×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

FDA Sued To Stop Antibiotic Abuse On Factory Farms

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the but-superbugs-are-super dept.

Government 298

Hugh Pickens writes writes "Medical groups from the American Medical Association to the American Society of Microbiology have appealed to the government and industry for years to restrict the practice of providing sub-therapeutic doses of antibiotics for livestock, lest critical antibiotics become useless for human treatments. Now Tom Laskawy reports that a coalition of environmental groups has decided to sue the Federal Drug Administration to follow its own safety findings and withdraw approval for most non-therapeutic uses of penicillin and tetracyclines in animal feed to healthy livestock when it's not medically necessary. 'While this may cause eyerolls among some who look at this as "just another lawsuit," there's something very important going on with the courts and contested science right now,' writes Laskawy. 'As it happens, one of the main roles of a judge is as "finder of fact." In practice, this means that judges determine whether scientific evidence is compelling enough to force government action."'"

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

298 comments

Federal Drug Administration? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36276322)

Which one is that?

Re:Federal Drug Administration? (2)

snl2587 (1177409) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276368)

It's the one that often sides with the US Dairy Association (USDA), and is a sub-agency of the US Department of Happy Human Specialists (HHS).

Re:Federal Drug Administration? (2, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276504)

It's one of the many government organizations staffed by executives from the companies that they regulate, so that they can facilitate the wishes of the corporations. For example, push through bovine growth hormone without due diligence and then have to reverse the decision years later, after it lead to far more contamination in the milk we drink as well as hideous "mutations" that can only be described as nightmarishly inhumane occurred in the cows themselves.

And, you know, then all the Monsanto evilness . . . since they have Monsanto executives in their mix. And the whole magic "now that we have people who are directly tied to the success of aspartame being approved sitting on the committee, we're going to go ahead and just approve aspartame" thing.

If the FDA ever does anything even remotely right, I can only assume it's done as a "okay, we're getting too much heat so lets at least do some token action to get people off our backs so we can continue being evil as shit".

Typical revolving door government, along the lines of "I"m Ken Lay and I run Enron and the president has just appointed me as security advisor and I'm going to advise that we deregulate energy to directly benefit my shady practices in fucking over California and manufacturing a non-existent energy crises so I can get rich".

Re:Federal Drug Administration? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36276570)

pro-tip: joke was FDA=Food and Drug Administration. But thanks for the rant!

Now hamburgers will: (3, Funny)

stokessd (89903) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276328)

Also fix that burning sensation when I pee...

Sheldon

Camels - smooth flavor (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36276358)

i'd like to dress like a camel and wave a turkey baster around squirting melted butter from the tip as I do some disco dancing and informing others about the secret camel colony on Uranus.

About fracking time (2, Insightful)

overshoot (39700) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276386)

Of course, I may be biased (says /me looking at a recent surgical scar and remembering the discussions with my surgeon of antibiotic-resistant postsurgical infections.)

Next, maybe some of our environmental guardians will do something about fracking ...

Re:About fracking time (1, Insightful)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276398)

Next, maybe some of our environmental guardians will do something about fracking

I'm pretty sure the Republicans have that particular crusade sewn up already...

Finding of fact? (5, Informative)

pesho (843750) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276390)

What part of the science is contested here? That the large scale use of antibiotics, particularly at low doses produces resistant strains?? This has been established for let's see... 50 years or so...

Re:Finding of fact? (5, Insightful)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276438)

People can be amazingly adept at "contesting" science they don't like. See: creationism, vaccines causing autism, climate change denial, or (a few decades ago) cigarettes being harmless.

Re:Finding of fact? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36276564)

It is perhaps especially telling that the same PR firms hired by the cigarette firms to slow down the acceptance of their harm and spread "scientific" controversy and "scepticism" on the cancer link are now being hired by the oil industry.

Re:Finding of fact? (2)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276520)

The contested part, as best I've been able to determine, is to what degree any of the antibiotic resistant strains is retained in beef flesh, survives cooking, and consumption, to affect humans. Those contesting this don't necessarily look at all possible vectors, such as runoff from pastures and feed lots, and they tend to point out that there is little evidence of any resistant bugs developing in cattle herds to date.

Its largely an economic argument based on cattle losses, but its not at all clear just how rigorous the studies have been.

Re:Finding of fact? (4, Informative)

similar_name (1164087) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276658)

The contested part, as best I've been able to determine, is to what degree any of the antibiotic resistant strains is retained in beef flesh

That's not really contested. Scientist know you can cook food to kill organisms. Most should even be able to tell you why. The problem is how much of the antibiotic properties are retained in an environment where cattle (or other livestock), fed with antibiotic feed, poop and pee. In other words it doesn't matter if the strains in your meat are cooked if the 'environment' is constantly exposed to antibiotics then so are the bacteria that cause infection. Thus, when you get an infection from one of those bacteria, that's been waiting for a cut in your skin, it's already been exposed to the antibiotic. This is known to cause resistance.

The idea that there is any debate over properly cooked food being a vector for resistant bacteria is a straw man.

Re:Finding of fact? (5, Interesting)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276936)

Whatever is or isn't contested by scientists and researchers, I can confidently say that farmers don't understand the issue: I heard a representative farmers being interviewed on NPR or PBS discussing the routine use of antibiotics for "growth promotin" (the farmer's words) -- he stated that the use of antibiotics in animal feed wasn't a problem because they only used low doses of antibiotics. He seemed to think that the issue was that the antibiotics might get into the food chain, rather than the problem of bugs developing resistance.

Re:Finding of fact? (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#36277002)

The contested part, as best I've been able to determine, is to what degree any of the antibiotic resistant strains is retained in beef flesh

That's not really contested. Scientist know you can cook food to kill organisms.

Well, had you read past the part you quoted, you would see that I addressed these issues. Its important to read the whole post.
And please remember, these are the opinions posted elsewhere that I am reporting, not my own.

Re:Finding of fact? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36276572)

The mechanism is well understood, but you also need numbers to estimate the impact and the damage.

If the studies indicate that human lives are actually lost due to the use of antibiotics for these farms, that's a different and more impelling story than just some concerned researches warning about theoretical consequences.

Resistant bacteria are certainly a major concern in hospitals, but I have no clue if there's any real danger of superbugs from cows on a farm infecting humans in a hospital. Maybe the FDA knows.

Re:Finding of fact? (4, Interesting)

St.Creed (853824) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276694)

We have 10 casualties in the last 3 days in Germany because of EHEC, a superbug resistant to most antibiotics. About 1000 people are sick, and a handfull in critical condition. Cause: cucumbers contaminated with the strain. Likely contaminated with dung from a farm using antiobiotics as growth enhancer.

Two weeks ago, in The Netherlands, research was published showing that 100% (yes, 100% - every single last sample) of tested chicken meat in supermarkets was contaminated with resistant bacteria. These bacteria are now being found on tomatoes and cucumbers as well - a main ingredient in salads and usually consumed raw (cleaned, but raw). Oh yeah - this was also happening with eco-tomatoes. Apparently contaminated by using the cow dung from a non-biological farm.

It sounds like a pun, but we're in deep shit already. And you know what? If my kid were to die from this, I'd kill every meatfarmer I could find before they could stop me. And the veterinarians as well: only recently they are introducing laws banning vets from also selling antiobiotics. I mean: wtf? These people are supposed to make cows better, right? Not sell as much antibiotics as possible to shore up their income and damn the consequences.

