Let’s Have a Talk About Antibiotics in our Food
Our last post was about the “recent discovery” of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that the scientific community saw coming long ago and today we’ll continue that conversation in order to (hopefully) begin a community discourse and drive the point home: We need to get away from the overuse of antibiotics on livestock and the veg community should get involved because it’s no longer as simple as avoiding meat.
“The overwhelming majority of doctors — a total of 93 percent — are concerned about the common meat industry practice of using antibiotics on healthy animals for growth promotion and disease prevention.”
According to the Director of Food Policy Initiatives for Consumers Union, Jean Halloran, “antibiotics are losing their effectiveness due to the growing emergence of ‘superbugs,’ bacteria that are resistant to one or more classes of the drugs…untargeted and widespread use of antibiotics in meat production is contributing to this problem.”
“The European Union banned the use of antibiotics as growth agent in 2006…Sweden banned their use in 1986 and Denmark started cutting down drastically in 1994, so that its use is now 60% less. In the Netherlands, the use of antibiotics to treat diseases increased after the ban on its use for growth purposes in 2006.”
The issue with our food continues because of common ignorance (most people have no idea where ANY of the products come from or how they’re made, and the impact those products have on the rest of the world’s people and environments), supply/demand, and corporate greed. For livestock farmers the use of antibiotics is largely fiscal – when their animals don’t make it to harvest, they lose out on what is already a well-known, not-super-lucrative industry, so being more liberal with what they often consider “preventative care” is about the sink/swim tendency of their industry. For McDonald’s, a global fast food chain, it’s not feasible to completely transition to antibiotic-free when the market for antibiotic-free meat simply can’t meet demand (the fact that it’s more expensive, all though a factor, isn’t necessarily the primary culprit for many of these businesses). This doesn’t excuse anyone, however, as the use of antibiotics by livestock farmers is tethered to the supply/demand chain of the biggest buyers and what their standards are – much like the wasp and the fig, there’s a symbiotic relationship between these groups that requires a more hands-on dissection.
This is a long-winded, complicated, uphill battle that will require resolve and conscious decision-making on the part of consumers (where applicable – another, more complex part of all this), a banter that’s inherent in the human struggle to make it in a world with a population that continues to grow. Many can’t begin to see the possibility of some of these problems affecting them in their lifetimes – nearly every vegetarian/vegan can related thanks to the adamant omnivore in their life with a dismissive attitude toward the possibility of ever adopting a vegetarian diet under ANY circumstances – and the probability of this being required of them due to worldwide issues with feeding the population and resolving the rising environmental issues inherent in a system with minimal regulations regarding how our food affects our world, all absolutely impossible, nonsense “hippie talk.”
Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/94/NOVAMOXIN_antibiotic.jpg