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Rep. Louise Slaughter On Antibiotics, Meat And Superbugs

In our second hour today, we talked about our antibiotics, our meat and our superbugs. If ever there was a miracle drug, a medicine that changed our lives, it is the antibiotic. Precious stuff, right? “Husband it! Use with care!” So you’d think. 

But 80 percent of all the antibiotics we pump out these days goes into animals and animal feed — cows, hogs, chickens, turkeys and more across America, chowing down daily on antibiotics in their feed. To make them grow faster. To allow them to live in crowded conditions. Health officials are clanging the alarm bell, saying that is overuse that is breeding antibiotic-resistant superbugs that we can’t stop, that kill. The meat industry says, “chill out.”

Even our hour wasn’t enough, more wrinkles in the complex story — that goes from pharmaceutical companies to the barn to the grocery store to homes and hospitals — than we could get to. There were some great callers who never made it on air, and our guests had more great points to make than they could get to.

You can listen to the full show here, but our guest, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY), set the tone right out of the gate, saying Americans should be much more alarmed than they are:

Studies have shown people would be willing to pay 5 cents more a pound to get rid of [antibiotics in animal feed]. We have to get rid of that! Look, what’s the option? We just go ahead and let all antibiotics [become] unusable? That we could reach a point where strep throat could be a fatal disease? Do we want to go to that? … We are destroying one of the greatest medical breakthroughs that we are enjoying the benefit from. It doesn’t make any sense.”

Slaughter says the big agricultural farms are the biggest obstacle because they can get a few extra pounds of meat — and profit — by putting antibiotics in animal feed. She also blames the FDA for not regulating the meat industry.

She says she been trying for many years to get bills passed into law requiring disclosure from big farms as to what they are feeding their livestock, and banning eight different antibiotics key to human health out of animal feed. How close is she to getting her bills passed?  “Nowhere,” Slaughter said.

What does she want? “I want [Speaker] John Boehner to put [the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act] on the floor.”

Listen here to Slaughter on On Point:

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  • paminchina

    my Dad had C-dif and my Mom has MERSA, both antibiotic resistant diseases contracted in hospitals.  I am appalled at the completely anticipatable outcome that these deadly diseases would become widespread through our food supply……food animals, OF COURSE, must be raised in an environment where they can remain healthy on an on-going basis without the daily application of antibiotics…..when will the “rational” voices of commercial interests be countered?  When will the FDA get real?  How long will the conversation about “data” serve to delay action? Beleive me, you and your loved ones do NOT want to have one of these diseases.

  • http://www.facebook.com/patrice.woeppel Patrice Woeppel

    It is ironic that employer attention is focusing on workers’ eating right and not smoking at the same time that we are ignoring a far more monumental cause of illness and death in our country. In the United States, deaths from worker toxic chemical exposures and other occupational illnesses are conservatively estimated by NIOSH and other researchers to be 50,000 to 60,000 deaths annually.
    Diseases such as cancers and asbestosis generally do not manifest until decades after exposure. Because the magnitude of occupational diseases is not generally known, it tends to be ignored.
    It should be noted that one’s health insurance will not cover an illness or injury identified as a work illness or work injury. And workers’ compensation misses over 80% of the medical costs for occupational diseases.
    It is a major and costly health issue – costly in lives, and costly in dollars. The economic burden for occupational illness, and death falls heavily on families and on taxpayers. Employers are virtually immune from prosecution for the depraved indifference that results in severe injury, toxic exposure, or death.
    At the same time, the national focus tends to be on what we, as individuals, can do to improve our personal health, such as stopping smoking and eating right. No attention is being paid to the elephant in the room: occupational diseases caused by toxic chemical exposures in the workplace, that may well be among the five leading causes of illness and death in our nation.
    Patrice Woeppel, Ed.D.

  • Super Fancy

    This was one of the most powerful and provocative pieces of journalism I’ve come across in a long time. It has already changed the behavior of 8 people and prompted me to activism.

  • PithHelmut

    Louise Slaughter thank you for speaking out. She’s right, mothers, fathers, grandparents, speak out now!

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