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Response to 'big beef' article

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012 10:12 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012 10:12 a.m. CDT

From Clark BreDahl


The story, “Big Beef: Drug overuse in cattle imperils human health” which wasted the entire back page of Tuesday’s (12/11) CNA is another example of propaganda dressed up as news and shoved down a gullible public’s throat. The story was full of opinion, half truths and clichés, but sorely lacking in documentable facts. In ethical terms, it was barely worthy of placement on a signed editorial page.

Even a couple of phone calls to local feedlots could have verified that routine use of antibiotics in cattle diets is rare. We have fed cattle for over 25 years and have NEVER used antibiotics as a growth promotant. We'd be hard-pressed to point you to someone who does. Yes, when necessary, sick animals are treated with humane, measured care. But, if nothing else, adding drugs to a feed ration is expensive – especially if it isn’t needed.

I seriously doubt (as the story implied) that it is always possible to determine how a resistant strain of bacteria enters one’s system – or where it came from. But I do know that, ironically, hospitals are one of the leading sources.

I also know that antibiotics are grossly overused by humans, often being dispensed for viral infections, such as colds, for which they have little or no effect. Should we blame that misuse on “Big Medicine” or “Big Pharmaceutical” and attach a profit motive to it?

Could we even point a finger at ourselves? When antibiotics are legitimately prescribed to be taken for a set period of time, do we follow the instructions implicitly – or quit taking them early if we start to feel better – leaving only the most resistant bacteria behind?

There are many reasons why drug resistance may be on the increase, most of them unrelated to animal agriculture. “Big Media” blaming it all on one potential factor is shabby journalism at best or, worse yet, an outright lie.

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