Updated 5/15/2016 & 5/16/2016.
Comments made by people I’d thought understood why growing and eating genetically modified and other non-organic foods are dangerous to humans, other animals and the planet spurred me to write this post.
“Why should I pay more for organic carrots? They’re not any bigger than the other kind.”
– heard at a farmers’ market
“Organic is just a label for getting us to pay more for our food.”
– said by an MD
“Genetically modified foods have been tested and are safe to eat.”
“The US government protects the safety of our food supply.”
“GMOs (or “genetically modified organisms”) are living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering, or GE. This relatively new science creates unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacteria and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.” (Non-GMO Project, 2016)
Although at least 90% of Americans want labeling, genetically engineered foods generally are not labeled in the US – thanks to powerful efforts by Monsanto and other big agribusiness companies.
Conventionally grown foods are grown using synthetic chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides, chemicals which get absorbed into the soil and cannot be removed. The purpose of conventional farming is mass production, out of season growing, and creating a longer shelf life. This type of farming uses monoculture. This means crops are often planted over and over in the same place which leads to more insect infestation and disease, and depletes the soil of nutrients which then leads to more fertilizer use. This endless cycle often leads to massive topsoil erosion. It is also argued that conventionally grown foods are tasteless due to all the chemical treating. (Raj, 2012)
Conventionally grown foods are also not labeled in the US and often contain GMOs along with synthetic chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides.
Organic foods are grown in nutrient rich soil and are free of synthetic chemicals. They are not treated with pesticides or chemical fertilizers. Organically raised farm animals are free of antibiotics and added hormones. They are not fed GMO’s or other drugs. Organic animals are not allowed to have their genes modified. They are raised in healthier environments, are organically fed, and generally eat a wider range of nutrients than animals in factory farms. Organically raised animals are not bred from a test tube. (Raj, 2012)
GMO Free means not genetically modified or fed feed containing GMOs.
A SUMMARY OF THE ISSUES
SAFETY FOR HUMANS
The only way to avoid consuming the cocktail of toxic chemicals in genetically modified and otherwise commercially grown foods is to eat organic. “More than 600 active chemicals are registered for agricultural use in America, to the tune of billions of pounds annually. The average application equates to about 16 pounds of chemical pesticides per person every year. Many of these chemicals were approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) before adequate safety testing.
“The National Academy of Sciences reports that 90% of the chemicals applied to foods have not been tested for long-term health effects before being deemed “safe.” Further, the FDA tests only 1% of foods for pesticide residue. The most dangerous and toxic pesticides require special testing methods, which are rarely if ever employed by the FDA. ” (Loux, 2011)
Contrary to Monsanto’s and other GMO manufacturers and supporters’ claims, the pesticides associated with GMO crops are unsafe for humans, other organisms, and the environment.
A primary example is glyphosate, a broad-spectrum, non-selective systemic herbicide, that is the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup and Dow AgroSciences’ Rodeo and is found in many other herbicides as well.
Exposure to glyphosate has been linked to a host of serious health effects: (Robinson, Antoniou & Fagan, 2015)
Severe liver and kidney damage
Chronic kidney disease
Disruption of hormonal systems, potentially leading to multiple organ damage and hormone-dependent cancer
Developmental and reproductive toxicity, including sperm damage, miscarriage, and premature birth
High Glyphosate levels are now turning up everywhere:
In our blood
In breast milk
In water supplies
“Glyphosate levels have been found to be significantly higher in the urine of humans who ate non-organic food, compared with those who ate mostly organic food. Chronically ill people showed significantly higher glyphosate residues in their urine than healthy people.” (Robinson, Antoniou & Fagan, 2015)
SAFETY OF THE PLANET
Those more than 600 agricultural chemicals the US government has approved for agricultural use are contaminating our environment and destroying the ecosystem:
Polluting the soil and water with toxins
Depleting nutrients from the soil, destroying its fertility
Destroying organisms in the soil necessary for growing healthy crops and animals
Killing and mutating insects, frogs, birds and other wildlife
Organic farming, while avoiding use of these chemicals, supports the tapestry of ecology, achieving eco-sustenance.
