Some Antibiotic News

Gillian Lyons

According to some sources, as much as 70 percent of the antibiotics produced in the United States are fed to animals housed in the factory farm industry, animals otherwise known as “food product animals.”  These antibiotics are used not only to prevent the spread of disease among animals housed in small overcrowded quarters, but are also used to spur rapid growth and production (and therefore rapid economic benefit for the factory farm industry).

It is generally recognized that the widespread use of antibiotics in factory farms has, and will have, a significant impact on human health. For instance, in a report from the United States General Accounting Office it was noted that antibiotic use is already connected to the presence of Salmonella, Campylobacter, and E. coli in humans.  The report also suggested that the use of antibiotics in food product animals lessens the effectiveness of antibiotics used to treat humans for other diseases. Continue reading

CLONED BEEF, It’s what’s for dinner.

Tara Dugo

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The world was fascinated when Dolly, the first cloned animal, was introduced in 1996.  As factory farmers have always been struggling to obtain livestock that produce more meat, milk, eggs, etc., it is no surprise that the cloning of Dolly made way for the introduction of cloning to

the farming industry.  Many farmers have found that a benefit to using cloned livestock is that genetically superior animals can be bred.  These animals, such as fast growing beef cattle and cows that produce copious amount of milk would ultimately result in higher profits for the farmers.

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“Pain-Free” Meat?

Jennifer Church

Adam Shriver, a philosopher at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, published an article earlier this month in Neuroethics, contending that cows should be genetically engineered to be unable to feel pain.  Several news articles and blogs have discussed his idea, including Telegraph and Animal Law Online. Playing off of Peter Singer’s classic argument that animals can suffer and therefore humans have a duty to alleviate that suffering, Shriver asserts that humans have an ethical duty to produce these pain-free cows.   He seems to suggest that pain-free cows are guilt-free meat for humans.  Apparently, recent progress in neuroscience and genetic studies could make pain-free cows a real possibility in the near future.  Shriver points to the fact that factory farming and meat consumption has only continued to grow, with no decline foreseeable anytime soon.  If the continuation of factory farming is inevitable, the least we could do is make the cows more comfortable – seems to be his argument.

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FDA Reversal on Off Label Antibiotic Use: A Big Picture View

Here’s a newsflash:  Neither Laura Bush nor Condoleeza Rice think the Bush Presidency has been the worst in history.  Hmmm, I guess I’ll have to rethink…

In other less newsworthy matters, the FDA has reversed itself and decided to permit “off label” prophylactic use of cephalosporin antibiotics for industrial, confined “food” animals.  Off label use refers to administering a drug for purposes other than those for which it was tested and approved.  The FDA approved cephalosporin for treating respiratory illness in cattle and pigs as well as for a variety of human illnesses.  However, the animal industry had been making widespread use of it in other animals and for other uses.

Faced with the growing crisis of antibiotic resistance, the FDA had determined in July that using one of a dwindling number of effective antibiotics prophylactically and for other non-approved purposes in animals did not make sense.  It announced a ban on such behavior beginning on November 30th but withdrew the ban four days before it was to go into effect.  Apparently, Big Food and its allies were concerned that eliminating off label use would cause animals to suffer needlessly.  Read about their compassion here.  Of course, empathy does have limits.  For example, the possibility of not confining the animals in such close proximity apparently did not merit discussion.

Cynics among us might view the campaign to quash the rule as part of a coordinated campaign by Big Food and Big Pharma to maintain the profitability and preeminence of industrial agriculture despite ever-increasing human health risks and ongoing, routinized animal torture.  Those cynics might also view the FDA’s capitulation as a glaring example of agency capture.

But then, that’s the same kind of cynicism that causes people to misrepresent the Bush Presidency as a catastrophic failure.  As Secretary Rice observes, “historians who are now making judgments about the Bush administration and its Middle East policies aren’t very good historians.”

That must be it.

Hat tip to the Marler Blog for its disturbing and informative post on the cephalosporin issue.

David Cassuto