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(Natural News) Is your root canal making you sick? As strange as it may sound, it turns out that “simple” dental procedure may not be so safe after all. Root canal-treated teeth can end up harboring all kinds of harmful pathogens, which in turn harm the health of your entire body. While the mainstream dental…

Why Big Pharma is jeopardizing millions of lives for profit

What scientists warned would happen decades ago is coming to pass.1 Antibiotic resistance has become a major threat worldwide and the primary cause of this man-made epidemic is the misuse of antibiotics.2 Pharmaceutical drugs are used to combat bacterial infections in humans and animals, but over the past decades have been widely overprescribed.3

For example, viral infections cannot be treated with antibiotics,4 yet many have been prescribed antibiotics for a cold or the flu — both of which are viral.5 According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 30% of the 269 million antibiotic prescriptions written in 2017 were unnecessary.

Antibiotics are also routinely used for growth promotion in livestock and are promoted by pharmaceutical companies as a means of preventing disease in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) where illnesses spread quickly.6 Unfortunately, fear is a powerful way to sway and distort reality and ultimately limit the freedom to make choices based on truth.

According to the CDC,7 “Resistant bacteria are more common in settings where antibiotics are frequently used: health care settings, the community and food animal production.” Despite the number of prescriptions written each year, the majority of antibiotics used in the U.S. are found in industrial agriculture.

In the U.S. alone, antibiotic-resistant pathogens conservatively cause 2 million infections annually and lead to 23,000 deaths each year.8 The rise in pan-resistance (resistance to multiple drugs) has increased use of carbapenems, an antibiotic of last resort. Alarmingly, carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae are rapidly becoming more common in hospitals.9

Despite these statistics, and the knowledge that overuse of antibiotics in animal production is one of the largest driving forces behind antibiotic-resistant bacteria, pharmaceutical companies continue to push livestock production facilities to use antibiotics to prevent “Pig Zero.”10

Farmers swayed by threat of ‘Pig Zero’

Recognizing that overuse and misuse of antibiotics contributes to the rising threat in drug-resistant infections, in 2017 the World Health Organization issued recommendations to farmers and the food industry to:11

“[S]top using antibiotics routinely to promote growth and prevent disease in healthy animals. The new WHO recommendations aim to help preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics that are important for human medicine by reducing their unnecessary use in animals.

In some countries, approximately 80% of total consumption of medically important antibiotics is in the animal sector, largely for growth promotion in healthy animals.”

In the pork Industries trade show held in Des Moines, Iowa, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies producing drugs for livestock was promoting the opposite message. Posters and brochures warned farmers, “Don’t wait for Pig Zero,”12 referencing a commonly used term in human medicine — “Patient Zero” — the person identified as the first carrier of an infectious disease.

The drugmaker Elanco encouraged farmers to use antibiotics for their herd as a preventative measure, rather than treating a disease outbreak. For industrial farmers, fearful of losing an entire herd in crowded, germ-prone conditions, it’s an appealing idea. The pamphlets detailed how a daily regimen of antibiotics may increase profit as pigs grew heavier and farmers had more meat to sell.13

Elanco is a small spin-off from the larger parent company, Eli Lilly.14 The company is in the midst of developing antibiotic alternatives for animals, such as vaccines and enzymes.15 However, they continue to promote antibiotics in exactly the way global health officials are trying to curb.

Aggressive use of antibiotics in livestock is a primary driving force of antibiotic-resistance. However, Elanco is not alone. For example, rival Zoetis promotes the use of antibiotics to boost weight gain in cattle.16

Dr. Gail Hansen, former state health veterinarian and epidemiologist, equated the problem to climate change, commenting to The New York Times,17 “The reality is that antibiotics and large-scale industrial farming really grew up together. By the time people understand and believe it, it may be too late.”

CAFOs breed antibiotic resistance in livestock

Once The New York Times began asking questions, Elanco decided to switch gears and stop marketing Pig Zero. Shabbir Simjee, Elanco’s chief medical officer told The New York Times18 the antibiotics in the Pig Zero campaign would not be administered without animals showing clinical signs of illness.

