Farm Sanctuary Speaks Out on USDA Labeling Guidelines — Have Your Say

Citizens are appalled to learn of the horrendous suffering that is commonplace in the production of meat, milk, and eggs, and they are increasingly looking for alternatives. Agribusiness has responded by marketing animal products with labels suggesting that farm animals are being treated well. But these labels make conditions sound better than they are, and well-meaning consumers are being misled.

The USDA is currently accepting public input on proposed labeling guidelines that are woefully inadequate, and Farm Sanctuary is encouraging citizens to weigh in and express their opinions. We’ve submitted the comments below.

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(click to enlarge)

You can read more about the proposed guidelines and submit comments, which are due by December 5, 2016, here.

Book Barn: Jenny Engel and Heather Bell of Spork Foods on ‘Vegan 101’

New vegan cookbook by Spork Foods sisters

Sisters Jenny Engel and Heather Bell, owners of the L.A.-based gourmet vegan food company Spork Foods, are out with an amazing new cookbook, Vegan 101!

I’m super-excited about your new book Vegan 101: A Vegan Cookbook: Learn to Cook Plant-Based Meals that Satisfy Everyone. What inspired you to write it?
We’re so happy you’re excited about it! Our constant source of inspiration comes from our student base. We teach about 10,000 people a year how to make vegan dishes, so we have a lot of conversations with people who are longtime vegans, and many others who aren’t vegan at all, but are coming to class to try it out. Almost everyone requested quick and simple vegan dishes that taste great, so that’s what we focused on for this cookbook. We really want these dishes to be accessible to anyone.

Will this book please vegans and non-vegans alike?
Oh yes! Since most of our student base isn’t vegan, it’s imperative that we create dishes that everyone will love. We take the challenge very seriously!

Vegan 101

Acorn Squash Fritters with Korean Spicy Sauce from Vegan 101!

Are there recipes that will make people forget that they are eating vegan?
Absolutely! What comes to mind is our Acorn Squash Fritters with Korean Spicy Sauce. Essentially, this fritter is crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle. There’s a sweetness about the squash, and paired with the spice from the sauce it comes together really well. The soups are also very pure and simple, like our Velvety Kale Soup with Cashew Cream. It’s decadent but nutrient-packed, leaving people satisfied and proud of themselves for making such a healthy choice.

You both have a great sense of humor. What keeps you always smiling? Is is the food?
That’s a really sweet question! What keeps us smiling is being able to spend each day together. It had always been a dream of ours to have a sister business, and now that we get to run it together, what’s not to smile about? The food is absolutely part of it, but what’s more is that we get to support a vegan lifestyle each and every day for a living.

Vegan 101

Velvety Kale Soup with Cashew Cream by the Spork Foods sisters!

What’s your funniest story of something going wrong in the kitchen?
We once had an assistant put their hand through a full cheesecake in a spring form pan while taking it out of the oven in a cooking class! Luckily we had made one in advance so all was well! It wasn’t funny at the time but now it’s hilarious!

Who would you love to have a meal with, living or dead?
We’d love to have a meal with Bob Marley. His positive message is so widespread and special; you can feel it in every song you hear. His music makes people feel good, and so we’d want to make him feel good with a belly full of organic vegan food.

Where did you learn how to cook?
Oh this is a good one, with a three-part answer! Our Mom cooked constantly while we were young and made huge pots of food, encouraging neighbors, friends, and family to just drop by. We loved how welcoming she always made our home, so we asked to take cooking classes as kids. Mom and Dad sent us to a kids’ cooking school when we were about five and seven, and although it wasn’t vegan, we learned the basics and fell in love with the process of cooking. Later on, we sent Jenny to the Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC to further her education.

Who are you most influenced by?
We’re most influenced by animals. At the core of what we do is actually activism. There are so many ways to be an activist. Some people hold up posters outside of places who are abusing animals. Others give money to great causes. We have chosen to use our love of cooking to prevent cruelty to animals. We believe that animals are not for us to use in any way. The cooking skills we developed we share with our students so that they can also make meals that change people’s minds about food and ultimately save lives.

