A Boston Globe editorial today joins the American Medical Association in a call for reduced antibiotic use in hogs, poultry, and beef cattle. U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has even introduced legislation that would specifically fund efforts to curtail farmers’ access to some antibiotics. Predictably, the nanny culture (led by the Center for Science in the Public Interest) is excited about the opportunity to control yet another link of the food chain.
The Globe editorial offers two pieces of supporting evidence for its position. The first is a single quote about plunging humanity “back into medicine’s Dark Ages,” from an activist physician with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP). This group has received over $2 million of foundation funds in recent years, much of it earmarked for campaigns to block or otherwise disable advances in modern agriculture. IATP also heavily promotes “organically produced” meats, using threats of global disease and other scare tactics.
The only other evidence the Globe offers is a USDA report released in May, which attempted to assess the financial costs of antibiotics and other veterinary costs in livestock. When Associated Press writer Philip Brasher first reported on this story (May 15), he wrote: “Hog farmers lose money by feeding growth-promoting antibiotics to pigs, because the extra production holds down pork prices, a government study says.” In a May 18 correction, however, the AP conceded that Brasher had misread the report: “The Associated Press on May 15 erroneously quoted a Department of Agriculture study as saying that hog farmers lose money by feeding growth-promoting antibiotics to pigs…The AP erroneously reported the study as saying that producers who used the antibiotics collectively lost $45.5 million. Instead, the $45.5 million is how much those producers would have lost had they not been allowed to use the drugs, according to the study” (emphasis added).