America's Farm­Grown Terrorism...

Let's talk about America's farm­grown terrorism epidemic. Back on September 11th, nearly 3,000 people lost their lives in the attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Since 9/11, our government has spent over $7.6 trillion on military and homeland security operations in response to the deaths of those roughly 3,000 souls. Now, compare that to the fact that each year, 23,000 Americans die from antibiotic-resistant infections, and another 2 million get sick. That's the equivalent of nearly eight 9/11's per year. But our government isn't doing a thing about it.

Each year, Big Agriculture feeds millions and millions of pounds of antibiotics to factory-farm animals, all to slightly increase their profits by plumping up their meat. In 2011 alone, nearly 30 million pounds of antibiotics were purchased by Big Agriculture, to promote growth in the animals, and to reduce the spread of disease in the horrific factory­farm conditions. That 30 million pounds is a staggering four times the amount of antibiotics that were prescribed to humans that year.

These are otherwise healthy animals, but they're getting dosed daily with low­levels of antibiotics anyway. As a result, this widespread and unnecessary use of antibiotics in factory­farm animals is creating a major public health crisis here in the U.S by breeding antibiotic­resistant infections caused by bacteria referred to in the media as superbugs.

But rather then enforcing regulations already in place to control the use of antibiotics in factory­ farm animals, our federal government is bowing to the interests of Big Agriculture, and is continuing to let the abuse go on.

Just last week, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the FDA could leave an antibiotic that's used in animal feed on the market, even though the dangers associated with that antibiotic are widely known, including the increased risk of antibiotic resistance infections jumping to human beings. Basically, the court gave Big Agriculture the go­ahead to continue pumping millions and millions of pounds of antibiotics into poultry and livestock, with no concern for public safety.

So, why should Americans care about this? Well, for starters, Americans eat a lot of meat. And the superbugs and antibiotic­resistant bacteria that are bred on factory farms very easily make their way into our food system.

For example, last year, a drug­resistant salmonella outbreak tied to chicken from Foster Farms sickened over 600 Americans, and that outbreak is still getting worse today. And if that wasn't bad enough, these antibiotic­resistant superbugs also get into our water supply, and into soil for crops. The situation is so dire that, speaking about antibiotic resistance, Dr. Thomas Freidman, director of the CDC, said that, "If we don't act now, our medicine cabinet will be empty and we won't have the antibiotics we need to save lives."

If 23,000 Americans are already dying from superbugs and antibiotic­resistant infections each year, just imagine how much worse it could get as this antibiotic abuse continues. We could soon have a full­blown pandemic on our hands. But it doesn't have to get worse. We can stop this farm­grown terrorism right now, andsave millions of lives.

Big Agriculture says that slashing its use of antibiotics will hurt all of us in the form of higher prices at the supermarket, but that's simply not the case. As Ruth Reichl points out over at The New York Times, "Although many industrial farmers claim that cleaning up their act will cost the rest of us at the cash register, responsible producers from Missouri to Denmark are already raising healthy livestock and poultry at competitive prices without the use of unnecessary drugs."

Reichl highlights the story of Russ Kremer, a fifth­generation pork farm in Missouri, who, after nearly being killed by an antibiotic­resistant infection on his own farm, decided to do things the all natural way. He lets his pigs roam free, and doesn't have to stuff them full of antibiotics, because they're not living in squalor. And, thanks to competitive prices, his meat is bought by companies like Chipotle and Costco.

So Big Agriculture's "higher meat prices" argument is complete bologna. Pun intended. The use of antibiotics on factory farms is all about profits for Big Agriculture, But, with 23,000 Americans dying each year as a result, it's time to start putting the American people ahead of profits.

Meat producers and sellers across the country need to say "no" to more superbugs. No animals on factory farms should ever be given antibiotics, unless diagnosed as sick by a veterinarian. And while we're at it, we need to work harder to close down Washington's revolving door, which encourages employees in government agencies like the FDA to get bought off by corporate interests and then turn a blind eye to corporate abuse.

We have a right to eat food that's not going to kill us.


Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 8 years 43 weeks ago

In general, Republican policies - budget cuts for everything from food stamp and Medicaid to mosquito control programs to prevent mosquito borne diseases, et al. - cause at least a September 11th's worth of deaths each year.

Elioflight's picture
Elioflight 8 years 43 weeks ago

This is a subject I live with daily: farm chemicals. I live in the middle of Ohio grain farm country. There are a few large animal operations in the next county that generate a huge number of complaints from neighbors, but we buy our beef and pork from a farmer who raises animals the natural way, without "farm chemicals."

