Health Leaders Must Focus on the Threats From Factory Farms

Health Leaders Must Focus on the Threats From Factory Farms

This week, the World Health Organization — which works globally to improve human health — will meet in Geneva to select a new director general. We have a mission for that leader: take on factory farms, a major threat to health and the environment.

Starting just after World War II, animal production in the United States became increasingly industrialized. Factory-like farms radically increased the number of cows, chickens and pigs they could raise and slaughter with economic efficiency. This is one reason meat consumption rose sharply in the United States after the war. So, too, worldwide, meat production has tripled over the last four decades and increased 20 percent in just the last 10 years, according to research by the Worldwatch Institute, an environmental research group.

This sweeping change in meat production and consumption has had grave consequences for our health and environment, and these problems will grow only worse if current trends continue.

Taking on this public health issue is well within the W.H.O.’s mandate. Addressing last year’s World Health Assembly, Margaret Chan, the organization’s departing director general, called antibiotic-resistant microbes, climate change and chronic diseases “three slow-motion disasters” shaping the global health landscape. Factory farming connects the dots among them.

Read More

Carton Of Cruelty: Behind Big Dairy's Closed Doors

Carton Of Cruelty: Behind Big Dairy's Closed Doors

In a heartbreaking new undercover video, Compassion Over Killing reveals violent abuse of gentle mother cows at Mason Dixon Farms, a massive dairy factory farm in Pennsylvania with more than 2,500 animals.

Mason Dixon supplies some of the biggest names in dairy, including Dairy Farmers of America and Land O’Lakes. 

One of the largest dairy facilities on the East Coast, Mason Dixon was the first in the US to implement milking of cows by machines, known as “robo-milking.” Approximately half of the 2,500 cows on this factory farm are now “robo-milked.”

Though Mason Dixon touts itself as a leading example in the dairy industry, the footage taken by COK’s investigator who worked inside the facility uncovers a different reality

Read More

Study: Fecal Bacteria From N.C. Hog Farms Infects Nearby Homes

Study: Fecal Bacteria From N.C. Hog Farms Infects Nearby Homes

Ignoring Findings, State Lawmakers Look to Shield Big Pork from Liability. 

Scientific tests found abundant hog feces on homes and lawns, and in the air of private properties near big hog farms in North Carolina – proof that factory farms are exposing nearby communities to dangerous fecal bacteria, endangering the health of tens of thousands of citizens. Despite this disgusting evidence, state lawmakers are moving to strip citizens of their right to fair compensation through so-called nuisance suits against concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs.

"This study, by a scientist who has done groundbreaking work for the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies, proves that industrial-scale swine farms are not just a nuisance that damages property values, but a serious threat to the health of people who live nearby," said Ken Cook, president of EWG, which has mapped an estimated 60,000 homes within half a mile of North Carolina swine and poultry CAFOS.

Read More

'Organic' Factory Farms Injure Ethical Wisconsin Dairy Families

'Organic' Factory Farms Injure Ethical Wisconsin Dairy Families

A scathing front page exposé in The Washington Post May 2 provides strong evidence that the largest organic milk producer in the United States has been operating illegally, jeopardizing family-scale farms here in Wisconsin. The Post’s investigative journalists visited Aurora Dairy's largest factory farm complex in Weld County, Colorado, finding that almost all of the 15,000 cows there were confined to dirt and manure-covered pens rather than grazing out on pasture as organic law requires.

Repeated observations on eight days (some 10 hours long), supplemented by drone and satellite imagery, revealed that no more than 10 percent of the dairy herd was ever out on grass — and many times, significantly less were.

The Cornucopia Institute has long asserted that giant industrial dairies are gaming the organic system, confining cattle in order to push cows for high milk production. This approach resembles the standard operating practices on conventional CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations).

Read More

Resistance To The Antibiotic Of Last Resort Is Silently Spreading

Resistance To The Antibiotic Of Last Resort Is Silently Spreading

The alarm bells sounded on November 18, 2015.

Antibiotic resistance is usually a slow-moving crisis, one of the reasons its danger can be hard to convey. Just over a year after they were discovered in China, bacteria that can fend off colistin are being found all across the world.

One by one, over the years, the drugs used to fight the most stubborn infections have fallen by the wayside as bacteria have evolved resistance to them. For certain infections, the only drug left is colistin. Then on November 18, 2015, scientists published a report in the British medical journal The Lancet: A single, easily spreadable gene makes the bacteria that carry it resistant to colistin, our antibiotic of last resort.

Read More

Chicken Industry Pushes Against Movement That Wants Svelter, Slower-growing Birds

Chicken Industry Pushes Against Movement That Wants Svelter, Slower-growing Birds

The report, prepared by an industry consulting group, comes after a year marked by increased pressure from consumers, retailers and food service companies to transform practices at the nation’s factory farms, including the use of antibiotics, housing chickens in crowded cages and failing to stun birds properly before slaughter.

