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Monday, January 13, 2014

Day 499: It's in the Food we Eat

http://www.salon.com/2014/01/12/big_ags_big_lie_factory_farms_your_health_and_the_new_politics_of_antibiotics/

Every September, the Animal Health Institute, the trade group of the animal pharmaceutical industry, hosts a party on Capitol Hill called Celebrity Pet Night. The AHI describes its signature social event as a night for “members of Congress and their staff — as well as friends of the animal health community — to gather to celebrate America’s pets.” Held in the ornate Caucus Room of the Cannon House Office Building, the party receives high marks from D.C. society columnists for its classy setting, loaded double bar and zoological star power. Recent guests of honor include the cat Lord Tubbington from “Glee” and the French bulldog from the Robert Downey Jr. buddy-flick bomb “Due Date.”
As the AHI tells it, these animal celebrities “bring awareness to the connection between animal health and human health.” In this way the evening functions as an extension of AHI’s public relations campaign in defense of the factory farm system and the drugs it requires to function. Most people have never heard of that campaign, which is named “Healthy People, Healthy Animals, Healthy Planet.” But it’s well known in the worlds of Big Ag, Big Pharma, and PR. In 2009, not long after Celebrity Pet Night featured Sprinkles the cat from “The Office,” the League of American Communications Professionals awarded AHI’s campaign its Magellan Award for “best community relations campaign under $1 billion.”
Among independent experts who study the links between animal and human health, the AHI campaign doesn’t evoke Magellan so much as Orwell.
There is a near consensus among public health experts that the bulk antibiotics produced by AHI’s member companies are accelerating the approach of a post-antibiotics nightmare scenario, in which superbugs routinely emerge from our farms and wreak havoc on a human population living among the ruins of modern medicine. The bloc of skeptics who view AHI’s mission with mounting anxiety includes Pet Night party poopers like the World Health Organization and the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Not long ago these authorities joined the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics in pressing their concerns on Congress in the form of a letter. “The evidence is so strong of a link between misuse of antibiotics in food animals and human antibiotic resistance,” it stated, “that FDA and Congress should be acting much more boldly and urgently to protect these vital drugs for human illness. Overuse and misuse of important antibiotics in food animals must end.”
Even before getting to the relationship between animal antibiotics and human health, the very need for bulk drugs in factory farms points to the inherent unhealthiness of penning industrial numbers of pigs, cows and chickens in filthy, high-density and stressful conditions. “If your production system makes animals sick in a predictable manner, then that system is broken,” says Lance Price, an epidemiologist at George Washington University who studies the spread of foodborne bacteria. Price is at the forefront of researchers whose work is illuminating how Big Ag’s answer to its own brokenness — sub-therapeutic levels of antibiotics mixed in with daily feed — is fueling the spread of treatment-resistant bacteria through meat and produce tainted by bug-infused feces and fertilizer. Superbugs can also leave farms through the soil, air and water, threatening everybody, irrespective of their diet.
In recent years, a series of pathogenic outbreaks has generated loudening public chatter about agricultural antibiotics. The problem boils down to simple evolution: we are assisting in the mutation of bacterial defenses that make them resistant to our antibiotics. - Salon

I have written about this before, I am sure. The topic is important enough to be written about again (and again and again) until there is no more need to write about it because it is no longer applicable in our lives.

What doesn't make sense is that those who are in positions of power and who are able to influence the food industry seem to not care about what is happening, like the consequences will not affect them. But then again I do understand how this situation has come to exist and why it is allowed to continue.

The food industry has come to be controlled by large corporations in recent decades. These corporations function according to a set of principles, chief of which is the maximization of profits. In order to maximize their profits they have streamlined the production process and made it as efficient as possible - at the cost of taking precautions to prevent health-related issues. They also developed ways to make the production of goods as cheap as possible which leads to poor living conditions for animals (cramped, small, artificial, unnatural, dirty) and lowered wages for the employees (who then take out their frustrations on the animals). The smaller business owners (farmers, abattoirs etc) have been forced to compete with the lower prices offered by the corporations, often bringing them to their knees and forcing them to close their doors or sell to the corporations.

The corporations have enough resources at their disposal to pay their employees enough to be shameless and indiscriminate about lobbying and bribing for the best interests of the corporation - they value their own careers and ambitions more than their moral principles. This is also not possible without society's contribution of encouraging children to value their own needs and desires above the world's.

So how do we change this? One aspect is that those people who work in corporations, those who have the power to change the practices, have the responsibility to adjust the principles of the corporations to serve the interests of all mankind and not just line the pockets of a few wealthy people in control. Imagine if the vast resources of all the corporations in the world were diverted to improving life on earth for all people (and animals and nature)? Imagine if the prime directive of all corporations was no longer "PROFIT" - but became "THE BETTERMENT OF LIFE FOR ALL". That would be something. That would be something I could be proud of.

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