“Certified organic standards do not permit the use of toxic chemicals in farming and require responsible management of healthy soil and biodiversity.
“According to Cornell entomologist David Pimentel, it is estimated that only 0.1% of applied pesticides reach the target pests. The bulk of pesticides (99.9%) is left to impact the environment.” (Loux, 2011)
Also see Repair the Soil’s Microbiome to Resolve the Climate Crisis for clear thinking writer Michael Pollan’s cogent advice on how climate change can be reversed by organic farming. (Hardin, 2016)
Organically grown foods are more nutritious than non-organic foods. They contain more vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and micronutrients than commercially grown foods because the soil they’re grown in is managed and nourished with sustainable practices by responsible standards. “The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine conducted a review of 41 published studies comparing the nutritional value of organically grown and conventionally grown fruits, vegetables, and grains and concluded that there are significantly more of several nutrients in organic foods crops.
“Further, the study verifies that five servings of organically grown vegetables (such as lettuce, spinach, carrots, potatoes, and cabbage) provide an adequate allowance of vitamin C, whereas the same number of servings of conventionally grown vegetables do not.
“On average, organically grown foods provide: 21.1% more iron (than their conventional counterparts); 27% more vitamin C; 29.3% more magnesium; 13.6% more phosphorus.” (Loux, 2011)
ORGANIC VS FACTORY FARMED ANIMALS
Even aside from the huge issue of the heart breaking, inhumane treatment of factory farmed animals, the meat and dairy products they provide are the foods at highest risk for contamination by harmful substances. For example, over 90% of the pesticides Americans consume comes from the fat and tissue of meat and dairy products. (Loux, 2011)
(I’ll also point out that the corn fed to the factory farmed cow on the right above is almost certainly genetically modified. )
The EPA reports that a majority of human pesticide intake comes from meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products because these foods are all high on the food chain. “For instance, a large fish that eats a smaller fish that eats even smaller fish accumulates all of the toxins of the chain, especially in fatty tissue. Cows, chickens, and pigs are fed animal parts, by-products, fish meal, and grains that are heavily and collectively laden with toxins and chemicals.” (Loux, 2011)
The antibiotics, drugs, and growth hormones fed to factory farmed animals are passed directly into their meat and dairy products. “Tens of millions of pounds of antibiotics are used in animal feed every year…. The hormones fed to cows cannot be broken down, even at high temperatures. Therefore they remain in complete form and pass directly into the consumer’s diet when meat is eaten.” (Loux, 2011)
“Between 1985 and 2001, the use of antibiotics in feed for industrial livestock production rose a startling 50%. Today, antibiotics are routinely fed to livestock, poultry, and fish on industrial farms to promote faster growth and to compensate for the unsanitary conditions in which they are raised.
“According to a new report by the FDA, approximately 80 percent of all antibiotics used in the United States are fed to farm animals. This means that in the United States only 20 percent of antibiotics, which were originally developed to protect human health, are actually used to treat infections in people.” (Grace, 2016)
ORGANIC TASTES BETTER
Organically grown foods are generally more flavorful and easier to digest than foods treated with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. They’re more environment-friendly too. (Quinn, 2000)
ORGANIC IS ACTUALLY COST-EFFECTIVE
To decide whether it’s worth it to pay more money for organic foods, you have to factor in the additional costs of eating non-organic:
Widespread and ever increasing suffering with acute and chronic illnesses
The financial cost of treating these illnesses
Treatment of bacterial-resistant infections
Subsidies paid to farmers
Egregious treatment of animals on factory farms
Cost of pesticide clean ups
Destruction of the environment
Loss of export markets for US-produced GM products
Organic farming produces nutritious foods that keep us and other animals well instead of making us sick as most of our food supply is currently doing. Organic practices also preserve the environment for the future.
