The antibiotic menace….

by David

….is real and growing.  Antibiotics are not used primarily to treat sick animals, but as a weight enhancer.  They’re at least as effective as growth hormones but, just to be sure, commercial producers of meat use both.  In fact, antibiotics are used more in farming than among humans.

Dr. David Kessler, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, recently said this about the practice.

“While the F.D.A. can see what kinds of antibiotic-resistant bacteria are coming out of livestock facilities, the agency doesn’t know enough about the antibiotics that are being fed to these animals,” he writes. “This is a major public health problem, because giving healthy livestock these drugs breeds superbugs that can infect people. We need to know more about the use of antibiotics in the production of our meat and poultry. The results could be a matter of life and death. … It may sound counterintuitive, but feeding antibiotics to livestock at low levels may do the most harm.

When he accepted the Nobel Prize in 1945 for his discovery of penicillin, Alexander Fleming warned that ‘there is the danger that the ignorant man may easily underdose himself and by exposing his microbes to nonlethal quantities of the drug make them resistant.’ He probably could not have imagined that, one day, we would be doing this to billions of animals in factory-like facilities.”

The link between antibiotic use in livestock and antibiotic-resistant disease is so clear that the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in animal feed has been banned in Europe since 2006.  In sharp contrast, according to the first-ever report by the FDA on the topic, confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) used a whopping 29 million pounds of antibiotics in 2009, and according to Kessler, that number had further risen to nearly 30 million pounds in 2011, which represents about 80 percent of all reported antibiotic sales that year.

What’s more, on December 22, 2011, the FDA quietly posted a notice in the Federal Register  that it was effectively reneging on its plan to reduce the use of antibiotics in agricultural animal feed – a plan it has been touting since 1977.

Instead, the agency decided it will continue to allow livestock producers to use the drugs in feed unabated.  We have more than enough evidence that using antibiotics as growth promoters is threatening human health. Yet the drug and food industries are doing everything they can to block proposed legislation that would limit this practice, and both the FDA and the U.S. Senate  aid and abet them.

Needless to say (but we will again) Thistle Hill uses no antibiotics, or drugs of any kind, either with its animals or our pastures.  Cows are raised strictly on forage; pigs do get a supplement of grain, but it is organic and non-GMO.