I know Thom has talked about ag chemicals before. And I don't know if my comments fit here but here goes...I live in the middle of Ohio grain farm country. Modern farming is bullshit. They spray the corn several times a season, with RoundUp or whatever chemical/seed company they got into bed with, then it grows about 10 to 15 feet high; produces 1, maybe 2 ears; harbors marijiana growers; harbors coyotes they brought in to cull the deer population and protect their crops, who eat our barn cats; harbors thieves that break into our homes under the cover of crops. Why is so much bio-mass wasted on 1 ear per plant? I'd think shorter plants could produce better. Why are so many trees and fencerows sacrificed to one more bushel of corn? I am so tempted to put a sign in my yard reading, "If you like to breathe, stop cutting down trees." Why are so many harmful chemicals needed to make this crap grow? Something seems very wrong.

There are mainly large family farms around me that operate like corporations: they pay little in taxes if any, pay less for fuel, bitch about regulations and the government, but get the county to pay for and do the work to solve their drainage issues, which usually cause the rest of us to now have drainage issues and NO ONE to take care of ours but us; are harsh to family outsiders (in-laws) to protect their corporation; and get government subsidies. Yes the "family" farmer gets government welfare and it's not small change. These figure are found online. Everytime I hear a farmer with his hang-dog expressions, hands in pockets shuffle and kick his toe in the dirt and say, There's no money in farmin' I want to say, "farm subsides are published online, you don't look like you're doing that bad"--hell the wife just has her name on the deed and she gets $300,000 (this is NOT an error) in HER name then HE gets some, too. (I had a business myself, I know they are permitted to write-off a lot of taxes because they "breakeven" or make no profit and therefore cannot be taxed--and believe me, they know all the angles.) They tell you this while they are sitting in their yearly brand-new truck, in the paved driveway of their McMansion with the wife's new vehicle parked and maybe the kids who can drive, and send all the kids to college or build them McMansions when they marry other farmers to keep the "money in the family", ...

I could harp on this all night and the next day.... My ancestors were farmers, but today's farmers are bad neighbors and non-existent stewards--unless it affects their wallet.

SHFabian's picture
SHFabian 8 years 43 weeks ago

The issue is actually far more complex than that. America has a voracious appetite for meat. To meet market demands, we've increasingly turned to "factory farms," huge operations in which livestock live in crowded conditions. A single sickness coming into a barn can wipe out a herd. Routine antibiotics are used to prevent this. It's the norm to ship cattle out to market, bringing in herds of calves (or whatever livestock is being raised), and disease/epidemics is a constant threat. Under these conditions -- necessary to meet market demands -- routine injections of antibiotics remains necessary. Sorry, but there are no simple solutions.

SHFabian's picture
SHFabian 8 years 43 weeks ago

Farmers who can't meet their costs go out of business. You would be surprised to learn how little power of choice today's livestock producers actually have. Family farms have continued to be phased out by corporate farming. Of course farmers care about their wallets! They have to meet their bills, too. Being an independent farmer today is very much like walkiing a tightrope.

SHFabian's picture
SHFabian 8 years 43 weeks ago

In all fairness: Since Clinton ended welfare, the overall life expectancy of America's poor has already fallen by 5-6 years, and mortality rates among the poor -- esp. babies, the ill and the elderly -- have increased. With the latest budget, Democrats voted with Republicans to cut food stamps to the elderly, disabled and working poor. Again.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 43 weeks ago

Elioflight, your avatar says it all. Your posts vividly convey the horror show that is “modern farming”. Sure sounds like a lot of dirty politics in your neck of the woods. To be frank, it gives me the willies.

There is no function of our society that has gone more looney - not to mention dangerous! - than farming and food production. Seems everything under corporate control just turns to shit, or into some mangled, distorted version of itself. - AIW

Greenthumb's picture
Greenthumb 8 years 43 weeks ago

Elioflight, I agree with you.

Now for my comment about antibiotics. Humans are also to blame here. Americans get sick. They go to the doctor. The doctor says they should get better on their own in a few days (because their immune system will take care) and also advises against antibiotics (often the sickness is from viruses which do not respond to antibiotics). But the human DEMANDS antibiotics so the doctor complies. The human takes the antibiotic and does indeed feel better after a few days - so they stop taking the dose for the entire recommended time and the humans throw them down the toilet. Humans too live in our own "Factory Farms." - they are called cities, where we exchange all sorts of germs in close encounters. This goes on and on till WE set up resistance to antibiotics. When will humans stop this behavior? Do we need legislation to stop doctors from prescribing unnecessary antibiotics too? So far, I haven't heard about it.

