Sunday, July 21, 2013

Saving Antibiotics

The Amount of Antibiotics Used Each Year on Healthy Animals in US Factory Farms 

At first blush, that title seems a bit odd. Saving Antibiotics? What about the Whales, the Manatees, the Redwoods, the California Condor, is there open season on Antibiotics? Well, yes actually, and while it sounds a bit dramatic, it is. When I was a young Naturopathic Medical Student, we were told repeatedly how to do an examination and lab work to confirm that there was a bacterial infection. We had our herbs and nutritional treatments, but we needed to understand what was involved and be ready to refer to a medical doctor for an antibiotic prescription.

Not only have antibiotics been over used in clinical practice, what has really pushed the evolutionary envelope is actually no where near your family doc or pharmacists office. It is in your hamburger or in the cheap meat/dairy/eggs in your fridge. For some reason, Antibiotics make animals grow faster and fatter in very dirty conditions. Antibiotics enable factory farms to produce animals in "icky" environments and not get sick, and this is not only a bad thing for the animals, it is really bad for us humans that either eat the animals, or their eggs or milk products. Even if you are a vegan, you are at risk because the waste from these farms gets into water systems that are not equipped to remove drugs from the supply, so even if there is no "poop" in the water (often there is though) there  ARE drugs that you are taking in on a regular basis, making your body resistant to antibiotics.

CAFO farms which sounds at first like something neat from California, actually stands for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation. I saw the book at the first organizational meeting for Roots of Change in Los Angeles, in October 2010. I suggest you look at it if you need to loose weight, because it will nauseate you and make you swear off animal products. Antibiotics make this grim practice somewhat possible.

Those mounds of Brown are not Dirt

In spite of the tragedy of animal suffering, Antibiotics through this type of farming are making bacteria resistant to drugs. This is a really really really really bad thing.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) Introduced legislation to address this issue, the Preventing Antibiotic Resistance Act. The Bill did not make it into the Farm Bill as an amendment, but Feinstein and five other Senators thought this issue was important enough to warrant submitting it as separate legislation.

The Pew Charitable Trusts has an initiative that supports this legislation, called the Save Antibiotics Campaign. This is a great Facebook page, if you "like" it you will get all the updates you need with actions and information. There are two branches of this initiative, which the Pew calls Human Health and Industrial Farming. One branch is called Super Moms against Super Bugs where moms are given the tools to organize and educate on behalf of reducing the use of antibiotics in farm animals. The other project from the PEW is the one I find fun and intriguing - Super Chefs against Super Bugs. Each of these projects has their respective citizen lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill. For me watching the Chefs, Celebrity and not famous alike, go to Washington to talk about making our food supply just food and not drugs, was inspiring.

With CAFO farming that is dependent on Antibiotics, we are making our drugs obsolete. This means we may have diseases that we will have no drugs to cure. With the passage of the Preventing Antibiotic Resistance Act (call your Senator and Congress member to day and tell them to co-sponsor or vote yes)

Grass Fed Antibiotic Free Happy Cows

By supporting meat, poultry and dairy producers that are organic or antibiotic free, we can save our drugs for what they are supposed to be used for: sick animals and people. 

You won't want to miss out on the interview with Laura Rogers, the director of this project at the Pew. It is informative and inspiring to see all that Saving Antibiotics is doing to collaborate with our legislators, farmers, moms and chefs to help make our food safe and to preserve our Antibiotics for when we need them.

Laura Rogers from Saving Antibiotics and the PEW Trusts

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