The National Pork Producers Council didn’t like swine flu being called swine flu. Bad for business. So we now call it 2009 H1N1 or some such thing. It’s totally swine-origin, but hey, if Lord Agribusiness doesn’t like it, that’s that. Same thing with antibiotic resistant bacteria, like methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (“MRSA”; best source on the net Maryn McKenna’s blog). The Pork Council doesn’t want anyone to die of MRSA. They just don’t want it associated with their product, even though a Dutch strain associated with pigs is now spreading in the US (and infecting people).
Some of MRSA is swine-origin. But not all of it. The National Pork Producers Council has plenty of company. Or companies. And they are pretty upset by the Obama Administration’s announced desire to ban use of antibiotics in healthy animals for purely economic reasons:
In testimony today [July 13], new FDA Commissioner Dr. Joshua Sharfstein announced the administration’s opposition to the use of growth promoters: sub-therapeutic doses of antibiotics used not as disease treatment, but to encourage animals to put weight on rapidly. Further, he also came out against the administration of antibiotics in food animals without the involvement of a veterinarian ? a common situation out here in farm country, where veterinary antibiotics are freely available over the counter. (We discussed Scott Weese’s proposal to end that practice here.)
Both of these practices have been repeatedly linked to antibiotic resistance, and for the administration to come out against them is highly significant ? [not] just for the struggle against resistant bacteria, but also for the movement to reduce industrial-scale agriculture, which relies on antibiotics to keep food animals healthy while they are in the close confinement of CAFOs [Concenrated Animal Feeding Operations]. (Maryn McKenna, Superbug blog)
In the same hearing, the Union of Concerned Scientists Dr. Margaret Mellon presented data indicating most of the antibiotics used in the US is used for poultry, swine and beef cattle to promote growth and routine disease prevention (13 million pounds annually or 70% of the total). In other words, millions of pounds of penicillins, tetracyclines, and erythromycin class drugs, all used to treat human disease, are being routinely added to animal feed of healthy animals so the National Pork Producers Council and their agribusiness littermates can make a buck. Lord have MRSA!
The fact that a national administration would at long last support a rational policy on a major public health issue is the good news, but the bad news is that according to Gardiner Harris in the New York Times the legislation to ban frivolous antibiotic use in animals isn’t likely to pass because of the opposition of the National Pork Producers Council and the rest of Big Agribusiness. The pro public health side — the likes of the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, the World Health Association, the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association and the American Association of Pediatrics, among others — are apparently no match for them in Congress.
That’s the result of feeding dollars to corrupt farm state CongressThings (both parties) and bullshit to the public so they can feed antibiotics to animals which requires them to keep feeding dollars to corrupt farm state CongressThings and bullshit to us. Time for us to show some resistance.