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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The FDA’s Confusing Message On Antibiotic Use On Farms

If you’ve been following the latest moves by the FDA about antibiotic use on farms, there’s a good chance you’re completely befuddled.

The agency recently withdrew a promise to regulate certain antibiotics on farms, but weeks later they issued a new order to limit the use of others.

Let’s back up.

The agency has long said it wanted to tamp down on the use of antibiotics on farms. Healthy livestock are given antibiotics to prevent infections and increase growth and research shows that this practice creates drug-resistant bugs that infect humans. Farmers say they need the antibiotics to carry out the large-scale farming that feeds much of the population.

Ending A Promise To Limit Antibiotics

Even though the FDA said that antibiotic use on farms is a problem that needs to be addressed, in December, the agency withdrew a pledge made in the 70s to regulate penicillins and tetracyclines, two of the most widely-used antibiotics on farms and for human health. Tom Philpott of Mother Jones called it “the FDA’s Christmas present for Factory Farms.”

And Natural Resources Defense president Frances Beinecke was not happy, writing in the Atlantic:

“Instead of making good on its 1977 promise to limit these drugs in livestock, the agency is moving in the opposite direction. The latest developments reveal that the FDA is actively trying to avoid protecting Americans from a known health hazard that the agency itself acknowledges.”

A Move To Limit Some Antibiotics On Farms

After the December move against limits on some antibiotics, the FDA did just about the opposite this month, but for a different class of antibiotics. The FDA issued an order to limit the use of some antibiotics, known as cephalosporins, in livestock.

The agency’s move got some positive, but tempered press. The New York Times editorial was headlined “The FDA Creeps Forward,” while Congresswoman Louise Slaughter told NPR the move was too little too late.

Maryn McKenna, author of “Superbug: the Fatal Menace of MRSA” told Here & Now‘s Robin Young, “The fact that they’re willing to control any antibiotic, that does seem to be positive.” But she said that cephalosporins make up less than 1 percent of the antibiotics used on farms, so the move, while positive, was small.

Meanwhile, McKenna said advocates are still frustrated with the FDA’s December decision not to regulate the widely used tetracyclines and penicillins.

“People who want to see antibiotics controlled are very frustrated that the FDA could not get this 34-year-old attempt to get the vast majority of antibiotics controlled. That they finally were essentially pushed back by Congress and industry and conceded that they were going to try voluntary reform instead,” she said.

McKenna says that she doesn’t think that the FDA will do much on the issue of antibiotics on farms in the next year because of the election cycle.

A Public Health Burden

McKenna says just one of the drug-resistant super bugs, MRSA, or drug resistant staff, causes almost 19,000 deaths a year in the U.S. and is responsible for 7 million doctor and ER visits.

“Every time someone in the hospital contracts MRSA… they stay up to twice as long, their care costs up to four time as much. Antibiotic resistance is a huge public health burden on our society,” she said.

Guest:

  • Maryn McKenna, author of “Superbug: the Fatal Menace of MRSA”

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  • brifokine

    I am pregnant. I will ONLY buy meat that is organic, and anit-biotic free. I would consider myself lower middle class, but I find this extra expense to be one of the best ways I can spend my money. It is a direct investment in the health of my family, society, and the environment. 

    • C Konyha Greene

      I feel the same way, even though I’m not pregnant and my son is grown up. I might be buying all my clothes and other stuff from thrift stores, but the one thing I won’t skimp on is the quality of my food.

  • Frank Maschkowski

    next time ask the question: If everyone was vegan, how much saved on healthcare, how much more productive per work hour, how fewer headaches, less food poisining, how much better our economy would be.

    • Pete Teoh

      More people need to figure out that eating meat and the resulting animal exploitation is completely unnecessary. It takes far fewer resources, is far less impacting on the environment and most importantly it avoids harming sentient beings. Why is that so hard to comprehend?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3QXIUGR7Z2WIZCQWE5ZZ2JZUJY J

      How do you figure that? How many like you are willing to give up your jobs to raise the food needed for even half of America to be vegan? How is it less food poisoning, when there are just as many (if not more) food recalls for vegetables as meats? What about those who *don’t* thrive on a vegan diet? Not all do – and in fact many leave veganism due to restriction and health reasons.

    • Docshayne97

      food poisoning or bacterial contamination is as a significant a problem with vegetables as it is with meat.  listeria in cantaloupe in colorado was a major problem last summer.  e-coli in lettuce.  it goes on.

