Monday, March 16, 2009

Soap box issue: Antibiotics in animal production

This statement sums it up:

“We don’t give antibiotics to healthy humans,” said Robert Martin, who led a Pew Commission on industrial farming that examined antibiotic use. “So why give them to healthy animals just so we can keep them in crowded and unsanitary conditions?”

An excellent summary of the problem is in the NY Times and the original cited report by the Union of Concerned Scientists is here.

I definitely want to see this change. However, have an animal science degree (BS and MS). I have seen the production side of things and know that the best way for the production to change is through market driven change. This gives the producer time and motivation to adapt and not lose his/her shirt.

Further, how we raise animals for production is not just a matter of fueling creation of MRSA. Animals are raised eating what they should be eating are better for us. EatWild has a nice summary of an older but very relevant study showing increased fat/cholesterol in grain-fed vs. grass fed beef.

This change in beef production practices (grain-fed and grain-finished animals) also correlates strongly with an increase in heart disease and cholesterol levels. But both pork and poultry have the same issues.

"Free-range" doesn't not mean what you might think. It simply means that for the last two weeks of chickens life, there is (unused) access to the outdoors. Their diet is still grain-based, which means even chicken is much higher in fat and cholesterol than when we raised our birds to roam free.

Ok, I will zip it.... for now.


Syd said...

We are of one mind on this subject. Let's not start on the over prescribing of antibiotics to humans. One of us will have an aneurysm.

Zoe said...


greymatters said...

Amen, too. Keep going!