He compared the program to a child at a day care center and said, “If one child gets sniffles, you usually find that the whole class ends up with a cold, and this is exactly the same principle.” However, as The New York Times19 so aptly pointed out, the children almost certainly would not be treated with preventive antibiotics and many scientists believe livestock should not be treated this way either.

Gastropod reports that, historically, antibiotics use began in poultry in 1948 when experiments showed the addition increased the growth of chickens 2.5 times faster than those eating a standard diet.20

The news quickly spread, and within a few short years, American farmers were feeding half a million pounds of antibiotics a year to their animals. Scientific American reported one terrifying downside to this practice:21

“Antibiotics seem to be transforming innocent farm animals into disease factories. Recent research shows that segments of DNA conferring drug resistance can jump between different species and strains of bacteria with disturbing ease, an alarming discovery. By simply driving behind chicken transport trucks, scientists collected drug-resistant microbes from the air within their cars.”22

In 2013, 131,000 tons of antibiotics were used worldwide in livestock and it is anticipated this number will rise to 200,000 tons in 2030.23 A study24 found proximity to pig manure increased the chance of becoming infected with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and 45% of those working with pigs were colonized with MRSA, 30 times greater than the national average.

A study funded by WHO and published in The Lancet25 found if antibiotic use was reduced in food-producing animals, it would reduce the antibiotic-resistant bacteria found in animals by up to 39% and may similarly reduce the bacteria in humans.

FDA rule professes to limit drugs in livestock

In 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)26 began a voluntary plan recommending industrial farms phase out the use of certain antibiotics in animal feed or drinking water.

The FDA cited the use of antibiotic drugs contributing to the development of antimicrobial resistance and stated they would be issuing a final guidance document. Four years later, in 2017,27 they issued a final rule for their Veterinary Feed Directive, stating they were taking important steps toward fundamental change in how medicinally important antibiotics could be used.

The agency announced it would be moving toward eliminating the use of drugs for production purposes and recommended antibiotics only be used under the supervision of licensed veterinarians. However, the FDA left a very large loophole in place. The FDA wrote:28

“The rule facilitates veterinary oversight in a way that allows for the flexibility needed to accommodate the diversity of circumstances that veterinarians encounter, while at the same time ensuring that veterinarians in all states are conducting such oversight in accordance with nationally consistent principles.”

Federal rule doesn’t go far enough

The New York Times29 reported that former Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, NY-D, who was the only microbiologist serving in Congress before her death, regretted that the FDA’s rules were riddled with loopholes. “It’s useless,” she said of the regulations. “That’s why the industry’s supporting it.”

One year after their final rule, the FDA released data showing a reduction in the amount of medically important antibiotics sold for use in livestock.30 They reported domestic sales had declined by 28% since the first year the FDA started collecting data in 2009. However, the data only represented sales and distribution and not how the drugs were used.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, which advocates for restrictions on the use of medically important antibiotics in food production, reports beef and pork Industries continue to be high users.31

The beef industry racked up 2.3 million kilograms (kg) in antibiotic sales in 2017, while pork producers had 2 million kg, compared to 268,000 kg for poultry. Senior attorney at NRDC, Avinash Kar, said in a press release:32

“We are seeing real progress, but the American meat industry continues to have a drug problem and the clock is ticking to solve it. Far more antibiotics important to humans still go to cows and pigs — usually when they’re not sick — than to people, putting the health of every single one of us in jeopardy.

The good news is, the data shows change is possible and can happen quickly. To keep these life-saving drugs working for treating sick patients who need them most, the beef and pork industries have to step up.”

Undersecretary wants focus on promoting Big Pharma

Ellen Silbergeld, Ph.D., a leading American expert in the field of environmental health and professor at Johns Hopkins University, has worked with WHO on drug resistance. She succinctly told The New York Times33 the reason pharmaceutical companies are promoting drugs is simply “money, honey.”34 “That’s what it’s all about. That’s what it’s always been about.”

Big companies always do well when they have an ally in Washington, and now President Trump has appointed Ted McKinney, one of Elanco’s past executives, as the undersecretary of agriculture.

According to The New York Times, in a meeting in Rome, summer 2018, McKinney told food safety regulators that too much energy was focused on consumers and called for food safety regulators to rededicate their focus on pharmaceutical companies and research scientists as their customers.35

Jeffrey Simmons, Elanco’s chief executive, was invited to a White House summit meeting where he pledged to find antibiotic alternatives. However, while microbiologists, WHO and others emphasize the urgency of fighting antibiotic resistance, Simmons says it must be balanced against food supply.