Once again, the main problem is human overpopulation. It is the main cause of all these other problems like factory farming and UBER-urbanization. There are just too many of us and WE are polluting our one and only planet and also demanding that having as many children as we want is a human right (and a godly command - you know, "Be fruitflies and multiply...". It's a human right to have a healthy livable planet and a human right to have as many children as we want. Somehow this equation does not add up.

leighmf's picture
leighmf 8 years 43 weeks ago

It should be known that at the top of the pyramid, BIG AGRICULTURE is NORFOLK SOUTHERN CORPORATION. NSC is able to hold extended bonded debt longer than 99 years and count it as a deposit. All agriculture ultimately pays Transportation. Even Big Oil pays Transportation. Who controls the highways and shipping lanes, controls commerce.

Above all, kids, please remember, "Transtar is Transportation."

Magginkatz's picture
Magginkatz 8 years 43 weeks ago

"Each year, Big Agriculture feeds millions and millions of pounds of antibiotics to factory-farm animals, all to slightly increase their profits by plumping up their meat."

I have read articles that said chicken are fed this concoction to make them grow from baby to full grown in less than 3 months. Recently I asked my doctor if this might be the reason that I have such a hard time losing weight. She seemed to be almost afraid to answer that question but did finally say maybe.

Most of my diet is boneless skinlesss chicken breasts, turkey breasts, very lean cuts of beef along with lots of vegetables, brocolli, spinach, carrots, brussell sprouts, celery, green beans, peas, etc. I don't add any salt but use lots of black pepper. My one vice is 2 cups of coffee in the morning with a small amt of cream. If I feel like I want something sweet, a tsp of peanut is my treat. My thyroid checks out as normal.

I would like to see a study done to see if these additives that are used to fatten chickens, beef, etc., is also fattening us. Why has no one (that I can find) addressed that issue?

Rodger97321's picture
Rodger97321 8 years 43 weeks ago

Heard mention of Reagan-era retirement rules to reduce double-dipping.

Recall Executive Order 13236 (Nov. 27 2001) - where babyBush removed the double-dipping restriction for CIA retirees in order to make sure they got all the whores to join the team.

Elioflight's picture
Elioflight 8 years 43 weeks ago

Greenthumb: Thank goodness someone else sees that OVER-population is a BIG problem, has caused most of our current problems, and will stand in the way of solving ALL others. Anthropology and archeology have shown that civilizations that outgrow their environment and food supply, either move or parrish. Since there is no place else to move, I think we'd better begin with population control, while we work on all the other urgent and important issues facing human life on Earth.

SHFabian: I'm talking about grain farmers. I've lived among them for 20 years, know their families and wives and follies and "make even more money" schemes, which end up always costing the rest of us non-farmers. Grain farmers around here don't go out of business; they retire and quit ONLY if none of their children take over. It's pretty hard to say they are hurting when I see all I have mentioned in my previous post.

How is it fair that a wife who DOESN'T farm (has another job in town for insurance coverage)--only enters the field to bring dinner--deserves $300,000 in subsidies, just because her name is on a deed. I'd like that paycheck for cooking for my husband and my name is on our deed also. I, Jane Q taxpayer, PAY for that subsidy.

PS Many also have full-time factory jobs, so health insurance is covered--jobs that could go to someone with kids to feed and clothe who doesn't also have something on the side and then drags his ass into the job all tired--too tired to do the work the company pays him to do. But I guess this is America--screw or get screwed, take all that you can at someone else's expense, I suppose.

Greenthumb's picture
Greenthumb 8 years 43 weeks ago

To Magginkatz: If you're concerned about antibiotics in your meat, buy organic. Yes, it's more expensive, but it's more nutritious than plumped up factory farmed meat so you don't need to eat as much and it has no antibiotics. If you can afford a freezer, you can often find a farmer who will sell you freezer ready organic chicken - enough to set you up for months or even a year with good meat at a reasonable price. Do an experiment on yourself and see if you lose some weight. Enjoy your coffee!! Everyone's gotta have a little fun!

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 8 years 43 weeks ago

But, how do you really know that it really is "organic" with no chemicals? I read, somewhere, that a certain amount of chemicals are allowed and still able to be called "organic". Remember the horse meat that being put into certain namebrand hamburgers? Just how "regulated" do you think "organic" is? I think most of it relies upon a certain amount of "faith" and "belief" and not empirical proofs.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 8 years 43 weeks ago

I am not a doctor or health specialist but...about the only way to lose weight is to greatly cut back on calories* and increase exercise. Don't waste your money on special hyped-up diet programs..or diet may lose some weight but you'll lose way more money.