And then there are these additional, hidden costs in figuring how much you’re actually spending for non-organic foods:
“Buying organic food is an investment in a cost-effective future. Commercial and conventional farming is heavily subsidized with tax dollars in America. A study at Cornell University determined the cost of a head of commercial iceberg lettuce, typically purchased at 49 cents a head, to be more than $3.00 a head when hidden costs were revealed. The study factored in the hidden costs of federal subsidies, pesticide regulation and testing, and hazardous waste and cleanup.
“Every year, American tax dollars subsidize billions of dollars for a farm bill that heavily favors commercial agribusiness. Peeling back another layer of the modern farming onion reveals a price tag that cannot be accurately measured but certainly includes other detrimental associated costs such as health problems, environmental damage, and the loss and extinction of wildlife and ecology.” (Loux, 2011)
WHAT IS FOOD?
Having apparently lost the ability to understand the function of food – to provide nourishment that keeps us well, we’ve reached the point of calling everything we put in our stomachs ‘food’.
READ MORE ABOUT GMO MYTHS AND TRUTHS
If you’re interested in learning more about GMOs and the research on them, I recommend this clear, easy to read source of information:
GMO Myths and Truths – A Citizen’s Guide to the Evidence on the Safety and Efficacy of Genetically Modified Crops and Foods, 3rd Edition. Its authors are Claire Robinson (an editor at GMWatch), John Fagan (PhD in biochemistry, molecular biology, and cell biology, pioneer of genetic testing methods for GMOs, researcher on biosafety and sustainable agriculture, and Director of Open Earth Resource), and Michael Antoniou (PhD in Molecular Genetics and Head of the Gene Expression and Therapy Group, King’s College London School of Medicine).
Grace Communications Foundation. (2016). The Issue: Antibiotics and the Food Animal Industry. See: http://www.sustainabletable.org/257/antibiotics
Hardin, J.R. (2016). Repair the Soil’s Microbiome to Resolve the Climate Crisis. See: http://allergiesandyourgut.com/2016/01/29/4404/
Loux, R. (2011). Top 10 Reasons To Go Organic: Choosing fresh foods can help you feel better and preserve the environment. Prevention. See: http://www.prevention.com/food/healthy-eating-tips/top-reasons-choose-organic-foods
Non-GMO Project. (2016). See: http://www.nongmoproject.org/learn-more/
Raj, T. (2012). Conventional vs. Organic vs. GMOs. See: http://www.examiner.com/article/conventional-vs-organic-vs-gmos
Quinn, J. (2000). Essential Eating: A Cookbook – Discover How to Eat, Not Diet. P. 6. See: http://www.amazon.com/Essential-Eating-Cookbook-Discover-Diet/dp/0967984351
Robinson, C., Antoniou, M, & Fagan, J. (2015). GMO Myths and Truths: A Citizen’s Guide to the Evidence on the Safety and Efficacy of Genetically Modified Crops and Foods, 3rd Edition. See: http://www.amazon.com/GMO-Myths-Truths-Citizens-Genetically/dp/0993436706
© Copyright 2016. Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.
DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Aerial View of a Factory Farm Where Animals Are Raised for Food
Here’s a list of the top 10 causes of death in the US. Alzheimer’s is in there at number 6 (Nichols, 2014):
- Heart disease
- Chronic lower respiratory disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Influenza and pneumonia
- Kidney disease
In 2014, approximately 5.2 million Americans had Alzheimer’s disease, including about 200,000 people under 65 with early-onset Alzheimer’s.
In 2013, 15.5 million family and friends provided 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care to people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. If they’d been paid, the care they provided would be worth $220.2 billion – nearly eight times McDonald’s total revenue in 2012. (Nichols, 2014)
You’ll see in a minute how that particular comparison is especially apt.
