless eaters. A synthesis that we can all get behind. Pass the PETE laden Tilapia please.

  6. MASTERMIND on Mon, 21st Aug 2017 2:33 pm 

    Here fishy, fishy, fishy, Makati1 = The Human Asian Carp

    Prepping is futile because you will be robbed, raped, murdered, and eaten

  7. Go Speed Racer on Mon, 21st Aug 2017 2:56 pm 

    If every American would have a weekly garbage fire
    in their backyard, there wouldn’t be
    any plastic waste going into the ocean,
    and no plastic into landfills either.

  8. MASTERMIND on Mon, 21st Aug 2017 3:06 pm 

    Is it a partial eclipse everyday for Asian carp people Like Makati1?

  9. onlooker on Mon, 21st Aug 2017 3:13 pm 

    Truly a worldwide problem similar to CO2 in the air

  10. Apneaman on Mon, 21st Aug 2017 4:19 pm 

    The humans will soon extinct most fish with their cancerous behaviour. That will end their suffering [the fishes will be sleeping with the fishes] and kick up the human suffering and competition into a new gear.

    Warmer waters from climate change will leave fish shrinking, gasping for air

    “Fish are expected to shrink in size by 20 to 30 per cent if ocean temperatures continue to climb due to climate change.

    A new study by researchers at the University of British Columbia provides a deeper explanation of why fish are expected to decline in size.

    “Fish, as cold-blooded animals, cannot regulate their own body temperatures. When their waters get warmer, their metabolism accelerates and they need more oxygen to sustain their body functions,” said William Cheung, co-author of the study, associate professor at the Institute for the Ocean and Fisheries and director of science for the Nippon Foundation-UBC Nereus Program. “There is a point where the gills cannot supply enough oxygen for a larger body, so the fish just stops growing larger.”

    Read more at:

    A Global Fish War is Coming

    Nearly two decades into the 21st Century, it has become clear the world has limited resources and the last area of expansion is the oceans. Battles over politics and ideologies may be supplanted by fights over resources as nations struggle for economic and food security. These new conflicts already have begun—over fish.

  11. Go Speed Racer on Mon, 21st Aug 2017 7:32 pm 

    Garbage incineration solves
    the problem entirely. Should be mandatory
    process in every city and country.
    Get lots of electrical energy too.

  12. Apneaman on Tue, 22nd Aug 2017 10:23 pm 

    KABOOM! goes another AGW Jacked Rain Bomb.

    Historic flooding leaves one dead in Kansas, strands residents in south Kansas City

    “as much as 9 inches of rain fell starting Monday night.”

    “Flooding made many roads impassable, trapping people at homes and businesses along the Blue River and Indian Creek, which set a new record of 28.22 feet overnight and topped its banks after record flooding last month. Water spilling out of Indian Creek inundated bridges, businesses, apartments and houses.

    For just the second time ever, the National Weather Service issued a flash flood emergency alert for the entire Kansas City area. The first time was last August.”

    Oh well it’s Kansas and they are big time arrogant denier tards, so fuck em.

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