July 21, 2018

Government Has Exacerbated Problems with Industrial Animal Farms

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) has analyzed the Pew Commission on Industry Farm Animal Production (PCIFAP) report and its recommendations to fix health, environmental, animal welfare, and rural community problems caused by industrial food animal production (IFAP). The original report, “Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America” was released in April 2008. CLF began its analysis late last year.

CowsDr. Robert Lawrence, director of CLF, said in a statement, “There has been an appalling lack of progress. The failure to act by the USDA and FDA, the lack of action or concern by Congress, and continued intransigence of the animal agriculture industry have made all of our problems worse.”

In 2008, the report found that the negative effects of industrial farm animal production were too great, and scientific evidence too strong to ignore. The Commission’s recommendations were to ban non-therapeutic use of antimicrobials in food animal production to reduce the risk of antibiotic-resistant bacteria development. They also want to see industrial farm animal production treated as an industrial operation, to deal with toxic farm waste. In addition, intensive and inhumane production practices should be phased out to reduce the risk of these farms to public health and animal welfare.

PCIFAP executive director Bob Martin said in a statement, “In 2008, the recommendations were heralded by many in the agriculture community, the agencies, and Congress as the catalyst they needed to make vital changes to a food supply that has been criticized as unsustainable and in some cases unsafe. Inaction was inexcusable five years ago, now it is unconscionable.”  CLF states that “in 2013, the problems have only gotten worse thanks to what the report authors call an ‘assault on reforms’ in Congress and an Administration acting ‘regressively’ in its decision-making and policy setting procedures.”

Problems with IFAP include “heightened risks of pathogens passed from animals to humans, the emergency of microbes resistant to antibiotics and antimicrobials, due in large part to widespread use of antimicrobials for non therapeutic purposes; food-borne disease; worker health concerns; and dispersed impacts on the adjacent community at large,” according to the report. The potential for pathogen transfer from animals to humans is increased in IFAP. Costs to the country are huge: E. coli O157:H7 illnesses alone cost the US $405 million dollars every year.

The current Foster Farms chicken Salmonella outbreak is just one example of the problems the report addresses. Four of the seven strains of Salmonella Heidelberg in that outbreak are antibiotic-resistant, leading to more hospitalizations and more serious illnesses of the people sickened by that product.

And because of the huge number of foods produced in IFAP, even small rates of pathogen contamination can have a great affect. For instance, Salmonella Enteritidis in eggs occurs at a rate of 1 in 20,000 eggs. That doesn’t seem too bad, but since 65 billion eggs are produced in the US every year, 3,250,000 eggs contaminated with Salmonella are sold in the marketplace, causing at least 180,000 illnesses in 2000, the latest year for which data are available.

 

Comments

  1. Perhaps it would help, if corporations where not allowed to run our government. They will always put their profits, before the health and safety of people, animals and the environment. Consumers lives don’t matter, when there are profits to be made.

    • I agree with you DJ, the Corporate world has to much leverage with Gov’t. It’s time those in power realize that they are there to serve the people. Why has it been so long since Data on Salmonella Enteritidis in eggs was updated to reflect the current state of affairs? This is a serious health issue that needs to be addressed immediately!

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