In an interview, The New York Times36 reports, Simmons said he’s “not doing it for a paycheck or profits. Purpose has to override that.” Yet, in 2018, Simmons’ paycheck was $5.4 million from Elanco in salary and benefits, including a base salary of $775,185, annual equity grant of $1.2 million, $907,450 in bonuses, 1% shareholder payouts, plus shares and options.37,38

What are your options?

The antibiotics fed to livestock and the antibiotic resistant bacteria they create are an antibiotic disaster pharmaceutical companies have a financial incentive to hide. Worldwide, 700,000 people die every year from antibiotic-resistant disease39 and it’s estimated more will be affected by antibiotic-resistant infection than by cancer by 2050.40

You may reduce your own exposure and vote with your pocketbook by avoiding meat produced in CAFOs. Increasingly, consumers are demanding sustainably-sourced, antibiotic-free meat and other animal products. When you choose foods from farmers who are doing it the right way, you may help prompt a real change in the industry.

The NRDC is fighting to reduce the use of antibiotics in factory farms where it is giving rise to numerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria. They report seeing significant progress in the chicken industry but are working hard to reduce use in beef and pork by placing pressure to provide more transparent information about antibiotic practices. You may join the fight by signing their most current petition.

I encourage you to either buy directly from a trusted farmer or look for the American Grassfed Association (AGA) logo,41 which provides grass fed standards and certification for meat and dairy grown in the U.S.42 The greater transparency and conformity was prompted by the growth of the industry and a lack of government oversight.43

The AGA logo means the animals were fed a lifetime diet of 100% forage and raised on pasture, not in confinement.44 They were not treated with hormones or antibiotics45 and all of the animals were born and raised in America.46 With growing antibiotic resistance, and as CAFOs represent ground zero for their overuse, avoiding these animal products is likely more important now than ever.

Video reveals appalling abuse at Coca-Cola CAFO

Falling sales of carbonated beverages1 likely prompted The Coca-Cola Co. to make an undisclosed investment in a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) Fair Oaks Farm, where travelers have the option to purchase a meal and tour a dairy operation.

Coke teamed with Select Milk Producers (created by Fair Oaks owner Mike McCloskey), currently one of the top 10 and fastest-growing milk cooperatives in the country,2 and Fair Oaks Farms (owned by the McCloskey husband and wife team) to form Fairlife LLC.3

Although a recent investigation spearheaded by the Animal Recovery Mission (ARM)4 has revealed horrific and inhumane animal treatment on the Fair Oaks dairy farm, it is not the first time Coca-Cola has come under the microscope for unethical practices.

In 2008, Common Dreams5 reported the University of Michigan mandated an independent assessment of operations in India if Coca-Cola wanted continued business with the University. Reports had emerged showing communities were losing groundwater supply after bottling plants were established.

The assessment found The Coca-Cola Co. approached operations in India from a “business continuity” perspective, ignoring any impact on the community, overexploiting groundwater usage and burdening communities. Coca-Cola has also been implicated in influencing China’s obesity policies, promoting exercise over nutritional intake to increase their sales.6

June 4, 2019, ARM released the first of several videos shot by an undercover investigator who had infiltrated the Fair Oaks Dairy in November 2018. The footage is graphic and disturbing.7,8

In a press release dated June 6, 2019, The Coca-Cola Company stated: “Last week, we were devastated to see a video from Animal Recovery Mission (ARM) showing acts of animal cruelty …” the timing of which appears to indicate they had early access to the information.9

Fairlife — Not so fair a life after all

After the investigator from ARM was hired at Fair Oaks, he reported receiving no work orientation and immediately observed abuse.10 The undercover investigator told ARM he had notified supervisors within Fair Oaks Dairy. He alleges the staff, including foremen and upper management, were aware of the abuse and the animal abusers were never reprimanded.

In conjunction with the release of the videotaped abuse at Fair Oaks Farm, the Newton County Sheriff’s Office received a binder including a summary of the investigation and an external hard drive with video and audio footage captured at Fair Oaks.11 Thus far, ARM has released three videos documenting animal abuse and cruelty.

