As comedian John Oliver said last week in his much-watched primer on net neutrality, “If you want to do something evil, put it inside something boring.” Big Ag has known this strategy for years and perhaps no one does it better than the meatpackers and poultry companies—companies like Tyson, Smithfield, and trade organizations like the American Meat Institute and the National Chicken Council. Read more
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A new national grassroots campaign is aiming to boost awareness of the public health threat of antibiotic overuse in livestock production.
It’s been over a year since Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) introduced the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA), a bill that would ban the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in livestock. And it’s been almost 10 months since Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Both bills remain stalled in their respective committees, however. Read more
Factory farmed chickens have it bad, but in Christopher Leonard’s new meat industry exposé The Meat Racket, it’s the farmers who get plucked. Leonard, a former agribusiness reporter for the Associated Press and now a fellow at the New America Foundation, subtitled his book The Secret Takeover of America’s Food Business, and he’s not kidding about the “secret” part. When Leonard set out to investigate how four huge companies came to more or less dictate the state of our meat supply, he ran into balky bureaucrats and fearful farmers. Read more
This article was originally published by OnEarth magazine.
Before I even stepped from my truck onto the gravel outside the New Fashion Pork hog confinement facility, Emily Erickson, the company’s animal well-being and quality assurance manager, handed me a pair of stretchy white plastic footies to put over my shoes. It was a blustery day in September, the sky threatening snow—the first hint of winter, when cold, dry air stabilizes viruses and biosecurity becomes a topmost concern. Read more
1. Rancho Recall: The End of Sonoma County Beef? (Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
Millions of pounds of beef have been recalled after-the-fact, many small local Bay Area producers are left without a processing facility, and some big questions remain unanswered. The Pt. Reyes Light, a hyper-local newspaper, also investigates. Read more
What do football fields and industrial farms have in common? In both places, a microscopic threat to human health is spreading. But on farms, a lack of veterinary involvement may be making the problem worse. Read more
Foster Farms has been in the news lately because the company was linked to a Salmonella outbreak that sickened hundreds of people last year. Last week a plant was closed after USDA found cockroaches and sanitation problems. They’ve been quick to make promises about doing better, but so far we haven’t heard any explicit pledges to prevent the further spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Read more
In 1977, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) let everyone know that there was strong evidence that the use of penicillin and tetracycline for anything other than treating disease in livestock, could lead to the development of super bugs strong enough to render the powerful antibiotics useless in people. That warning sparked a ferocious backlash from the powerful animal agriculture industry, which to this day still depends on feeding animals low doses of antibiotics to help grow them faster and compensate for crowded unsanitary living conditions. Read more
So, FDA has finally come out with its much talked-up voluntary guidance (read, recommendations) for the pharmaceutical and livestock industries on appropriate antibiotic use and avoiding antibiotic resistance. It has been pending in draft form for over a year and a half and has been long-criticized as a hollow gesture to tackle antibiotic resistance. Despite FDA’s assurances, the reality is that this final guidance: 1) doesn’t do much, 2) pretends to do more, and 3) kicks the can significantly down the road. Here’s why: Read more
One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is all the sides. I’m already looking forward to sweet potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, and more. But one thing Americans aren’t looking forward to this Thanksgiving is getting their turkey with a side of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Unfortunately, practices in the conventional poultry industry are putting consumers at risk. Read more