USDA Admits Link Between Antibiotic Use by Big Ag and Human Health

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Andrew Gunther Program Director, Animal Welfare Approved Posted: July 20, 2010 07:30 AM
USDA Admits Link Between Antibiotic Use by Big Ag and Human Health
At a hearing of a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Wednesday, July 14, 2010, a representative of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) finally caught up with the rest of the world -- and his peers at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) -- and admitted that the use of antibiotics in farm animal feed is contributing to the growing problem of deadly antibiotic resistance in America. Dr. John Clifford, Deputy Administrator for Veterinary Services for the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) read from his previously submitted testimony that the USDA believes it is likely that U.S. use of antibiotics in animal agriculture does lead to some cases of resistance in humans and the animals. Why is this news? Because the USDA has been continually playing the Three Wise Monkeys game -- it sees no evil, hears no evil and speaks no evil -- when it comes to deadly consequences to humans of the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in farm animals. In fact, Dr. Clifford looked as if he'd been given a choice between testifying or having his eye poked out with a stick and he lost the toss. Others, though, readily stepped up to the plate. Despite the feeble nature of the recent FDA Guidance to Industry on farm animal antibiotics (read more about this in our blog), Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, Principle Deputy Commissioner of the FDA, was clear in his testimony that the overall weight of evidence supports the conclusion that using antibiotics for production purposes in livestock farming (as growth promoters and to prevent rather than treat illness) is not in the interest of protecting and promoting public health. Dr. Sharfstein also turned away a challenge from Representative John Shimkus (R-IL 19) about the soundness of the science upon which his findings rest. Mr. Shimkus, obviously unhappy with Dr. Sharfstein's testimony, badgered him to come up with up a U.S. peer-reviewed study (which Dr. Sharfstein did -- a 2003 Institute of Medicine study) and then questioned the veracity of the findings. Dr. Sharfstein assured Mr. Shimkus that the Institute has a peer-review process in place and reminded him that "the Institute is considered our nation's leading scientific expert ... " Dr. Ali Khan, Assistant Surgeon General and the Deputy Director of the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID), Center for Disease Control and Prevention, testified that there is unequivocal and compelling evidence that the use of antibiotics in farm animals leads to drug resistance that has an adverse impact on public health. He also faced questions from a visibly agitated Mr. Shimkus, who kept dismissing studies by the World Health Organization and others to request "real science," which, from his posturing, is evidently only that which supports Big Ag. Mr. Shimkus played his role as Big Ag's Mouthpiece admirably. He questioned every statistic, slide, study, expert, institution, report or person cited that didn't agree with an antibiotic free-for-all in the farmyard. "So far there's nothing that links use in animals to a buildup of resistance in humans," he stated, recklessly ignoring all published science since 1968 and the testimony of the doctors his government has charged with protecting health, while making sure he gave Big Ag a clear, concise statement around which it can issue an indignant press release. So let's recap -- the USDA, however grudgingly, is finally admitting the link between the use of subtherapeutic antibiotics in farm animal feed and human drug resistance; the FDA is impressed enough with the "weight of the evidence" to begin calling for changes in how antibiotics are used in farm animal production; and the CDC feels the evidence is "unequivocal and compelling," yet there are still those calling for "real science?" Well how about the March 22, 2010, report from the Duke Infection Control Outreach Network that a superbug call C. difficile is multi-drug resistant and on the rise? Is that real science or should we conduct more studies and perhaps hold a few more hearings? We don't need more hearings, we need action. H.R. 1549, Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act, continues to languish in committee while a few elected officials spend the taxpayer's time and money to pretend the science they are calling for doesn't already exist in mountains. In the coming days, I expect that Big Ag will marshal their forces and come out with its own brand of science and experts to refute all testimony that threatens its profit margin. Of course, what I'm really waiting for is the day the Subcommittee calls on one of the dozens and dozens of AWA farmers to relate how changing from confined to pasture-based farming has eliminated the need for subtherapuetic and most therapeutic antibiotics because their animals and their farms are safe and healthy to begin with.
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Bill S. Jersey USA zone 5 shade garden
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Not to mention that beef evolved to eat grass, not US tax-payer subsidized corn, that gives them ulcers.
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan (Amazon.com product link shortened) 83/ref=pd_bbs_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid06815576&sr=1-1 p. 126
""Grass," so understood, is the foundation of the intricate food chain Salatin has assembled at Polyface, where a half dozen different animal species are raised together in an intensive rotational dance on the theme of symbiosis. (Joel) Salatin is the choreographer and the grasses are his verdurous stage; the dance has made Polyface one of the most productive and influential alternative farms in America.
Though it was only the third week of June, the pasture beneath me had already seen several rotational turns. Before being cut earlier in the week for the hay that would feed the farm's animals through the winter, it had been grazed twice by beef cattle, which after each day-long stay had been succeeded by several hundred laying hens. They'd arrived by Eggmobile, a ramshackle portable henhouse designed and built by Salatin. Why chickens? "Because that's how it works in nature," Salatin explained. "Birds follow and clean up after herbivores." And so during their turn in the pasture, the hens had performed several ecological services for the cattle as well as the grass: They'd picked the tasty grubs and fly larvae out of the cowpats, in the process spreading the manure and eliminating parasites. (This is what Joel has in mind when he says the animals do the work around here; the hens are his "sanitation crew," the reason his cattle have no need of chemical parasiticides.) And while they were at it, nibbling on the short cattle-clipped grasses they like best, the chickens applied a few thousand pounds of nitrogen to the pasturečand produced several thousand uncommonly rich and tasty eggs. After a few week's rest, the pasture will be grazed again, each steer turning these lush grasses into beef at the rate of two or three pounds a day.
By the end of the season Salatin's grasses will have been transformed by his animals into some 40,000 pounds of beef, 30,000 pounds of pork, 10,000 broilers, 1,200 turkeys, 1,000 rabbits, and 35,000 dozen eggs. This is an astounding cornucopia of food to draw from a hundred acres of pasture, yet what is perhaps still more astonishing is the fact that this pasture will be in no way diminished by the processčin fact, it will be the better for it, lusher, more fertile, even springier underfoot (this thanks to the increased earthworm traffic). Salatin's audacious bet is that feeding ourselves from nature need not be a zero-sum proposition, one in which if there is more for us at the end of the season then there must be less for naturečless topsoil, less fertility, less life. He's betting, in other words, on a very different proposition, one that looks an awful lot like the proverbially unattainable free lunch.
And none of it happens without the grass. In fact, the first time I met Salatin he'd insisted that even before I-met any of his animals, I get down on my belly in this very pasture to make the acquaintance of the less charismatic species his farm was nurturing that, in turn, were nurturing his farm. Taking the ant's-eye view, he ticked off the census of a single square foot of pasture: orchard grass, foxtail, a couple of different fescues, bluegrass, and timothy. Then he cataloged the legumesčred clover and white, plus lupinesčand finally the forbs, broad-leaved species like plantain, dandelion, and Queen Anne's Lace. And those were just the plants, the species occupying the surface along with a handful of itinerant insects; below decks and out of sight tunneled earthworms (knowable by their castled mounds of rich castings), pocket gophers, woodchucks, and burrowing insects, all making their dim way through an unseen wilderness of bacteria, phages, eelish nematodes, shrimpy rotifers, and miles upon miles of mycelium, the underground filaments of fungi. We think of the grasses as the basis of this food chain, yet behind, or beneath, the grassland stands the soil, that inconceivably complex community of the living and the dead. Because a healthy soil digests the dead to nourish the living, Salatin calls it the earth's stomach.
But it is upon the grass, mediator of soil and sun, that the human gaze has always tended to settle, and not just our gaze, either. A great many animals, too, are drawn to grass, which partly accounts for our own deep attraction to it: We come here to eat the animals that ate the grass that we (lacking rumens) can't eat ourselves. "All flesh is grass." The Old Testament's earthy equation reflects a pastoral culture's appreciation of the food chain that sustained it, though the hunter-gatherers living on the African savanna thousands of years earlier would have understood the flesh-grass connection just as well. It's only in our own time, after we began raising our food animals on grain in Confined Animal Feeding Operations (following the dubious new equation, All flesh is corn), that our ancient engagement with grass could be overlooked. " -----
No antibiotics creating resistant bacteria. No stinking lagoons of excrement fouling the air, and contaminating ground water. No animal's meat awash in endocrine hormones in response to being terrified and brutalized. No need for fossil fuels for fertilizer or pesticides. No need to create monocultures of feed for feed-lot animals, and their concomitant destruction of the habitat, and the diversity of species that live in them. We can stop the rape of nature, and we can create new topsoil in the process.
Fossil fuel have done enough damage, and they need to be reduced, and then terminated. They are no more sustainable than the fossil water that we pump from ancient aquifers. If we had leaders, they would tell us so and do the work that must be done for us to survive. Require reduction of fossil fuel CO2 emissions. Require population controls. Require lessening our dependence on grains, and encourage consumption of vegetables.
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- Billy
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In article

