The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

How Factory Farms Breed Disease

June 24th, 2009 · No Comments · Posted in Industrial agriculture

Killer chickens?

Killer chickens?

The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that this country’s agribusinesses feed more than 24 million pounds of antibiotics to beef, pigs and poulty every year primarily to make them grow faster. Scientists now believe that this routine, non-therapeutic use of antimicrobial drugs in livestock is creating perfect conditions for breeding potentially lethal strains of drug-resistant bacteria.

The medical community worries that there are too many ways that these mutant germs can be transmitted to humans. For instance, livestock and poultry generate an estimated 355 million tons of manure in this country every year. That’s 40 times that amount of waste produced by humans. Animal waste leaches into waterways and into the air. Another concern: diseases being acquired and transmitted to the broader population by farm workers.

Here’s a powerful  article in Johns Hopkins Magazine detailing how researchers are trying to unravel this problem and prevent a killer epidemic. It tells the story of Maryland poultry farmers and how Perdue supplied them with everything the company required they use to grow their chickens fast, but never disclosed what was in the feed. One group of investigators trying to determine how chickens might spread germs simply followed the trucks that were delivering the birds to the processing plant. As they trailed behind the truck, they measured resistant bacteria entering their vehicle through the windows.

Would you be shocked to learn that the U.S. government does not require agribusiness to keep track of the amount of antibiotics it uses or to make that information public?

Having watched the new documentary and horror show Food Inc. over the weekend, I found this article to be a great followup. If you haven’t seen the movie, by all means do.

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