Daily Archives: March 16, 2009

Antibiotic abuse in pig feed breeds drug-resistant pathogens, part 2

I’m gradually coming to the conclusion that Nicholas D. Kristof is one of America’s most impressive writers on food and agricultural issues. Here’s an excerpt from part 2 of his investigation into connections between the use of subclinical doses of antibiotics in pig feed and the rise of antibiotic-resistant infections in humans. This is from the N.Y. Times website and is titled “Pathogens in our pork“.

The factory farm approach to pig raising. Pictures from www.all-creatures.org

Pigs on Drugs -- the factory farm approach to pig raising. Pictures from http://www.all-creatures.org

“We don’t add antibiotics to baby food and Cocoa Puffs so that children get fewer ear infections. That’s because we understand that the overuse of antibiotics is already creating “superbugs” resistant to medication.

Yet we continue to allow agribusiness companies to add antibiotics to animal feed so that piglets stay healthy and don’t get ear infections. Seventy percent of all antibiotics in the United States go to healthy livestock, according to a careful study by the Union of Concerned Scientists — and that’s one reason we’re seeing the rise of pathogens that defy antibiotics.

These dangerous pathogens are now even in our food supply. Five out of 90 samples of retail pork in Louisiana tested positive for MRSA — an antibiotic-resistant staph infection — according to a peer-reviewed study published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology last year. And a recent study of retail meats in the Washington, D.C., area found MRSA in one pork sample, out of 300, according to Jianghong Meng, the University of Maryland scholar who conducted the study. Continue reading


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Political insights from a second viewing of the Michael Schmidt documentary

Here’s another excerpt from David E. Gumpert’s excellent and insightful The Complete Patient blog:

“….It’s funny how you often see things the second time around that didn’t stand out so sharply on a first viewing. For me, the political nature of the entire struggle for raw milk now stood out, as follows:

1. The fact that the raid on Michael Schmidt’s dairy occurred in 2006, and was the first regulatory action against him since 1994. We now know, in retrospect, that the latest war against raw milk in the U.S. was launched in 2006 as well—with raids, stings, and legal actions against Gary Oakes and Carol Schmitmeyer in Ohio, Richard Hebron in Michigan, and Mark McAfee in California. Of course, it has continued with legal actions against other producers of raw dairy products as well, in New York, Pennsylvania, and California. Now I find myself wondering: was the launch of the war on raw milk a matter of international cooperation between allies U.S. and Canada? Continue reading


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