Antibiotic-resistant bacteria infect at least 2 million Americans every year. At least 23,000 die as a result. The growing threat of antibiotic-resistant disease is one of the biggest health threats facing the globe, yet, unlike some other pressing health threats, it has a clear and well-known cause: overuse of antibiotics. “The use of antibiotics is the single most important factor leading to antibiotic resistance around the world,” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes, explaining “simply using antibiotics creates resistance.” The drugs are one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in human medicine, and up to 50 percent of the time they’re prescribed when not needed or using incorrect dosing or duration, according to the CDC. This is problematic, but it pales in comparison to the use of antibiotics in food animals, which is driving rates of antibiotic resistance sky high.
The U.S. food system is set up to protect industrialized, centralized food production and distribution, while efforts to decentralize food are kept strictly under wraps. There are many problems with this system, including the fact that food production is often out of sync with demand, leading to excessive amounts of waste. In 2016, for instance, the industrial dairy industry has dumped 43 million gallons of milk due to a massive milk glut. The glut is the result of a 2014 spike in milk prices, which encouraged many dairy farmers to add more milk cows to their farms. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data shows that dairy cows have increased by 40,000 in 2016, with a 1.4 percent increase in production per cow. With too much milk and nowhere to sell it, prices have tanked. Milk prices declined 22 percent in recent months to $16.39 per 100 pounds — a price so low some farmers can no longer afford to even transport it to the market.1 The milk glut isn’t only affecting the U.S., either. It’s been felt globally, which means milk producers can’t export their surplus milk. What’s a dairy farmer to do with a surplus of milk? Dump it — on fields, into animal feed or added to manure lagoons.
Now it appears that Barack Obama’s FDA is going after our best domestic artisanal cheeses, also often made from raw milk. What is the stated rationale for this? The FDA and Health Canada issued a joint assessment claiming a higher incidence of listeriosis—the disease caused by the food-borne pathogen listeria—in cheese made from raw milk as compared to cheese made from pasteurized milk. Consider these facts about listeria. Recent evidence from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that, between 2009 and 2011, cheese made from raw milk accounted for one listeria outbreak and fifteen illnesses, whereas cheese from pasteurized milk caused five outbreaks and thirty-six illnesses. Let’s put this in further perspective. The CDC determined that between 1993 and 2006, all raw milk products combined caused 202 hospitalizations and two deaths. If the FDA is truly motivated by food-safety concerns, why not take a more aggressive stance towards Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), since contaminated meat and poultry sicken an estimated one million people and kill at least one thousand each year? If the FDA receives enough messages protesting the path they are clearly on to ban raw milk cheese, they will likely back off for fear of offending Congress, which has to listen to the voters—so please take action on this issue!
Three large egg-producing states in the US are in the midst of an avian flu outbreak. Iowa declared a state of emergency on May 1. Minnesota and Wisconsin declared states of emergency last month. It’s estimated that 25 percent of all chickens in Iowa have been infected, and millions of chickens and turkeys in the three states have already been killed in an effort to contain the disease. This outbreak is really not surprising. In fact, it's exactly what you can expect when you dramatically disrupt the natural order of things, and produce food under wholly unnatural circumstances. Confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are major warehouse-style growing facilities where animals are crowded together by the thousands, or in the case of chickens, tens of thousands. These animals are fed a completely unnatural diet of glyphosate-containing genetically engineered (GE) grains mixed with antibiotics—a surefire recipe for drug resistance and out-of-control spread of disease