And did you know that it is now standard practice to isolate farmers that enter the hospital? They are so often carriers of resistant strains (and die more of that as well) that they are a healthrisk to everyone.

People are dying already. Only the ones who stand to lose money are denying this - and then only because they thing they won't be affected.

Re:Finding of fact? (4, Interesting)

overshoot (39700) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276776)

Oh yeah - this was also happening with eco-tomatoes. Apparently contaminated by using the cow dung from a non-biological farm.

Possibly, but not necessarily. Bacteria get around without trucks, after all. For just one example, there are these amazingly efficient biological product dispersion systems called "birds." Directly implicated in at least one widespread episode of salmonella contamination -- of peanut products, as I recall.

Re:Finding of fact? (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276932)

Minor nitpick: EHEC is not inherently antibiotic-resistant. It's just a particularly nasty strain of E. coli. Many EHEC organisms are, however, antibiotic-resistant.

Re:Finding of fact? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36277042)

We have 10 casualties in the last 3 days in Germany because of EHEC, a superbug resistant to most antibiotics.

As far as I can tell, antibiotics are not used in the treatment of EHEC, and I can not find any good sources for the claim that the strain in the Germany outbreak is multi-resistant.

And did you know that it is now standard practice to isolate farmers that enter the hospital?

I did not know that, and I am having trouble locating any statements to that effect.

Re:Finding of fact? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36276754)

Unfortunately(?) farms generally require human workers. Those human workers have families. Many may even have cars and some have flown on a plane or even been to L.A. or N.Y. See where I'm going. You're burnt (well-done) steak does not protect you. Resistant strains in hospitals are the direct result of the use of antibiotics in hospitals. OK, so hospitals constantly clean with bleach and other chemicals. When's the last time you saw a farm as clean as a hospital? Is that really the place you want the next resistant strain to show up? When's the last time you saw a farmer with a scrape? You're right though, no need to worry. It will just work itself out. Some percentage of the population will survive and yay! they will have more resistance to these super-bugs. The transition may suck a bit.

Re:Finding of fact? (1)

Zugok (17194) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276920)

I have no clue if there's any real danger of superbugs from cows on a farm infecting humans in a hospital. Maybe the FDA knows.

Whether or not it knows, could you found out form an FOIA request? I am in New Zealand so I have no idea how easy it is to get information from and FOIA request. The New Zealand equivalent OIA request has strict timelines for any kind of response and strict guidelines for reasons for a rejecting the supply of information.

Factory farming should stop, really (4, Insightful)

dindi (78034) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276396)

While I completely agree, that regulations have to be a lot stronger about hormones, GM products and antibiotics, I would like to see this go a step further: ban factory farming as a practice. It is inhumane, produces an unhealthy product, outbreaks of infections, excessive pollution and unnecessary suffering. I suggest to watch "Food Inc, Meet your Meat, and Earthlings for the non-faint at heart, both of which talk about the subject from different viewpoints.

Re:Factory farming should stop, really (1, Insightful)

plague911 (1292006) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276522)

I am against the use of antibiotics in the situation (we use them far too much for people even not just animals) But I have no problems at all with genetically modified foods. I consider opposition to them as crazy hippy bullshit and Id consider myself very liberal. Also factory farming is not inherently bad. Its just our government has not performed on its responsibility to properly regulate it.

Yes I have watched at least a few of these movies myself.

Re:Factory farming should stop, really (4, Insightful)

DurendalMac (736637) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276644)

GM foods themselves may not be a bad thing, but companies like Monsanto creating them are pure fucking evil. It's not just the government failing to do their jobs, it's also the bastards creating it and making sure the potentially harmful effects get hidden under a bunch of bullshit whenever possible, among many, many other things. If GM was handled responsibly and the books not cooked then we might wind up with some better crops and better meat in the long run, but when a company like Monsanto lies about their product and fucks people over in horrid ways...well, it makes people pretty averse to GM food.

Re:Factory farming should stop, really (0)

plague911 (1292006) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276740)

Thats a general patent law / large corporate corruptions / shitty FDA issue. The reason why Monsanto is in the position they are is that genetically modified foods are sometimes just that damn good. That they give the owner of the patent too much power. Once again. There is no problem with genetically modified foods.

Re:Factory farming should stop, really (5, Interesting)

DurendalMac (736637) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276798)

There is no problem with the IDEA of genetically modified foods, but the reality of it may not be so innocuous. For example, Japan has been pretty damned opposed to GM foods. Monsanto tried to market GM soybeans in Japan, but Japanese law made Monsanto publish far more material that was accessible to the public than most other countries. As a result, some poking found that Monsanto seriously cooked the results. They claimed a certain protein in their GM soybeans that was NOT present in regular soybeans would break down into harmless compounds when cooked. Sure...when you cooked the beans far hotter and far longer than anyone ever would. The protein itself may be harmless, but they pointed out that there was serious potential for allergic reactions to it in people who would have no problems with regular soybeans. There is a shitload of controversy over Monsanto, and it isn't just due to their filthy business practices. They push this stuff out to market before it has been tested. I think we can agree that if someone wants to make GM foods, they'd damned well better test the living piss out of it before it comes to market and be accurate and honest with the public in regard to the results of that testing.

Re:Factory farming should stop, really (0, Troll)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276922)

Ok, that all sounds nice in theory, but I don't exactly see people keeling over from soybean allergies.

I'm all for a reasonable level of proper regulation, but I wouldn't really consider that to be Japan. In any case, Japan doesn't really regulate more than anybody else - they just tend to do everything in a particular way so that all your money spent gaining certification in any other first-world nation gets you nowhere in Japan. Most companies then just work with a local Japanese company to navigate the red tape, and since that is all the local authorities care about that usually works out well.

Monsanto's problem is just that they didn't buy 49% or whatever of some Japanese company like everybody else does and issued the product under their name.

Re:Factory farming should stop, really (4, Insightful)

DurendalMac (736637) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276814)

And on another note, I think that if you want GM foods, go right ahead, but I also think that people should be able to pick and choose whether they have GM foods or not. Consumer choice and all that. Let the public decide. The problem is that assholes like Monsanto have tried pretty damned hard to keep that information away from consumers.

Re:Factory farming should stop, really (-1, Troll)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276924)

Bullshit. Corn, cotton, canola, soybean, sugar beet, alfalfa, papaya, summer squash. If you eat them, assume their GMO. It takes, what, five seconds on Google. I assume you're speaking of mandatory labeling, in which case, what point does that serve? To alarm, not inform, that's what. You think someone should slap a warning label on everything anyone's unconformable with? What about non-Kosher food, mandatory labeling? Haram food, that too? What if they want to know if the plant that produced their food was tissue cultured? Produced by using mutagens? What if I want to know the exact variety of the berries used in my cereal, or the line of hybrid wheat used in bread? Should that be labeled too? Sorry, it doesn't work that way. There's nothing wrong with GMOs, and as such, no one has moral or legal grounds for labeling. You want to label something as non-GMO? Fine. But don't make the rest of us pay for your scientific illiteracy.

Re:Factory farming should stop, really (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36276958)

The problem though is that big agri has been pushing to pass laws to prohibit makers of foods from advertising that their food is non-GMO or not produced with hormones. They're not at all interested in transparency.