http://www.pregnantpause.org/numbers/fertility.htm#us
I have had 5 kids age 25 to 35 and no grand kids so far . My generation 6 adults my brother and sister and Ingrids brother and sister have had 12 kids. One died and one has had 2 children. We are going extinct .
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Bill S. Jersey USA zone 5 shade garden
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Also available at better libraries near you.
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- Billy
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On 07/20/10 7:12 PM, sometime in the recent past Billy posted this:

Billy, may I suggest http://bit.ly/ for shortening those long wrapping urls. The last one you list requires extra cut & paste for me & I'm sure others.
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Sorry, Wilson, I've always have had a phobia about short URLs because you don't know if they are taking you to Romania, or Pakistan. In this particular case it was the fault of Bill who Putters. I do bricolage. What kind of reader are you using that can't paste an URL? I sometimes do it with URLs that are 3 lines long. I'm using NewsWatcher, which can be downloaded for free.
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I can click on the Delimited url twice and willa bing willa boom.
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Bill S. Jersey USA zone 5 shade garden
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On 07/21/10 4:39 PM, sometime in the recent past Billy posted this:

I have my own phobias, no problem. Actually, I looked at the url and saw that it had word-wrapped and part wasn't highlighted and 'assumed' that it wouldn't work until 'Bill who putters' said it worked for him. I then found that it worked for me too, just as well as it did after cutting & pasting.
I use Thunderbird to read the group and it seems that it works fine. Most of the time, I don't worry about who shortens the url as long as it works for the next reader. And Firefox has an add-on called Snip-n-tag that grabs the url, shortens & copies it to the clipboard for pasting. Just saying.
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Billy wrote:

Oh new word for the day!
David
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