      • http://www.facebook.com/presnail Lisa Presnail

        Ever wonder where the lettuce got its e-coli?  yeah, factory farm run off.  That’s right.  Veggies are contaminated just like we are.

  • Brianne

    You’re touching on the idea of hidden costs of this “cheap meat” but I think it’s a much bigger deal.  Americans do not NEED as much meat as they demand.  It’s awfully subsidized for something that’s definitely no miracle food.  I have not eaten meat, by personal choice, for 16 years, though I pay for it as Americans’ get poorer & poorer health & my personal insurance costs rise.  Meat should be taxed so we can manage our environment & waistlines better.  (If people could keep themselved in check, we wouldn’t need the intervention).  This is an economic argument I’m making but let’s not discount the horrible conditions these animals live in.  Boo!

  • Charles20r

    No one is going to trust the FDA anymore, so when people see FDA approved, its not going to mean anything anymore.

  • Annew2

    The truth on this issue is that lobbiests control our FDA. Farming and Drug making is big business. Do they care that a few people are dying of MERSA?  I studied CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations)  for two years, due to the addition of large hog farms in my rural Indiana county, and found that in certain states, money talks, and money is from Farm Bureau, and the ag and drug industry. The rest of us are considered “nuts” animal lovers, or crazy environmentalists!

  • Gbkyte

    For several years, when purchasing meat to prepare at home, I have bought only organically raised products free from chemical additives including antibiotics, pesticides, hormones, and preservatives.  I wish more people would do the same and put out of business companies who use production methods destructive of people and the environment.  

    • Sam

      Unfortunately too many people LIKE their meat and they like it CHEAP!
      I have tried for years to convince my co-workers to eat less meat and to switch to organic/local and they just don’t listen. They don’t believe me that it might be bad for them and their children and many site the expensive factor not realizing that it is going to cost them down the road.

      I think something similar as movements against tobacco companies need to happen. Law suits, etc.
      It’s sad and unfortunate, but I am glad that I am able to afford local/organic foods.

  • Sam

    We eat antibiotic and hormone free meat (beef, pork and chicken) from local farm. I stocked up on chicken and pork from the local farm market in the summer and beef is a monthly meat share, split with another family. We also participate in the milk and vegetable share from another local farm. We buy only a few things from the supermarket like bread and yogurt. If I had the time, I would make our own yogurt. But I am a single mom and work full time.

    But not everyone has the same opportunities as we have. And not everyone is willing to eat what is in “season” and limited selection of roots (in the winter) and meat that’s in their freezer.

    We don’t eat meat every day. We don’t eat out very often and recently do not eat out at all.

    One thing that is hard to control is the food my son eats in the daycare. I would either have to cook for him different foods every day, the same ones that they serve at school (because he wants to eat what everyone else eats), which would take a lot of time, or let him eat the food they serve there.

    Where I can, I provide organic food, and that’s what we eat at home.

    It is not that much more expensive when you cut down the amount of meat that you consume and it is definitely worth it.

  • Viasalento4

    I agree with Frank in wondering why the concept of not buying meat at all was not raised as a way in which the individual can affect change.

  • http://www.facebook.com/williambernard.reidvarley William-Bernard Reid-Varley

    The problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria resulting from antibiotic use in factory farms is definitely an extremely serious problem.  However, it is only one of many ethical tragedies associated with animal agriculture in general. The enormous quantities of grain and water which are wasted to produce one pound of meat could instead be used to address malnutrition in this country and across the world.  It is absolutely unconscionable, that, with the severe degree of malnnutrition and utter starvation in the world, that people will continue to stuff themselves full of animal carcasses to fulfill a selfish, personal, and violent craving for flesh.  Furthermore, animal agriculture contributes more to global warming than all of the traffic in the world combined.  Global warming is already affecting weather patterns all over the planet, and will continue to severely affect agricultural productivity especially in Africa, which is already extremely vulnerable in the area of food security.  Finally, but definitely no less important, animal agriculture (meat, fish, dairy, and egg industries) are directly responsbile for the torture and murder of billions of animals every year.  The hands of consumers who benefit from animal agriculture are therefore drenched in the blood of billions of innocent human and non-human animals all across the world.  The only ethical solution to end the multitude of ethical tragedies associated  with animal agriculture is to GO VEGAN!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1040500856 Jessica Shier

