If you have been concerned about antibiotics, chemicals, and genetic modification on your food, you are not alone. All of the news and hype about GMOs may make you hesitate to buy anything, even though realistically, even the organic food you may eat ultimately has GMO roots. This said, things like antibiotics aren’t necessarily so present in everything, and in part due to increasing pressure from the US government, US poultry companies are being pushed to be more open about their use of antibiotics just to start. 2 lawmakers are calling for more though. They want transparency measures implemented on a government level.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (New York) proposed a measure that would allow the FDA to collect information on
farm level antibiotic use. Representative Louise Slaughter, also of New York, promised to bring up the issue in a congressional hearing.
Industry has kept data showing the rampant, dangerous use of antibiotics hidden from the public for one reason: to protect corporate profits at the expense of public health.
So why is this happening? Moreover, why is it so important? A high profile expose by Reuters looked at over 320 internal documents from 5 major poultry companies, creating serious concern. These companies included Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s Pride, Perdue Farms, George’s, and Koch Foods. All 5 companies regularly fed their chicken antibiotics when the birds weren’t even sick in many cases.
Scientists believe that antibiotics in low doses may create a more ideal breeding ground for superbugs and antibiotic resistant bacteria that is harder to treat with conventional drugs, maybe even impossible for our scientific advances at some point.
The original investigation uncovered what could be a
systematic source of antibiotic resistance according to Donald Kennedy, former FDA commissioner and president emeritus of Stanford University. He adds,
This could be an even larger piece of the antibiotic-resistance problem than I had thought.
It’s hard to say what can or should be done at this point, and of course legislation takes time. All the concern about antibiotics may be false, and they may be protecting us for all we know. However, based on the recent coverage and information readily available to our lawmakers, at least some consider it a public health concern, and they are willing to take legal action to stop it.