Animal Welfare Approved

Agricultural Policy

Farming’s Bitter Pill: Has the FDA flouted its own evidence about the safety of farm antibiotics?

By Andrew Gunther | January 28, 2014

A damning new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) reveals that our Government has been ignoring the very real risks to public health from routine antibiotic abuse in intensive livestock farming.

According to the NRDC’s new report, Playing Chicken With Antibiotics, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—whose key remit it to protect public health—permitted the nontherapeutic use of 30 medicinally important antibiotics, including 18 rated as “high risk” to human health, on industrial farming operations despite knowing this could pose a direct threat to human health through the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria. It makes truly somber reading for anyone concerned about future public health—and the independence of our Government agencies from vested corporate interests.

Industry Assurances Over Drug Safety Found To Be Misleading?

By Andrew Gunther | October 3, 2013

Yet another industry assurance about the safety of the controversial practices used in intensive livestock production has been exposed as a falsehood.

Hot on the heels of recent public health and environmental scares associated with industrial livestock farming—including the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, ractopamine residues in pork, and arsenic residues in poultry meat—new scientific research on an anabolic steroid which is routinely used in industrial beef production in the U.S. is causing alarm.

Big Ag’s Bullying Tactics to Stop Meatless Monday are a Disgrace

By Andrew Gunther | July 3, 2013

Talk about paranoia: I’ve just read that the catering company which runs the various cafeterias on Capitol Hill is stopping its promotion of “Meatless Mondays.” The reason? An intensive meat industry front group, the entertainingly-named Farm Animal Welfare Coalition, has pressurized the catering company to cease supporting Meatless Monday on the basis that the promotion is actually an “acknowledged tool of animal rights and environmental organizations.”

Unauthorized GM Wheat Exposes The Insanity of Open-Air Field Trials

By Andrew Gunther | June 5, 2013

Unapproved, unwanted, and now out of control: the news that an unlicensed genetically modified (GM) wheat has been found growing on a field in Oregon – almost 10 years after it was supposed to have completely destroyed – sent shivers down my spine.

I’ve been blogging about the known and unknown risks of GM crops for a while. But we are now witnessing a real ‘escape-from-the-laboratory’ nightmare and, in a worst-case scenario, the impacts on U.S. agriculture could be truly devastating.

Public Health Warning: This Meat May Contain Life-Threatening Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria

By Andrew Gunther | April 30, 2013

Maybe it’s time we demanded a health warning on intensively produced meat products. Because when it comes to the link between modern so-called science-based industrial livestock farming and the rise of life-threatening antibiotic resistant bacteria, the evidence just keeps on coming.

Hot on the heels of a damning report by the Environmental Working Group, which revealed high levels of potentially life-threatening antibiotic-resistant bacteria on raw supermarket meat, the respected Consumer Reports has found potential disease-causing organisms in 90 percent of ground turkey samples purchased from stores nationwide. What’s more, many of the bacteria they identified were resistant to more than three antibiotic drug classes.

Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria: Big Ag Washes Its Hands of Any Responsibility

By Animal Welfare Approved | April 23, 2013

We can be pretty certain that in the coming days we will hear this message over and over again “So what if most of the meat on our supermarket shelves is contaminated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria? If you handle and cook your meat properly then a few bacteria shouldn’t be a problem; and if you get sick with an untreatable disease then it’s your own fault.’

This is the kind of contemptible retort we can expect from the intensive meat industry lobby and its many trolls in response to new research by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which reveals high levels of life-threatening antibiotic-resistant bacteria on raw supermarket meat. Yet the “cook it properly and everything will be OK” spin is just Big Ag’s latest attempt to absolve itself of any responsibility for squandering one of the most important medical innovations of our time– and putting American lives at risk.

GM Salmon: Why you should care!

By Andrew Gunther | February 6, 2013
Salmon Farm

It’s a well-known PR tactic to release bad or potentially unpopular news during the Holiday Season. So I always keep my eyes peeled to catch any news releases that might otherwise slip the net. I didn’t have to wait long.

On December 21, when most people were focusing on their upcoming festivities, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) quietly released its draft environmental assessment on the highly controversial genetically engineered (GE) salmon, created by AquaBounty Technologies Inc.

Big Ag Profits from Food Waste

By Andrew Gunther | January 10, 2013

We know that most of the world’s hungry live in the developing nations in the South. They are hungry because they cannot afford to buy food or grow it themselves, usually because of poverty, but also due to conflict, poor infrastructure, poor agricultural practices, and the over-exploitation of the environment, among other things. They are also hungry because much of their agricultural production is focused on generating food and livestock feed to supply Western markets. Recent price rises caused by harvest failures, commodity speculation, and the diversion of grain to produce biofuels over recent years have hardly helped matters (see for example Tom Philpott’s excellent blog on the horrendous impact U.S. biofuels policy is having on global food prices – and hunger).

Big Ag’s Gifts for 2012

By Andrew Gunther | December 21, 2012
Corn

As the year comes to an end it’s become a tradition of mine to write a note of gratitude to Big Ag for the many ‘gifts’ they’ve given us throughout the year that we didn’t really want, need or – in some cases – didn’t even know about. Here’s my top 10 for 2012…

#10 – Undermining Organic With Industrial Practices

Many people are putting their faith in the “certified organic” label as an easy way to support farming systems that care about animal welfare, our health and the health of the planet. But the popularity of organic food is attracting industrial-scale operators who are exploiting the organic regulations for their own short-term gains. In October, news broke that a large-scale “organic” egg producer was being sued for making misleading marketing claims about the welfare of its chickens. Judy’s Family Farm Organic Eggs’ cartons feature images of hens roaming on green fields, while the carton explains the hens are “raised in wide open spaces in Sonoma Valley, where they are free to ‘roam, scratch, and play’.” Yet it’s alleged that the birds are kept in covered sheds with no outdoor access, misleading consumers. Sadly, this isn’t an isolated incident…

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