Federal regulators have finally announced that they are introducing a plan intended to help phase out the use of antibiotics in animal feed in the United States during the next several years.“Rampant antibiotic use is creating stronger and more resistant bacteria, and the government is finally taking action,” writes VegNews.com.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is asking the nation’s producers of farm-animal feed for changes that will make major differences in the diets of cattle, poultry, pigs, and any other animals slaughtered for food or producing a byproduct which is consumed; such as eggs and milk. The goal is to slow down the development of antibiotic-resistent bacteria, which is now proven to be affecting human health.
Meat and poultry producers in America purchased approximately 29.9 million pounds of antibiotics in 2011-- more than triple of the amount sold for human use during the same year, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Although antibiotics could be administered to animals just as with humans to help fight infections, the drugs also have growth-increasing qualities that are highly valuable in the meat industry.
USA Today interviewed William Flynn, the Deputy Director for Science Policy with the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine, who stated that "no one is actually quite sure why antibiotics and antimicrobials make animals grow faster. But the effect allows farmers to feed these animals less and have a much more profitable end product."
The practice of adding antibiotics to animal feed, not only to control disease, but also to increase growth dates back to the 1950’s, when Successful Farming Magazine published an article with a title that tells the entire story, “They’ve Doubled Gains with New Drugs.”
Dr.Alan G. Mathew of the Department of Animal Science at the Universiy of Tennessee, wrote in 2007 “...use of antibiotics for agricultural purposes, particularly for growth enhancement...has been shown to contribute to the increased prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria of human significance." In other words, it is making humans sick.
Dr. Gail Hansen, a veterinarian and senior officer for the Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming, told CNN, "We feed antibiotics to sick animals, which is completely appropriate, but we also put antibiotics in their feed and in their water to help them grow faster and to compensate for unhygienic conditions. If you have to keep the animals healthy with drugs, I would argue you need to re-examine the system."
The FDA announced it is asking for animal feed companies to decide during the next 90 days if they will sign on to a voluntary program. If they enlist, they’ll promise to “voluntarily remove growth enhancement and feed efficiency indications from the approved uses of their medically important antimicrobial drug products,” according to the FDA, “and move the therapeutic uses of these products from over-the-counter (OTC) availability to marketing status requiring veterinary oversight.”
The recommendation was issued by the FDA on Wednesday, and they hope that the companies that ask to voluntarily participate will fully implement the changes in three years’ time.
Humane concerns should be enough to bring about these changes. Animal protectionists suggest that it should be done for the sake of the animals being unnecessarily drugged. But, the real impetus for governmental action is that, with animals consuming about 80 percent of the nation’s antibiotic supplies, antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” are emerging at increased rates among livestock because of resistance.
A superbug--also called multi-resistant—meaning it carries several resistance genes. That’s then transferred through consumption of meat and animal byproducts to millions of Americans.
An FDA report released in April showed that 81 percent of raw ground turkey tested by the agency contained traces of anti-biotic resistant bacteria, with similar tests on pork, beef and chicken yielding similarly disturbing results.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes that 2 million people in the US are contracting drug-resistant infections annually right now, causing around 23,000 death a year.
“It is important to use these drugs only when medically necessary," the FDA says on its website. "Governments around the world consider antimicrobial-resistant bacteria a major threat to public health."
The FDA claims it has, “every reason to believe that animal pharmaceutical companies will support us” in their effort to phase out antibiotic use among animals. However, as the Times points out, the agency has not announced what, if any sanctions, will be imposed if a company volunteers to participate and then is found in violation.
Meanwhile, some are saying a voluntary program simply doesn’t do enough.
Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-New York) told the LA Times. "Sadly, this guidance is the biggest step the FDA has taken in a generation to combat the overuse of antibiotics in corporate agriculture, and it falls woefully short of what is needed to address a public health crisis."
VegNews.com reports that, according to according to Mother Jones, the FDA has issued a proposal for a statute that would mandate all farm staff seek the approval of veterinarians before administering antibiotics to their animals, rather than using them indiscriminately to bolster growth and ward off infections that have become common in the unsanitary conditions of factory farms. It also urges consideration of a vegetarian or vegan diet
Extreme Animal Activist Gary Yourofsky Says Meat Eaters Engage in Bestiality While Lecturing College Students
Gary Yourofsky, an extreme animal rights activist known for his outrageous views and lack of filter, has said a lot of crazy things over the years, and while it seemed that maybe he had calmed down a bit more recently, he’s now making headlines again.