Research shows a link between a pathologic protein called TDP-43 and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Lou Gehrig’s (ALS). TDP-43 protein has the same effect on the brain as infectious, toxic proteins which cause the brain degeneration seen in Mad Cow and Chronic Wasting Diseases, two types of bovine spongiform encephalopathy.
Evidence of the connection between the pathologic TDP-43 protein and Alzheimer’s include (Mercola, 2015):
From 25-50% of Alzheimer’s patients have evidence of TDP-43 pathology in their brains.
Brain autopsies of Alzheimer’s patients with evidence of TDP-43 were 10 times more likely to have suffered cognitive impairment at death than those in whom TDP-43 wasn’t present.
Mad Cow Disease (the human version is called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease) is a form of bovine spongiform encephalopathy. It is transmissible, progressive, degenerative, and fatal to cows and humans.
Mad Cow Disease (the human version is called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, or vCJD)) is acquired from eating cattle raised in densely confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) – also referred to as factory farms. Cattle are natural herbivores but on factory farms they’re fed a diet that includes bone meal and animal byproducts made from other cows and factory farmed animals.
Mad Cow can spread rapidly and broadly when bone meal and waste products from diseased animals contaminate feed that’s given to thousands of other animals in different locations. (Mercola, 2015)
Scientists now think Alzheimer’s may be a slower moving version of Mad Cow Disease and the consequence of the factory farm practice of adding cannibalized animal parts and byproducts to the herbivores’ feed. When humans eat the meat of animals infected with TDP-43 protein, TDP-43 can infect and damage our brains too.
The vast majority of meat we consume in the US – from cows, pigs, sheep, chickens, and turkeys – is grown on CAFOs. On these big farming operations, the animals live packed inside buildings and are fed a completely unnatural diet of genetically engineered grains (containing the pesticide glyphosate – a serious problem in its own right) mixed with antibiotics (to keep the animals from dying from the effects of the unnatural diet they’re fed and the unsanitary conditions they live in), along with bone meal and other animal byproducts.
THE ROLE OF TDP-43 IN ALZHEIMER’S
The Mayo Clinic recently conducted an important study which demonstrated a clear connection between TDP-43 in the brain and Alzheimer’s Disease.
A description of the methodology and findings:
Since the time of Dr. Alois Alzheimer himself, two proteins (beta-amyloid (Aβ) and tau) have become tantamount to Alzheimer’s disease (AD). But a Mayo Clinic study challenges the perception that these are the only important proteins accounting for the clinical features of the devastating disease.
In a large clinico-imaging pathological study, Mayo Clinic researchers demonstrated that a third protein (TDP-43) plays a major role in AD pathology. In fact, people whose brain was TDP positive were 10 times more likely to be cognitively impaired at death compared to those who didn’t have the protein, showing that TDP-43 has the potential to overpower what has been termed resilient brain aging. The study was published in the journal Acta Neuropathologica.
Mayo Clinic researchers studied brains of 342 patients who had died with pathologically confirmed AD and divided them into two groups based on the presence or absence of the protein TDP-43. The protein was found in 195 or 57 percent of the cases.
“We wanted to determine whether the TDP-43 protein has any independent effect on the clinical and neuroimaging features typically ascribed to AD and we found that TDP-43 had a strong effect on cognition, memory loss and medial temporal atrophy in AD,” says Mayo Clinic neurologist Keith Josephs, M.D., the study’s lead investigator and author. “In the early stages of the disease when AD pathology was less severe, the presence of TDP-43 was strongly associated with cognitive impairment. Consequently, TDP-43 appears to play an important role in the cognitive and neuroimaging characteristics that have been linked to AD.”
The study also found that patients who suffered from greater cognitive impairment and medial temporal atrophy at the time of death had greater TDP-43 burden and had the protein in a greater number of brain regions.
“This is why we believe that TDP-43 pathology could help shed light on the phenomenon of resilient cognition in AD and explain why some patients remain clinically normal, while others do not, despite both having similar degrees of AD pathology,” says Dr. Josephs. “Our findings suggest that in order to have AD and be cognitively resilient, TDP-43 must be absent, so it should be considered a potential therapeutic target for the future treatment of AD.
