Antibiotic Resistance: A Gift from the Factory Farm
Toward A Post-Antibiotic Era
The growing antibiotic resistance of bacteria and viruses is rapidly pushing us to a post-antibiotic era in which we will have no defense against these killer organisms. It is truly frightening.
Low dosage non-therapeutic antibiotics are used to promote growth and higher dosage antibiotics are used to prevent the premature death of animals from the unhealthy CAFO environment.
Drug resistance is the likely result of this practice and we may not be able to defend ourselves from the onslaught of pathogens with our existing arsenal of antibiotics.
Supplements that focus on immune support may take on a new, very important role in the fight against food and water borne disease.
John Robbins, internationally renowned author of The Food Revolution and other related books, wrote a very comprehensive article for the Huffington Post on July 23rd, 2010 titled, "Why Factory Farms Threaten your Health".
The focus of the article is how the use of antibiotics in CAFOs is fueling the rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Among other things, he reports that the Union of Concerned Scientists says, "Only about 30 percent of the antibiotics used in the U.S. are administered to people to treat diseases.
The other 70 percent, the vast majority, are administered to U.S. livestock, primarily to compensate for the unnatural and unhealthy conditions of factory farming. "Industrial livestock systems," the organization concludes, "are hog heaven for resistant bacteria."
He also says that if ones goal was to breed antibiotic resistant bacteria, there would not be a more effective system than the factory farm. "It is not entirely an exaggeration to say that as a result, factory farms have become biological weapons factories."
The Pew Commission on IFAP
The Pew Commission seems to agree. From the Pew Commission's report on "Industrial Farm Animal Production" (IFAP) we find,
"Another major risk stems from the routine use of specially formulated feeds that incorporate antibiotics, other antimicrobials, and hormones to prevent disease and induce rapid growth.
The use of low doses of antibiotics as food additives facilitates the rapid evolution and proliferation of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.
The resulting potential for “resistance reservoirs” and interspecies transfer of resistance determinants is a high priority public health concern."
It is highly recommended that eveyone read the complete text of the Pew Commission report on Industrial Farm Animal Production.
The project was funded by a grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to investigate the problems associated with industrial farm animal production operations and to make recommendations to solve them.
Fifteen Commissioners with diverse backgrounds began meeting in early 2006 to start their evidence-based review of the problems caused by ifap. The final report was released on April, 29, 2008.
A very recent update to the Pew Commission report from the Center for a Livable Future at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health reports that the trend is worsening and resistant bacteria quickly rising.
To see just how bad it is, go to a CDC report titled "Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2013: at http://1.usa.gov/16JNNk3.
If antibiotic resistance from consuming factory farmed meats is a concern, and it should be, one recommendation is to avoid it entirely and look for 100% free range, grass fed beef. The trick is finding it and then being able to afford it. Don't look for it at Micky D's.
Watershed Media and the Walmart Petition
Watershed Media is the creation of Daniel Imhoff, editor of "The CAFO Reader: The Tragedy of Industrial Animal Factories."
One of Watershed's latest projects is to raise public awareness of the imminent and growing danger of antibiotic resistance due to the factory farm system. To that end they have started a petition to ask Walmart to "Support Healthier Animal Farming" and need our support.
The objective is to get Walmart's leadership to use their powerful influence to bring changes to the factory farm system to reduce the threat to public health and safety.
There was a piece of legislation proposed in March 2009 that should have become law but died in committeed instead. Nevertheless, antibiotic resistance is an issue that everyone needs to be aware of and weigh in on with their respective representatives and senators. Hopefully, it will be reintroduced in future sessions.
It was H.R. 1549, the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act. Introduced by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), it would have prohibited several types of antibiotics from being used routinely in animal feed. Its progress and demise can be seen on govtrack.us.
Passage of the bill was a longshot at best due to the unholy marriage of the pharmaceutical industry and big agribusiness.
The Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) on July 6, 2010 reported that the pharmaceutical industry and the factory farm contractors are fighting hard to thwart restrictions on the use of antibiotics in agriculture. The FDA is a toothless tiger on the issue.
The FDA recently announced that it wanted to reduce the use of growth-promoting antibiotic drugs for meat-producing animals because it contributes to drug resistance in humans.
They even issued draft guidelines that recommend gradually phasing in measures that would allow medically important antimicrobial drugs (that is, antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals, and antiparasitics) to be given to food-producing animals only if it were considered necessary for ensuring the animal’s health. Veterinary oversight would be mandated.
The big joke is that in animal factory CAFOs, the conditions are so filthy and disease ridden, that without the antibiotics every animal in the place would die. Due to the design of the CAFO system, it is an iron-clad certainty that more and more antibiotics will continue being fed to captive animals and antibiotic resistance will continue to grow.
Is there an answer?
It's easy to resolve never to eat factory farmed food again and never get sick or need antibiotics. The reality is quite different.
The damage is already done in terms of creating ineffective antibiotics and ever smarter, adaptive bacteria and sooner or later, we will get sick and need the drugs. Too bad...welcome to a world of antibiotics that won't help us much.
So what to do? About the only thing we can do is keep our immune system operating at peak efficiency, detox our bodies regularly, and go organic.
Stephen Harrod Buhner has some thoughts on dealing with resistant viral infections using herbals and Peter de Ruyter has some interesting solutions to antibiotic resistance using "alternate paradigms and options". You can take a look at their books by clicking on the covers shown above.
Pausing for a Moment of Clarity from Lee Camp
Before moving on, below is a You Tube kindly submitted by Lee Camp who uploaded it on 2/6/2012. He produces his "Moments of Clarity" videos on current topics of importance and does spots on Showtime and contributes items to The Onion.
While Lee has his own unique style of presentation, his treatment of the dangers of antibiotic resistance and resulting deaths from the factory farm environment are right on and he is doing his part to spread the word. It is titled, "Factory Farming And How Oinky Killed 18,000 People" - M.O.C. #114. This is his clean(er) version which is evident by the bleeps he inserted at strategic moments. Give it a look.