Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Factory Farms, the Over-Use of Antibiotics, and Our Health

JenIn an op-ed from The New York Times yesterday, Nicholas Kristof took a close look at the use of antibiotics in factory farms. We know that factory farms are detrimental to the environment, our communities, and our health in terms of the pollution they generate that contaminates our air and water. But there's something less obvious to the eye (and nose) going on as well.

Kristof found that 70% of all antibiotics used in the US are used to treat healthy livestock. Why give a healthy animal antibiotics? So that when they're exposed to the horrible conditions of a factory farm, they will have a better chance of surviving until slaughter. This non-therapeutic overuse of antibiotics is one reason we're seeing more and more antibiotic-restistant pathogens that threaten our health. In fact, MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant staph infection, kills 18,000 people annually; and a new strain of MRSA can now be found in an estimated 25% to 39% of US hogs.

The practice of giving antibiotics to the animals who are destined for our plate compromises our health for the sake of our industrial food system--for the sake of efficiency, corporate greed and cheap meat. Just another reason to choose food from family farms!

Kristof mentions that there may be some upcoming legislative action to curb the overuse of antibiotics in our food system. As things progress, we'll keep you informed so that you can act to help stop this dangerous practice. In the meantime, choose antibiotic-free meat!

To learn more about Farm Aid's work against factory farming and issues like antibiotics, click here.


  1. S.Meres2:21 PM

    Obviously we all know just how wrong this practice is, but what we tend to forget is that the end result is going to hurt our family farms much more deeply than the big feedlots. I'll explain...

    President Obama has already "pledged" to improve food safety, and Congress has already penned two bits of legislation that are being promoted as in the interest of Food Safety. The public is going to fed a bunch of garbage, making food safety into a crisis, so that this legislation will slide through unchallenged.

    These two bills are:
    House Resolution 875, or the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009. Sponsored by Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., whose husband is on Monsantos payroll.


    Senate Bill 425, or the Food Safety and Tracking Improvement Act, sponsored by Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.

    Both the house resoultion, and the bill in the senate are worde in such a way that it will be very difficult for the small family farm or homestead....especially if they are organic, to comply....and the fines for non compliance can be up to 10 years in jail, and 1,000,000.00 in fines per violation....not to mention forfeiture of your property.

    While, the fines I have listed are the maximum, it is not hard to see that even the minor fines would easily tax a small family operation beyond their means....not to mention the possibility of loosing thier land.

    The major backers of these two bits of garbage are Monsanto, ADM, and Tyso...need I say more?

    Please contact your representatives, and tell them to stop trying to mess with the people who are doing things the right way...small...local...organic.

  2. I strongly disagree with you conclusion. Your statement."Obviously we all know just how wrong this practice is, but".......that "but" is the reason we are here. We all know it is wrong, the factory farmers know it is wrong and the american farmers know it is wrong "BUT" as soon as this profit agenda comes in to play the animals ALWAYS lose out no matter who cares. Profit margins always trump animal welfare.

    Your concerns are legitimate but targeting animal welfare isn't the answer.

  3. S.Meres11:58 AM


    I do believe that you misunderstood my position. I am not targeting animal welfare. I for one am very opposed to factory farming of any kind, or the mistreatment of animals.

    Small family farms that do not try to copy the management practices of the big guys will always place the welfare of their animals at the highest priority...if they don't, they fail.

    You are absolutely correct that the driving force behind this is the profit agenda....or plainly....greed. I will add to this....ignorance and complacency. The average person doing their grocery shopping at the local Wal-Mart mega store....doesn't understand what it takes for Tyson to put a .69/# chicken in that store. When given a choice of that .69/# factory farmed, "fecal Chicken" (to quote Joel Salatin), and the 2.50/# pastured/organic chicken raised down the road, i guaranty that at least 7 out of 10 people will choose the .69/# chicken. So what we have is a combination of the big guy's greed and the consumers ignorance, complacency, and their desire to save a buck trumping the small farmer, and ultimately animal welfare.

    While I strongly disagree with the likes of PETA, I personally take the welfare of my animals very seriously....I for one would not want to eat a neglected, diseased, stress-out, etc. animal or animal product, ie. milk, eggs, etc. I take this right down to my beehives which I refuse to treat with any chemicals, antibiotics, acids, essential oils, etc.

  4. Anonymous1:29 PM

    I am a consumer who still eats meat in small quantities. I am very concerned about food safety, but most importantly I am concerned about the abuse of animals on large factory farms. I have read Senate Bill 425 and did not find it offensive...am trying to understand your opposition.