Factory farms spawn immense suffering, and also immensely dangerous superbugs?

By on May 27, 2016 with 0 Comments

America is facing a real crisis in regard to antibiotics resistant infections, and factory farming is one of the main reasons.

The Walter Reed Army Institute of Research recently reported the first U.S. case of Colistin-resistant infection, involving a patient in Pennsylvania. Also this week, researchers at USDA and Health and Human Services reported finding Colistin-resistant E. coli in a pig intestinal sample. Because Colistin is a last resort drug for treating superbug (multi-drug-resistant) infections, these discoveries signal we are that much closer to what has been referred to as a post-antibiotic era, where people will die from once-treatable infections.

Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the Washington Post that the finding “basically shows us that the end of the road isn’t very far away for antibiotics — that we may be in a situation where we have patients in our intensive care units, or patients getting urinary-tract infections for which we do not have antibiotics.” And Lance Price, director of the Antibiotic Resistance Action Center, said, “If our leaders were waiting to act until they could see the cliff’s edge – I hope this opens their eyes to the abyss that lies before us.”

More than 70 percent of medically important antibiotics are sold each year for use in animal agriculture. These drugs are not just used when animals get sick, but are primarily given to animals  who are not sick, in order to promote faster growth and compensate for inhumane, overcrowded, stressful, and often unsanitary factory farm conditions. Scientists around the world have warned that excessive use of antibiotics in animal agriculture is contributing to the emergence of antibiotic resistant infections in humans. In 2013, the CDC reported that more than two million people in the United States get infected with drug resistant bacteria each year, and that there are at least 23,000 deaths. The CDC recently stated, “Resistant bacteria in food-producing animals are of particular concern.  Food animals serve as a reservoir of resistant pathogens and resistance mechanisms that can directly or indirectly result in antibiotic resistant infections in humans.”

It was only six months ago that scientists in China first reported Colistin-resistant bacteria in pigs and humans. Colistin is widely used in animal agriculture in China and the emergence of resistance is believed to be associated with these uses. The Colistin-resistant gene, mcr-1, has since also been found in bacteria in Europe, Africa, South America, Canada, and now the United States.

With the apparent worldwide distribution of the mcr-1 gene, it is only a matter of time before any one of a number of multi-drug resistant bacterial strains also acquire resistance to Colistin. At that point, there will be no antibiotic options to treat an infection, creating a public health crisis of extraordinary significance that could potentially lead to nightmarish scenarios.

“This all serves as a reminder that animal agriculture needs to use antibiotics judiciously and only for therapeutic reasons when animals are sick,” said Dr. Michael Blackwell, chief veterinary officer of The HSUS and former chief veterinarian of the United States Public Health Service. “The continued nontherapeutic use of antibiotics by animal agriculture threatens the very existence of society. If the mcr-1 gene is already circulating among U.S. swine, it is only a matter of time before it makes its way into our homes and our bodies.”

If this news isn’t an incentive to end the high volume production of animals in factory farms, I’m not sure what is. The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (H.R. 1552) and  the Preventing Antibiotic Resistance Act  (S.621)  in Congress would phase out the routine, non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in farm animals. Call your lawmakers to get these bills passed.

Some states step up to prevent dog deaths in hot cars

By on May 26, 2016 with 0 Comments
Some states step up to prevent dog deaths in hot cars

Hundreds of dogs each year perish from searing heat in unattended cars, left there by individuals who don’t understand what a risk to the animal’s life it is. With the car windows rolled up, even on a comfortable day, temperatures can spike in a flash and a life-threatening situation can develop. On an 80-degree day, it takes just . . . 

Read More »

Dog butchering raising howls in Congress and throughout the world

By on May 25, 2016 with 20 Comments
Dog butchering raising howls in Congress and throughout the world

Rep. Alcee L. Hastings, D-Fla., introduced a congressional resolution today condemning China’s dog meat trade and the festival in Yulin, China, where thousands of dogs and cats are slaughtered each year. The resolution, which has 27 original cosponsors, doesn’t have the force of law, but it’s an opportunity for the United States to urge the government of China and Yulin authorities to protect against pet dogs being stolen . . . 