Re:Factory farming should stop, really (1)

dindi (78034) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276972)

I go to the organic market every Saturday morning, buy 4 boxes of fruits and vegetables and eat them raw. All week, every day. I eat at a restaurant once in 3 months (and suffer like crap, or just drink a tea) . I only eat flour tortillas and rice-wraps that are not raw, I do not buy packaged food other than that.

I am for labeling 100%. I want to be able to make the choice to accept GMO or not. I would like a vegetarian/vegan and a GMO label on everything, strongly controlled by reliable agencies.

Re:Factory farming should stop, really (2)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276938)

I have no issues with truth in advertising, as long as they don't go nuts with it the way they have with "organic" - whatever that means.

I have similar objections to the USDA prohibiting farmers for doing 100% screening and labeling their meat as salmonella free. Apparently that would make other farms look bad and since all the meat is safe it isn't necessary so why should consumers have that choice?

The USDA is a very good example of regulatory capture. And, I tend to be somebody who is normally moderately pro-industry.

Re:Factory farming should stop, really (1)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276884)

The ironic thing is that there are tons of non-corporate GMOs out there, but only one (the Rainbow papaya created by the University of Hawaii and Cornell) made it to market. Why? Because the anti-GMO people protested and protested and demanded that regulation be so strict that only multi-million dollar companies can take the time and money to just through the FDA/USDA/EPA's hoops. As a result, horticultural crops (fruits, vegetables, nuts, and herbs & spices) simply don't have the backing to make it to market (and it isn't like people weren't already cutting hort funding to begin with anyway, shortsighted bastards). Then these same people have the huevos to complain about Monsanto and monopoly (which of course ignores Syngentia, BASF, Bayer CropScience, Dow Agrosciences, and Pioneer Hi-Bred) and monoculture! Beyond that, there has been so much fearmongering by anti-GMO assholes like Greenpeace that for a lot of crops there's so much fear of consumer rejection (ooh, I don't want DNA in my food!) that it's mostly agronomic crops like corn, soybean, canola, cotton, sugarbeet, and alfalfa, that are almost always processed and not seen in their original form, that are genetically modified, probably so that people won't really notice it much. And note that these are all huge chunks of the farming industry. Only one thing that isn't such a huge crop is currently GMO: virus resistant summer squash.

About Monsanto, see, I have this theory. Anti-GMO people (not saying you're anti-GMO, just in general) love to rag on Monsanto as much as possible, that way, if any pro-GMO people like myself correct them, we're seen as defending the big evil company, and are therefore shills. With that having been said, I really don't think the companies creating GMOs are all that evil. They're not benevolent, far from it, they're out to make money, end of story, just like car, banking, retail, pharma, tech, and entertainment companies. But, for all the flaws of companies like, say, Merck, Disney, or Wal-Mart, I'd hesitate to call them entirely evil, because they do do some good. Think of it like how you'd think of Merck and vaccines; sure, Merck may be assholes, but their products still keep measles from coming back. Believe it or not, farmers actually like them. They like their products, they've seen the decrease in pesticide and soil erosion GMOs have brought, and they want to keep using them In countries like the Philipines, India, and South Africa, where they don't always have pesticides, things like Bt cotton and corn are liked so much by some farmers that in India they actually have had problems with farmers stealing seed from scientific test plots. And while it is true that Monsanto is not nearly as open with their data as they should be, they have never hid any dangers under the rug, mostly because there are no known dangers. If there was truly a health problem with a particular transgenic crop, odds are it wouldn't take too long for someone to run a protein blot and find something. And then there's the issue with them suing over pollen drift, that's a bit iffy too (although it must be said that those they do sue they find them because they're buying their herbicide in large quantities, so those guys do indeed know full well what they're doing). I hate having to defend Monsanto sometimes, because anyone with rudimentary knowledge of the science behind GMOs gets called a paid shill anyway, but that's the truth.

People probably are uncomfortable with GMOs, how they were rushed to market back when they first came out, and Monsanto and all that, but do keep in mind that these same people almost inevitably protest every other GMO. Golden Rice, HoneySweet plum, Enviropig, BioCassava, Super Sorghum, and every unamed university made GMO of all kinds that I don't care to list. Most anti-GMO people are simply denialists, no different than any other unscientific denialist group. If you're truly against Monsanto, not an entire branch of science, that's fine, there's nothing wrong with that at all, but you are a minority.

Re:Factory farming should stop, really (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#36277032)

And while it is true that Monsanto is not nearly as open with their data as they should be, they have never hid any dangers under the rug, mostly because there are no known dangers.

Huh? The rBGH related [wikipedia.org] WTVT/Monsanto [wikipedia.org] affair? With the stupefying end of it: FCC policy against falsification (of news) was not a "law, rule, or regulation"?

More than half a world refuses to import beef/diary from US because of that, but that's simply crazy because "no danger are known", isn't it?

I know the example is not in the GMO topic, but anyway..., can I really trust Monsanto when saying "no known danger"?

Re:Factory farming should stop, really (4, Informative)

garcia (6573) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276750)

Well that's your opinion and you're entitled to hold it. However you're very wrong:

1. GMOs create monocultures which could severely damage society by allowing for a majority of crop types to be of one kind. If something comes along which the plants have no resistance to and wipes out the majority of crops sold on the planet we're fucked.

2. GMOs are patented. When the GMOs seed and spread to fields which do not have GMOs the owner of the patent can sue the farmer for using a crop which they own the patent for even though it's a derivative created by natural processes. Those lawsuits are detrimental to the farmers and provide the creators of the GMO with unending amounts of cash because everyone has to use their products.

3. GMOs require more and more pesticides because they're built to only germinate when the pesticide is used. I don't care if you're hippy or not, pesticides are just as bad as the hormones and antibiotics we're finding.

---

But hey, if you want to eat tasteless product created solely because it ships well and it requires pesticides to be purchased in order to grow so be it. It's your choice and I support that. However, I'll stick to my non-GMOs knowing that I'm supporting what we've used successfully for 1000s of years prior.

Re:Factory farming should stop, really (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36277030)

Where sort of already sort of fucked in the case of monocultures. If a giant corn destroying virus swept the US, the US would have profound food security issues. But yes GMO's make it all drastically worse by reducing the genetic diversity in corn crops, thus lowering the ability of corn to evolve a fight-back strategy.

You can also probably add to your list the effect of terminator seeds on traditional farming communities , particularly in india.When farmers can't seed save they lose their independence.

Re:Factory farming should stop, really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36277086)

Monoculture has and will be a problem with or without GMO foods. It really has no bearing on it.

For a good example, chrck out the potato famine.

Re:Factory farming should stop, really (3, Informative)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | more than 2 years ago | (#36277118)

1. GMOs create monocultures which could severely damage society by allowing for a majority of crop types to be of one kind. If something comes along which the plants have no resistance to and wipes out the majority of crops sold on the planet we're fucked.

