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New FDA Rules Won’t Fix Factory Farmed Superbugs—or Suffering

Thursday, December 19, 2013 - 11:15am
Cows on a factory farm

Last week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed new guidelines designed to curb the rampant over- and misuse of antibiotics on factory farms: 80 percent of all antibiotics bought in the United States are purchased to give to farm animals, primarily to speed their growth and prevent illnesses that would otherwise spread like wildfire in their unsanitary, crowded conditions. Daily doses of drugs are propping up an inhumane factory farming system and contributing to growing antibiotic resistance among humans, threatening people’s lives as well.

The FDA now acknowledges that antibiotics should not be used to make animals grow faster, which is important, but the new guidelines are voluntary and the same drugs can still be used for “prevention” of illness. Factory farms wouldn’t need to prevent disease so much if the animals were kept in better conditions. But pharmaceutical and agricultural industries have an economic interest in producing as much product, as cheaply as possible, often at the expense of animal welfare, and routine doses of antibiotics are perpetuating this sick system. 

As an example, most of today’s chickens raised for meat spend their lives in giant, windowless sheds where they have less than 1 square foot of space each by the time they are full grown. Breeding for disproportionately large breasts and excessive body weight means they struggle to stand or move. Essentially immobilized in their own waste, chickens raised on factory farms could be at higher risk of carrying Salmonella and other foodborne illnesses. Antibiotics stand in for these birds’ compromised immune systems and allow the meat industry to continue to cut corners dangerously. Farm animals and consumers alike need stronger action from the FDA.

The ASPCA joined forces with a number of animal welfare organizations to issue a statement on the announcement. Learn more about factory farming and what you can do to help improve the lives of billions of farm animals by checking out our web pages and joining our advocacy brigade.  

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Omar

Factory farms will never go away nor will the conditions be in favor of the stocked animals. The real problem is the demand for meats and poultry, we are over populated and the numbers are growing. The only solution is to go vegan which is the direction I am going in and once I accomplish that I will encourage others to do the same. Nothing teaches more than to lead by example and truthful facts. I always felt that many not all vegans tend to try and push veganism with grafic pictures and demandig literature. Facts and promoting better health along with humanity in a non aggressive way will be the turning point in this fight.

Dr. J

I wholly agree that factory farms need to improve conditions, but your line of reasoning here is idiotic. You DON'T want animals to have access to preventative medicine? In the case of a disease breaking out in the herd, being able to prevent inevitable illness among the other animals on the facility is more humane than allowing the animals to become ill first is it not? Infectious disease is something that will occur even under the best conditions. Think of how quickly illness spreads around an elementary school and remember that cows don't cover their noses, wash their hands, or use indoor plumbing. Restricting veterinary resources will increase the number of sick animals, not force the industry to change.

AllRightRed

I do not understand this. If we do not consume animal products the country will be overrun with disease and animals. For example, not too long ago many states who were overpopulated with deer offered hunters the ability to hunt without a license. The only requirement, report the total deer that you killed. Thereby reducing the disease and damage caused by the deer. Imaging if your request to not eat animal products were actually received and executed...

At least this way the animals are contained and are consumed. Most animals have one purpose, to be a step on the food chain, plain and simple. I agree there need to be better accommodations for animals to thereby reduce the disease in the "farms". However, it really only comes down to money. If the farmers can get away with cutting corners, we can get cheaper meat. If we force them to have much higher (costly) standard, then the meat prices go up and therefor natural economics kicks in. There is never an easy solution.

Kristin

I respectfully disagree. We breed these animals for this purpose. If we did not breed them for the purpose of "cheap meat" then they would not be in crowded conditions with over run disease that require. It is a problem created by human greed and a problem that needs to be addressed by human compassion. I personally believe the one thing that separates us from animals is human compassion.

georgieboy

The very best thing we can all do is to stop eating meat. I don't mean stop overnight. But you can start to slowly wean yourself off meat. I did it. It was the best thing I've ever done!

Francis Pryor

If it is cruel to give antibiotics to sick cows, then it has to be just as bad to give them to children. I don't know of anybody that gives antibiotics to make calves grow. It may happen but we run 150 head and have never done it..

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