Bugging Out on Factory Farms

Posted by Stephen Wells, ALDF's Executive Director on September 18, 2013

cow-article-image2Our national reliance on factory-farmed food has brought us to the brink of a public health crisis—in which even a simple staph infection could become lethal. This potential nightmare scenario was just verified by an alarming report on the dangerous epidemic of drug-resistant bacteria (known as “superbugs”) spreading through farms and hospitals. The report, issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “encourages and supports efforts to minimize inappropriate use of antibiotics in humans and animals” and verifies that “resistant bacteria can be transmitted by food-producing animals to humans through the food supply.”

What does this mean for animals? This report sheds more light on the real culprit behind a plethora or health threats like E. coli and salmonella outbreaks, pink slime, ractopamine-laced feed additives, and even deadly Creutzfeldt-Jakob syndrome (aka mad-cow disease): the intense confinement of farmed animals. Billions of animals in the U.S. suffer unimaginably before and during their slaughter for food in systems of intensive confinement—including gestation crates for pregnant pigs and “battery cages” for egg-laying hens—that often leave them unable even to turn around. Cramming animals into filthy, wretched, and disease-prone conditions like this is not only cruel—it’s a serious threat to human health.

In response, the Animal Legal Defense Fund recently submitted a first-of-its-kind legal petition asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to protect animals and consumers by mandating proper labels on meat and poultry products derived from animals given antibiotics. In July, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and a coalition of public interest groups like the Sierra Club, Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, Socially Responsible Agriculture Project, and Friends of Family Farmers, sent a formal letter asking the USDA to accept ALDF’s petition. Rep. Slaughter also reintroduced the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2013 (PAMTA) along with Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA).

Meanwhile, Senators Dianne Feinstein, Susan Collins, and Kirsten Gillibrand have introduced the Preventing Antibiotic Resistance Act (2013), a related bipartisan-backed bill, which directs the FDA to phase out the rampant misuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture. As an addendum to our rulemaking petition, ALDF will ask the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to consider this CDC report and a recent Johns Hopkins report linking antibiotics used on farmed animals with the increasing trend of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections in humans.

As I explained in my recent Huffington Post article, nearly 80% of antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used on factory-farmed animals who are confined in unsanitary, painfully-cramped quarters. The horrific way this industry treats animals has created a health crisis of potentially catastrophic proportions. It is time for us all to reconsider the consequences of industrial agriculture and the way we eat.

6 thoughts on “Bugging Out on Factory Farms

  1. karen says:

    intense confinement of the animals causing this illness been saying it for years

    1. Stephen says:

      Agreed. Bad for animals, bad for the environment and bad for the health of all people.

  2. PAMELA says:

    we should wake up to the inhumane way animals are kept and killed. because of this I have become vegetarian. I cannot comprehend why others could be so dam cruel to these animals. hope in your reincarnation you come back as a pig or calf and are treated the way they are.

  3. JOAN says:

    I’ve been diagnosed with and been fighting MRSA for years. After suffering for so long with chronic ear infections and drainage, MRSA has been a partial and recurring culprit. After 4 surgeries and now looking a 5th due to chronic Middle Ear MRSA – a radical Mastoidectomy, I have become resistant even to most drugs (there are only 5 approved MRSA drugs in the US) that treat the infection. The infection has now caused other health issues and had left me little defense prescription drug wise due to my oxicillan resistance and resistance to many drugs. This hormone bill must be passed as the numbers of Americans being diagnosed and living with MRSA is out of control. They say that nearly 90% of all American carry MRSA in their nasal passages. Not acceptable nor is the way we treat animals prior to slaughter. We are supposed to be an intelligent nation, but we are not. Europe and other countries have banned animal force feeding practices and the use of hormones in foods, yet as Americans, we overuse and abuse them!

    1. Stephen says:

      Sorry to hear of your suffering with this, Joan. That sounds awful. Do they have any idea how you contracted the illness?

  4. Shannon says:

    I had back surgery, everything seemed to be ok. I was sent home after a week of being in the hospital. After about a week of being home, I woke up one morning in severe pain. I could not even put my feet to the floor because of the pain in my back, hips, and legs.

    Come to find out I had MRSA. The doctor said that I got to the hospital just in time because the infection had just entered my bloodstream. I had to have a second surgery so they could scrape out the infection. They had to cut some of the muscle out. After being in the hospital for 22 days, I was sent home with two oral antibiotics and an IV of a real strong antibiotic. A nurse came out once per week to help me and check to make sure that I was healing. After 8 weeks of therapy, I was clear of the infection. I was so awful. The pain is just indescribable. I felt as if I was dying. I still have issues to this day. I now have heart problems on top of all the back issues. I pray for all who have become I’ll and hope you make a full recovery.
    Best wishes

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