Are you eating antibiotics without knowing it? Probably!

February 8th, 2012

Published on Intrepid Report, by Martha Rosenberg, February 7, 2012.

So far, 2012 is bringing bad news for people who don’t want “free antibiotics” in their food.

Antibiotics are routinely given to livestock on factory farms to make them gain weight with less feed and keep them from getting sick in confinement conditions. But the daily dosing, at the same time it lowers feed needs, lowers drug effectiveness and produces antibiotic resistant bacteria or super bugs.  

In January, researchers found 230 out of 395 pork cuts bought in US stores were contaminated with a super bug called MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). Worse—there were “no statistically significant differences” between, “conventionally raised swine and swine raised without antibiotics,” reported the researchers. So much for buying safely raised meat … //

… While most ag reps at the hearings defended the use of antibiotics for “treatment, prevention and control of disease,” the AVMA’s Christine Hoang, DVM, actually went so far as to call the less feed that antibiotics make possible a “health-promoting” effect and a “therapeutic use.” Maybe she meant health and therapy for the bottom line.

After the hearings, W. Ron DeHaven, DVM, who was the USDA’s top vet before leaving for industry and helming the AVMA, penned a rambling, almost incoherent 18-page letter with 62 footnotes to the FDA. Cephalosporin resistant “human pathogens” aren’t increasing, says the letter, and even if they are, they’re not affecting human health and even if they’re affecting human health, how do you know it’s from the livestock drugs and even if it’s from the livestock drugs, the FDA has no legal authority to ban cephalosporin. Got that?

Alternately maudlin and accusatory, the letter plays on terrorism fears by calling a cephalosporin ban a “food security issue” affecting “the number of animals available for the food supply.” It also plays on humanitarian sentiments by claiming a ban would impede veterinarians’ ability “to relieve the pain and suffering of animals” as if cephalosporins are pain killers and other drugs aren’t available. (And as if antibiotics are given for animals’ welfare, instead of revenue welfare!) Nowhere in the letter is there mention of the rea$on Big Meat won’t let go of antibiotics: it is able to raise thousands of animals in crowded conditions that would otherwise kill them for prices as “artificial” as the drugs they are raised on. Big Pharma’s invasion into farming is probably the biggest reason for the demise of family farms which are no longer able to compete on price.

But less than a month after the letter was sent, on November 25, the FDA quietly revoked the prohibition. Good hire, AVMA!

.Of course, the revolving door between government/Big Pharma lobbying has a distinguished tradition from Louisiana Representative-turned-lobbyist Billy Tauzin, who presided over the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) until 2010, to former CDC Director Julie Gerberding, MD, who prepared the country for flu outbreaks before turning up as—anybody?—head of Merck vaccines when she left the government. (full text).

(Coming Part II: Antibiotics Injected in Eggs and Big Pharma Denial. Martha Rosenberg’s first book, “Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health,” will be published by Prometheus Books in April 2012).

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