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In The News: The Antibiotic Discussion That Makes ME Sick

SuperStock_1538R-57462Today’s San Francisco Chronicle reports that “a New York congresswoman is trying to rally support for a federal bill that… bans feeding antibiotics to cattle, hogs and poultry to increase their growth.”

It specifically demands that “in the absence of any clinical sign of disease, farmers be forbidden from using any of seven classes of antibiotics, including penicillin, tetracycline and macrolide for routine infection prevention.”

The US Food and Drug Administration concedes that “giving anti-microbials to animals when they are not sick is inappropriate – and even worse, contributes to more drug-resistant infections in people.”

The American Medical Association and Food & Drug Administration have also expressed their support for this bill.

Sweet awesomeness, right?  Not quite.

Many farms and ranchers — part of the ever-powerful agricultural and beef lobbies that appear to have Congress on puppet strings — have their own set of arguments against this bill, most of which are quite infuriating to read: increased prices of meat, higher rates of illness among cattle, animals who will be smaller in size and offer less meat if they become sick and eat less, etc.

Talk about not addressing the real issue!

Cattle and other animals get sick and need massive amounts of antibiotics because of their deplorable living conditions.

Remember, most cows in this country spend their entire lives standing in one spot eating an unnatural diet of corn and grains until the day they are slaughtered.  Ironically, this is often sold as “all-natural” beef.

This corn and grain diet is extremely unhealthy and makes cows very ill, hence the need for antibiotics in the feed.

Why do farmers retort to such diets?  Two reasons, both of which come down to the almighty dollar:

  1. Since corn and wheat are subsidized by the government, they are extremely cheap.
  2. This feed bulks up cows, thereby allowing farmers to sell more pounds of meat

As far as I’m concerned, this is even more of a reason to dispose of agricultural subsidies that do nothing towards health promotion (they are mostly used to feed cattle an unhealthy diet or to make lots of cheap high fructose corn syrup and oils used in nutritionally empty junk food).

Anyone who believes the elimination of agricultural subsidies will result in millions of people going hungry MUST read this brief article that details what happened when New Zealand got rid of their crop subsidies in the mid 1980s.

As for beef prices potentially increasing, I don’t see what the problem is.  There are endless sources of protein — just as afforable, if not more — other than red meat available in the food supply.

It’s time to think about the real cost of food.  Is saving a dollar on meat worth the inhumane conditions these animals live in and the possible health complications for humans from having antibiotics in the food supply?

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2 Comments

  1. US FoodTrends said on July 31st, 2009

    It’s worth noting that when cows are fed significant amounts of corn and wheat, people call it “unnatural and unhealthy” — but when huge food manufacturers feed people significant amounts of corn and wheat, people call it “whole grain healthful”.

  2. Andy Bellatti said on July 31st, 2009

    US Food Trends,

    #1: Cows’ digestive systems are not able to handle corn and wheat. Ours can.

    #2: I don’t think you will ever find a nutritionist who would encourage significant amounts of corn or wheat.

    #3: People are encouraged to consume corn and wheat in a minimally processed state (ie: corn on the cob, whole wheat flours). “Huge food manufacturers” often use corn oil, high fructose corn syrup, or fiberless refined wheat (white flour). Those are not “whole grain” or “healthful.”

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