I’m writing in reference to “Ranchers differ widely in antibiotics use in livestock,” in the July 31 issue of The Colorado Statesman. Rachel Alexander is to be commended for bringing light to this story. Michael Costello is to be commended for his healthy practices. He’s raising healthy cattle and raising as many as his land can sustain in such healthy practices.If Mr. Costello were, instead, to try to squeeze more profits, he may decide to consult Dr. Del Miles and cramp the animals together, be faced with increased sickness from unsanitary living conditions, then forced to compensate illness by setting up a large purchase agreement with a pharmaceutical provider to get antibiotics for cheaper in bulk pricing.

Big Pharma would love this new, non-medical stream of revenue and try to secure such deals with other large corporations hosting factory farms. If Americans consume 22 million cattle each year, and also try to sell our beef overseas, then this would be a great, reliable stream of continued revenue. What great profits could be made for both the beef industry and pharmaceutical industry!

If Americans hear word, then the giants could say that veterinarians would be consulted to prescribe the antibiotics so that we think it’s being done responsibly. And veterinarians would love to be picked for this role, as they get an added and guaranteed high revenue stream, as well. Then as conditions get more crowded, and the antibiotics that even humans use become less effective against bacteria, they can use their collective gazillions of dollars to make it appear like they are doing all the right things and claim economic efficiencies as their rationale.

When volunteers and small farmers try to point out the unhealthy practices of cramped conditions for animals and regularly feeding them all growth drugs and antibiotics, then the industry representatives can point out how economic reasons are more important than the health of people: jobs are on the line, after all! However, they may omit details about the jobs being low-skill, low-paying, where often exploited workers are paid to administer drugs and cheap feed, and with no husbandry expertise, because they are just laborers doing what they’re told by wealthy executives looking at profits.

Yes, that would be a good plan if Mr. Costello gave up on his sustainable, healthy practice and wanted to adopt the practices of huge factory farms and maximize profit from his land.

Europe’s been practicing healthy methods since this issue came up 15 years ago for them. Why aren’t we?

Jeremy GeorgeDenver

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