      William, The one thing that bothers me most
      about the Vegan position I see posted into the comments of issues like this is
      that no movement is worth it unless you go all the way (to veganism!). I
      understand your convictions but you have to be mindful that the likelihood that
      the entire world one day all become vegan is about as likely as the whole world
      becoming harmonious Christians (or Muslim, Jewish, or Buddhist), and you may
      convert a few along the way, but if you are really are concerned about animal
      suffering, and global warming than I think your cause would benefit a lot more
      if you were more positive about peoples efforts to make steps toward the middle
      from our current industrialized food extreme. But maybe that is the problem. If
      the food system was more humane, sustainable and environmentally sound less
      people would feel inclined to become vegan. Without the CAFOs and poorly run
      slaughter houses people would not be able to as easily move to your side because
      the normal is less vial. Still I think a better system and any movement is
      better than bitter words and no movement.

      • Pete Teoh

        Humane slaughter. Do you see the contradiction?

        • Maggie

          People are different, some like meat some don’t; get over it!  A person is  tolerant as long as everybody else agrees with them! The point is how we go about doing things; being cruel and abusing resources or being humane and responsible stewards of our resources without compromising safety.

      • http://www.facebook.com/presnail Lisa Presnail

         Jessica I disagree- all movements start somewhere.   At one time, (not more than a few hundred years ago) people all over the world including “western civilized countries” believed that slavery was a way of life and would always be so.  It was considered ‘a right, and a necessity to survive’ hmmmm sounds familiar.  It is never a right to use another living being for profit.  I believe in my heart one day (soon) civilized societies will be horrified at the thought of animal slavery, torture, murder and consumption.   And it will require that some of us be seen as leaders, be viewed as radical, unreasonable and even crazy. To quote a pretty smart guy  “Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” Steve Jobs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/williambernard.reidvarley William-Bernard Reid-Varley

    The problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria resulting from antibiotic use in factory farms is definitely an extremely serious problem.  However, it is only one of many ethical tragedies associated with animal agriculture in general. The enormous quantities of grain and water which are wasted to produce one pound of meat could instead be used to address malnutrition in this country and across the world.  It is absolutely unconscionable, that, with the severe degree of malnnutrition and utter starvation in the world, that people will continue to stuff themselves full of animal carcasses to fulfill a selfish, personal, and violent craving for flesh.  Furthermore, animal agriculture contributes more to global warming than all of the traffic in the world combined.  Global warming is already affecting weather patterns all over the planet, and will continue to severely affect agricultural productivity especially in Africa, which is already extremely vulnerable in the area of food security.  Finally, but definitely no less importantly, animal agriculture (meat, fish, dairy, and egg industries) are directly responsbile for the torture and murder of billions of animals every year.  The hands of consumers who benefit from animal agriculture are therefore drenched in the blood of billions of innocent human and non-human animals all across the world.  The only ethical solution to end the multitude of ethical tragedies associated  with animal agriculture is to GO VEGAN!

  • Rsprattster

    The news here is that it has taken so long for this bacterial resisitance to make the news.  As an undergraduate reading biochemistry in 1971 the news was the aquired resistance of shigellae bacteria to certain antibiotics in Japan.  This phenomenon has been well known in the science community for decades and recognized as a problem in compromising our critical arsenal of antibiotics. 

     Cases of MSRA are very common but more concerning is the ultimate worst case scenario in the total resistance of tuberculin bacteria to any known antibiotic, several cases (12-15 one of whom went on the lam) of patients with totally resistant tuberculosis in India (reported a couple of days ago.)

    Blanket usage of antiubiotics is irresponsible in the extreme and should be discontinued. Like many cost excuses the real cost is never assesed. These costs will certainly become very apparent if these resistant pathogens start running rampant throughout the population.

     Worse still, it is not deemed ‘economical’ for drug companies to pursue the development of new antibiotics. The facts are in, and are unequivocal. We cannot wait for the much vaunted ‘market’ to decide to correct this problem, by then it will be too late.

    • Geoff Pritchard

      Remember why TB has become resistant – infected persons not finishing the antibiotic treatment.

  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

    This is a parallel issue to global climate change and synthetic fertilizers — we are trying to take a shortcut, and the results are very bad, all around.  Not only do we get drug immune bacteria, but we get poor nutrition, lots of pollution, accelerated global climate change from both the animals directly, and from all the natural gas used to make the fertilizer; and the nitrous oxide that results from the fertilizer after it runs off in the rain water.