Back in 2008, Yourofsky angered most people when he proudly stated, “Every woman ensconced in fur should endure a rape so vicious that it scars them forever. While every man entrenched in fur should suffer an anal raping so horrific that they become disemboweled.”
Yes, he actually said that. Recently, he has been making visits to college campuses across the country to try and influence young adults to join his cause. A student at Eastern Michigan University was able to record some pretty horrific things he said during a lecture there, and thankfully, The Blaze provides us with a list of some highlights.
• “Is bestiality weird to you? Doing sexual things with animals? Because I used to think everybody thought so, but not even close, my meat, cheese, and [inaudible] egg-loving friends, because you engage in carnivorous bestiality on a daily basis.”
• “You pay somebody else to sexually molest a cow and squeeze their nipples for you? Okay, you guys are f**king obsessed with hen a**es and cow t**s.”
• “Once a year, every cow on every dairy farm is raped to impregnate her, a long steel device shoved in her vagina.”
• “One day after seeing animals backstage at a circus, chained up and caged up, I not only realized that I was witnessing a slave ship, I realized I was a hypocrite, a bigot, a species-ist. Like a racist who believes that their race is more important and more special than all the other races, a species-ist believes that humans are more special and more important than all the animals, and therefore have the right to commodify, enslave, and kill any species they choose.”
• “Imagine yourself confined in a concentration camp truck, on your way to a slaughterhouse, so someone could slice your throat and cut you up into pieces; you would understand why the psychotic addictions of meat, cheese, milk and eggs must be abolished.”
According to the report from The Blaze, the sociology professor who arranged the lecture from Yourofsky may be fired from teaching at the college.
Yourofsky has apparently been classified as an “international terrorist” for his outrageous beliefs and has been banned from countries like Canada and Britain.
Vegan activist group Iowans for Animal Liberation poured red paint on the Iowa State Fair’s iconic butter cow early Sunday morning, spray painting “Freedom For All” across the display window.
The group took credit for the act in a news release on Sunday night, detailing how they hid in the Agriculture Building Saturday night and emerged when the fair closed. They later broke into the refrigerated room where the butter cow was displayed and poured red paint over the sculpture in imitation of blood.
"The paint represents the blood of 11 billion animals murdered each year in slaughterhouses, egg farms and dairies," the statement read. "We intend this action to serve as a wake up call to all who continue to consume meat, dairy, eggs, leather and all animal products.”
The provocative symbol, however, did not remain intact for long. The damage was discovered Sunday morning and a sculptor replaced the damaged sections.
Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Scott Bright said the damage was more of an inconvenience than anything else.
“The butter cow looks good now and everything is back to normal,” Bright said.
The butter cow has been a tradition at the Iowa State Fair since 1911. The cow is made of 600 pounds of butter surrounding a metal frame, and the butter is reused for up to 10 years.
The fair typically attracts 1 million visitors annually.
A Red Robin ad angered vegans and vegetarians after it compared the choice to avoid eating animals to a teenage girl going through a phase.
“I will not be a patron of Red Robin until they issue a formal apology and pull the add,” said Jesse Vanhall, a Facebook commenter. “It was anything but lighthearted. Really disappointing.”
According to Kevin Caulfield, Red Robin’s senior director of communications, the ad will soon be off air. The restaurant chain created a number of ads for rotation to keep the campaign fresh and apparently will be removing the offensive one.
Caulfield added the intent of the ad was to remind people that vegetarians were available and have been on the Red Robin menu for several years.
“I don’t think I’ll giving another shot after such a disrespectful and callous ad,” said John Di Leonardo, a Facebook commenter.
Vegetarians and vegans should look out. Whole Foods announced on Thursday that it had mixed up the labels on a curried chicken salad and a vegan curried "chick'n" salad. The incorrectly labeled salads were sold at 15 stores in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.
The salads, which were sold on Monday and Tuesday, were displayed in the prepared food sections of the stores. Some of them also made their way into Whole Foods’ cold food bars - the section of the store where customers can scoop food into containers and then have their selections weighed at the register.
The Food and Drug Administration revealed that the vegan salad contains soy. The FDA also pointed out that the curried chicken salad contains egg. People who are allergic to either of those ingredients could have a serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they eat the salads, KMPH reported.
