The theme of Issue 3 is Antibiotics – specifically the massive misuse of antibiotics in factory farming and the serious health hazard antibiotic-resistant bacteria poses to each of us.
Nicole McCann and Anne Meyer write in Huge “Factory” Farms Are Far Bigger U.S. Health Threat Than Ebola that we are all at the risk of a health catastrophe due to the erosion of antibiotic effectiveness. The blame rests squarely on factory farms and Big Agribusiness.
80% of the 29,000,000 pounds of antibiotics administered in the U.S. each year are given to factory farmed animals in part to enable them to survive the diseases that can quickly spread due to their grossly overcrowded, unnatural, and virulent living conditions. Antibiotic overuse is rendering lifesaving antibiotics less effective by accelerating the evolution of bacteria that are resistant to them.
In our VIDEOS section, Fix Food - Fix Antibiotics - Meat Without Drugs runs less than 90 seconds yet provides an engaging animated refresher on what antibiotics do – and why it is imperative we minimize the risk of a viral mutation resulting in any new antibiotic-resistant Superbug.
Imagine the next time you got an infection from a cut, or a flu and the antibiotic you are given, which has always worked for you… no longer does. That your infection keeps getting worse, much worse – and you are told there is no other cure. 23,000 Americans suffer this fate, dying each year from antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The number is increasing.
The Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) is here. It has forced the killing and burying of 100,000 pigs each week since May 2013. In Virus Plagues the Pork Industry, and Environmentalists, Paul Sundberg, V.P. for science and technology at the National Pork Board observes “I’ve been a vet since 1981, and there is no precedent for this. It is devastatingly virulent.”
The article notes that the industry is having problems burying all the dead animals. “We’re seeing evidence of burial in areas with shallow groundwater that a lot of people rely on for drinking water and recreation,” said Kelly Foster, senior lawyer at the Waterkeeper Alliance.
How else could antibiotic resistant bacteria leave factory farms and travel into your community, or onto your plate? How Superbugs Hitch a Ride From Hog Farms Into Your Community suggests two ways. “The obvious one is meat: As Food and Drug Administration data shows, the pork chops, chicken parts, and ground beef you find on supermarket shelves routinely carry resistant bacteria strains. But there's another, more subtle way: through the people who work on these operations.” There are many other paths as well. One is via the vast amounts of sewage factory farms generate, which is allowed to seep into waterways, or is dispersed onto fields. We looked at this pollution in detail as the subject of Issue 2 – all articles are archived on this site.
The findings of a British government-commissioned review is summarized in its title: Antibiotics Resistance Could Kill 10 Million a Year By 2050.
How can you best protect yourself and your loved ones? What can you do to change this?
Farm Animal Compassionate Engagement is about solutions.
In faCE LIFT, you can sign Everly Macario’s petition asking Kraft/Oscar Mayer to stop using factory farmed meat as an ingredient in its children’s product, Lunchables. For Everly, “This issue is very personal to me because my otherwise healthy son, Simon, died 10 years ago before the age of two from an antibiotic-resistant bacterium. This issue is also a professional one for me as I have a doctorate in public health from Harvard and am compelled to raise awareness about the public health and medical crisis that is antibiotic resistance.”
Choose Your Food Wisely suggests minimizing meat consumption and gives advice on sourcing sustainably raised antibiotic free meet. This dovetails nicely in faCE LOVE where our business recommendation, #FarmerFriday: Celebrating Farmers Who Raise Animals Without Antibiotic Overuse, identifies and celebrates 12 family farms who raise healthy, well cared for livestock.
Citizens are discovering the power of speaking out. You can too. Read Consumer Group Calls on McDonald's to Stop Purchase of Meat Raised With Antibiotics in our faCE LIFT section. In faCE LOVE, Power of Legislation, we point out Cities Come Together to Save Antibiotics.
In Issue 3 faCE LOVE’s recommended Person is a team, those creating the powerful research briefs at the PEW Charitable Trusts Human Health and Industrial Farming initiative, making a strong case “to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics by phasing out the overuse and misuse of the drugs in food animal production.”
Please watch Lance Price’s insightful and inspiring TED talk, Factory Farms, Antibiotics and Superbugs in the VIDEOS section.
The title of our lead article is Huge “Factory” Farms Are Far Bigger U.S. Health Threat Than Ebola.
As I write this it’s February, 2015. Last year’s Ebola outbreak, which was so threatening and commanded national attention, now seems regionally contained and perhaps even under control.
Do not become complacent, assuming that, based on this, future viral outbreaks will be managed as effectively. The PEDvirus appeared in 2013 and there still is NO KNOWN CURE.
In 1918, the Spanish Flu pandemic spread worldwide killing over 50 million people. In 2013, a study concluded that today we can anticipate 188,000–337,000 deaths in the United States from a similar antibiotic-resistant influenza outbreak.
I was surprised to learn that a virus of this type would NOT strike hardest at the most vulnerable among us, infants, the infirm or the elderly. The virus kills by causing a cytokine storm, an overreaction of your immune system. The strongest among us, young adults who have the most robust immune systems, would be the ones most at risk to this virus.
Eat less meat and dairy. Know your food sources. Avoid factory farmed meat and dairy products completely. Keep your friends and family informed, post spreading the word.
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Love and value life. All life.