Factory Farming And Public Health

Federal health officials yesterday released an alarming report about the threat posed by the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions’ findings, “Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections.” The alert is contained in the report, Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2013.

A few other aspects of the problem were cited in the report and in related news articles. For example:

  • 70% of the antibiotics sold by pharmaceutical companies in the United States go into livestock production (animal feed for hogs, poultry, cattle, etc.)
  • The amount of antibiotics fed to healthy animals is eight times greater than the amount given to sick people, based on a 2001 2001 Scientific American article, “Most U.S. Antibiotics Fed to Healthy Livestock”
  • Agribusiness is reluctant to allow scientific studies of their factory farming practices as it relates to the antibiotic-resistance health threat

In lieu of being exposed to antibiotic laced meat or poultry consider purchasing organically raised meat or produce which do not contain unnecessary drugs.

The full CDC report is available online at http://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/threat-report-2013/pdf/ar-threats-2013-508.pdf.