Adopt a Turkey certificates

Adopt a Turkey Project adoption certificates on the refrigerator at Spork Foods headquarters (via the sisters’ Instagram account, @sporkfoods).

You’re being interviewed by Farm Sanctuary. Why do you think people should support Farm Sanctuary?
Farm Sanctuary is near and dear to our hearts for many reasons. One of our favorite programs is the Adopt a Turkey Project. Each year for the past 10 years since we started our business, we adopt a turkey in honor of Thanksgiving. We have their photos on our refrigerator for all of our students to see, and they absolutely love it. We’ve even gotten to go to Farm Sanctuary and sit with turkeys and just be with them. Many people don’t know how sweet and cuddly they are. And how much they love eating kale and cranberries. Farm Sanctuary rescues animals in danger, advocates for them and educates people about the importance of kindness to all creatures. How could you not get behind Farm Sanctuary!? We will continue to participate in the Walk for Farm Animals and donate to galas for as long as we’re in business.

What’s next for the two of you? A little birdie told me someone is going to be a mommy very soon.
2017 will be a really fun year for us! Heather will be a first-time Mommy to a little girl, while Jenny’s boy, Evander Bluejay, who will be one, shows her the ways of the world. While those two vegan babies get trained to take over Spork Foods one day, we will be actually launching a secret food product that’s been in the works for years. We’re so excited about it and can’t wait to give you more details when the time is right!


James and sheepThis is the the second installment in the “Book Barn” series with Farm Sanctuary Board Member James Costa. An ardent animal activist and a regular contributor to Litbreaker Media, James is the director of the documentary Lunch Hour, which looks critically at childhood obesity and school lunch programs. Currently, James is working on a new documentary about Native Americans and diet.

Read the previous Book Barn installment, a Q&A with Kathy Freston on her latest, The Book of Veganish, here.

Gene Baur Responds to Cuomo Administration About Dairy Promotion

Gene Baur and rescued dairy calf Ari

Gene Baur and dairy-industry survivor Ari.

Back in August, the office of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the state would subsidize the well-known Milk Bar at the New York State Fair, allotting $90,000 to keep the price of a cup of milk at a quarter.

Farm Sanctuary President & Co-founder Gene Baur — who for three decades has been spreading the word about dairy’s damaging effects on animals, human health, and the environment — wrote to Gov. Cuomo, urging him to reconsider.

Recently, the governor’s office replied, reiterating support for the dairy industry but also noting an area of common ground.

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See Gene’s response — addressing issues relating to dairy including cows’ milk and calcium, the incidence of bone fractures among cows’ milk consumers, and the dairy industry’s effects on the environment — below:

Gene Baur New York State Fair response letter

 

Book Barn: Kathy Freston Talks ‘Veganish’

By James Costa

Kathy Freston is a New York Times bestselling author four times over; her works include The Lean, Veganist, and Quantum Wellness.

Kathy Freston is a New York Times bestselling author four times over; her works include The Lean, Veganist, and Quantum Wellness.

 

Hi, Kathy, I’m super excited about your new book The Book of Veganish! Tell me what inspired you to write it.
I wrote this book with Rachel [Cohn] because we were having coffee one day, and realized that there’s so much more to going plant-based than just deciding not to eat animals.  How do you date (or marry) someone who is not on the same page as you; what do you say when someone makes fun of you, or taunts you for not being 100% perfect and pure; how do you make food that’s fast and friendly and hearty; what are the perfect swaps for eggs or protein?

So many questions a beginner struggles with… and we wanted to put it all in one place so that the guidebook is simple to use – like having a companion on the journey who is showing the way.  Plus, we wanted to offer super-easy, delicious recipes that had beautiful, color photos to go along with them so the reader could see what plant-based food looks like. It’s a less intimidating shift that way!

