In recent months, the meat industry has been getting a lot of attention: restaurants have said they will phase out eggs from farms that cage birds; major meat companies and retailers have said that they will phase out the use of “antibiotics for human use. But little attention is paid to people who work in the meat industry.
The EU and US have very different rules on the treatment of farm animals. The EU recognizes animals as sentient beings and requires Member states to respect their welfare, banning some of the worst forms of cruelty, many of which are common in the United States. Progress has been more limited in the U.S., but animal welfare activists won a major victory with California’s passage of a new law banning eggs produced in battery cages.
Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is one of the greatest threats to public health. Margeret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization has warned, “A post-antibiotic era means, in effect, an end to modern medicine as we know it. Things as common as strep throat or a child’s scratched knee could once again kill.”
One of the flashpoints in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) talks is the pressure to bring EU standards to U.S. levels in ways that expand the use of industrial agriculture despite the risks to human and animal health and worker safety. A range of issues are on the table including the EU's refusal to allow imports of chicken rinsed in chlorine and other harsh chemicals and the use of Ractopamine in pork production. Please join us for a webinar to learn about the trade, food safety and labor rights issues involved in this debate.
China's meat revolution has entailed a massive increase in the concentrations of pigs, cows, poultry on "specialized" farms with intense price competition amongst retailers and processors that provide "cheap" and abundant meat to an urban population. Subsequent food safety problems are resulting in further government incentives for industrialization of the supply chain, with the U.S. meat industry as the model. Can Chinese public opinion change this direction and what lessons can be learned from the U.S. experience?
China is the world's largest producer and consumer of pork, the second largest producer of poultry and the fourth largest dairy producer. How and why has China achieved this "meat miracle"? What are the politics of this growth and the role of Chinese and foreign transnationals? Can China continue producing and consuming more or are there social and ecological limits that create "peak meat"?
Industrial meat production is showing serious signs of stress around the world. Bird flu cases are surging in China's poultry. Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv) is spreading in the U.S. At the same time the meat industry grows more and more concentrated. China's meat and dairy sectors have undergone a massive transformation in the last thirty years from backyard farming toward a highly destructive model of industrial meat production. This transition towards "scale, standardization and consolidation" continues to unfold.
The largest Chinese meat producer, Shuanghui International, has announced it will purchase the United States' largest pork producer, Smithfield Foods Incorporated. This purchase is the latest in a series of actions over the last decade that more closely tie together global meat producing countries and companies. China is the world's largest consumer of pork, and its government increasingly supports the U.S. model of factory style animal raising (including limited breeds and antibiotic use) for scaling up meat production and addressing food safety issues.
With 6--8 million cases per year, urinary tract infections (UTIs) primarily impact women. As many as 85 percent of UTIs are caused by E. coli bacteria, most often a specific form of E. coli known as ExPEC. ExPEC are believed to cause up to 40,000 deaths from bloodstream infections each year. As they get more resistant to antibiotics, ExPEC infections and resulting deaths will rise. It's a troubling trend, given that these infections are already becoming more antibiotic resistant.