This study was funded by the US National Institute of Heath (NIA) Grants and supported by the Mayo Clinic Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.
– Anastasijevic, Mayo Clinic, 2014
Mayo Clinic Neurologist Keith Josephs, MD
Mayo Clinic neurologist Keith Josephs, MD, the study’s lead investigator and author, describes the research and its results in this video posted to YouTube on 23 April 2014:
MAD COW DISEASE, A MAN-MADE PLAGUE
The Center for Food Safety, after the 2012 Mad Cow outbreak, noted:
Formally known as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), “Mad Cow Disease” is a persistent food safety concern in the U.S. and abroad. BSE occurs when cattle are fed rendered meat products made from other dead, disabled or diseased cattle or sheep as a feed supplement — or when chickens are fed rendered animals and their manure is mixed into cattle feed.
Tissue from infected cows’ central nervous systems (including brain or spinal cord) is the most infectious part of a cow. Such tissue may be found in hot dogs, taco fillings, bologna and other products containing gelatin, as well as a variety of ground or chopped meats. People who eat meat from infected animals can contract the human version of the disease, known as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD). The disease slowly eats holes in the brain over a matter of years, turning it sponge-like, and invariably results in dementia and death. There is no known cure, treatment or vaccine for vCJD.
Center for Food Safety seeks to end dangerous animal feed practices that threaten human health and the safety of our meat supply, such as feeding rendered animals to other animals. We urge the CDC to classify vCJD as a reportable disease so occurrences can be tracked and to work to plug the loopholes that still exist in FDA and USDA regulations.
– Center for Food Safety, 2015
Factory Farmed Cows Eating Medicated Grain Feed
Mad Cow Disease is a man-made plague created by factory farming. In cattle, the Mad Cow incubation period before the animal becomes visibly ill is thought to be about five years. In humans, it can be latent for a decade or longer before manifesting as vCJD. (Center for Food Safety, 4/25/2012).
It’s now illegal to feed beef-based products to cows. However – the beef industry is still allowed to use a feed called “chicken litter” consisting of rendered dead chickens, feathers, chicken manure, and spilled chicken feed … and chicken feed contains cow meat and bone meal. So factory farmed cows are still eating parts of other sick cows – and Mad Cow Disease is still around.
Loophole number two: Cattle byproducts are also allowed in the feed of pigs, chickens, and turkeys. And, under current laws, the byproducts of those pigs, chickens, and turkeys are allowed in the feed of cattle. (Mercola, 2015)
On left: A brain infected with vCDJ, riddled with holes due to tissue destruction.
On right: Normal brain tissue at a lower magnification.
The symptoms of vCJD (staggering, memory loss, impaired vision, and dementia) are quite similar to the symptoms of Alzheimer’s – and there’s no known cure.
TDP-43 AND OTHER NEURODEGERATIVE DISEASES
TDP-43 can also lead to other neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s or Lou Gehrig’s (ALS) instead of to Alzheimer’s. The particular disease which develops may depend on which area of the brain the proteins attack. (ALZFORUM, 2014)
“Pathological TDP-43 appears to follow a set route through the nervous system, and what that route is depends on the disease at hand. Two new papers in Acta Neuropathologica add TDP-43 itineraries for Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal lobar degeneration [FTLD] to a previously published staging scheme for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
“While the starting points and paths taken differ, the disease-specific routes suggest that TDP-43 travels from neuron to neuron along axonal highways… The TDP-43 stages fit with the ongoing theme in neurodegeneration research that these diseases are progressive not only over time, but also in space, as pathological proteins spread throughout the nervous system…
“Overall… the FTLD pathology progressed from the front of the brain to the back. This contrasted with the ALS staging system, which began in the motor cortex at the brain’s apex and moved downward and forward from there.”
