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Fascinating story in the New York Times over the weekend about “the surge in drug-resistant infections” that the pieces describes as “one of the world’s most ominous health threats, and public health authorities say one of the biggest causes is farmers who dose millions of pigs, cows and chickens with antibiotics to keep them healthy — sometimes in crowded conditions before slaughter.”

These drug-resistant infections, the Times writes, “are spreading to people, jeopardizing the effectiveness of drugs that have provided quick cures for a vast range of ailments and helped lengthen human lives over much of the past century.”

You’d think that this spread would mean that federal investigators and regulators would be working overtime in the field to examine the practices at these farms and the use of antibiotics in animals.

You’d think.

But, the Times writes, “public health investigators at times have been unable to obtain even the most basic information about practices on farms. Livestock industry executives sit on federal Agriculture Department advisory committees, pour money into political campaigns and have had a seat at the table in drafting regulations for the industry, helping to ensure that access to farms is generally at the owners’ discretion.”

These executives, the story says, argue that “farmers needed protection against regulators and scientists who could unfairly harm their business by blaming it for a food-poisoning outbreak when the science was complex and salmonella endemic in livestock. The tension mirrors a broader distrust in agriculture and other business about the intention of federal regulators and other government overseers.”

You can read the entire story here.
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