  • ockitaris

     Just the next step!  The  bankers demanded that farming become a business.   It became a business.   But agriculture is a culture of people who work the land to eat.   And on becoming a business the drive is on to reduce the cost of doing business so machinery, antibiotics in a certain respect can be included,  replaced people.   The overuse of machinery is destroying our top soil.    The use of pesticides is bassicaly the same as antibiotics.   The overuse of artificial fertilisers is also destroying our top soil.    The people needing an  income turned to the military because business men refuse to support “unproductive” people. Those who can get a job in the military industries. Antibiotics  is just an other step in the process of destruction or decadence, as it was once, called in society.      We need to get away as far as possible from the invisible “HAND-JOB” and consciously  approach how we live.   

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1640229970 Barb Bolton

    MRSA is a problem that is getting bigger every day.  Why is that?  Because ranchers are cramming animals together, feeding them antibiotics – as a growth “food” and (shockingly) the cattle and farm workers are experiencing MRSA infections at an alarming rate.  What to do about this issue, that is costing the American medical system billions?  Eat less meat, eat only grass fed cattle.  Yes, it’s more expensive but if you cut down on your quantity of meat and eat quality meat you, your health, your pocketbook, and the health of our country will benefit.  

  • Billy Bob

    I’m tired of hearing people say “Buying organic vegetables/grassfed-hormone free meat is too expensive.” as they drive off in their new car to go home and watch cable TV on a giant flat screen TV. It’s really all about priorties. I do pay a little bit more money for clean, local food, as I think that is money well spent. Additionally, why does the U.S. need to feed the world in addition to ourselves? If we had enough local producers, farming AND local food would become viable again, not to mention a much healthier option than what our current model is offering.

  • shannon

    CAFOs, like most over sized industries, externalize their production costs onto their neighbors and the environment in many ways: breached waste “lagoons” foul streams and the water table, horrible stench depreciates property values in surrounding areas, and the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics spreads drug-resistent bacteria far and wide.  These vast chambers of horrors produce “cheap” meat because the true costs are never calculated. 

  • C Konyha Greene

    Is there any research going on about possible connections between this kind of routine antibiotic use on farms and humans developing allergies to antibiotics?

  • Celarth

    Once again, it is about corporations and their ability to raise animals cheaply. People do not matter.

  • Porter

    I switched to a local organic pasture raised farm 4 years ago.  It is the only way the market will react.  If it pays to.  Our vote every 4 years in a presidential election really says nothing about you.  The votes you make every day with your $ says it all.

  • Cyndi K.

    I have been buying antibotic free meats for years now.  We  all have to ban together to stop this!!  As long as people buy this crap, nothing will change and people will keep getting sick.

  • laura

    I recently watched Fork Over Knife and this interview is just reinforcing my decision to decrease in meat/dairy in my diet.

  • Lisa P

    Because of the horrors of the meat industry (and the Robin Cook book “Toxin”!) I stopped eating meat 20 years ago.  My husband and I bought 11 acres in NC over 2 years ago, and now raise our own chickens for eggs and meat.  This is the only way that I can, in good conscience, eat any meat.

  • Maplewater

    I have only eaten pastured animals (beef, pork and poultry) for the last eight years. Yes, it is more expensive, but a single drive through the Nebraska feedlots made this a moral imperative 

  • Clare Carver

    I keep a small beef herd on my farm an hour out side Portland – there ARE other ways to raise animals we do NOT need to keep animals in confinement to feed people.. We can heal our bodies, the land and make a better environment for the animals and ourselves  – if we work in concert with nature and the land!  – pasture based farming is the way out of this mess!!! THANK you for this show… clare carver – big table farm

  • MRR

    We have recently started buying all of our meat from our local co-op, because we have discovered it just tastes better. Meat that has been raised on factory farms and pumped full of antibiotics tends to be tough and lacks flavor. So although, I was also motivated by a desire to do right by the animals and the environment in the end the quality of the meat also helped to change our minds.

  • Paul

    We stopped eating any food that wasn’t certified organic or grown by us or neighbors over 40 years ago. When we buy food in the store we make sure we are buying the purest food sources for our own health and help support the industry to produce healthful foods. 

  • Dennis

    When we eat meat, we only buy grass fed beef from Whole Foods, though occasionally we eat beef at a restaurant in blissful ignorance of where it came from.   It is sickening what happens on these huge Cafos.