– ALZFORUM, 2013
GRASS FED VS FACTORY FARMED MEAT
If meat is part of your diet, it’s wise – for many reasons – to eat pasture raised, grass-fed animals when you can.
It’s good for the animals too. Wouldn’t you prefer walking around outside in the fresh air, feeling healthy, with the sun warming your back, eating food you can easily digest instead of being constrained inside in artificial light and filthy conditions, eating food and chemicals that makes you sick?
Almost all meat served in restaurants in the US is grown on factory farms.
This is what Functional Medical doc Frank Lipman has to say about eating grass-fed vs CAFO-raised cows:
To save money, factory-farmed cows are fed corn (which is cheap and often genetically modified) instead of the grasses they’re meant to graze on. Corn makes the cows sick, so they’re given antibiotics. These meds also fatten the cows – so the system “works” from a business perspective. If you eat factory-farmed meat, you’re ingesting sick animals, plus loads of antibiotics. Buy only grass-fed meat, and whenever possible, get it at a local farmers’ market from small farms.
– Lipman & Claro, 2014
“Dairy products aside, when past and present meat consumption are factored in, there is three times the risk of developing Alzheimer’s in meat eaters as opposed to vegetarians.”
– Broxmeyer, 2005
For more information on Alzheimer’s, see Alzheimer’s, Gut Bacteria & Music.
For more information on glyphosate and genetically engineered foods, see Moms to EPA: Recall Monsanto’s Roundup.
ALZFORUM. (11/23/2013). The Four Stages of TDP-43 Proteinopathy. See: http://www.alzforum.org/news/conference-coverage/four-stages-tdp-43-proteinopathy
ALZFORUM. (1/24/2014). TDP-43 Routes Mapped in Alzheimer’s, Frontotemporal Dementia. See: http://www.alzforum.org/news/research-news/tdp-43-routes-mapped-alzheimers-frontotemporal-dementia
Anastasijevic, D. (2014). Why Some With Alzheimer’s Die Without Cognitive Impairment, While Others Do? Mayo Clinic. See: http://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/why-do-some-people-with-alzheimers-disease-die-without-cognitive-impairment-while-others-do-223585/
Broxmeyer, L. (2005). Thinking the unthinkable: Alzheimer’s, Creutzfeldt-Jakob and Mad Cow disease: the age-related reemergence of virulent, foodborne, bovine tuberculosis or losing your mind for the sake of a shake or burger. Medical Hypotheses, 64:4,699-705. See: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15694685
Center For Food Safety. (4/25/2012). Press Release: California Cows Unhappy About Mad Cow Disease. See: http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/press-releases/706/california-cows-unhappy-about-mad-cow-disease#
Center for Food Safety. (2015). About Mad Cow Disease. See: http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/issues/1040/mad-cow-disease/about-mad-cow-disease
Hardin, J.R. (11/30/2014). Alzheimer’s, Gut Bacteria and Music. See: http://allergiesandyourgut.com/2014/11/30/alzheimers-gut-bacteria-music/
Hardin, J.R. (5/30/2014). Moms to EPA: Recall Monsanto’s Roundup. See http://allergiesandyourgut.com/2014/05/30/moms-epa-recall-monsantos-roundup/
Lipman, F. & Claro, D. (2014). The New Health Rules: Simple Changes to Achieve Whole-Body Wellness.
Mayo Clinic. (2014). TDP-43 and Alzheimer’s. Video. See: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/06/04/alzheimers-disease-cafos.aspx
Mercola, R. (2015). Might Alzheimer’s Disease Be “Foodborne”? See: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/06/04/alzheimers-disease-cafos.aspx?e_cid=20150604Z1_DNL_art_1&utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20150604Z1&et_cid=DM78202&et_rid=979877762
© Copyright 2015 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.
DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Information from the International Master on Sustainable Development (Behrend, 2013):
80% of all antibiotics used in the US are administered to farmed animals to promote growth and prevent disease. That amounts to about 29 million pounds of antibiotics per year.
