CLF Official Statement on PAMTA

Center for a Livable Future Statement on

The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA).

Washington, D.C. (July 15, 2009) – The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) Director Robert Lawrence, MD, issued the following statement today regarding recent Congressional action on the issue of antibiotic resistance.

On Monday, the U.S. House of Representatives held its first hearing this session on the important issue of antibiotic resistance. The Center for Livable Future (CLF) applauds the leadership of Rules Committee Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and her colleagues to support the increasingly critical public health recommendations put forward in the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (H.R. 1549/S. 619).”

“A panel of experts from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, science and business communities spoke at the hearing about the need to end non-therapeutic use of antibiotics as growth promoters in the production of food animals. The increase we continue to see in antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a major threat to the health of the public, and policymakers should move to phase out and ban the use of antimicrobials for non-therapeutic use in food animal production. PAMTA serves to curtail such use, instead saving antibiotics for therapeutic purposes only.”

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Is Smithfield Decision Not to Replace Gestation Crates Ethical?

alan-goldbergAlan Goldberg, Ph.D., is a former commissioner of the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production and is a guest blogger today for Livable Future.

The largest pork producer in the world, Smithfield Foods Inc., says it can’t afford to go through with one of its much-ballyhooed animal welfare improvement plans. The company said that it must delay plans to replace its “gestation crates” for pregnant sows with more humane “group housing.” Frankly, the decision comes as no surprise to me. Back in 2007, when the company announced that its 187 Smithfield-owned pig nurseries would be converted within 10 years, the executives refused to admit that the crates were inhumane. Rather, they said their decision was based on consumer preference. If Smithfield were truly concerned about growing consumer awareness and/or preference concerning how animals are raised for food, it would have also required that all of its contract facilities convert within the same 10-year span.

These gestation crates truly are appalling, and some have used the word cruel.  A sow living in a typical industrial facility will spend the majority of her life confined in these metal and concrete stalls that are so small that she can barely lie down, let alone turn around. I won’t belabor how awful gestation crates are – they are awful. Chances are you’ve heard a great deal about them as the Humane Society of the United States and other animal welfare organizations campaigned across the country in efforts to legally have them banned.  So far, six states have laws on the books that ban producers from using gestation crates. The European Union was ahead of the curve, requiring farmers to replace all gestation crates by 2013.

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Meatless Monday is Going Global

 

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I’m heartened to learn that the “meatless Monday” concept has taken hold globally. It is welcome news that former Beatles mega-star Paul McCartney and his daughters launched a new Meat Free Monday campaign in the United Kingdom, just weeks after Belgium’s city of Ghent enacted its own “Veggie Day.” I praise Sir Paul and the city of Ghent for publicly recognizing the health and environmental benefits of reducing the demand for meat worldwide.

For the past seven years, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Center for a Livable Future have embraced the nationwide “Meatless Monday” program. The campaign’s goal is to reduce the negative health and environmental impacts of industrially produced meat. The Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, a project of the Bloomberg School of Public Health and Pew Charitable Trusts, found that the current industrial system of producing food animals too often poses unacceptable risks to public health, the environment and the welfare of the animals themselves and that significant changes must be implemented now. Reducing the amount of meat we eat is a good first step. Read More >

“Go Red for Women” Gets Stronger by the Week

This Friday millions of Americans will wear red to highlight women’s risk of dying from heart disease.  About ten times as many women die from heart disease as breast cancer in the United States each year, yet an astonishing 90 percent of primary care doctors still don’t know that heart attacks kill more women than men. This year Healthy Monday is urging women to continue wearing red once a week, to help sound the alarm all year long.

“By wearing something red every Monday, women can signal their commitment to their own heart health” says Sid Lerner, Chairman of the Healthy Monday Campaign. “By sharing the reason they’re wearing red with women they meet, that lifesaving information becomes viral.  If every Monday a woman tells two friends, and they tell two friends, pretty soon women all over the country will have this crucial information. It’s just like compounding interest, but it’s about saving lives.” Read More >

Diet and the Environment: A Message for Tomorrow’s Leaders

Looking for a challenge? Try explaining the connections of diet and its impact on the environment to a bunch of teenagers. That’s what Center for a Livable Future’s Roni Neff, PhD, did in the just released issue of Imagine, a national magazine for gifted 7th-12th graders published by the Center for Talented Youth at Johns Hopkins University. In a four-page feature article, “Food Matters. How What We Eat Affects Our Health and the Planet,” Roni discusses the industrialization of U.S. agriculture and its impact on government policy, public health, and global climate change. Read More >

Poultry Run-off, Antibiotics Use Must Be Addressed

The recently-released report from the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production (“Experts Urge U.S. to Bar Drugs in Animal Feed,” The Baltimore Sun, April 30, 2008) not only sheds further light on issues that should concern everyone in the Chesapeake Bay Region, but also offers some achievable recommendations to help improve our state’s resources for generations to come.

The comprehensive 2-1/2 year study by the Pew Commission, which focused on the effects of industrial farm animal production on public health, the environment, animal welfare, and rural America, found the routine use of antibiotics, along with poor-to-nonexistent waste handling procedures, of particular concern. These findings should resonate with Maryland residents who have witnessed the dramatic degradation of the Chesapeake Bay. Read More >