That one doesn't even make sense. Genetic engineering is a way of improving a plant. Biodiversity is what you grow. What you're saying is like saying conventional breeding creates monoculture because there are more potatoes than oca, more apples than jujubes, more mangoes than lychees, more wheat than tef, more lettuce than chaya, more numeg than rosita de cacao, ect ect ect. There are hundreds of crops that people like you don't know or care about. Genetic engineering didn't banish them, they were out of the picture when it got here. Same way with interspecies biodiversity. People have been eroding that for a long time, just look at non-GMO crops like tomatoes. Whan was the last time you went to the store and saw an Ananas Noire, White Tomesol, Kellogg's Breakfast, Carbon, Green Moldovian, or Huge Yellow Oxhart tomato? You didn't, and they're not even genetically modified. In fact, I'd wager to gues you don't even know what biodiversity is, know nothing of the huge number of biodiverse crops out there. and that's just some talking point you heard. And quite frankly, as a huge proponent of biodiversity myself, I'd appreciate if people like you would shut the hell up and stop making the rest of us look like scientifically illiterate morons. Those things I listed above? That's the COMMON stuff. If you had to look them up, and lets face it, you did, you don't have much business talking about it.

2. GMOs are patented. When the GMOs seed and spread to fields which do not have GMOs the owner of the patent can sue the farmer for using a crop which they own the patent for even though it's a derivative created by natural processes. Those lawsuits are detrimental to the farmers and provide the creators of the GMO with unending amounts of cash because everyone has to use their products.

Congratulations, you've discovered the Plant Patent. Welcome to 1930. [wikipedia.org] Is it right? Maybe, maybe not, but either way, I know of nothing stopping anyone from patenting a naturally occurring mutant gene, and furthermore, that's business, not science, so has no relevance to the merits of GMOs. That's like saying that the possibility of being sued for downloading something is relevant to the artistic merit of a work of music, film, or literature.

3. GMOs require more and more pesticides because they're built to only germinate when the pesticide is used. I don't care if you're hippy or not, pesticides are just as bad as the hormones and antibiotics we're finding.

Wow, when did that happen. Funny, all the time I've studied GMOs, the lectures I've gone to, I've never heard about that one. Sounds like a combination of bullshit and you not knowing what you're talking about. First, you're confusing herbicide and pesticide (well, insecticide), which means your opinions on agriculture are as valid as a the medical opinion of guy who uses liver and kidneys interchangeably. There are GMO crops that produce their own pesticides, and these have actually REDUCE the use of pesticides. This is a fact supported by pretty much every agriculturist on the planet, if you disagree with it, you are wrong, and no, some link to Greenpeace is not a valid rebuttal. There are also those that resist herbicides, meaning you can kill weeds without tilling. Look up no-till agriculture. It's a good thing. And what are you going on about when you talk of getting them to germinate? GMOs germinate just fine. Perhaps you're thinking of the fact that farmers don't save seed? Yeah, that's hybrid seed for you. Look up Punnett Square and heterosis and try to figure that one out for yourself. Joking. Farmers don't save that seed because F2 looses stability, and that's no good for farmers. Now, maybe you're refering to the genetic use restriction technology (GURT) that is being developed that would require seeds be treated with a certain chemical to get the second generation to germinate. The rational is to prevent gene spread, so that people who don't want GMOs don't get them, and people who do want them can have them. Of course, the anti-GMO people are always against GMOs not matter what and can never be pleased (much like anti-vaccine denialsits who continued to complain about autism even after the mercury was removed from vaccines) so any strategy that assumes a rational response from them is doomed to failure. And your pesticide thing, quite being such a chemophobe. Most plants naturally have pesticides in them, it's the dose that makes the poison, get over it.

But hey, if you want to eat tasteless product created solely because it ships well and it requires pesticides to be purchased in order to grow so be it. It's your choice and I support that. However, I'll stick to my non-GMOs knowing that I'm supporting what we've used successfully for 1000s of years prior.

Do you even know the difference between a GMO and a hybrid? Funny, corn and wheat didn't even exist not too long ago. Actually, a lot of things didn't. Did you know that cabbage, broccolli, kale, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts are all the same species? Do you know how many citrus fruits are artificial, how many stone fruit crosses are new inventions? That appeal to antiquity is getting old. People complaining about GMOs always bitch about the long term effects, as if the ancient Romans, Mesopotamians, or Aztecs studied the long term effect of eating cabbage, wheat, and corn. And while it is true that many crops have been developed fro shippability over taste, that has zero to do with GMOs. There is not a single GMO on the market with that trait, but there are those developing that trait (mostly for the developing world where losses due to spoilage are a huge problem). If you like those things that can't be shipped you should be supporting GMOs, because they just might bring those crops the best of both worlds.

In conclusion, stop talking about something you know nothing about. You obviously know nothing about farming, and you clearly don't even know what genetic engineering is, or else you wouldn't have painted every GMO with the same brush (what about the Rainbow papaya or Golden RiceHoneySweet plum?). What really pisses me off, is that an anti-vaccine post, or an anti-evolution post, or whatever, if it made the equivalently bad arguments your post made, it'd be modded to the ground and dozens of corrections posted. Make an anti-GMO post, wrong as it is, and it's insightful. Man, agriculture classes really should be mandatory in high school.

Re:Factory farming should stop, really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36277142)

The problem with your argument is that you're not talking about GMO in general, you're talking about one specific type, albeit by far the most common type, of GMOs which is to genetically modify plants to be pesticide resistant and the business practices of primarily one company - Monsanto. On this type of genetic modification I agree totally with your sentiments, but that does not make GMO as a technology inherently bad.

There are plenty of potentially very beneficial uses of GMO. I was reading the other day about potentially being able to genetically modify wheat to fix its own nitrogen in the ground like legumes are able to. If they were able to pull off that feat then it would be an amazing benefit to society and the environment in reducing our reliance on fertilizers and I would happily eat that wheat. There are other potential benefits in improving the nutritional qualities of food and while I would be a little more cautious about that, that too is a potentially very good use.

The problem with labeling foods as GMO is that it isn't useful for the consumer. What I really want to know as the consumer is not that it was genetically modified, but for what purpose it was genetically modified (e.g. pesticide resistance) and whether Monsanto owns patents on the GM genes. Just labeling it as GMO doesn't tell me the information I want to know and unfairly stigmatizes all GMO food.

Re:Factory farming should stop, really (1)

dindi (78034) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276766)

I am not much of a biologist, but things in nature are usually somewhat logical.

For me it is easy to see, that if you take a completely healthy to eat plant, start modifying it so it withstands all kinds of things it should not do, then start mass-feeding it to people without a long-term study leads to bad things and public opinion. Then there are the corporations who patent these and do not allow farmers to re-sell or re-use their seeds. Combine this maffia with the subsidization of unhealthy products (corn) that mainly go to animal farms and you just created a really unhealthy competition that produces really messed up products.

I also remember a scandal about GM corn that caused kidney damage ... google it and see if anything turns up.

By the way, I owe to add, that I am strongly biased against animal farming, being a vegetarian for 20 years, a vegan for 4 and on a 99% raw diet since January.... so yes, some things I say about animal farming might be hippie BS, but I became vegan after a lot of reading/watching and research during which I failed to prove that I needed animal protein and that milk/egg farming is not a cruel practice I should feel bad about. Thought it would be fair to add to my opinion...

 

Re:Factory farming should stop, really (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#36277124)

For me it is easy to see, that if you take a completely healthy to eat plant, start modifying it so it withstands all kinds of things it should not do,

You are a complete wacko. What you just wrote covers all forms of agriculture as practiced over the past 5000 years. Implementing your ideas would leave the world with a food supply capable of supporting less than a few million.

Re:Factory farming should stop, really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36277068)

But I have no problems at all with genetically modified foods.