In the first two, the video showed calves at Fair Oaks being thrown, hit and kicked in the head, dragged by the ears and burned with branding irons. The carcasses of dead calves were piled together in a working dairy that has doubled as America’s only dairy theme park,12 offering tours like Dairy Adventure,13 where families could witness the “fun-filled life of a cow.”14

Fair Oaks has been described as Fairlife’s “flagship farm,”15 where cows were milked on rotating carousels behind glass windows, so tourists could watch. What stayed out of sight were what the behind-the-scene videos show: Workers pushing, hitting and prodding cows reluctant to get onto the rotating milking platform, and cows getting caught in the machinery and falling off.

The investigator reported he did not witness any medical attention given to the animals, nor did any of the footage caught by the hidden camera worn by the investigator during his months on the farm record any treatment. The Indy Star reported the investigator found cows with infected eyes, broken and bleeding tails, infected udders, limping and too weak to walk.16

Poor living conditions, the discarded bodies of dead cows and the regular sounds of gunshots as cows and calves were euthanized were not uncommon.17 After birth, the investigator saw the females forced back onto the carousel while the newborn calves were separated from their mother and kept in below-freezing sheds.18

Inhumane behavior found throughout the dairy farm

Rachel Taylor, ARM’s public relations director, said of Fair Oaks in the Indy Star:19 “They claim very very publicly that it’s about transparency. But they are not showing the public everything that happens.”

Although the initial news reports lay the blame on four employees,20 A.J. Garcia, director of investigations for ARM, reported the investigator had informed upper management of what was happening, and nothing was done.

The original videos also showed workers at Fair Oaks using drugs on the farm, and the third video demonstrates abuse being carried out by a different set of Fair Oaks employees during a different period than the first two videos.

Garcia was asked why he and ARM did not go to the police with their initial information in 2018. He explained ARM wanted to build a strong case and not put their undercover operative at risk. He told the IndyStar:21

“We need to have evidence that this happens on a daily basis, and it’s not one week, it’s not one month, it’s every day. We need to be able to show that to the public, so that people don’t say this only happened that day, this only happens when only this worker is there. So we need to be able to provide long-term evidence.”

Warning — Graphic descriptions quoted below

Despite reports of abuse, Mike McCloskey, co-founder of the Fair Oaks Farm and a veterinarian,22 allegedly had no knowledge of what was happening on his own farm. Once the videos were released, Fairlife milk was pulled off the shelves at a number of retailers, including Jewel-Osco and Pete’s Fresh Market.23

Joel Kerr, executive director for the Indiana Animal Rights Alliance, spoke to a reporter from the Indy Star, saying he was not surprised by the release of the extended 90-minute video from ARM. He went on:24

“Last week the videos were released, Fair Oaks then said it was only a few people, it was just an isolated incident, and they were going to fix the problem. The video that came out today shows it clearly was not an isolated incident, it was multiple employees on multiple Fair Oaks properties.”

Richard Couto, founder of ARM said in a statement:25

“We waited so long to go public from this because we had to get all undercover operatives out of the field. The release [Tuesday] and the release of Operation Fair Oaks Farms is a very small portion of our investigation. This is going to go on and continue. Releases are forthcoming.”

In a video, Couto said:26

“The calf abuse is by far the worst baby abuse that we’ve seen ever, undercover, in any investigation, anywhere in the world. The newborn babies … are so incredibly brutalized, not once a day, not twice a day — all day.”

In a statement, ARM said the investigator spent three months hired as a calf care employee at the Prairies Edge North Barn. NBC News Chicago printed part of the statement from ARM:27

“Employees were observed slapping, kicking, punching, pushing, throwing and slamming calves. Calves were stabbed and beaten with steel rebars, hit in the mouth and face with hard plastic milking bottles, kneed in the spine, burned in the face with hot branding irons, subjected to extreme temperatures, provided with improper nutrition, and denied medical attention.”