  • Nelmyers

    I stopped eating meat35 years ago for this reason and political and enviornmental reasons. It is not too much to ask that anyone who can.. stop eating meat that is grown any way other than organic and pastured . our production and consumption of meat in all of its aspects in this country  is a major poluter here and in the whole world.chabnge is a fight with major meat producing corporations and agribusiness  who loby washington with vigor. the meat production issue is very large and involves many issues of health, politics, money and power.I am delighted to see and hear any public discussion of any aspect of meat production.

  • Bunchgrassfarm

    While I agree that prophylactic treatment of farm animals is the primary problem in developing antibiotic resistant bacteria, the author misspoke whe talking about how the resistant bacteria get into our meat.  She said that the resistant bug-laden gut contents of the slaughtered animal get all over the surface of the muscle (meat).  That is absolutely not true.  Gut contents are not allowed to contact the meat at all – if there is an accidental contamination, it is a discrete point on a single carcass and that tissue is removed and disposed of.  It is more likely that the antibiotics are in the blood supply and therefore are present in the muscle tissue already.  Another problem with human antibiotic use is a result of medical practice being a business that needs to have satisfied customers.  So physicians go to the tertiary level antibiotics (cephalosporins) right off rather than using the tetracyclines and penicillins first.  So the animal industry  – not ranchers but finishing operations (CAFO’s) are where the real issue lies.  Also, it’s not just meat that Americans demand stay cheap – it’s food in general.  And this has been a priority since the 1960′s. 

  • Sarah Colby

    My children participate in 4-H and to sell your project animal at the fair auction your are required to use feed that contains antibiotics.  In my opinion this is teaching the young people how to raise animals on antibiotics.  Since 4-H is an education program that teashes by doing we are actively training the children the wrong way.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1040500856 Jessica Shier

      I raised poultry in 4-H and we had no such requirement. I’d be curious if that was a state of county rule in your area. Either way I would encourage you to get a group of parents and participants from your club (or a few clubs) together to go to the leaders, or board meetings and ask for this requirement to be removed. Depending on the leadership it may take a bit of a fight, but the beauty of 4-H is most of its rules are locally determined and enforced so I don’t see why you couldn’t get this changed if you could find enough support. You could also encourage your child to do a still project about antibiotic resistance and feeding of antibiotics in farm animals… It may get some you some traction!

  • Mulberrybank

    Another issue where the public’s will and health is not abided-by.

  • Jpompilio

    As a doctor & environmental health specialist, I’ve been vegetarian 4 years. But my husband ignores my advice 2 buy organic meat, although he will buy organic dairy usually. It’s frustrating since my son likes his stir fries but I have to limit his consumption of it. Why is ok 4 Dad 2 eat toxics my son asks. Its not! He’s just being selfish and short-sighted, he likes the taste of CAFO meat better :-(.

  • Geoff Pritchard

    While I agree that prophylactic treatment of farm animals is the primary problem in developing antibiotic resistant bacteria, the author misspoke whe talking about how the resistant bacteria get into our meat.  She said that the resistant bug-laden gut contents of the slaughtered animal get all over the surface of the muscle (meat).  That is absolutely not true.  Gut contents are not allowed to contact the meat at all – if there is an accidental contamination, it is a discrete point on a single carcass and that tissue is removed and disposed of.  It is more likely that the antibiotics are in the blood supply and therefore are present in the muscle tissue already.  Another problem with human antibiotic use is a result of medical practice being a business that needs to have satisfied customers.  So physicians go to the tertiary level antibiotics (cephalosporins) right off rather than using the tetracyclines and penicillins first.  So the animal industry  – not ranchers but finishing operations (CAFO’s) are where the real issue lies.  Also, it’s not just meat that Americans demand stay cheap – it’s food in general.  And this has been a priority since the 1960′s. 

