The Deadly Addiction to Cheap Meat

From In These Times:  http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/13350/the_deadly_addiction_to_cheap_meat

BY Terry J. Allen
June 27, 2012

America’s cheap meat habit is costing more than we bargained for. The factory farming of cows, pigs, poultry and fish sucks up 29 million pounds—80 percent—of antibiotics sold in the United States.

Many illness-causing bacteria are now resistant to most or all of the antibiotics that once killed them. While the overuse of antibiotics on humans has contributed to this public health crisis, the most egregious factor in creating antibiotic resistance is the routine, widespread, greed-driven dosing of livestock. About a quarter of U.S. meat and poultry samples contain antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The FDA, after more than three decades of dithering, has finally acknowledged a “mounting public health problem of global significance.” But, when even industry acknowledges a serious problem, an April FDA report containing “non-binding recommendations” politely asks the food industry to use antibiotics “judiciously”—and gives industry three years to figure out how to circumvent the reforms.

In 1946, producers discovered that adding antibiotics to feed increased animal growth—and industry profits. This subtherapeutic dosing also allowed livestock to survive filthy, overcrowded conditions that would otherwise generate high and unprofitable rates of disease and death.

Antibiotics work by targeting specific bacteria, but they can leave the field open for resistant strains. CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) are nearly ideal for generating resistant bacteria, and then spreading them through workers, flies, soil, air, water and, of course, food. Strains of strep; MRSA; tuberculosis; malaria; pneumonia; gonorrhea; various food poisons, including salmonella; along with other dangerous pathogens are increasingly impervious to common, inexpensive antibiotics.

Continue reading at:  http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/13350/the_deadly_addiction_to_cheap_meat

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