Yes, because altering the underlying code-base that distinguishes one animal from another could never have profound complications after the fact. It'd be one thing if we fully, 100%, understand the genetic structure of the plants, and animals we genetically modify, but in this day and age, profits come before well before safety, testing, and research. This leads to the inevitable problems that patents introduce, since secondary events to the public as a result of GM products, are subject to personal/private/corporate liability, not the party introducing it. In point, nature is a stronger force than what we can control genetically in anything we modify. We are not masters of biology as a living force. Introducing unknown radicals into the human gene structure without proper understanding, is not an acceptable risk as a consequence of profits and industry building.

Re:Factory farming should stop, really (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276526)

In more than one documentary, I've seen a scene where they monitor the health of the cows (who are essentially being poisoned by the cornfeed they're given non-stop to promote such fast growth that it's essentially killing the cows) by cutting a giant hole in the top of their body that goes directly into one of their stomaches and has a giant rubber plug. The guy pulls the plug out and reaches his entire arm into the cow and pulls out what's in it to see how sick the cows are from the feeding they're getting and how much antibiotics to give them to counter it. I have had nightmares of that scene for weeks afterward. It horrifies me kind of on the same level as the whole Silence of the Lambs scene where what's his name from Goodfellas has the top of his head cut off and a part of his brain fried and served to him.

Re:Factory farming should stop, really (3, Interesting)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276648)

It horrifies me kind of on the same level as the whole Silence of the Lambs scene where what's his name from Goodfellas has the top of his head cut off and a part of his brain fried and served to him.

That's from the sequel, Hannibal. The best part about the "brain scene" is how Hannibal prepares the brain for consumption. In classical cooking, brains are chilled overnight so that they don't fall apart into mush at dinnertime. Hannibal sliced off portions of Krendler's brain and poached them in lemon juice, kinda like shrimp in a ceviche, denaturing the proteins and stiffening the appetizer to make it fit for instant consumption. Here's a quote from that novel, which pertains to the father of the meatpacking antagonist, that is relevant to this discussion:

Molson Verger...adulterated the pigs' diet with hog hair meal, mealed chicken feathers and manure to an extent considered daring at the time. He was regarded as a reckless visionary in the 1940's when he first took away the pigs' fresh drinking water and had them drink ditch liquor, made of fermented animal waste, to hasten weight gain. The laughter stopped when his profits rolled in, and his competitors hurried to copy him.

Re:Factory farming should stop, really (1)

dindi (78034) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276796)

I saw a cow on a farm a while ago with that rubber plug during my trail ride (dirt bike, not horse, and in Costa Rica up in the hills ). According to a colleague of mine they are used for medical reasons and other monitoring. He added that it does not hurt the cow, but I do not see how you could cut a window on an animal without that causing pain.....

Re:Factory farming should stop, really (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36276946)

Well... Just so everybody knows:

Those holes in cows stomachs are usually only in research settings (and generally at universities) and not regular operations on farms. What they're looking at is how well they are digesting the foliage we're feeding them, and if we should give them more or less.

On dairy farms, which is what I'm familiar with, we spend a lot of time and money to make sure our cows are as healthy as possible. In fact, we do this not only for their well being, but because every incentive we have is to keep them healthy, comfortable, and happy. The better a cow feels, the more milk she produces, and the more milk we have to sell. She will also produce better quality milk, which we may be able to sell at a higher price. We carefully control their feed rations, measuring every ingredient that goes in to a batch of feed. Each cow can eat well over 100 pounds of feed per day, which at our farm, is mainly a combination of alfalfa silage (moist chopped hay), corn silage (the whole plant chopped up), dry hay (for fiber), ground corn (energy), cotton seeds (for protein, which ends up in your milk), and supplements (vitamins and minerals). The fibrous hay and silages make up the majority of the weight we feed and almost all of the volume.

For comfort, we have free stalls filled with sand (kind of like a sand box) that they lay and sleep in during the night and between milkings. When it's dry enough, we have open pasture they're allowed to lay and graze in. Although, they don't even eat much grass any more due to high tech diet they're being fed. When it's hot, we have many, many fans to cool them off with. When it's really hot, we have water sprinklers to get them wet while the fans blow on them; just imagine getting out the the shower and standing in front of a big fan and you may start to shiver.

As for antibiotics, we use them. But, you see, we don't like using them, at all. When a cow is sick, we may have to treat them with antibiotics and other medicine. It costs time and money to treat a cow, AND we can't sell the milk because it ends up in the cows milk. It's the law that no milk can be sold with antibiotics, so we're living with a double-wammy of sorts every time we're forced to use antibiotics.

I have little affiliation with meat production, so I won't comment on that. But people have lost touch with where their food comes from, and they get scared. They should care; it's just that it's a lot easier to scare a population than to educate them, and that has probably been true since the beginning of civilization. So, I'm not saying that mis-use of antibiotics isn't happening by farmers (particularly with meat production), or that things shouldn't be done about it. In todays specialized economy, farming is business just as every thing else. As such, there are a few cheaters, frauds, and generally people being selfish.

My dad and uncle work between about 12 to 16 hours every day of the year to make good food for people and a good living for themselves, but then people turn around and accuse them of mistreating their animals and not working to create wholesome milk. As such, I just wanted to try to give them a little credit and describe what they do and a bit about how a dairy farm works.

Re:Factory farming should stop, really (3, Insightful)

virgnarus (1949790) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276534)

Enjoy that 30 dollar bucket of KFC.

Re:Factory farming should stop, really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36276628)

Uhm a bucket of KFC is already near that price where I live.

Re:Factory farming should stop, really (2)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276832)

Better a 30$ bucket of chicken then hemorrhagic ecoli from a 99 cent burger.

Re:Factory farming should stop, really (4, Insightful)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276986)

Not necessarily. Let's assume that what you say is true. $30 for chicken is probably 6x the normal price. So, what would happen if food costs were 6x across the board?

Some US Census data:
Population estimate for 2009 is 307M
Per capita income $21.5k in 1999
Total household income = $6.6T

Recent survey showed about 10% of that is spent on food = $660B. Impact to economy of 6x higher prices is about $3T.

I doubt the US spends $3T annually on cases of hemorrhagic e. coli.

Now, of course that chicken won't really be $30, but the impact to the economy of even a modest food price increase is enormous. So, safety at any cost is a foolish policy. When that infant formula costs more maybe those little babies will get a little less of it - and what is the health impact of that?

Then stop buying it. (1)

Trip6 (1184883) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276550)

If you and enough of your friends refuse to buy this type of meat, it will stop.

Re:Then stop buying it. (5, Insightful)

plague911 (1292006) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276558)

There are too many stupids in this nation for the buying habits of the smart to influence the stupid.

Re:Then stop buying it. (1)

DurendalMac (736637) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276654)

Wish I had mod points for this. Boycotts don't work unless you give the brainless masses a very good reason to do it, and protesting factory farming aint gonna do it.

Re:Then stop buying it. (1)

dindi (78034) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276860)

Even more frightening for me is when I see other countries (not US), where it is actually more expensive and "special" to go to one of these "fast food" places.

In Costa Rica you will pay more for an equally portioned MC meal than what you would pay at a family restaurant. I am talking about a nice looking, clean simple local place where they serve fresh-made dishes with vegetarian/healthy options.