  • Smitty_in_vancouver

    I decided to not eat any meat and dairy, except some seafood last October.  I’m 50 and feel the best I’ve felt  in a long time.   This is probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.  There are soooo many reasons not to eat the meat produced today that it totally makes sense, plus you’ll feel great when eating an all plant based diet.   The more I learn about the farming practices today the easier it is to no longer even desire meat.   The more people who get educated on this topic and make  the decision to change their choices will drive the farming industry to change it’s ways.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1040500856 Jessica Shier

    When I worked at a farm store as a sales associate I  made an effort to discouraging shoppers from buying medicated feeds and powered antibiotics when it was not necessarily. I encouraged them to purchase the non medicated feeds and electrolytes or vitamins for new animals. If they asked, I was happy to talk about resistance and help explain to them that their small home flock of chickens really didn’t need them. I found people just really didn’t know or understand and once I explained to them potential consequences of feeding antibiotics they were on board with me to avoid them. Most of these people were small hobby farmers. I found it frustrating that the only feeds we carried to start chicks were medicated. There was a good alternative but it was not clearly marked for young birds so people wouldn’t have picked it up without my direction… This problem is pervasive and not only in big commercial Ag.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1040500856 Jessica Shier

    I do want to point out that there is an appropriate time to use antibiotics and sometimes we can take this  anti-antibiotic push too far. I recently learned that if for some reason an animal, that is considered organic, needed to be treated for a medically real infection that may very well be life  threatening than that treated animal and any potential offspring can no longer be considered organic. After treatment the animal is often just sold in the regular market and the farmer takes a loss. This is a problem as well. No producers should not be punished for appropriate medical care of their animals. Lets be clear- feeding Antibiotics to healthy animals is the problem, effectively treating sick animals is not. We need to be mindful of this in any legislation we seek to pass.

  • Luv2stretch88

    I get exhausted hearing about how much more expensive it is to eat from your local farmer who raises grass fed beef.  I made about $26,000  last year, but I can buy a pound of ground beef from my local farmers’ market for $6 and cook a chili or stew that I can eat for a week and share with friends. Of course, if you have to eat a slab of meat as big as your head at every meal, it is expensive, no matter what you buy. 
    The other reality, when one looks at cost, is that eventually, you will pay for all that cheap food via your own health.  As the mass production, mono-cultured farms produce more and more of our food, we are now, for the first time, seeing a generation that has a shorter life expectancy than their parents,as well as rampant diabetes and heart issues.  Cheap food produces expensive health care!

  • Soldier1

    Another prime example of “profit over people” since factory farming does not care about the health and treatment of people or animals. It is capitalism gone mad. Who cares about these issues as long as the CEO makes a billion and the shareholders get their share!

  • shirley g,. adelman

    It’s disgraceful to have animals  grown in the conditions they are and then pumped full of antibiotics.    
    I support farmers that raise grass fed aninals.     I buy only   grass fed beef and  hormone free poultry.
    This kind of animal protein is much healthier to eat.
    Shirley.  

  • Marilyn

    There is a very simple solution to the problem of meat animals causing MERSA.  Adopt the diet that has been proven by research to greatly reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and many other life shortening diseases.  Go on a plant based diet as the book “The China Study” by T.Colin Campbell, Phd and Thomas M. Campbell, II proves. At the least advise people to greatly limit animal eating.  It would be wonderful if you would interview these men to talk about their study findings.

    Also be advised that the way these factory farm animals are treated is very inhumane,and unhealthy to the animal and to the people who consume the meat.

    I definitely do not feel sorry for the drug companies.  I do feel sorry for the people that are sick or dying because of all the drugs used.

    • Geoff Pritchard

      Meat animals aren’t “causing” MRSA.  MRSA is the reult of overuse of antibiotics, surely.  IMO Stopping eating meat is not likely to put the cat back in the bag, so to speak.

  • Jere

         The interview regarding MRSA I found very interesting! Yes, WE have a problem in this country and it is proliferated by selfish greed. Recently I saw the video “Forks over Knives”  and found it very enlightening. (It was shown in major theaters in May and June of 2011.)
         What would happen to the population in the USA if there were a greater concern for the people and less for the dollar? When the FDA is controlled more by big business money than interest in the population, no wonder we have a problem with MRSA and other health issues.
         It is a well known fact that eating dead animals is not necessary.  In nature, these animals get their protein from the plants. (Humans sometimes make them carnivores). But what do we receive when we eat their flesh? Protein, a lot of fat, no food fiber which encourages obesity, cancer, diabetes & etc.
         Are we intelligent or are we just going to follow the crowd – to an early grave!
         At 74, my blood pressure is 122/65. I take no drugs, prescription or otherwise and have been vegan since 1990.
         Encourage people to THINK and act accordingly. Have persons on the program who are expert in the field of healthful living such as Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and Dr. T. Colin Campbell who were featured in the movie “Forks over Knives.” (A whole program series dedicated to this would help people immensely.)
         (Are you free to do this or are you also controlled?)