Whole Foods said no illnesses have been reported. The company has about 330 stores in the U.S.
The error was discovered by a Whole Foods employee working in the prepared food section. According to Libba Letton, a spokeswoman for Whole Foods, the mislabeled salads came from a company-owned commissary. The company has issued a recall and also plans to post signs in stores Friday to warn customers about the mistake.
Animal-Cruelty Undercover Investigations: Will ‘Ag-Gag’ Laws End Exposure of Abuses in the Meat Industry?
“Across the nation, the agriculture lobby is pushing legislators to pass bills that would hobble undercover investigations that help prevent abuse,” writes Cody Carlson, a former undercover investigator for the advocacy group Mercy for Animal. In a review in The Atlantic (March 25), Cody examines how powerful meat-industry lobbyists are pressuring lawmakers to pass “ag-gag” laws to make undercover videos of cruelty to animals illegal.
The article is first heartening and then alarming. Carlson announces the encouraging news that last Thursday the New Jersey State Assembly voted 60-5 in favor of a bill banning the use of "gestation crates" on factory hog farms. He explains that, “If the state senate ratifies the bill and Governor Chris Christie signs it into law, New Jersey will be the tenth state to have outlawed this controversial factory-farm technology.”
Cody tells us he is praying for the law to pass for the welfare of millions of breeding sows confined for their entire reproductive life to concrete and metal cages barely larger than their own bodies. He tells how these very intelligent and highly social animals are “driven mad by a lifetime of constant pregnancy and extreme confinement…frantically chewing on or banging their heads against the bars of their cage, clear signs of extreme frustration and anxiety.”
But, this is not considered inhumane by pork industry representatives who see it only as a cost-cutting measure that boosts profits. A spokesman for the National Pork Producers Council stated, ".... The only real measure of their well-being we have is the number of piglets per birth, and that's at an all-time high."
Let us all pray that the New Jersey bill continues its passage through the senate and is signed by Governor Christie post-haste.
EFFORTS TO STOP WHISTLEBLOWERS
On the dark side, some states are going backwards. Cody Carlson says that six states are currently considering laws that would make it illegal for investigators to produce the undercover videos that have been critical in bringing public awareness—and thus outrage—to the conditions under which food animals are often kept and killed.
Cody says that, “Iowa and Utah already passed similar laws last year, and legislation is now pending in Arkansas, California, Indiana, Nebraska, and Tennessee.” Pennsylvania is also currently considering passing an "ag gag" law, and similar laws have been proposed, but put aside for this session, in New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Wyoming. He adds that Minnesota, North Carolina, and Vermont are expected to introduce similar bills this year.
Carlson reminds us that there are no federal laws in the United States which protect animals on factory farms from cruelty and that, “…over the past two decades, at least 37 states have amended animal-cruelty laws to exempt "common" or "normal" farming practices.”
Cody is one of the most passionate and knowledgeable writers on the cruelty in factory farms and slaughterhouses. He has personally been at the heart of the progress that has brought changes to the lives of factory-farmed animals through public awareness. It was only a few decades ago that shoppers never thought about the life and death of animals whose cold, butchered bodies fill meat-counter displays or the desperation of an egg-producing hen who can barely stand or turn in a tight cage for her entire life span.
Cody is also a realist. He reminds us things are changing despite the meat-industries efforts to stop whistleblowers. His article, ‘How State Ag-Gag Laws Could Stop Animal-Cruelty Whistleblowers,’ is extremely important and should be read in its entirety by all vegans and vegetarians and anyone who truly cares about animals. Certainly the mental/emotional well-being and physical soundness of animals that are going to be ingested by humans—especially by someone you love--should be of concern to everyone.
Cody Carlson reminds us that, “… the backers of these bills seem less concerned about the 3 percent of Americans who are vegan or vegetarian and more concerned about the growing collection of data showing that Americans believe that animals raised for food deserve our empathy and consideration.”
We must not forget how quickly the progress for animal-welfare can be lost under pressures on lawmakers by a profit-driven industry whose values are measured only by production.
Cody Carlson says of those who are currently pressing for laws and constitutional amendments that assure no humane efforts for animals can thwart cruel, dollar-driven practices, “Instead of trying to shut us up, they should be following the examples of leaders around the world, including in New Jersey, who are beginning to pave a way forward.”