Who is this book for?
It’s for socially conscious young adults (and the young at heart!) who know they want to move away from eating animals, but just need some help on figuring out nutrition, social situations, and how to make seriously easy, fulfilling food.  A stunning 48% of young adults want to eat a diet without meat, so the book is a tool for advocacy.  It’s a gift for those already on board to give to their friends or family who are curious but have no idea how to start.

There are tons of vegan books out there. What makes this one different? 
The Book of Veganish speaks directly to young adults – those aged 18 to 25. That’s a hugely important sector of the population that could use some support. A few things about Generation Z that sets them apart: They don’t tend to like labels (i.e “vegan”); they’re more fluid with how they identify themselves; they aren’t tied to the 3-meals per day program; they snack and eat at odd hours, not needing an official “lunch” or “dinner”;  they are mistrustful of government and corporations, so they go with their instincts and personal experiences more; and they want more than anything to lead meaningful lives that will make a difference.  I respect these people enormously; they are smart and aware, and they are the ones who are just about to go out into the world and start businesses and families, so it’s really important to empower them with what they’ll need in order to be successful with a plant-based lifestyle.  Our future – the future of the animals – is in their hands.

Is being veganish easy or is something that only certain people should try?  Veganish allows the curious to find his or her way comfortably and in their own time. I’m really glad that I eased into this way of eating gradually, because it stuck. If I had to get it right all at once, I would have quit and gone back to the foods I grew up with.  If we want people to succeed and thrive, we have to give them the space to find their footing.

What should someone do if they slip and fall off the vegan wagon? I know a lot of people feel bad and give up.
I hear all the time, “I like the idea of being vegan, but I could never give up cheese fries.”  Or Greek yogurt.  Or sushi.  So I say, “Enjoy the fries; have the yogurt; go for sushi; and just stay awake and aware.”  Show yourself some love and you’ll figure it out.  Eventually you realize that you don’t miss much of anything, and you feel so good that those old foods become a non-issue.

Is it easier for younger people to go veganish or can you teach an old dog new tricks? 
Well, very motivated old dogs certainly can learn. But after a pattern is well worn into the grooves of our psyche for decades, those daily habits are harder to break. Veganish makes the shift less jarring, more do-able. [Young adults], on the other hand, are just figuring out who they are so it’s a lot easier for them to set some good habits.

Do you feel hopeful that things will change and people will finally understand that what we do to animals is just wrong? 
I am not only hopeful, I’m excited.  Read the testimonials and tips from the kids and people we feature in the book; you’ll see that the future is already unfolding in an unbelievably good direction.

What are some of your favorite parts of the book and you feel are the things that can easily get people on the road to Veganish?
I love the quickie tips for snacks and foods that [young adults] have come up with that are protein-packed and can travel easily.  I also love the easy-to-navigate charts on what to eat and how to swap things out for better choices.

Author Kathy Freston was recognized at Farm Sanctuary's 25th Anniversary Galafor her efforts to promote cruelty free cooking. (Photo by Lesley Marino)

Photo by Lesley Marino

What should people know about Farm Sanctuary?
Farm Sanctuary is the only organization of its size where you get to experience – really experience – what animal advocacy is all about. We’re reminded of why we care, and why we need to care more. You can look into their eyes and connect with these animals, feel who they are as individuals. You see up close their quirky sweet personalities, so your commitment comes alive. The flame in your heart is fanned by their proximity, their absolute vulnerability. There is no better advocacy then knowing whom you’re advocating for.

What’s next for you? Any exciting new projects you can talk about?
Well, I love fashion.  And I love helping businesses that are devoted to replacing animal products.  So you’ll likely see me associated with any of those things in some form or another….


 

This is the first column of “Book Barn” with Farm Sanctuary Board Member James Costa. An ardent animal activist and a regular contributor to Litbreaker Media, James is the director of the documentary Lunch Hour, which looks critically at childhood obesity and school lunch programs. Currently, James is working on a new documentary about Native Americans and diet.

USDA Broadens Ban on Downed Cattle Slaughter to Include Calves

By: Gene Baur

The Obama Administration has published a rule to strengthen federal regulations and prohibit the cruel treatment and slaughter of downed calves,  broadening its existing ban on slaughtering downed cattle to include calves as well. This is important because calves, especially those from dairy farms who are taken from their mothers at birth, are frail and susceptible to illness and disease.

