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Posts published in “Day: June 18, 2015”


The Oregon State Public Interest Research Group on Tuesday sent out an email warning about the spread of superbugs - mutations resistant to most existing poisons or other efforts against them. From it:

We know the danger is real.

Raising livestock and poultry on routine antibiotics is helping grow and spread the superbugs -- antibiotic-resistant bacteria -- that could soon kill more people than cancer. [1]

Yet far too often, we don't know or can't trust whether the meat we buy has been raised with or without antibiotics. It's time to stop the overuse of antibiotics and the next big step is to put a label on it.

We have a right to know whether our food threatens our health. Join our call on the USDA to label meat raised with routine antibiotics.

There's no question that overusing antibiotics poses a danger to our health. We've known this for decades. Yet, for decades, the industry has fed huge amounts of antibiotics to factory farm animals -- even when the animals were healthy.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria already infect more than a million Americans each year, and more than 23,000 die. Now, according to a recent study, resistant bacteria are projected to kill 10 million people per year by 2050.

We deserve to know whether the food we buy is contributing to the rise in drug-resistant superbugs.

I'm not alone in wanting labels. A Consumer Reports poll found that 83% of Americans want such a label to inform whether beef, pork, turkey, chicken or other meats in a grocery store come from animals routinely given antibiotics.

The good news is that consumers are demanding change. Thanks to you, we helped organize consumers to convince McDonald's to end the routine use of antibiotics in the chicken they sell.

More good news: The USDA is considering a simple requirement that meat carry labels telling consumers whether it was raised on antibiotics.

But with big food companies pushing back, the USDA isn't about to hand us a victory on a silver platter. We have to demand it. Add your name to our call for action. It's time to stop the overuse of antibiotics, and the next big step is to put a label on it.

First take

At what point did we cross the line when significant numbers of Americans thought torture was okay for us to do? It wasn't the case a generation or two ago; in the years I grew up, it was the bad buys - and only the bad guys, whether in fact or fiction - who tortured people. (At least as far as we knew or countenanced.) The good news yesterday was that the U.S. Senate decisively seemed to share that general concept; most of the Republican caucus and all of the Democrats led the 78-21 vote to reaffirm (this is not new policy, it's just re-upping what's already on the books) the official prohibition on torture. So what are we to make of the 21 senators who voted against? Idaho's two senators, Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, were the sole northwesterners (and that would include the Republicans from Alaska as well as the Democrats from Washington and Oregon and mixed delegation from Montana) to oppose the amendment banning torture. And why would they do that? Boise Weekly checked in with their offices, and got no response from Risch's. Crapo's statement had an on-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand quality: "In the past he has expressed reservations about some of the things that were done, but he has been increasingly vocal about the tools that our military has at their disposal, some of the restrictions that were put in place. At the same time, he is changing his mind and his tune on when we should put our troops out there—boots on the ground, so to speak. He is less inclined to do that, but when we do it, we ought not to hamstring them in regard to what techniques they can use, and I think this follows along with that." No. It's not that complicated. Crapo's vote was for saying that we're okay with torturing people who fall into our hands. And what message, and what moral license, does that give to people who capture Americans? And what kind of moral sense can we attribute to someone who supports the use of torture? - rs