Still, 12pm on a Saturday you will see the family restaurant with clients, but MC, KFC, BK and all the crap have cars lined up outside waiting to get in.

As a result of this, and people eating at the mall food court every day, you start to see that the average person on the street went from normal to slightly overweight, with a lot of people growing some serious belly and ass. It is not just the US whose people are making the worst buying choices.

I also think (agree) with the comment above, that suggests, that people are really too busy, stupid, ignorant, uninterested to think and change. When you can cure diabetes with a diet change in most cases (google Raw for 30 days, I personally know someone who did this too), when you have people smoking and drinking after they were warned by a doctor: how do you expect a bunch of people to change their diet who hear it 24/7 : you need your milk, egg, meat, and you get this the cheapest at these outlets. HOW do you tell the guy to go for organic vegetables, when corn syrup is subsidized and all he cares is how it tastes, not what it does????

Re:Then stop buying it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36277074)

Feed him and his family all the shitty unhealthy food they want and hope they either die quickly, become sterile, or become too fucking fat and lazy to breed.

Re:Then stop buying it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36276660)

Yeah, but what's the alternative? I've read that tofu is made from puppies, and there are even laws about SPAM now.

Re:Factory farming should stop, really (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276604)

Factory farming (mostly enabled via the production of corn for animal feed at prices far below the actual cost to produce thanks to subsidies) is the reason why Americans can get a hamburger for just $1. Its also one of the biggest reasons why modern Americans are the fattest people in the history of humanity.

Re:Factory farming should stop, really (3, Insightful)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276626)

Whoa, back up there. Inhumane conditions are bad, that much is clear, and I totally agree that antibiotics are often abused, but factory farm != inhumane conditions Factory farming typically refers to CAFOs, and that has nothing do do with how the animals are raised, but actually just the number. It gets a bad rap, but no small amount of them are just family farms (even some of the big ones) that do, indeed, treat their animals fairly well [iafarmwife.com]. It's like the spinach E. coli outbreak; one jackass lets his cattle get too close to the irrigation source and the entire spinach industry takes a hit over it. Yeah, there is animal cruelty, a lot of it, but I don't think it's the norm, so don't blame factory farms in general any more than you should attack free range farming because some organic idiots treat treat sick animals with homeopathy (no medicine could also be considered inhumane). Factory farms are mostly about efficiency, and that is no vice, nor in producing less output a virtue. Sorry, they're not. You want to pay more for something that uses more land, fine my me, but unless every so-called factory farm is abusing their animals (hint, they're not) I'll take efficient and cheap thank you. Before you paint everyone with that big brush, maybe you should learn something about agriculture beyond some bullshit movie with all the credibility of Loose Change. That you are concerned about hormones [youtube.com] and GMOs [psu.edu] indicates to me that such films are your primary source of information and you know very little about modern agriculture and agricultural technology.

Especially GMOs, jeez, can we as a society get over that one? It's just a way of improving a plant, it isn't Frankenstein or Jurassic Park or Splice or whatever fairy tale people are believing over science today, and contrary to the perpetual moaning of unscientific denialists like Greenpeace, they are actually a gain for the environment (Bt GMOs reduce pesticide use and Ht GMOs prevent fertilizer runoff, reduces soil erosion and promotes carbon sequestering via no/low-till ag) and not dangerous [blogspot.com] to humans. And we can talk about the politics of Monsanto all day long, but that is not relevant to the benefits GMOs provide.or mean GMOs are dangerous any more than Merck or Pfizer's unethical decisions mean that vaccines cause autism.

And watching Food Inc. to get different perspectives on agriculture is like listening to Michael Behe to get different viewpoints on evolution. Different points of view are good, but sometimes they're just wrong. That movie made some good points, but was mostly foodie nonsense and bogus FUD. [scienceblogs.com] What's amazing is that all those foodie idiots lapped that up, but when a real agriculturalist talks about real farming then they just go into dismiss it. I truly love that society in developed nations runs so smoothly that we don't need to produce our own food, that labor is nicely divided that people like people can go on about something they've never done or been involved with, but people really should know a bit more about where their food comes from, how it's produced, and why farmers do it that way so that they won't go into panic mode every time some bored art history major throws together a few film clips.

Re:Factory farming should stop, really (1)

St.Creed (853824) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276700)

If raising cattle on antiobiotics is standard practice in most European countries, you can bet it's standard in the USA as well - they're producing for the same global market.

Re:Factory farming should stop, really (1)

dindi (78034) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276942)

I wonder what you mean on "foodie"? Does that refer to persons who realized, that it is really-really important what you eat, and that a lot of sicknesses are the simple outcome of the preference of taste over whatever your body really needs? Deep fried over veggies, coke over good water. Good water. Then I am a foodie.

GMO: I do not think we should get over with this. I want to see a label on everything GMO so I can make a choice of buying or not. That is all.

These farms are not for efficiency. They are for increased profit. If you really wanted quantity and quality nutrients to feed a lot of people, you would not farm corn to feed it to livestock, causing an incredible environmental damage. You would grow rice, beans, and you would hydroponic-vertical farm fresh vegetables.

I do not consider animals as things we should trade and use for food, clothing, entertainment etc.
I understand, that this is too hippie for most, so just try to imagine this:

I put you in a box, 2m x 1m, 160cm tall. I put a few thousand more of you in a windowless stinking long tube. I feed you hormones, antibiotics, drugs, I remove your teeth and pull your nails off, so you do not hurt your mates or yourself. I keep you there, sitting in your own shit until you are fat enough to be killed. If your mate dies, you would have to be with the body for some time (days, weeks), because this it is normal for animals to die of all kinds of causes, to mention one: accelerated growth: nor the heart or other organs, nor the muscles keep up with this. Being in a dark tube does not help with producing calcium, so shortly you won't be able to walk, just sit in the dark in the shit. If you are a female cow, you are in for a treat : you can live in similar box, with painful stuff sucking your tits. Hormones and induced pregnancy will keep you there until you cannot pop more babies or produce milk. At which point you are killed.

How can people say, that animal farming is not inhumane. It is absurd for me to see people not seeing this!

Re:Factory farming should stop, really (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#36277066)

I am in favor of labeling however I think you will be shocked to find most food produced in the US now has GMO content so it is pretty much moot at this point in time

As far as efficiency, how the heck do you think you get increased profit? It is by increasing efficiency. Economics 101. I can see you have never grasped basic principles of economics.

As far as not using animals as a resource, good luck with that. Every society on this planet does this. Even other animals do it. You are adhering to a concept that has no chance of being adopted.

Re:Factory farming should stop, really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36276858)

Oh, and it tastes like shit, compared to the natural thing.
If you haven't ever eaten something else, you might think it's normal.
But seriously. It's spongy, tasteless, gray, weak meat, with lots of hidden fat, collagen and water.
Of the "normal" ground meat you buy in the supermarket, that is *pure meat* with nothing added, there are still about 20% water and 20% collagen. That's not even counting the fat. I kid you not.

You don't even need to watch any movies or anything.
Just once eat meat from a animal that lived in a species-appropriate way. After that, you rather eat a small piece of that for the same money, than a huge piece of that factory crap.

Same thing for vegetables and all other food btw.

AND for your own life. Species-appropriate. Food, sleep, etc.
Results in a lot of pure happiness, and you wouldn't even know where it came from.