Frail calves, sometimes just hours old, are sent to livestock markets where they often succomb to illness and disease. Many of the newborn calves who are sent to stockyards are the offspring of dairy cows. The cows must be impregnated and give birth in order to produce milk. (Feel free to distribute freely for not-for-profit use, but please credit Farm Sanctuary. If you are media and are in need of a high-resolution version of this image, please contact us requesting the file “S7,14a_300_1”.)

Frail calves, sometimes just hours old, are sent to livestock markets where they often succumb to illness and disease.

Agribusiness had been allowed to truck sick and dying calves to slaughterhouses in order to profit from their slaughter, but this will now be prohibited. And, besides preventing the suffering of debilitated young calves during transport and at the slaughterhouse, this policy also provides an incentive for farmers to take better care of their animals in order to prevent them from becoming downers in the first place.

This is a positive development, which represents another incremental step towards lessening the suffering and abuse of downed animals (i.e. animals too sick even to stand).

After Farm Sanctuary’s rescue of Hilda, a downed sheep who was left on the “dead pile” behind Lancaster Stockyards in 1986, media exposés about downed animal abuses in the 80s and 90s led the USDA to start a surveillance program to monitor stockyards. The Agency even tried to prosecute stockyards for mistreating downed animals, but that effort ended when a court ruled that USDA had no legal authority to address animal welfare at stockyards. The law (i.e. the Packers and Stockyards Act) required stockyards to provide adequate care to maintain the economic “value” of the animals, but if an animal was discarded and considered to have no economic value, stockyards were legally allowed to leave them to suffer and die with impunity.
tumblr_leme0sf7761qb7khho1_500In the 1990s, we broadened our effort to address the abuse of downed animals at slaughterhouses, in addition to stockyards and auctions. The primary federal law addressing farm animal welfare in the U.S., ironically, is the Humane Slaughter Act. The USDA has a notoriously poor track record of enforcing this law, but it has adopted some positive positions regarding downed animals over the years, usually because of pressure.

In 2001, Farm Sanctuary brought a lawsuit to end the slaughter of downed animals for human food, citing animal welfare and human health concerns, including the threat of mad cow disease. The USDA denied the existence of mad cow disease in the U.S. until December, 2003, when mad cow disease was confirmed in a downed cow in Washington State. After that discovery, our lawsuit was settled in 2004 with the USDA agreeing that downed cattle would not be used for human food and banning the delivery of downed cattle to slaughterhouses. But the meat industry was able to insert a loophole during the regulatory process, which prohibited downed cattle from being accepted at the slaughterhouse, but strangely allowed cattle who walked into the slaughterhouse but then became downed afterwards to be used for human food. In 2008, an exposé showed a southern California slaughterhouse exploiting this loophole, and violating federal and state downed animal regulations and laws (California enacted a law to restrict the abuses of downed animals in 1994), which led to the largest meat recall in U.S. history. Once again, a light was shined on downed animal abuse, and the USDA was compelled to tighten its downed animal rules.

We are encouraged to see how much progress has been made, and look forward to seeing no downer policies extend to pigs and other animals as well. We and our colleagues in the animal rights community will keep the pressure on.

opie before and after

Once discarded as a downer, Opie survived and went on to live a long and happy life at Farm Sanctuary. (Photo at right by Jo-Anne McArthur/WeAnimals)

North Carolina’s ag-gag law is an affront to human decency

By Gene Baur, Farm Sanctuary President & Co-Founder

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In 1986, while investigating Lancaster Stockyards in Pennsylvania, I found a living sheep collapsed among the carcasses of the stockyard’s “dead pile.” She was a “downer,” an animal too sick or weak to stand, and she had been left there to die. She was the first animal rescued by Farm Sanctuary, then a fledgling advocacy organization. We named her Hilda, and we shared her story, illustrated by a photograph of her lying on that dead pile.

