Connecting the Dots: Antibiotic Resistance, Industrial Farm Animal Production and GMOs

Recently we discussed how the practice of feeding healthy farm animals antibiotics contributes to the rapidly growing antibiotic resistance in the population. You might wonder how do GMOs factor into this equation?  We are glad you asked.

Even before federal farm subsidies, inexpensive corn made large-scale animal agriculture more profitable and facilitated the evolution of intensive livestock feeding from an opportunistic method of marketing corn to a profitable industry. The meat industry like corn and soy as animal feed. “Livestock producers like to use corn and soy as a base for their animal feed, because these protein-rich grains fatten up their animals, and because they’re incredibly cheap as a result of the government subsidies.”

Fatten them up before slaughter, now there is a formula for success.

And federal subsidies made the deal that much sweeter for GM corn and soy growers and meat producers, but not you, dear consumer.  According to the Environmental Working Group, corn subsidies in the United States totaled $73.8 billion from 1995-2009, while soybean subsidies amounted to $22,776,888,516.  Granted, not all the subsidies go to GM crops.  However, since approximately 93% of all soybeans and 63% of corn grown in the United States are genetically modified, the majority of our tax payer dollars is supporting GMOs.

And while we are on the subject of preferential treatment for the meat industry, we would be remiss if we did not mention that industrial farm animal production facilities rely on abundant freshwater resources and on inexpensive fossil fuels for energy. You the consumer, however, get animal waste, which harbors a number of pathogens, and chemical contaminants, usually left untreated or minimally treated, and often sprayed on fields as fertilizer, raising the potential for contamination of air, water, and soils. In strictly economic terms, you get an inferior product: an animal, stressed from the misfortune of having been born into on an industrial animal farm, which has been fed GMOs and pumped with antibiotics, together with all the externalized environmental costs.

Consumer beware: the price tag for the meat on your dinner table is bigger than it appears.