The Associated Press just published a great article about antibiotic use on factory farms, the resultant risks to human health, and the enormous difficulties in seeking new regulations. Dr. Thomas Frieden, who heads the Centers for Disease Control, says,
If we’re not careful with antibiotics and the programs to administer them, we’re going to be in a post antibiotic era.
The article offers some useful background concerning how bad the problem’s gotten:
Federal food safety studies routinely find drug resistant bacteria in beef, chicken and pork sold in supermarkets, and 20 percent of people who get salmonella have a drug resistant strain, according to the CDC.
…Johns Hopkins University health sciences professor Ellen Silbergeld, who has reviewed every major study on this issue, said there’s no doubt drug use in farm animals is a “major driver of antimicrobial resistance worldwide.”
“We have data to show it’s in wastewaters and it goes to aquaculture and it goes here and there,” agreed Dr. Stuart Levy, an expert on antibiotic resistance at Tufts University in Boston. “Antibiotic use in animals impacts everything.”
But even with this mountain of evidence, factory farmers keep telling the public that everything is perfectly OK. Factory pig farmer Craig Rowles says:
I’m telling you that the product that we produce today is the safest, most wholesome product that you could possibly get.
Wow, the flesh of tightly confined, antibiotic-fed animals is the most wholesome product you could possibly buy? I had no idea.
One of the most infuriating aspects of writing about factory farming is that these guys get to tell whatever lies they want about food, without facing any consequences. But anyone who sets the record straight is at risk of getting sued over food disparagement laws. (Thanks Gregory and Jenn.) Link.