You might think because you don’t eat meat or because you only eat meat that was raised on family farms that don’t use antibiotics that you’re safe from antibiotic resistant bacteria that has resulted from the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms, but you would be wrong!
The truth is, antibiotic resistant bacteria don’t care if you’re a vegetarian or on the Atkins diet. Bacteria don’t discriminate. And in the case of the antibiotic resistant bacteria that are developing on factory farms across the U.S., the illusion that it couldn’t impact you or your family or loved ones is deadly.
Consider these basic facts:
- More than 18,000 people a year die from MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) – that’s more people than die each year from AIDS.
- A specific version of MRSA related to factory farms was found to have originated in humans, and then transferred to factory farms pigs and re-infected humans via factory hog farm workers where it has now rapidly spread it into their communities and beyond.
- A 2011 Iowa University study found that 64 percent of pork sold in supermarkets contain staph infection and as much as 6 percent of the dangerous antibiotic resistant MRSA.
- A previous study done by the same team at University of Iowa found that 70% of hogs on factory farms were carrying the deadly antibiotic resistant strain of MRSA and that 64% of factory farm workers in Iowa and Illinois were infected with MRSA as well.
Think this makes your pork chop or Tofurky burger taste better?
No, these facts are highly alarming, but the U.S. government continues to bury its head in the sand saying that factory farms should be allowed to voluntarily curtail medically important antibiotics, despite warnings from leading scientists in the U.S. and it’s own agencies.
Click here to keep antibiotics off your plate! Tell President Obama and the FDA that it’s time to put human health before factory farm profits. Help end the overuse of medically important antibiotics on factory farms.
In 2010, testifying in front of the House of Representatives, the Food and Drug Administration’s own deputy commissioner told Congress point blank:
“You actually can trace the specific bacteria around and ... find that the resistant strains in humans match the resistant strains in the animals.”
Unfortunately, the FDA deputy commissioner who testified, Joshua Sharfstein stepped down on January 5, 2011 before the FDA issued voluntary rules that would allow factory farms to voluntarily comply with reducing antibiotic use.
This should outrage every American, especially considering that the Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and American Medical Association have all found the link between sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics in livestock production and antibiotics resistance to be a serious threat to human health.
But Dude, I only eat Tofurky!
Today the massive overuse of antibiotics in food animal production means that 80 percent of the antibiotics manufactured in the U.S. are fed to animals in factory farms, in most cases simply to make up for the rampant overcrowding and simply to fatten them up faster.
If you think by only eating vegetables you can avoid the impact of factory farms, think again!
- A 2007 University of Minnesota study found that vegetables like potatoes, lettuce and corn can absorb antibiotics into the plant material via factory farm manure applied to the fields as a fertilizer.
Yum! That means that as a result of rampant overuse of antibiotics in factory farms, you can get a free dose of antibiotics with your salad! And remember, with more than 95 percent of livestock raised in factory farms in the U.S. that manure is being applied to fields that grow your food.
- A 2007 University of Illinois study found that genes from antibiotic resistant bacteria on factory farms were being transferred to other bacterial species and found in the ground water and streams surrounding massive industrial animal confinements.
This means that today’s “modern” factory farms are essentially giant petri dishes breeding superbugs that have the ability to not only find their way into our lives via our food, but also our environment.
These findings have been so alarming that other major livestock producing countries such as Denmark have absolutely eliminated the use to antibiotics in livestock production and had no negative impacts to farmers or businesses.
Why not the U.S.? Because the factory farm and industrial meat lobby are so powerful that Congress and federal agencies are too afraid to do the right thing! But it’s time for that to change.
Thanks for participating in food democracy,
Dave, Lisa and the Food Democracy Now! team
1. “‘Pig MRSA’ Came From Humans, Evolved Via Farm Drugs”, Wired, February 23, 2012
2. “Time for the Meat Industry to Stop Overdosing on Antibiotics”, CBS News, May 27, 2011
3. “MRSA and Meat: 64% of Pork Samples in Grocery Stores Contaminated by Livestock and Handlers”, MRSAid Blog, April 4 2012
4. “Next steps to thwart 'superbugs'”, Chicago-Tribune, July 1, 2012
5. “Worried About Antibiotics in Your Beef? Vegetables May Be No Better,” Scientific American, January 6, 2009
6. “Team Tracks Antibiotic Resistance From Swine Farms to Groundwater” University of Illinois News, August 1 2007,