Hilda inspired us to intensify our investigations of Lancaster Stockyards, where we discovered that the mistreatment and neglect of downers was business as usual. We organized a protest, which garnered media attention and exposed the stockyard’s disregard for animal welfare. The public was outraged, and Lancaster Stockyards was compelled to announce that it would humanely euthanize downed animals instead of leaving them to suffer on its premises. By documenting and publicizing conditions at this facility, we were able to bring about necessary reforms.

Were I to advocate in the same way for an animal like Hilda today in North Carolina, I would be committing a criminal act.

Read more at Newsobserver.com

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4 More Reasons to Visit Our Southern California Shelter

There’s no time like the present to visit Farm Sanctuary’s Acton Shelter! Located just 45 minutes north of Los Angeles, our Southern California location provides an accessible, peaceful oasis from city life. Here, we provide several opportunities for guests to interact with our rescued residents year-round. For many individuals, a visit to Farm Sanctuary is their first chance to get to know farm animals up close. Our staff enjoys facilitating meaningful connections between people and farm animals and sharing what living the Farm Sanctuary life is all about.

If you haven’t had the chance to visit our Acton location (or if it’s been awhile since your last trip), here are just four more reasons to visit Acton again soon!

  1. Our New and Improved Visitor’s Center

Visitor Center 1

We are proud to unveil our new Visitor’s Center, located within our courtyard grounds. Here, you can read our educational posters at your own pace and learn more about topics including the impacts of factory farming, our animal ambassadors and the issues they represent, the myths of “humane” farming practices, and animal-free diet alternatives. This is a great way to spend some time before your tour, or to supplement your experience with further information. We also encourage you to take some of our free literature home and share your Farm Sanctuary experience with friends and family.


2) Saturday and Sunday Tours

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Due to popular request, we have expanded our Visitor Program to provide tours on Saturdays in addition to our regular Sunday schedule! This is a wonderful opportunity for guests to build or strengthen relationships with our rescued residents and to learn how you can help farm animals everywhere. Tours will be conducted at 11 a.m., 1 p.m and 3 p.m. both days. Admittance fees are $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 4 through 12, and free for children 3 and under, and all funds are used to make our lifesaving work possible. Please visit http://www.farmsanctuary.org/the-sanctuaries/los-angeles-ca/tours/ for more information.

3 and 4)  Kelley and Nina Lambs

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Meet Kelley and Nina, our two newest residents! These girls were recently dropped off at our Northern California Shelter by an anonymous rescuer, who sought to give them the chance at life they deserved. Kelley and Nina were severely ill and in critical condition when they arrived, but are growing stronger by the day at their new home in Acton! While guests won’t be able to pet them just yet, you can watch them bond with one another from outside of their pen. Lambs just like Kelley and Nina are slaughtered for meat when they are just six months old, but at Farm Sanctuary these girls are valued as someone, not something. Visit AnimalsofFarmSanctuary.com to learn more about Kelley and Nina’s story and how you can help farm animals just like them!

We are so grateful for supporters like you who continue to make our lifesaving rescue, education, and advocacy work possible. Thank you for choosing compassion and helping us make the world a better place for humans and animals alike. We look forward to seeing you at our Acton Shelter soon!

Goliath Kills Thousands of Dairy Cows

As 2015 drew to a close, a deadly winter weather system raged across the U.S., lashing multiple states with wind and snow. The storm, named Goliath, claimed among its casualties more than 30,000 cows on dairy farms in Texas and New Mexico. As the Weather Channel reports, it is believed that many of the cows suffocated to death when they were pushed against fences by snowdrifts up to 14 feet high. So many cows perished that farmers have struggled to dispose of the bodies.

Though the immediate cause of death for these cows was a natural disaster, the ultimate cause was man-made. As we saw last year in the massive death toll of the 2015 bird flu outbreak and the Ohio highway disaster that killed hundreds of piglets, the animal agriculture industry’s reliance on raising, transporting, and slaughtering animals on a large scale creates the conditions for large-scale tragedy. Designed to maximize output while minimizing costs, this production model prohibits adequate health and safety measures for individual animals. The cows who died in Texas and New Mexico were kept in large numbers on farms where they did not have access to the shelter, dedicated onsite staff, and individual attention that could have saved them from death in the blizzard.

