Fixing Factory Animals

Tomiko Peirano

Tomiko Peirano › Tomiko has amassed decades of experience in the food industry, from her family's restaurant in Oregon's ...

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Antibiotics were once considered ‘miracle drugs,’ tackling deadly diseases into submission. They were meant to help, keep us safe and healthy, and chase away the boogeymen of tuberculosis and pneumonia.

Now, due to rampant overuse of drugs in factory farmed animals (allowing them to grow faster and survive the dirty, unhealthy conditions of their cramped homes), the once miraculous antibiotic has become a boogeyman in and of itself. The waste from factory farms has seeped into our soil and water sources, carrying superbugs that are no longer vulnerable to the antibiotics that helped create them in the first place.

It would seem we have created a dangerous equation for ourselves.

Thankfully, Consumers Union and Fix Food are trying to change that with their new joint campaign “Meat Without Drugs.”

In a recent article for Ecocentric Blog, Chris Hunt explains:

…industrial livestock producers administer huge quantities of antibiotics (i.e., 80% of all antimicrobials sold in the US) to farm animals in order to boost growth rates and compensate for crowded, filthy conditions on factory farms.  This practice promotes the proliferation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which threatens human health by rendering medicines used to treat human illness less effective.

He goes on to say:

The reckless misuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture has been decried by scientists, physicians, public health professionals, veterinarians, sustainable food advocates and forward-thinking policymakers for decades.  Unfortunately, due primarily to the effectiveness of Big Ag’s lobbying efforts, the FDA and Congress have failed to implement any meaningful regulation of antibiotics in the agriculture sector.

So how does Fix Food intend to fix this problem? By harnessing the attention and power of consumers like you and me and encouraging food retailers to make the decisions the government is unable to. It’s another opportunity to vote with our dollars.

Trader Joe’s is the first major chain to be targeted by the campaign. Hunt reports:

As described by Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives for Consumers Union, “Trader Joe’s has a history of taking important positions against selling products that may harm public health and the environment. One of the most important public health issues the nation faces today is the declining effectiveness of antibiotics in treating human disease. We hope they will help start a sea change in the marketplace."

The Meat Without Drugs campaign has an online petition set up that asks Trader Joe's to only sell meat raised without antibiotics, and it's close to meeting its goal of 100,000 signatures. If this issue matters to you, please take a few seconds to show your support and add your name.

Food, Inc. filmmaker Robert Kenner has added his talents to this campaign, and created a terrific short video that explains the crux of the issue (watch, above).

Click here to read the article in full.

Chris Hunt serves as senior policy advisor for GRACE's Sustainable Table. He devotes his attention to issues related to food production and consumption, focusing on the problems created by industrial livestock operations. (from Ecocentric Blog)

THE FILMMAKER: Robert Kenner's Food, Inc., is one of the top-grossing theatrical documentaries of all time, selling nearly 500,000 DVDs. Food, Inc. recieved widespread critical acclaim, dozens of awards and accolades, including an Academy Award nomination, and has influenced current food policies. (from RobertKennerFilms.com)

Photo Credit: Fix Food