In Margaret Atwood’s novel, “Cat’s Eye”, the narrator’s father hypothesises at dinner table that surviving insulin-dependent diabetics are going to beget² such huge pancreatically challenged hordes that the methane-emitting herds of cattle necessary to provide them with bovine³ insulin are going to hothouse everyone to perdition.
Thanks to the present-day production of insulin by befuddling microbial genes, we can sigh a slight sigh of relief, but Ms Atwood did tickle me into doing some (maybe completely inaccurate) calculations to count the cattle: in 2008/9, the UK insulin-using population would have needed 3 154 816 slaughtered beasts (beef consumption for that year trails behind at 1 836 000). On a more personal note, to see how many bovines would have to bow out in a non-leaping year to provide you with your fix, insert your average daily dose in place of Y:
BBR = 365 x Y/523 ( For the resulting blowout of methane in kg, multiply your answer by 55; mine’s a sizable lobola of 27.5 cows & 1513.5 kg of methane…)
1) BBR&RMBPA : Bovine Beasts Required & Resulting Methane Blowout Per Annum
2) Transferral of unfavourable HLA-genes to progeny are fortunately not as unconvoluted as that of cattish coat colour.
3) Porcine insulin’s not considered in this example – even if pork makes up the biggest bit of the British meat-consumption pie.
Enough to sate the beef-lust of 110 Brits (after rounding off; 9/10ths of a “cow” can be the one that couldn’t contribute to the oxtail stew, 9/10ths of a Brit conjures up images of Pythonesque live organ donation…) Oh, btw, what exactly is an “insulin item”? (used by NHS stats; I interpreted it as 3ml of U100 insulin – but if it also refers to 10ml vials, total hypothetical cow deaths can climb)