Farm Sanctuary cattle

Farm Sanctuary Shelter Manager Jill checks on herd members to make sure everyone is doing well in the snow.

At Farm Sanctuary, we are committed to the well-being of each and every animal in our care. Cattle at our shelters have access to warm barns at all times. During the winter, staff members diligently monitor and clear the pathways and outdoor areas our animals use to make sure that no one slips and falls. We also make maintain a caregiver-to-resident ratio that allows us to give individual attention to every animal, ensuring that no one is ever left out in the cold. Such precautions are costly, of course, but they are necessary for any operation that truly puts the animals first. On a commercial farm, where profit is the imperative, this sort of individual consideration is unfeasible; animal welfare and animal exploitation are irreconcilable.

It is not only the farmers themselves who place fiscal considerations above the well-being of individual animals. It is the pervasive view of farm animals as mere commodities that allows this industry to operate at all. Take the media coverage of this tragedy, which has emphasized the economic impact of the fatalities, and the resulting drop in the region’s milk production, on producers and consumers. In a society where we consume the bodily products of animals we never meet, a milk shortage will meet with a stronger reaction than will the deaths of 30,000 cows — sensitive, intelligent beings who, as we do, possessed personalities, desires, and fears.

Winter storm Goliath has now subsided, but another Goliath rampages on. The dairy industry, formidably armed with economic and political clout, exploits several million cows and kills approximately 2.5 million “spent” cows every year. Cows on dairy farms are subjected to a grueling cycle of insemination, pregnancy, and milking that leaves them frail and hurting. Their babies are taken away from them at birth, the females to be raised as replacements and the males to be sold at auction for veal or beef production. This is an industry that separates families, squeezes every cent it can from its animals, and discards those animals when they can no longer be milked for profit.

Farm Sanctuary resident DIane cow

At just five years of age, Farm Sanctuary resident Diane cow was considered “spent” and would have been auctioned off and slaughtered had her rescuer not stepped in to save her. Read Diane’s story at AnimalsofFarmSanctuary.com.

Unlike a winter storm, this giant killer of cows and calves is not going away on its own. Along with our allies and supporters, Farm Sanctuary has been fighting on behalf of dairy cows and calves for three decades, and our resolve is as strong as ever. The first step in this fight is one anyone can take: Boycott dairy products. To find out what else you can do, please follow Farm Sanctuary on Facebook and Twitter and visit us at farmsanctuary.org. Together, we can stop this Goliath.

Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria and Factory Farming

Cattle at a factory farm

You may already know that factory farming creates appalling animal suffering and environmental degradation. But did you know that it also poses a grave threat to our ability to treat serious bacterial infections?

The Majority of Antibiotics We Use are Given to Farm Animals

For decades, factory farms have administered large quantities of antibiotics — drugs designed for the treatment and prevention of bacterial infections — to animals who are not sick. In some cases, these drugs are used as prophylactics, to ward off potential infections. In other cases, the drugs are used to promote growth, hastening animals to their market weight. It is estimated that more than 70 percent of medically important antibiotics, i.e. antibiotics also used in humans, consumed in the U.S. are given to farm animals for non-therapeutic purposes. Worldwide, more than half of all antibiotics used are used on farm animals.

Pigs at a factory farm

The prophylactic use of antibiotics is especially prevalent among intensive farming operations, where crowding, poor living conditions, and a lack of individualized care make animals highly susceptible to infection. The large groups of confined animals on factory farms can become breeding grounds for pathogens, and such zoonotic diseases as salmonella, E. coli, avian influenza, and swine flu have all been linked to the industry. Preemptively administering antibiotics to entire herds or flocks does not eliminate the problem — rather, the practice creates an environment where bacteria can evolve rapidly under the selective pressure of the antibiotics and become resistant to them. By throwing massive quantities of antibiotics at the problem of infection in their herds, farmers are engaged in an arms race they are doomed to lose.