Re:Factory farming should stop, really (1)

dindi (78034) | more than 2 years ago | (#36277026)

I haven't touched meat in 20 years, so I cannot comment on that one.

However it kind of troubles me to see, that my organic veggies generally taste a lot better, but they go bad waaaaay faster. Greens start to look tired after 2 hours outside, while the non-organic one looks fresh (tastes like nothing though) after a day outside.

Meet your meet actually makes a cooking in which a french chef cooks with factory and non-factory produce (meat, poultry, eggs). As a vegan I disagree with any kind of killing, the difference in meet quality was shocking just by the visuals.

Finally (1)

fey000 (1374173) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276402)

Jokes aside, this is a very important subject. Every day, virii and bacteria are evolving to become immune to traditional treatment. This is because we as a population are drowned in BSA amongst others for "precautionary" reasons, mostly commercial. Just look at Greece. What do you think happens when your inflammations are immune to treatment? You can kiss grandma goodbye, thats for sure.

Please distinguish (2)

overshoot (39700) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276514)

Every day, virii and bacteria are evolving to become immune to traditional treatment.

With a very few exceptions [1], standard treatment for viral infections is supportive care. Your own immune system is stuck with the job, possibly with a bit of advanced training via vaccines. Fortunately, none of the few post-infection treatments for viral diseases are being abused the way antibiotics are, so it's just the same old evolutionary arms race that's been going on for the last billion years or so.

[1] Notable exception: HAART for HIV. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Re:Please distinguish (2)

St.Creed (853824) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276722)

Ah no... remember zovirax, the stuff that makes herpes simplex go away sooner? Thats basically an antiviral, and doctors are already pretty wary of the abuse of that type of antiviral (which is really a last resort medication) for curing a minor infection one day earlier. Same with anti-cold medication with antivirals. If these patients ever do get a real infection that needs antivirals, they're going to be in trouble much more than other people.

Total BS (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36276412)

No pun intended. The fact is, no antibiotics in general use on farms are also used for human treatments. There is absolutely no chance of any of these paranoid delusions becoming reality. These are just more assholes using animals as an excuse to let them act as bullies, because what they really want to do is hurt people.

Re:Total BS (2)

yndrd1984 (730475) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276488)

The fact is, no antibiotics in general use on farms are also used for human treatments.

The summary itself mentioned "penicillin and tetracycline" that are used on farms. Are you saying those aren't used on humans?

Up next ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36276426)

If this suit works, watch for more activity on the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming front. The skeptics definitely think they can win a suit where a judge can use logic to determine the facts. I'm not taking sides on this but I sure bet it will happen.

Trouble (4, Interesting)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276452)

We're running out of antibiotics that there aren't any bugs resistant to, and no new ones are in development because the pharmaceuticals don't see any profit in it.[*] Estimates say it would take a decade to get a new one on the market.

Meanwhile, we use antibiotics so heavily that environmentalists find them in places like rivers and streams, and public water supplies. It has become a pollutant, but one with a particularly insidious effect.

[*] Such is the folly of leaving public health dependent on the profit motive.

Re:Trouble (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276544)

I thought it works like this:

1) Universities do research into drug possibilities, using public funds. Patent drug.
2) Once a drug proves to be useful, sell rights to drug to a big pharmacy.
3) Big Pharmacy runs trials, hiding poor results while prominently publishing good results
4) Get drug on the market for a huge markup. Bribe doctors to use it, market it to end-users to get them to ask their doctors to prescribe it to them. Also, stop manufacturing similar but older drugs, even if similar in effect, because they have a lower profit margin [and cost to consumer].

Re:Trouble (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36276630)

I don't believe for one second that most drugs that come to market are similar in effect to older drugs and come to market simply as a way to preserve the income for pharmaceutical companies.

Yes you are damn right, they make way too much money and tend to use that money to make more money. If half the money that went to researching the cure for baldness went into research against HIV, we'd hopefully be closer to a cure or at least cheaper and better treatment.

However since we live in a market oriented world and most of the money is with the bald guys rather than with the sick ones, it's only logical that pharmaceutical companies would try to cure baldness.

If you want things to change, how about changing the government. Start by firing every senator that believes in creationism, as they by definition wouldn't be able to comprehend why you would need new antibiotics (hint, it's because of something called survival of the fittest).

Re:Trouble (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#36277056)

I don't believe for one second that most drugs that come to market are similar in effect to older drugs and come to market simply as a way to preserve the income for pharmaceutical companies.

I don't know about in general, but as I recall it Clariton's successor, with an active ingredient identical to the original except for one relatively small attachment, hit the market right when the patent on the original expired and you could start buying OTS clones. Sure looked like they timed it to keep the big bucks rolling in.

If you want things to change, how about changing the government.

Darn straight. But for medicine I don't think creationists are the problem in this case; it's just that our legislature doesn't want to pass any laws that undercut anyone's profits: the stock market is more important than public health.

Re:Trouble (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276794)

1) Universities do research into drug possibilities, using public funds. Patent drug.
2) Once a drug proves to be useful, sell rights to drug to a big pharmacy.

Are universities usually involved? I thought the pharmaceuticals did their own research, and justified the patent-based stranglehold on your health as a necessary means for recouping their research investment.

3) Big Pharmacy runs trials, hiding poor results while prominently publishing good results

Including little things like elevated suicide rates that get "lost" in the reporting [msn.com].

Re:Trouble (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 2 years ago | (#36277080)

Pharmaceuticals do their own research. They also leverage public basic research results, and they also license compounds from all kinds of places including universities.

So, universities do have a big role in drug discovery. However, universities almost never pay the costs of clinical trials, which is where you spend $50M to find out that the cure for cancer in mice doesn't work in people. Once in a while you spend $100M and figure out that a drug is good. So, even if it is mundane Pharma companies do spend a ton of money on development, and they aren't going to do this without some kind of return.

I'm generally in favor of experimenting with other models. The NIH could fund a royalty free drug start-to-finish - perhaps even outsourcing the work to a pharma company (but retaining patent rights). The NIH could announce bounties for treatments for particular conditions. However, I'm under no illusions that any of this will be cheap.

Re:Trouble (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#36277146)

I'm generally in favor of experimenting with other models. The NIH could fund a royalty free drug start-to-finish - perhaps even outsourcing the work to a pharma company (but retaining patent rights). The NIH could announce bounties for treatments for particular conditions.

Interesting ideas.

However, I'm under no illusions that any of this will be cheap.

Me neither. However, IMO the question we should ask before we ask what it costs is, "What is the value of public health to a Republic?" If the answer is "a lot", then we should be glad to spend a lot on it without complaining.

Re:Trouble (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 2 years ago | (#36277058)

Well, gist of what you say is true with some major caveats:

1. The bribes are under a lot of scrutiny and are down a bit (along with Pharma profits).
2. I'm not aware of any older drug that you can't buy - in fact most branded companies still sell it even after it is off patent. They just don't market it.
3. No university figures out if a drug is useful. They figure out if some molecule has some activity in some assay, or maybe in animals. To be useful it needs to have good safety and efficacy in humans.
4. Step #3 in your list costs probably around $100M, and most of the time the drug is dropped, even if sometimes the ones that aren't have some issues.

So, even if a university comes up with the perfect antibiotic (in some professor's mind), you need to convince a company to spend $100M to test it, when most likely it won't work out, and if it does it will only be prescribed if the other 30 antibiotics on the market all don't work, which is only for a very small number of cases per year. Oh, and medicare will fight over the price by the time you get it on the market.

