05/01/2008 - Just when everyone is fretting over the price of food, the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production released a report that outlines the ways in which factory farming exacts an additional toll on both the Earth and the consumer. The pollution of streams and groundwater and the greenhouse gases produced by animal waste entail actual dollar costs borne largely by taxpayers, as well as more intrinsic concerns about human health, environmental damage and animal well-being.
The good news is that, among the trends laid out in the report, the most troubling is also among the most fixable: overuse of antibiotics in livestock, a major contributor to the creation of drug-resistant bacteria and thus a direct assault on human health. The danger isn't in what consumers eat -- the U.S. Department of Agriculture strictly limits antibiotic residue in meat -- but in the superbugs that become part of the environment.
Read the full editorial Antibiotics in Our Livestock on the Los Angeles Times Web site.