2012 In The Rear-View Mirror: What You Liked

Happy New Year, constant readers. For the second year in a row, here’s my list of which of my posts (91 in 2012!) most moved you to react. Last year (find that list here), I counted down based on which posts provoked the most comments. This year, Wired installed a tweet-counter — which registers only if someone clicks through from Twitter, but not if the post’s URL is mentioned or RT’d — so I thought it would be amusing to score posts that way this year.

And the verdict is: You care enormously about food policy, but you continue to be fascinated by the emergence of scary diseases — and, to my surprise and pleasure, you care about public understanding of science as well.

Here, in reverse order, are your top faves. Thank you for a great year.

10. “Science Writing And Denialism: Accuracy, Clarity, Courage” (April 28; 257 tweets). An account and Storify of a conference at University of Wisconsin, at which I was one of many speakers. The point of the conference was to consider the roots of the public’s resistance to accepting the science of evolution, climate change and vaccines — and it turns out that resistance is strong: The conference hashtag came under attack as we were using it.

9. “Also Receiving Antibiotics on Factory Farms: Shrimp” (Feb. 24; 270 tweets). A look at regulators’ dawning realization that industrial-scale farming happens in the sea as well as on land — and that US import inspection and federal regulation is completely inadequate to keep up with the potential risks.

8. “Chagas Disease: Poverty, Immigration, and the ‘New HIV/AIDS‘” (May 30; 281 tweets). An exploration of the under-counted, under-appreciated tropical disease Chagas, which has moved over the border from Latin America to become endemic in Texas and threaten the blood supply and organ donation — and which, in addition, exposes how we think about immigrants and their health.

7. “Breaking News: Judge Orders FDA to Examine Safety of Ag Drugs” (March 22; 294 tweets). My as-it-happened report on a New York district judge telling the Food and Drug Administration that 34 years of inaction on agricultural antibiotics has got to stop — and also telling the FDA what it must do instead.

6. “Fast-Spreading Animal Virus Leaps Europe, UK Borders” (Feb. 7; 321 tweets). The newly identified, little-known Schmallenberg virus, which kills calves and lambs before birth, leaps the English Channel — possibly via flying insects — from northern Europe, and threatens to undermine dairy, beef and sheep agriculture.

5. “Why Is Type 1 Diabetes Rising Worldwide?” (Jan. 26; 342 tweets). We’ve reluctantly become accustomed to the idea that Type 2 diabetes is increasing, mostly because of the rise in obesity worldwide. But it turns out that Type 1 — thought to begin in infancy, before we pack on overweight — is rising around the globe as well. And it’s possible that obesity may be to blame here, too.

4. “Investigation: Drug Resistance, Chicken And 8 Million UTIs” (July 11; 393 tweets). This post stitches together all the pieces of a multi-media investigation I conducted under the auspices of the Food and Environment Reporting Network in collaboration with The Atlantic, Good Morning America and ABC World News Tonight. Short version: Urinary tract infections caused by resistant bacteria are rising worldwie, and the culprit appears to be chicken raised on factory farms.

3. “CDC: Pretty Much Everyone Is Fat” (Aug. 13; 672 tweets). This post is almost all graphics: It’s a time-series of maps of obesity prevalence in the United States from 1985 through 2005. Run your mouse down it, watch the colors change, and weep for this chubby country.

2. “India Reports Completely Drug-Resistant TB” (Jan. 9; 1,571 tweets). This one scared me, too. It’s the first report (and the first of a series of four posts by e) about the discovery in India of 12 patients infected with TDR — totally drug-resistant — tuberculosis. Later, the Indian government would deny the disease’s existence, a patient would abscond, and the world would grow increasingly concerned and dismayed.

1. “9-Year-Old Who Changed School Lunches Silenced By Politicians” (June 14; 5,432! tweets). I’m so very glad this was your favorite post, because it was mine too. It’s the story of 9-year-old Martha Payne of Scotland, who blogged photographs of the lunches in her elementary school in her tiny Scottish town — until school funtionaries got uncomfortable and made her stop. The Internet — including , I am thrilled to say, thousands of Wired readers — came down on the officials like the anvil in a Bugs Bunny cartoon, and got the decision reversed in 24 hours. Martha and her family subsequently resisted all invites to go to Hollywood or otherwise monetize their unexpected fame; the only thing they did was write a book, for which they donated the proceeds — almost $200,000 so far — to a charity that buys school lunches for poor kids in Africa. Here’s an update.

So that was 2012. Stick with me in 2013: We’ll have more scary diseases, more thorny policy questions, and much, much more food coverage. Happy New Year.



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