Antibiotic Use by CAFOs Increases Our Health Care Costs

A subject I’m close to is one that affects how inhumanely we treat animals.  Not only domestic pets but the farm animals who feed those of us who have yet  converted to a vegan way of life.

I am a strong animal rights activists and donate routinely to the SPCA organization. You know, the one that shows those heart-breaking commercials of abused animals with those big dark sad eyes looking into the camera like those in this video:  WARNING: Could evoke sympathy for the plight of abused animals


But I don’t get equally involved in the cruel way corporate factory farms treat cattle, pigs and chicken confined in CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations) as the they attempt to increase production by crowding more into pens and cages and using antibiotics in order to fatten them up quicker to get them to market.  I do support some of those organizations who do fight this battle with their e-mail alerts and sign off on them to encourage those in our state and federal legislatures to combat the abuses that go on at these CAFOs.  Sadly though, little is ever done because the support these legislators get from these corporate factory farms in terms of campaign donations has more sway over them than preventing the cruelty that occurs as these meat sources are processed.

And though the general public may be touched and angered upon hearing of such cruelty, little thought is given to it beyond that moment they are made aware of it.  Most people are simply too busy with their own lives and in such economic hard times.  Donating to such efforts isn’t practical nor are most consumers able to boycott such producers who process these low costs foods which are derived from these abused animals.  More expensive open-range, organically fed meat sources simply are out of reach of many low and middle-income family budgets

Yet I wonder if more of us wouldn’t take that step to purchase these meat sources NOT raised in CAFOs if they were made aware that their health costs could subside significantly by going organic.  In a recent UCS Earthwise newsletter I discovered that use of antibiotics on otherwise healthy animals in these CAFOs make up 80% of all antibiotic use in the U.S.  The frequent use in these animals means they get past on to us as we consume these food products.

The Earthwise report notes that “these data are particularly distressing because many of the drugs used in CAFOs are needed to treat humans who get sick from bacterial infections.  Doctors are increasingly frustrated in their efforts to treat such patients because numerous bacteria have developed a resistance to one or more antibiotics.”

The report further notes that a “recent study found that health care costs related  to antibiotic resistance total between $16.6 million and $26 million annually.  Parents fighting resistant infections are sick longer, and subjected to increasing powerful and more expensive drugs with more serious side effects.”  (p. 3 Volume 13, #3)

If most people could make a connection between the toxic effects of such actions like this and the water and  air-borne pollutants from industrial fossil fuel and chemical waste we ultimately absorb in our bodies and how it impacts our health, the costs of eliminating and finding alternatives to them might not be so frightening to those who think they can’t afford to do so.

There is some action being taken by more humanitarian legislators in the U.S. Congress to reduce the use of antibiotics on healthy animals.  It’s called The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act H.R. 965 and would “require the FDA to review its previous approvals of antibiotic use in animal feeds and cancel those found to be unsafe from a resistance standpoint.”  The Bill is currently being referred to the Subcommittee on Health and has the backing of the AMA and American Academy of Pediatrics

Contact your Congress person and find out where they stand on this bill.  Raise questions about the high cost of health care and how preventing such abuses with antibiotics could lower overall health care costs.  See if you get a response that reflects a concern for their constituents or a hackneyed defense of why antibiotics at CAFOs “are necessary to promote needed food sources to supply  a growing population”.  Then ask “Do we want a population which will in effect have shorter, unhealthier life spans while having larger portions of their income drawn from them by health care providers and higher insurance premiums?”



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6 responses to “Antibiotic Use by CAFOs Increases Our Health Care Costs

  1. An excellent post. My Dem. state rep has talked about this. P.S. I have to turn off the SPCA commercials. I give four times a year and I still feel guilty when I see those cute faces. So, how is your dog? SAP!!!!!

    • Millie is healthy and more active than when I first rescued her. She is pretty much a homebody now so that takes a lot a worry off of us about her wandering off. Thanks for asking Donna

  2. This whole thing hits home…..have you noticed that produce from Mexico has a much better taste than the stuff grown here? I am guessing that they do not use all the additives and stuff while they are growing…on a side note….I have a mix breed of Chow/Border Collie that I found after Katrina….she was pretty messed up and confused….now she is the most well adjusted dog I have ever encountered….I support my local ASPCA as much and often as I can….

    Great Post!

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