Thursday, February 11, 2010

Katie Couric's Report, Part 2

Pork Industry Strives to Set the Record Straight in Wake of CBS Story

A two-part report aired on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric focused on antimicrobial use in food animal production and it got the attention of the agriculture industry.

Among other things, the report suggests antibiotic use in livestock is leading to more resistance in humans, a trend Dr. Jen Greiner says isn't supported by the science.

"We're just not seeing those trends," Greiner said. "Our producers are working on using antibiotics responsibly on farms each and everyday."

Greiner is Director of Science and Technology for the National Pork Producers Council. She notes Denmark placed a ban on antibiotic growth promoters in the late 1990s, and while CBS called it a great success story, Greiner says that's just not the case.

"When you go to Denmark and talk to producers in that country they will tell you that banning antibiotic growth promoters not only created more pig deaths and caused their pigs to suffer, but also it didn't have a positive public health outcome," Greiner said.

Greiner says that legislation that has been introduced in the House would not only ban antibiotic growth promoters but would also ban antibiotics for preventing disease as well as controlling disease. Meaning producers would only have the ability to treat a clinically sick animal. Greiner says that would be an unmitigated disaster for the industry and ultimately impact consumers.

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In a classic example of one-sided reporting, Katie Couric told her audience last night that there are no reasons good reasons to use antibiotics in livestock. She said the only reason that it was being done in factory farms in this country was to make more money. Increasing the level of sickness and death in our livestock herd doesn’t sound like a great idea to me. All of us are concerned about keeping antibiotics effective, which is why strict usage guidelines are followed. While Couric had the opportunity to tell the whole story of antibiotic use and how that affects livestock health and food safety, she chose not to.

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