These antibiotics produce drug-resistant “superbugs” in farm animals and humans, causing widespread disease, deficiency, and death.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 76 million cases of food borne illnesses a year and 5,000 deaths a year from viral and bacterial pathogens related to the animal farming industry.
The treatment of these illnesses costs $26 billion in healthcare costs annually.
In the US and around the world, antibiotics from every major class used for humans are also used in agriculture. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria spread from farm animals to humans via food, animal-to-human transfer on farms and in rural areas, and through contaminated waste entering the environment. (Food & Water Watch, 2015)
Antibiotics resistance is now a very serious global problem.
Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in some way that reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of drugs, chemicals, or other agents designed to cure or prevent infections. The bacteria survive and continue to multiply causing more harm. Bacteria can do this through several mechanisms.
In September 2012, more than 150 well-respected scientists and 50 farmers sent a letter to the US Federal Drug Administration and the US Congress, presenting overwhelming evidence that the use of antibiotics in livestock production poses a serious risk to human health. The letter pointed out that:
Hundreds of scientific research studies and analyses by international scientific bodies support the conclusion that the overuse of critical human drugs in food animal production is linked to human diseases increasingly impervious to antibiotic treatment, putting human lives at unnecessary risk.
Also in September 2012, Food and Water Watch, a nonprofit organization advocating for safe food and water, issued a report called Antibiotics Resistance 101 describing the reality of antibiotics use in factory farming and its seriously negative impacts on the environment, the economy, and the health of all living things – including humans, animals and plants.
The FDA issued ineffective VOLUNTARY guidelines.
This graphic shows how the antibiotic resistance cycle operates:
Examples of superbugs that have developed from the overuse of antibiotics, particularly from factory farmed animals:
See Food and Water Watch’s site for more information on factory farming, antibiotic resistance, and the many other issues they’re involved in – including labeling of GMO foods, fracking, and water privatization.
Food & Water Watch champions healthy food and clean water for all. We stand up to corporations that put profits before people, and advocate for a democracy that improves people’s lives and protects our environment.
Behrend, K.E. (2013). Rural Development: Antibiotics in Factory Farming. International Master on Sustainable Development EOI. See: http://www.eoi.es/blogs/imsd/rural-development-antibiotics-in-factory-farming/
Food & Water Watch. (2015). Antibiotic Resistance 101: How Antibiotic Misuse on Factory Farms Can Make You Sick. See: http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/reports/antibiotic-resistance-101-how-antibiotic-misuse-on-factory-farms-can-make-you-sick/
© Copyright 2015 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.
DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Did you know that factory farms use 80% of the antibiotics sold in the USA? The huge farms which grow most of the meat eaten in this country keep their animals penned in filthy, crowded living conditions. To prevent these animals from becoming diseased, Big Ag farmers add low doses of antibiotics to the animals’ daily feed.
Remember your doctor’s telling you to make sure you finish the entire course of an antibiotic even if you feel better after a few days on it? The reason is to prevent the bad bacteria from becoming resistant to the drug in case you need more of it in the future. Yet Big Ag’s factory farming practices create a perfect breeding ground for producing antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Bacteria are highly adaptable. So if you don’t take the entire course of your antibiotic prescription, the pathogenic bacteria that’s made you sick can mutate into a superbug with resistance to that antibiotic.
The continuous low dosing of factory farmed animals creates the same situation for developing superbugs. Then these resistant bacteria get out of the farm grounds and into food and water supplies, where they do a great deal of harm.
Go to Food & Water Watch’s site to learn more about how antibiotics routinely given to factory farmed animals is harming animals, the environment and us humans. And while you’re there, sign their petition to pass legislation to end the misuse of antibiotics on factory farms: http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/food/factoryfarms/antibiotics/ … pic.twitter.com/IgtNKlw7bE
I haven’t chosen the most grotesque factory farming pictures to show here. Google ‘factory farming’ if you can stand to see those images.