  • Cyndy

    In reference to the antibiotics used on farm animals, I just would like to know how this impact those of us who are allergic to these products – ie … penicillian, tetracycline, etc. …. ?

  • http://twitter.com/ethicalmeatpdx Ethical Meat PDX

    It would be fantastic if we were able to change our “meat agriculture” systems into a more sustainable/ethical mode via legislation, but as with most commodities, it is down to We-The-Consumers to enact real change.  Everyone going vegan is a silly notion, but we should all move towards a more plant-based diet (i.e.- less meat) while at the same time demanding sustainable/ethical products when we do eat meat.  Something I am trying to do in my hometown (Portland, OR) is to promote the local businesses (restaurants and food-carts) that use “ethical meat” such as chicken from Draper Valley or pork from Carlton Farms.

  • gspr

    I certainly enjoyed this segment today, it assuredly had my attention.  As a poultry producer here in Kansas, albeit a small scale facility compared to some.  We raise nothing but Heritage poultry, and we never use antibiotics in our production.  We do not need to as our birds have a NATURAL immune system.  I still however find this subject of importance, but too many of the comments miss the mark.  It is not about eating “organic”, “pastured”, “free-range”, etc.  What is crucial is to know the source of your food.  If we as a society made a conscious effort to know the source of not just our meat but also produce, it would result in the kind of change the food industry needs.  The change so many here have commented that they desire will not come about from going “organic”, or going vegan.  Although these are viable alternatives for some, they will still not result in the change so many desire to see happen.  The crux of the matter is this, unless the meat industry as a whole addresses the real issue of genetic alteration of animals, antibiotics will continue to be used.  Look back sixty years ago, and the issue of antibiotics was not even a blip on the radar screen.  It was not until the industry began to develop meat for faster production that this became an issue.  Why?  The new genetically altered animals have gone through the unfair process of a compromised immune system.  Meat production is beg business, and therefore big money, and the commercial producers cannot afford to lose their animals.  Within the poultry industry, all commercial raised birds, organic, or non organic ALL are of the same genetics.  These genetically altered birds were developed by the industry to grow faster and have much larger breasts.  The problem is that when the scientists began to alter these birds for mass production, they also compromised their immune systems.  Hence antibiotic use became essential to production.  These birds now caged and in barns by the thousands with a compromised immune system have to have antibiotics to survive.  The industry has created a monster and until this monster is destroyed it will not make antibiotics go away.  There is hope, as the one thing we can do as a consumer is to buy local, KNOW the source of where your food comes from, and then get others to do the same.  When the masses do this the industry will take notice, we must hit them in the pocketbook.

  • Mike

    I appreciated the coverage of this topic and I’m glad to see it being escalated as a topic of national interest. 80% of antibiotics sold go to meat.. this is just a staggering figure. I support the movement to remove antibiotics from the meat animal process and to de-systematize food in general. I try to treat meat as a luxury and generally eat a mostly vegetarian diet. When I do decide to buy meat, I encounter the problem that I’ve I seen in my area and in most other “non hip” communities.. that is, the lack of supply of antibiotic free and humanely raised meats. I live in the capital city of New Hampshire and not one of the 4 major grocers or even the small local butcher carry local or drug free meats (even though they are locally available from small farms). I routinely shop at a local farm store (the store is literally at the farm) for meats. I know not everyone has that option, but as the guest on the show said, we can only make the difference by voting with our dollars and demanding food that is raised with care. 

  • Docshayne97

    penicillins are not routinely fed to livestock for any reason.  tetracyclines are the most common antibiotic fed to livestock and this is usually for prevention and for a short period of time, 2 weeks.  antibiotics fed on a permanent schedule disrupt gut flora and create significant problems for the animal. 

    penicillins are not commonly used in human medicine anymore due to the possibility of anaphylaxis.  tetracyclines aren’t commonly used anymore either.  macrolides and fluoroquinolones are the most used in human medicine anymore.  ciprofloxacin and azithromycin are the common antibiotics reached for these days on the human side.

  • Docshayne97

    i would be more afraid of contracting a strep a infection (flesh eating) than MRSA.  anyway, i was tested and i am a MRSA carrier.  humans harbor it in their nose.  testing is not pleasant.

  • Docshayne97

    i do agree with the headline though on the FDA.  they are extremely confused.  the content of the article is wrong, as is just about all the reporting in general.

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