Last March, Whole Foods Market announced it would require its suppliers to switch back to slower-maturing breeds and to improve farm conditions by 2024 as part of the Global Animal Partnership program the retailer created to push for more humane treatment of farm animals. In November, food service titans Aramark and Compass Group agreed to follow the same standards.

“It is really unsustainable to have business practices that cause so much suffering, are so unhealthy, that consumers are appalled and reject the product when they’re educated about what’s happening,” said Daisy Freund, director of farm animal welfare for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which has pushed the slow-growth movement.

Read More

Industrial Farming Threatens Food Security In The U.S.

Industrial Farming Threatens Food Security In The U.S.

It is indisputable that we are negatively affecting our air, soil and water in a way that is drastically impacting the earth itself.

If you look down while on an airplane, you can't help but notice the vast exposure of soils into perfectly-carved squares below. These exposed soils are a tragic sign of an unsustainable practice that leads to erosion, runoff pollution while also decreasing soil organic matter and impacting our air quality.

Read More

Latest HSUS Undercover Investigation Reveals Painful Practices In Egg Industry

Latest HSUS Undercover Investigation Reveals Painful Practices In Egg Industry

An undercover investigation by The HSUS has revealed cruel treatment of egg-laying hens at New England’s largest egg producer. The factory farm in question supplies eggs to several states, including Massachusetts. 

The Maine facility where we conducted the investigation is a massive complex of almost 70 warehouses that together confine some four million laying hens. It’s operated by Hillandale Farms and owned by egg magnate Jack DeCoster, whose filthy facilities in Iowa led to a 2010 salmonella outbreak for which he was criminally convicted.

Read More

Another Egg Farm is Under Fire for Horrifying Cruelty to Hens

Another Egg Farm is Under Fire for Horrifying Cruelty to Hens

Another disturbing undercover investigation is shedding yet more light on some of the horrifying abuses commonplace in the egg industry. The investigation, released by Mercy For Animals (MFA), was conducted at Shady Brae Farms in Marietta, Pennsylvania, which is certified by United Egg Producers (UEP).

The footage shows a number of serious problems that should make people question their interest in eating eggs. Hens left suffering from illness and injury without any intervention, others trapped by their cages and unable to move or reach food or water, while getting trampled by their cage mates. Dead chickens rotting amidst hens laying eggs for people to eat.

Read More

The True Cost of a Cheap Meal

The True Cost of a Cheap Meal

WHILE PERUSING the items at a quaint antique store, I happened upon a catalog from the 1920s advertising farm-fresh food. It featured cabbage for two cents per pound, a dozen eggs for forty-four cents, and a half-gallon of milk for thirty-three cents. The shop owner told me that he was perplexed by the prices because, adjusting for inflation, it should cost roughly four dollars for a dozen eggs and eight dollars for a gallon of milk in today’s dollars. Consumers today pay less than half of what we would expect to pay based on historic prices.

The antique store owner, like most Americans, didn’t realize that we currently spend a smaller percentage of our income on food than ever before. While on its face that may seem beneficial, this system of cheap food relies on billions of dollars of externalized costs that are kept hidden from consumers.

Externalized costs are negative effects of producing or consuming a good that are imposed on a third party and not accounted for in the sticker price of an item. Among food products, there is no greater discrepancy between printed cost and true cost than with animal products. When we take a closer look at meat, dairy, and eggs, externalized costs become apparent in four primary areas: animals, health, social justice, and the environment.

Read More

The Cruelty Behind Your Ballpark Hot Dog

The Cruelty Behind Your Ballpark Hot Dog

Late last year, a government inspector paid a visit to Clougherty Packing, the Vernon slaughterhouse responsible for killing the animals that, in the afterlife, become Dodger Dogs and Farmer John-brand meats. With the inspector watching, an employee tried to render a lame pig unconscious, a procedure that should require one shot to the head with a stun gun. Because the pig was not properly restrained, however, the employee had to shoot her multiple times.

Later, the inspector witnessed another botched stunning: the employee had to "pull out the stuck rod from the skull and reload the captive bolt" before he finally succeeded. In both cases, there was no backup stunning device available.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is supposed to suspend plant operations in response to such infractions. Yet official records that I received through the Freedom of Information Act show that after the Clougherty Packing debacle, as well as similar incidents across the country over the last two years, the USDA declined to punish the perpetrators, issuing administrative warnings instead.

Dozens of slaughterhouses either can't or won't follow the law. But the USDA allows them to continue operating.

Read More

Superbug Bacteria Resistant To All Antibiotics Found In The UK

Superbug Bacteria Resistant To All Antibiotics Found In The UK

Following the discovery in the UK of bacteria that resist the most common antibiotic of last resort, a leading British expert is warning it is “almost too late” to stop a global superbug crisis.