* (ie: the food you eat...specifically...the amount of food you eat. You can eat skinless chicken but unless you follow that with eating small amounts of skinless chicken and very small amounts of all of the other things you eat with that skinless chicken losing weight will not be very forthcoming. If you go to a restaurant..only eat a small portion of the amount served and then box the rest to take home.)

Everyone is different (some people may have health issues where dieting is not a good idea) and some people lose weight easier than others. I lost 40 pounds 16.5% of my weight) just by reducing how much food I eat, over time (about 4-6 months), and I didn't ever exercise...not even walking very much. I realize that exercising would have been much better for me..and the weight would probably have come off faster.

I never eat beef or pork or any "red" meat...I haven't eaten any since the Mad Cow Disease stories came out many years ago...over 10 years ago. And from the scare stories I've been reading (like Thom's message) and the stories about "what's in your filet of fish" on RT, I may just have to go strictly vegan. But even veggies are not always safe either. Some people can no longer even grow their own because of the water crisis in certain areas.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 8 years 43 weeks ago

I'm not a doctor either; but, the best tool for losing weight is staring you in the face right now--your computer. Simply type in your browser -- "Calories in X" and you will see exactly the calorie content of whatever you want to put into your body. X here can refer to "a piece of pizza," "an "8 oz steak," "a cup of cooked white rice," " a tablespoon of yellow mustard," or anything else. If your goal is to lose weight, keep your total daily caloric content at 1500 calories. If you simply want to maintain weight, keep it around 2000 calories. If you exercise you can also figure out the caloric usage of say, "Calories used walking in one hour," and figure that into your diet.

However, the point made above that weight gain in humans may also be attributed to additives given to our food to help them gain weight is a very disturbing and provocative suggestion because it makes perfect sense. It would certainly help to explain the growing obesity epidemic in this country and why such health problems just aren't seen in non industrialized countries. It would also be well worth the effort to try organic/free range alternatives for a period of time to determine if there is indeed a difference in efforts for weight loss. If anyone tries that, their results would be most appreciated if they post them.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 8 years 43 weeks ago

DAnneMarc: Well we don't really know that additives in our food may be causing us to be fat. That is speculation. But we do know that too much food and not enough exercise will cause us to be fat. Using the computer, or diet book, can tell you how much calories one should take in. Of course different people have different needs to lose or maintain a given weight. Some people are taller and bigger boned than others. And there are many other factors as well.

Too much of the wrong kinds of sugars in the soft drinks or other drinks sweetened with sugar...will make people fat. I think the dumbest thing that mayors or other politicians are doing is to tax sodas for the purpose of stopping people from becoming obese. Perhaps they should, instead, tax sugar. People add lots of sugar to their ice tea or coffee, etc. They are still going to get fat from drinking lots of coffee or tea if they add lots of sugar.

It's like many people that get themselves into debt that they can't get out of...people get fat and can't get unfat if they keep doing the same dumb things over and over again. Many of these people just have no good sense or willpower. Others are just too dumb to know any better.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 8 years 43 weeks ago

Palindromedary ~ Basically I agree with everything you've said. I'd like to add that there are also free online calculators to help people assess what their ideal caloric intake is. It takes into account such factors as sex, age, height, weight, and lifestyle. These calculators also recommend the caloric bracket for optimal healthy weight loss. Here is a link to just such a calculator that provides caloric recommendations--and time frames for achieving goals--to anyone interested in losing weight.

People do make dumb decisions and tend to get into the habit of repeating them. I feel that this is a phenomenon that is more attributed toward ignorance than stupidity. Society bombards people with marketing messages geared toward stimulating consumption rather than thinking. The secret to breaking this bad effect is through knowledge and education rather than scorn and ridicule.

People honestly would no more prefer to be fat then to be in debt. You are also right that one thing tends to lead to another. Someone in hock up to their eye brows is far too busy trying to make enough money to avoid losing everything than to pay close attention to what they eat. To them eating is an inconvenience that doesn't make any money. Therefore they seek out the fastest and cheapest solution to the problem. They are not interested in any information that might spoil that convenience.

Yet what are people to do? They must have a place to live. When I was a kid my father made about $12k/year; which, was good money at the time. Our rent was $56/mo, and you could buy a really nice house in a nice area for about $20k. When he retired 15 years ago he was making about $86k/year. However, that house that was $20k when I was a kid was now $450k. He had a really good job with a union; but, his wages only went up by a factor of 7X; whereas, that house went up by a factor of 22X.

