The Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production (of which I was a member) recommended as its No. 1 priority the elimination of antibiotics for promoting growth and other unnecessary purposes in farm animals. I discussed this report in a previous post.
The Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, of which I was a member, released its report today (April 29, 2008): Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America (pdf). This was a two-year investigation of the effects of our current system of intensive animal production on the environment, communities, human health, and the animals themselves. For me, this was an opportunity to visit huge dairy farms, feedlots, pig farms, and facilities housing 1.2 million chickens. The big issues? Antibiotics and waste. The big surprise? Laws exist; they just arent being enforced. This was quite an education.
The press response has been interesting, and somewhat predictable. Here's what the Washington Post has to say. The meat industry is not pleased, as is evident from the report in the Kansas City Star. (Link no longer available.)
There is much fuss about this issue this week because the House is holding hearings on the Preservation for Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act. If passed, this will phase out the use of seven classes of antibiotics important to human health that are currently allowed to be used as growth promoters in animal agriculture. The FDA testified in favor of the act. So did members of the Pew Commission: Robert Martin, Fedele Baucio, and Bill and Nicolette Niman.
So who could possibly be opposed to such a good idea? How about the American Veterinary Medical Association, for starters, apparently more worried about its members' self interest than about sensible use of antibiotics.
Maybe well get lucky and the Congress will do the right thing on this one.
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