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Cook Organic not the Planet Campaign

While Antibiotic-Resistant Bugs Flourish, a House Subcommittee Buries its Head

In Meat Wagon, we round up the latest outrages from the meat and livestock industries.


As the fruits of three decades of financial-market deregulation and lax oversight ripen on Wall Street, now is a fitting time to mull over our government's efforts to regulate the food industry. Let's think specifically about its actions regarding antibiotics in livestock production.

In industrial meat production, you stuff animals together in close contact with their own waste, essentially ruining their immune systems. To keep them alive until slaughter weight, you dose them liberally with antibiotics.

Not surprisingly, antibiotic-resistant bacteria strains have begun to rise up and infect humans. A nasty bacteria called MRSA has been definitively linked to factory-farmed pork; another one, a widely prevalent one called Camplylobacter jejuni, apparently hails from industrial poultry and cattle farms (see below).

Essentially, industrial feedlots are generating bugs that our antibiotics can't treat. Uh ... maybe it's time to regulate antibiotic use for livestock?

Good news: the House Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry held hearings Monday touching on antibiotic use on livestock farms.

The bad news: "The House Subcommittee did not ask any human health experts to testify," writes Daniel Klotz of the Pew Charitable Trusts in a Monday email.

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