I'll agree that universities have a big part in drug discovery. It might even be the hardest and most creative part. However, it all comes before any of the real money gets spent. The expensive part of drug development is the clinical trials. Those are easy to design and boring, but they are VERY expensive and usually result in failure.

Re:Trouble (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36276692)

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Once you remove the antibiotics then drug resistant bacteria have no advantage and their genes would eventually be removed from the pool. This is why simply switching from one antibiotic to another and then back a week later works so well. Of course, if the bacterium is resistant to all your antibiotics and you don't have time to stop the antibiotics because it will kill the patient, then you are out of luck.

Re:Trouble (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276964)

Such is the folly of leaving public health dependent on the profit motive.

You know, if a country thought it would be worthwhile to have some new antibiotics, it could just form its own socialized pharmaceutical company and support it. Yet they don't.

Also an issue in the Netherlands (2)

FridayBob (619244) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276516)

In the Netherlands, this has also been an issue for some time for exactly the same reasons. However, the lobbyists for the pharmaceutical industry, the farming industry and one very large veterinary firm that sells the antibiotics directly to the farmers (giving them as much as they want and making way too much money in the process) seem to have far too much influence in the Hague, which is the seat of the Dutch government. With these rather influential veterinarians arguing that any restrictions placed upon them would be unfair and against EU trade rules, the government is now considering banning all veterinarians from selling their own drugs, forcing their clients to buy directly from normal pharmacies instead. That would be unfortunate, because these pharmacies only have experience with human medicine. Thus there would be the risk of the pharmacies giving or offering (cheaper) alternatives that may not work for dogs, cats, cows, sheep, etc. (apparently, there are plenty of examples of this). This is one of the reasons why vets are also trained as, and usually operate as pharmacists.

Re:Also an issue in the Netherlands (1)

mspohr (589790) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276594)

Denmark (and Sweden and others) have successfully banned antibiotics in farm animals with a good result on human health. http://www.colby.edu/biology/BI402B/Casewell%20et%20al%202003.pdf [colby.edu]

Re:Also an issue in the Netherlands (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36276752)

Clearly, you didn't read the paper you linked to:

Following the ban of all food animal growth-promoting antibiotics by Sweden in 1986, the European Union
banned avoparcin in 1997 and bacitracin, spiramycin, tylosin and virginiamycin in 1999. Three years later,
the only attributable effect in humans has been a diminution in acquired resistance in enterococci isolated
from human faecal carriers. There has been an increase in human infection from vancomycin-resistant
enterococci in Europe, probably related to the increased in usage of vancomycin for the treatment of
methicillin-resistant staphylococci. The ban of growth promoters has, however, revealed that these agents
had important prophylactic activity and their withdrawal is now associated with a deterioration in animal
health
, including increased diarrhoea, weight loss and mortality due to Escherichia coli and Lawsonia intra-
cellularis in early post-weaning pigs, and clostridial necrotic enteritis in broilers. A directly attributable
effect of these infections is the increase in usage of therapeutic antibiotics in food animals, including that of
tetracycline, aminoglycosides, trimethoprim/sulphonamide, macrolides and lincosamides, all of which are
of direct importance in human medicine. The theoretical and political benefit of the widespread ban of
growth promoters needs to be more carefully weighed against the increasingly apparent adverse conse-
quences.

Re:Also an issue in the Netherlands (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36276804)

The paper you link to does not seem to support your statement of "a good result on human health". As far as I can tell, it claims that there have been no fewer resistant infections after the ban.

Re:Also an issue in the Netherlands (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#36277024)

One has to wonder if this will have any effect even if the lawsuit is successful because of abuse in the human population.

Re:Also an issue in the Netherlands (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 2 years ago | (#36277102)

Frankly, as a citizen in the US I'd like to see a general ban on doctors selling products of ANY kind, or receiving payments of any kind from the manufacturer of ANY product.

You have vets in the US recommending some kind of food for your pet, and guess what, you can only buy it in vets and only from the vet who cares for your pet. I asked my vet about pet insurance, and they only knew about one kind of insurance, but they said that they had reps from some other company visiting them and they were checking them out so there might be other options in the future. A little online research shows that there are probably a dozen reputable options, but I'm sure that not all of them give kickbacks to the local vet.

It is a conflict of interest for a doctor to make a profit off of a product they are recommending for your care, and that is all there is to it. I don't mind it so much for barbershops or the 47 other places where this happens, but when health care is at stake the doctor's incentives have to be aligned to the health outcome of the patient, not how many procedures the patient gets or what products they buy.

Why isn't it criminal to use antibiotics wrong? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36276642)

Abuse of antibiotics means antibiotics eventually will not work.
Why isn't it criminal to abuse antibiotics, you're sacrificing our future generation's health for a greedy personal dollar. This should be criminal.

Re:Why isn't it criminal to use antibiotics wrong? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36276736)

That is absolutely wrong. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria cannot compete with normal bacteria in any environment not filled with antibiotics. If they could, they would have already completely replaced the normal bacteria.

The antibiotics do not cause the genetic mutations that make the bacteria resistant; those happen normally, all the time, all over the place. But in order to resist antibiotics, they have to give up something else. That could be reduced mobility, or lower reproductive rates, or a vulnerability to something else. Regardless, it results in the "normal" bacteria being naturally selected over the antibiotic-resistant ones.

In places like hospitals, clinics, and the like, bacteria have nowhere to live except in people - people who are given antibiotics. This makes the antibiotic-resistant bacteria the dominant species. In all other areas, bacteria live everywhere. Not just dirty places, like drains and toilets, but even on your walls and ceilings; even in the dust floating in the air. These places do not have antibiotics, and they are a far more essential place for bacteria than inside people. The antibiotic-resistant bacteria cannot compete in such places.

To put it simply, there is no chance of antibiotic-resistant bacteria becoming pandemic, or they would have already done so.

Re:Why isn't it criminal to use antibiotics wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36276970)

say hello to Ehec

Solution needs to be world wide (2)

turing_m (1030530) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276866)

The USA doesn't grow most of the world's food. Farms in other countries will still use antibiotics irrespective of what the FDA does. The superbugs being developed elsewhere will eventually migrate to every other country. If we are to retain the ability to use the antibiotics we have today, action needs to be taken globally. Not sure how to enforce that, but that's what would have to happen.

On the medical side of things (1)

StandardAI (1988770) | more than 2 years ago | (#36276874)

Over use of antibiotics creates stronger bacteria that are more resistant to the antibiotics. What would of normally been cured by a low dose of penicillin will now take a much larger dose of another antibiotic.

FDA != Federal Drug Administration (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36276974)

Last time I checked, it was the Food & Drug Administration.

I Live in Iowa and Guess What??? (1)

ozone702 (1243146) | more than 2 years ago | (#36277104)

From inside sources (people I know who work in hog confinements) I've been informed that over 90% of hog confinements in Iowa are infected with H1N1 virus. They do everything they can to keep it from incubating to human transmittable. We're so screwed and hardly anyone even knows how bad its getting.

Trust me, when the zhit hits the fan, it will be so quick nobody will have time to react to it. The only ones who will survive it will be people who have been exposed to it enough to build an immunity and most likely carriers.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...