While the recent videos and reports demonstrate the despicable manner calves and cows are treated, Kerr points out this is not an isolated incident in one CAFO but happens at dairy farms across the country. He cites other animal rights investigators have discovered similar types of behavior over the past years.28

Fair Oaks opened their doors to offset public resentment

Remarkably, McCloskey claims29 he was completely unaware of the abuse happening on a farm he opened to the public in 2004 with the intention to demonstrate to animal rights groups his farm was different from those born out of a culture prioritizing productivity over sustainability and animal care.

In an effort to change the narrative, he commented to Fortune Magazine, “We thought, hey, wait a second. We lived all our lives being proud of what we do, and we thought we should open our doors.” More than 50,000 people came to Fair Oaks Dairy in the first 12 months and 500,000 visited in 2015.30

McCloskey’s farm uses digesters to transform cow manure into methane gas, which in 2016 powered the electricity running the farm and the digesters. They purified it to 99% methane and began using it themselves in compressed natural gas engines in a fleet of 42 trucks that deliver their milk.

Once the biogas is siphoned off, water is pressed out leaving high nitrogen fertilizer paste the company uses on acreage where they grow the cows’ feed.31 At the time of the interview in 2016, Sue McCloskey talked about distilling the water, then filtering it through the wetlands and using it to brew beer. Mike McCloskey was quoted in Fortune:32

“When you drink that beer it’s going to be the water that the cows drank that made the milk that produced the gas that ran the trucks that created the fertilizer that grew the crops that created the protein that the cows ate and now is the water we use to make the beer.”

The farm also produced some organic milk, and to qualify as organic, the cows had to graze on pasture at least 120 days a year. This made it impossible to collect manure for the digesters. The organic cows also didn’t produce as much milk as those fed the genetically modified ingredients McCloskey prefers.

According to the piece in Fortune Magazine:33 “Still, Mike has reached a point where he feels there’s nothing he can’t explain or justify. ‘My doors are open, and you see everything I’m doing.'”

Coke seeks ‘premium’ label on milk

The partnership between Coca-Cola and Fair Oaks Dairy, which began in 2014, was initiated to roll out a premium milk product ultrafiltered to concentrate nutrients and separate fats and sugars.34 The company boasted the milk had 50% more protein, 30% more calcium and half the fat of whole milk.35

Sue McCloskey, a co-founder of Fair Oaks, told NPR’s Dan Charles36 she came up with the idea after being forced to filter water when she and her husband were running a dairy farm in New Mexico. They believed there was potential in separating milk into parts and then reassembling it into a reformulated, ultrafiltered, high-protein beverage that would be better than Mother Nature could make.37

Once they partnered with Coca-Cola, the idea went national, moved by the monstrous marketing muscle of Coca-Cola. After joining forces with Coca-Cola, they created Fairlife, under which the new line of milk-derived beverages would be marketed.38

McCloskey and his cousin Manuel Perez, also a veterinarian, have plans to build a dairy in Puerto Rico where he was raised. Born in Pittsburgh, his mother moved the family to Puerto Rico when he was 7 years old after her husband died. McCloskey plans to prove a dairy farm can be as efficient in the tropics as the one he built in Indiana.

McCloskey and Perez plan to plant a new kind of pasture with grass adapted to the tropics and a new genetic breed of cattle that “produces lots of milk but can also tolerate tropical heat and insect pests.”39

Benefits of raw milk products

There are many reasons to reconsider your consumption of pasteurized CAFO milk — animal rights abuses being just one of them. Pasteurized milk is also devoid of many nutrients that makes raw organic grass fed milk such a healthy food.

Unfortunately, raw milk has been wrongfully demonized as a health hazard, primarily by the conventional dairy industry. It is important to understand that for raw milk to be healthy and safe, it must come from healthy, organically raised cows that graze on pasture.

Drinking unpasteurized milk from cows raised in a CAFO may be lethal. This is due to the differences in the way the cows are raised and fed. Interestingly, high-quality raw organic milk takes advantage of the white blood cell count in raw milk to reduce your risk of food poisoning, something not found in pasteurized milk.

Raw milk also contains large quantities of beneficial bacteria, which you may benefit from during the winter by eating butter and cheese made from raw dairy. RealMilk.com can help you find a local producer of raw milk. There you will also find information about the legal status of raw dairy products in your state. For a further discussion, see “Livestock nutritionist defends raw milk safety,” in which Dr. William Winter and I discuss the safety and benefits of raw milk.