When Farms Become Pharmacies

Itís 12pm: time for a veggie bowl. Kale is your saviour. Soy dogs are for when you want to live life on the edge. But just because youíre staying clear of Big Macs, doesnít mean theyíre staying clear of you. McDonaldís new phrase might as well be ďIím [drugginí] itĒ–and this goes for all factory farms across the country that continue to drug burgers, chicken fingers, and the general population–meat eaters and vegetarians alike–with a giant and unnecessary dose of antibiotics.

Global warming, pandemics such as bird and swine flu, and a national healthcare cost that we all carry are a few of the nation-wide crises that factory farms yield. But the overuse of antibiotics is arguably the most imminent issue regarding mass produced meat. So, how do antibiotics reach us when we arenít standing in line at the pharmacy counter?

Well, one way is water. Americaís factory farms produce twice as much waste as humans do, and this waste isnít exactly disposed of effectively due to Clean Water Act loopholes and the sheer amount of animal manure coming from farms. Animal waste is emptied into open lagoons or spread over fields, and much of it leaks into groundwater, surface water, and, therefore, drinking water. The massive amounts of antibiotics and hormones used to treat animals is present in these deposits and flushed into our water system so that many people across the country are taking a sip of water with a side of antibiotic traces.

Additionally, animal antibiotics are putting the country at risk of getting sick, and not being able to take medicine to get better. Since animals receive 80% of the countryís antibiotic supply (thatís 30 million pounds of antibiotics a year), humans are indirectly taking their medicine when they donít need it. This results in bacteria-resistant to antibiotics, meaning that common illnesses become harder and more expensive to treat.

Sustainable farming that only uses antibiotics on animals that are actually sick is one way to curb the impacts of the meat industry. But, a more imminent policy has the power to incite change, as the FDA has made plans to eliminate penicillin and two forms of tetracycline from factory farms–albeit the change in policy is undergoing delays and discussion. The discussion of removing antibiotics from factory farms is at least on the table, resulting in baby steps for FDA officials. At a consumer level, many are beginning to understand that their relationship with food doesnít necessarily need to be for better or for worse, or in sickness and in health.

Factory Farming 101
Can We Get Antibiotics Out of the Meat Industry?
Drug-Resistant Staph Spells Trouble for Meat Industry

By Kara Foran


Monica D.
Monica D5 years ago

Thank you for this article about an important issue.

Carrie Anne Brown

thanks for sharing

Dan Martin
Dan Martin5 years ago


Silas Garrett
Silas Garrett5 years ago

From the title, I thought it was was going to be about herbal medicine or perhaps particularly healthy foods. I guess it was not quite that.

rene davis
irene davis5 years ago

really good article ty.

Miranda Parkinson

So shocking that it has been allowed to get to this level. We will just have to be the change and buy organic which unfortunately, not all can afford!

Susan A.
Susan A5 years ago


John B.
John B5 years ago

Thanks to the Editors for posting this insightful and informative article by Kara Foran. I do not buy factory farm produce or meat but purchase my produce from local organic growers and humanely raised and slaughtered meat from local farmers in my area.

Nadine H.
Nadine H5 years ago

since when does the FDA wait or negotiates with someone that is doing something wrong for us, (who pays them with our taxes?????)

Paulina Sobolewska
Past Member 5 years ago