Read More »

Supremely good news for the campaign against shark finning

By on May 24, 2016 with 1 Comment
Supremely good news for the campaign against shark finning

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday refused to consider an appeal to overturn legislation that prohibits the sale, trade, and possession of shark fins in California, in a major victory not only for sharks, but also for the right of states to set rules for stopping the abuse of the marine species. The Supreme Court decision is the . . . 

Read More »

Horse racing deaths at Pimlico remind us of hazards of largely deregulated sport

By on May 23, 2016 with 9 Comments
Horse racing deaths at Pimlico remind us of hazards of largely deregulated sport

With American Pharoah in 2015 becoming the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed accomplished that feat 37 years ago, there was a buzz in the run-up to the Preakness about whether the previously undefeated Nyquist could come one big step closer to replicating the biggest accomplishment in the sport. Yet Nyquist’s third-place finish, losing to Exaggerator . . . 

Read More »

USDA Shuts Down Major Animal Testing Enterprise, While Other Reforms Loom

By on May 20, 2016 with 10 Comments
USDA Shuts Down Major Animal Testing Enterprise, While Other Reforms Loom

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Santa Cruz Biotechnology have come to the largest settlement agreement in the history of the enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act. SCBT, one of the world’s largest suppliers of antibodies for biomedical research, will lose its license to operate as a dealer, as well as its registration to operate as a . . . 

Read More »

Breaking News: Key Committee Acts to Sustain Horse Slaughter Ban in the U.S.; Senators Also Decide Not to Subvert Organics Rule

By on May 19, 2016 with 26 Comments
Breaking News: Key Committee Acts to Sustain Horse Slaughter Ban in the U.S.;  Senators Also Decide Not to Subvert Organics Rule

Today the Senate Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment, advanced by Senators Tom Udall, D-NM,  Mark Kirk, R-Ill., Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.,  Lindsey Graham, R-SC., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Christopher Coons, D-Del., to bar any horse slaughter plants from opening in the United States. This Senate action mirrors the House action on its version of the agriculture spending bill. It’s a great . . . 

Read More »

Confronting Dog Meat Horrors and Other Cruelties on the International Stage

By on May 18, 2016 with 5 Comments
Confronting Dog Meat Horrors and Other Cruelties on the International Stage

Today’s New York Times reports on Humane Society International’s major campaign to end the dog meat trade in South Korea, the only nation that eats dog meat and raises dogs on farms for the plate. There, in the run-up to the 2018 Winter Olympics, we’ve been converting dog farmers to humane alternatives, we’ve been rescuing dogs and bringing . . . 

Read More »

Finding Evidence of the Humane Economy in All Sorts of Surprising Places

By on May 17, 2016 with 0 Comments
Finding Evidence of the Humane Economy in All Sorts of Surprising Places

Stanford University has long been rated as one of America’s top academic institutions, and it’s been widely known for incubating top innovators in the domains of programming, engineering, medicine, and other sciences. In The Humane Economy, readers briefly meet Dr. Pat Brown, a Stanford biochemist who took a sabbatical from teaching to research ways to upend . . . 

Read More »

Nothing Organic or Natural About Effort in Congress to Block Organic Farm Animal Care Standards

By on May 16, 2016 with 3 Comments
Nothing Organic or Natural About Effort in Congress to Block Organic Farm Animal Care Standards

Yesterday, Nicholas Kristof wrote an extraordinary column on my new book, The Humane Economy, celebrating the enormous range of progress we’ve made in driving reform for animals in so many different sectors of industry. The New York Times columnist noted, of course, that our work isn’t done, and that while the humane economy is a powerful force, there . . . 

Read More »

Top