Back then it was possible to rent and save for 5-7 years and be able to buy a house outright with cash. Even if you couldn't wait and took out a loan you could pay it off in a few years. However, few people did that because it made no sense to pay more just for a minor convenience of not having to wait another year or two. That is no longer possible. Now, unless you make something like $264k/year you need credit to buy even a modest home. And that is long term credit over the period of several decades. Essentially, to live today, you have to become the indentured servant of a bank.

The problem with credit is you cannot see the future. Just like with a poor diet based on misinformation, you just don't know what the consequences of your choices will be until it is too late. You don't know if you will still have your job, or if the company will still be in business, or if the house will still be worth the same. You don't even know if you will live long enough to ever actually own the home. If any of these "unexpected consequences" pop up you could stand to lose everything you've worked for most of your life. No wonder people put their diets at the bottom of their priority list.

Just like with health, there are many contributing factors with debt that can make or break the success of the venture. For instance, the above calculator also relies on physical activity as well as caloric intake. All I'm saying about food additives is that it makes sense to suspect them of causing the same effect in every part of the food chain that they cause in the original host. Of course this warrants further study. Also, if it is shown that indeed this suspicion is accurate, I don't mean to imply that this is the only cause of our obesity epidemic. This problem is simply to complicated to blame on any one cause. However, it certainly may be a very serious and unnecessary contributing factor; and, for that reason, if it is, it needs to be revealed. As with credit debt, obesity is just too big of a problem (pardon the pun) to allow any contributing factor to go unscrutinized and unaddressed.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 8 years 43 weeks ago

DAM -- How do you know the size of pizza? How do you know it is a 8 ounce steak when it is 2 pounds of steak to divided amongst the 4 of you?

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 8 years 43 weeks ago

DAnneMarc:Thanks for that calorie counter tool!

Yes, the American Dream has become a nightmare! But, I'd bet it'll get much worse! But, at least, many fewer people smoke less than before during the "More doctors recommend smoking Camels" propaganda days. Thank goodness for that anyway! But, there are people who can't put food on the table for their children who have no problem going out and buying a couple of cartons of cigarettes that they smoke in a week subjecting their children to all of that hazardous second hand smoke.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 8 years 42 weeks ago

chuckle8 ~ You know the calories in a frozen pizza because they are stated on the box. If it is in a restaurant, like Round Table or Domino's Pizza, you can do a simple web search like, "calories in Round Table pizza" and find out how many calories are in each slice of a large size or in a personal size pizza. You can extrapolate from that for any other similar type of pizza and then just multiply that by the number of slices you eat. Below are links to charts for Round Table and Dominos Pizza.

As far as meats go you can go by the weight of the whole when you buy it and then cut it evenly and divide by how many pieces you have; or, simply invest in a food scale. As far as lbs are concerned, simply remember that 16 oz = 1lb. Once you figure out how many ounces are in your meat, use this table to figure out how many calories for your particular cut.

You can likewise find accurate caloric information for just about any other food from doing simple web searches. However, in order to become proficient at it you have to sit down and do it for yourself. That is the only way you can really learn and benefit from the internet. You have to learn how to use it yourself. No one can do that for you.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 8 years 42 weeks ago

Palindromedary ~ You're welcome! I think you'll find that there are a lot of cool weight loss/management tools on that site.

You are very right about the American nightmare. We do make many bad choices. However, they are not our original ideas. We get spoon fed these ideas from our Capitalistic for profit corporate marketing system. I know first hand about the dangers of secondhand smoke. I'm not at all very fond of the tobacco industry. Although the greater problem of mass smoking is greatly reduced it still exists. It's just one example of how much damage an unregulated marketing media can do to the society that it pretends to serve all in the name of profit. And, it is a very good example at that.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 8 years 42 weeks ago

DAnneMarc: :-)

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 8 years 42 weeks ago

DAM -- The people who eat at fast food restaurants mostly do so to save time, I find it hard to imagine that those same people would spend the time to count calories.

On a personal level, in the past I took home an equal arm balance to measure the weight of my food. I purchased a Agriculture Handbook #8 and #2. All of this was in the 1960's. There were no calorie counts or anything else on the packages. Now I spent around $300 on a food scale and calorie counts are all over the place. The scale measures up to 13 pounds with 1 gram sensitivity. Even with all these resources it is still hard to keep an accurate count when cooking at home. The main problem I have is with more complex foods like spaghetti sauce and beef and noodles. When you cook those items it is hard to determine how much water has evaporated., When you pour off the juice it is hard to determine how much of it is fat and how much is water.

Thanks for the links.

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