Here at NRDC we consider ourselves seasoned experts when it comes to the problem of antibiotic misuse in animal agriculture. But Mike McCraw’s investigative reporting of this issue today in the Kansas City Star is a real eye opener even for us. Some scary highlights:
- Mike reports that dust-borne antibiotic resistant bacteria from feedlots are believed to have caused life-threatening infections in the wounds of tornado victims.
- USDA’s own auditing program concluded that the agency is failing to protect us from contaminants in meat. From the article: “’The national residue program is not accomplishing its mission of monitoring the food supply for harmful residues,’ according to a 2010 USDA audit. Federal agencies charged with monitoring harmful substances in meat have failed to set limits for pesticides and heavy metals such as copper and cadmium, which can be left behind by veterinary drugs, according to the USDA’s inspector general.”
- Meat contaminated with copper was rejected by Mexico due to health concerns, but was distributed here and eaten by Americans because we have no regulatory limit for the contaminant in meat.
- Beef producers use antibiotics to help cows digest corn, which otherwise causes “acid build-up” and harms internal organs (it turns out cows have evolved to eat grass, not corn feed).
- The pharmaceutical industry spends millions lobbying Congress to protect its interests (we knew that). It also aggressively markets its drugs to beef producers, including through schemes such as giving away cowboy boots and hats.