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Organic Consumers Association

Antibiotics Make Animals Fat and Sick

Most people know that conventionally raised animals are regularly given antibiotics. In fact, according to the FDA, 29 million pounds of antibiotics are fed to livestock each year and for drug companies, this adds billions to the bottom line. Most people assume that antibiotics are given to livestock to kill off the germs and pathogens that come from living in the crowded and unsanitary quarters common on factory farms. What they don't know: farmers really use antibiotics to make the animals fat.

According to the Des Moines Register, antibiotics are routinely added to the animal's food to fatten the animals and save on feed costs. This, of course, boosts the farmer's profits. Antibiotics are well known to kill off healthy gut bacteria, and the absence of the animals' gut bacteria performs the fattening task by disrupting how foods, particularly fats, are metabolized. It turns out that farmers know if you kill off the gut flora, it'll lead to fat animals. And it begs the question: what effects are antibiotics having on the humans that continually consume them in animal flesh and also take them as drugs? In a nation that struggles with obesity problems, it's actually a pretty serious question.

Not only do antibiotics make the animals fat, they also bring disease. Like in humans who kill off their healthy bacteria, the animals are having health problems too. In a University of Iowa study, 70 percent of pigs and 64 percent of workers on several Iowa and Western Illinois farms had a new strain of MSRA. These farms used antibiotics routinely, and on antibiotic-free farms no MRSA was found. This, of course, refutes arguments that antibiotics lead to health because it's becoming more and more obvious that they actually lead to disease if the healthy bacteria aren't replenished afterward. We've also yet to see a study on what exactly eating MRSA ridden pigs and other animals can do to a person. If nothing else, it's pretty gross.


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