11 FACTS ABOUT ANIMALS AND FACTORY FARMS
1. A “factory farm” is a large-scale industrial operation that houses thousands of animals raised for food—such as chickens, turkeys, cows, and pigs—and treats them with hormones and antibiotics to prevent disease and maximize their growth and food output.
2. Animals are fed and sprayed with huge amounts of pesticides and antibiotics, which can remain in their bodies and are passed on to the people who eat them, creating serious health hazards in humans. Ask your school to create Meatless Mondays in the cafeteria to highlight the hazards of overconsumption of meat. Sign up for Meatless Mondays.
3. The beaks of chickens, turkeys, and ducks are often removed in factory farms to reduce the excessive feather pecking and cannibalism seen among stressed, overcrowded birds.
4. A typical supermarket chicken today contains more than twice the fat, and about a third less protein than 40 years ago.
5. 2 in 3 farm animals in the world are now factory farmed.
6. Confining so many animals in one place produces much more waste than the surrounding land can handle. As a result, factory farms are associated with various environmental hazards, such as water, land and air pollution.
7. The pollution from animal waste causes respiratory problems, skin infections, nausea, depression, and even death for people who live near factory farms.
8. Dairy cows typically live to their third lactation before being culled. Naturally, a cow can live for 20 years.
9. Hog, chicken and cattle waste has polluted 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states and contaminated groundwater in 17 states.
10. Egg-laying hens are sometimes starved for up to 14 days, exposed to changing light patterns and given no water in order to shock their bodies into molting. It’s common for 5% to 10% of hens to die during the forced molting process.
11. Worldwide, about 70 billion farm animals are now reared for food each year.
Quoted from: DoSomething.org
FACTORY FARMING VS ORGANIC FARMING OF ANIMALS
In this short video (3:34), Joel Salatin, an American farmer, lecturer and author whose books include Folks, This Ain’t Normal; You Can Farm; Pastured Poultry Profits; and Salad Bar Beef, describes the differences between factory farming and organic farming – and also what he calls polyface farming. The video is part of an interview with Earth Eats Host Annie Corrigan on Sunday, January 23, 2009.
Essentially, Salatin’s technique is to capture the sun by growing grass. At his farm, animals eat this grass as part of a “salad-bar diet”. He pastures them in small paddocks and moves them at least once daily. This lets pigs be pigs, enjoying their “piggyness”.
Michael Pollan has written extensively on diet, the environment and food politics. His books include Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation; Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual; In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto; The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals; and The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World. The New York Times and the Washington Post both named The Omnivore’s Dilemma as one of the ten best books of 2006. It also won the California Book Award, the Northern California Book Award, the James Beard Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.
He has received numerous awards, including the 2003 Humane Society of the United States’ Genesis Award for his writing on animal agriculture.
In 2003, Pollan was appointed the John S. and James L. Knight Professor of Journalism at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, and the director of the Knight Program in Science and Environmental Journalism. He also lectures widely on food, agriculture, health and the environment.
It is often claimed that factory farming is needed to feed the word’s population. Pollan’s answer to this assertion was presented in his 2009 book Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual.
Filmmakers Marija Jacimovic and Benoit Detalle turned Food Rules into an award-winning short (2:13) animated stop motion video. It’s narrated by Pollan himself and offers an excellent introductory crash course on what to eat and why.
As Pollan points out, half of the food we produce goes to feeding animals we raise in order to eat them.
I’ll end with this thought:
DoSomething.org. 11 Facts About Animals and Factory Farms. (no date). See: https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-animals-and-factory-farms
Foodandwaterwatch.org/antibiotics. See: http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/food/factoryfarms/antibiotics/ … pic.twitter.com/IgtNKlw7bE
Jacimovic, M. (2012). Michael Pollan’s Food Rules. Animated video. See: http://vimeo.com/35444471
Pollan, M. (2009). Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual. See: http://www.amazon.com/Food-Rules-An-Eaters-Manual/dp/014311638X
© Copyright 2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.