Antibiotic Resistance Is Dangerous for Everyone

According to Statista, drug-resistant infections are rising precipitously. The site reports that, “by 2050, ten million people are set to lose their lives every year unnecessarily unless drastic action is taken to tackle the problem.” As reported by the BBC, a new report from the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) has identified antibiotic use on farms as a crucial component of the human health threat.

Infographic: Deaths From Drug-Resistant Infections Set To Skyrocket | Statista
Chart via Statista

The AMR report (PDF) identifies multiple risks created by high antibiotic use, and the consequent evolution of drug-resistant bacteria, in farming: drug-resistant strains of bacteria may be passed directly between animals and humans (primarily farmers); drug-resistant strains may be passed to humans who consume meat and milk from infected animals; and both drug-resistant bacteria and un-metabolized antibiotics may be released into the environment through the animals’ excrement.

Once a resistant strain of bacteria has entered the human population, it has the potential to spread far and wide, infecting individuals regardless of whether or not they have worked with farm animals, come into contact with farm waste, or consumed infected meat and milk. The risk affects everyone.

Chickens at a factory farm

AMR observes that some last-resort antibiotics for humans are used extensively in animal farming. Last-resort antibiotics are those used only when other antibiotics have failed; these highly effective medications are used in this sparing manner in order to limit bacterial exposure to them and thus to stave off the development of resistance. In China, researchers recently found a bacterial gene conferring resistance to the antibiotic Colistin. Potentially damaging to the kidneys, Colistin is used only when a multi-resistant bacteria leaves no other option; due to the worldwide increase in such bacteria, doctors have been increasingly forced to rely on this last resort. Colistin-resistant bacteria have existed for some time, but this latest discovery is especially troubling, because the new gene found by researchers can be easily transferred between different bacteria. The gene appears to have arisen among farm animals and has now been found in human hospital patients.

Factory Farming and Antibiotics Are Inextricably Entangled

The AMR report states: “…we believe that there is sufficient evidence showing that the world needs to start curtailing the quantities of antimicrobials used in agriculture now.” The authors present three proposals for pursing this course of action: 1) establish a global target to reduce antibiotic use in food production to an agreed level and restrict the use of antibiotics that are important for human health; 2) rapidly develop minimum standards to reduce antimicrobial-manufacturing waste released into the environment; and 3) improve surveillance to monitor the problem and the progress toward its solution.

Dairy cows

Though these proposals may begin to address the crisis, they stop far short of a measure that is obvious to any farm animal advocate. Implementing regulations or incentives to reduce antibiotic use in factory farming is treating the symptom, not the disease. The excessive use of antibiotics in factory farming is motivated by the essential nature of the industry, which is based on treating animals as units of mass production. As long as staggering numbers of animals are raised in intensive confinement, these animals will continue to be especially vulnerable to pathogens, and the farms where they live will continue to present a threat to human health. Factory farming is the disease, and ending it is a therapy the world desperately needs.

For all those who view the abolition of factory farming as an extreme measure, the recent reports of accelerating antibiotic resistance should be a wake-up call: The situation is already extreme. We are facing a catastrophic threat to human health, and in these desperate times, the dismantling of industrial agriculture is an eminently sane measure.

Want to make your voice heard about this issue? Sign our petition to urge your elected officials to take a stand.

How You Made a Difference for Farm Animals in 2015

Join Farm Sanctuary as we look back at the miracles you made happen this past year by putting compassion first for farm animals. As 2015 draws to a close, we are reminded that every farm animal is special and deserves a life free from cruelty and abuse.

Thank you for helping Farm Sanctuary be the rescuer, caregiver, and advocate farm animals desperately need. A compassionate world begins with you!

Your support helped make miracles happen for farm animals in 2015! These are some of the incredible individuals whose…

Posted by Farm Sanctuary on Friday, 25 December 2015