News outlets reported Monday that UK government scientists have found a gene, known as mcr-1, that gives bacteria resistance to colistin, often used by doctors when other antibiotics fail. Such resistance was first discovered last month in China and in the past few weeks, the resistance gene has also been found in Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Portugal and in several Asian and African countries.

The rise of the so-called post-antibiotic era is widely linked to over- and misuse of antibiotics in industrial agriculture.

Read More

Antibiotic Of Last Resort Faces New Superbug Threat

Antibiotic Of Last Resort Faces New Superbug Threat

A resistant bacterial strain has emerged in Chinese livestock and is spreading quickly. Could this be the beginning of the end of the antibiotic era?

Widespread use of antibiotics in industrial agriculture to promote the growth of livestock and prevent disease in overcrowded factory farms has been fingered as the key culprit in the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria known as superbugs. Now, a heavy-hitting antibiotic that doctors have relied on as a last-ditch treatment for some of the worst superbugs appears in danger of losing its effectiveness as well—and it is losing it quickly.

Read More

Fighting Superbugs In 2016

Fighting Superbugs In 2016

The start of a new year usually brings hope and anticipation, but in the fight against resistant bacteria, 2016 begins with both alarm and optimism. Last year ended with two discouraging findings. There was the discovery—first in China and quickly thereafter on multiple continents—of a new genetic mechanism that can make “superbugs” resistant to colistin, which until now was one of the few medications doctors could still turn to fight infections. Also, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that sales of medically important antibiotics for use in food animals continued to rise in 2014, marking a 23 percent increase since 2009. Yet although the public health threat continues to grow, there are some major policies, plans, and milestones to keep your eye on this year: changes that have the potential to make a meaningful difference in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Read More

Stop The Overuse Of Antibiotics On Factory Farms

Stop The Overuse Of Antibiotics On Factory Farms

IMAGINE if a new type of infectious bacteria were to be unleashed on the United States, one that was largely immune to current treatment. Tens of thousands of people could die each year, with the possibility of more to come.

It sounds like a science-fiction movie, but a similar situation is taking place right now. This year, it’s estimated that 23,000 Americans will die from superbugs — bacteria that are difficult or impossible to treat with antibiotics. The threat has the potential to grow dramatically, with scientists from organizations like the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warning that the spread of these superbugs threatens to take away modern medicine’s best tool for fighting dangerous infections.

So far, the U.S. government has not yet taken aggressive action on one of the least justifiable contributors to antibiotic resistance in the United States: the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms.

Read More

Deadly Pig Diarrhea Virus Mutates As Death Toll Rises

Deadly Pig Diarrhea Virus Mutates As Death Toll Rises

In the latest installment of the factory farming industry’s breeding-deadly-diseases saga, scientists have identified a new strain of the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv), one that is just as virulent as the original strain.

Spread from pig to pig via infected feces, which cover just about every surface of unsanitary farm facilities, PEDv is nearly 100 percent fatal and has claimed the lives of at least 8 million animals (about 10 percent of the U.S. pig population) since it was discovered in 2013.

Researchers believe the new form of the virus mutated to outpace any immunity pigs developed to the first strain. Filthy conditions on factory farms have fanned the flames and allowed the disease to spread to epidemic proportions.

Read More

Why A Top Food Poisoning Expert Won't Ever Eat These Foods

Why A Top Food Poisoning Expert Won't Ever Eat These Foods

In 2014, the most recent year for which data is available,  more than 8,000 food products were recalled by the Food and Drug Administration, and nearly 100 were recalled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The problem touches organic foods, too.

In a recent piece, published in Bottom Line Health, Bill Marler, a lawyer specializing in food-borne illness, lists six foods he no longer eats, because he believes the risk of eating them is simply too large. The list includes raw oysters and other raw shellfish, raw or under-cooked eggs, meat that isn't well-done, unpasteurized milk and juice, and raw sprouts.

"You wouldn't believe some of the things I have learned over the years," he said. "I have some crazy stories.”...

Read More

10 Animals That Spend Their Entire Lives In A Space Smaller Than Your Bathtub

10 Animals That Spend Their Entire Lives In A Space Smaller Than Your Bathtub

Imagine spending your entire life in your bathtub, and no matter how much you want to, you can’t get out.

You can barely move, let alone turn around. You are forced to live in your own feces, you never see the outside world, and after years of this miserable existence you are killed.

It may sound sick, but this is the reality of life for billions of animals all over the world.

While some animals are offered legal protection from being abused and mistreated, others get none, and instead they spend almost every minute of their lives inside an area less than...

Read More

Chickens Used For Food

Chickens Used For Food

Chickens are arguably the most abused animals on the planet. In the United States, approximately 9 billion chickens are killed for their flesh each year, and 305 million hens are used for their eggs. The vast majority of these animals spend their lives in total confinement—from the moment they hatch until the day they are killed.

More chickens are raised and killed for food than all other land animals combined, yet not a single federal law protects them from abuse—even though most Americans say that they would support such a law.

Read More