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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Blow to CAFOs: FDA Opposes Non-Therapeutic Antibiotic Use

Rebecca Terk and I are racing to post first: check for her commentary as well!

The Obama Administration appears to understand that Heinz 57 is better on steak than streptogramins: The Food and Drug Administration has formally declared that it opposes the non-therapeutic use of seven main antibiotics for livestock. We've seen huge growth in the amount of antibiotics dumped into livestock feed, not to cure any diseases they have, but just to promote growth and to keep them from getting sick in the unnatural, unsanitary conditions of crowded feedlots. And as we all know, when you dump more antibiotics into any system, you promote the growth of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

Get rid of non-therapeutic use of antibiotics, and the CAFO business model doesn't work. Stock growers would have to give their critters more room to roam.

I'm liking this.

Now this new FDA "principle" hasn't taken any hard policy form yet. On the possible downside, it includes the idea of ending over-the-counter sales and requiring prescriptions from a veterinarian for antibiotics. That could raise costs in a way that will hit small producers harder than large producers. But those costs may be outweighed by the overall benefits to promoting smaller concentrations of livestock and getting more antibiotics out of everyone's systems, man and beast.


  1. Well, Cory--looks like you won! I had to get my boy and the neighbor's safely to art camp this morning.

    But, I wonder if this topic can work into my economic-sense-of-sustainable-farming talk at the Yankton Organic Field Days tomorrow.



  2. The antibiotics are also used to treat the cows' infected digestive systems because they are fed a corn-based diet (cows are naturally supposed to eat grass, not grain). How about start changing their diets?! This would also encourage a better environment in which the cows would live. AND- this would mean better tasting milk, ice cream, yogurt, etc.!

  3. Rebecca, I think you have an excellent idea for a talking point in your presentation tomorrow. See if you can get someone to YouTube it for you!

    And Kristen, another excellent point! Grass-fed makes healthier cows and tastier beef.

  4. My dad has started buying whole free range cows instead of meat from the supermarket. I can't talk to the nutritional benefits directly, but I can say that the flavor is far superior to anything you can buy at the store. I think the aging process at Jack's Meat Locker may also significantly impact the flavor.

    I definitely agree that antibiotics need to be highly restricted. So much so that I'm not in favor of handing them out to out patients directly. Improper administration such as missing or late doses directly leads to disease resistance. I have quite a few friends who work in the health care field and the rapidly evolving strains of bacteria and viruses are scary.

    Unfortunately I think it will take a pandemic that we do not have a treatment for to make people start worrying enough. My generation has never had to endure a crippling illness that is so wide spread that everyone knows some one who has been personally effected by it.

  5. I really hope it won't take a pandemic to wise everyone up. But you're right, Tony: we have grown up pretty lucky, so it's been hard for us to recognize the damage our lifestyle causes.

    Now, when's your dad hosting a Lake Herman barbecue? ;-)


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