The term “factory farm” (I call it the “double F bomb”) has become a catch-all for everything that some people perceive as being wrong with modern agriculture. A recent New York Times op-ed contains much misinformation about today’s farming technology, the healthfulness of meat, and the environmental impact of producing food from animals.
There’s strong evidence antibiotics used in livestock and poultry are not driving antibiotic resistance in humans, that responsible use of antibiotics minimizes agriculture’s environmental impact, and unsafe antibiotic residue in food from animals is uncommon. While science is the foundation of those findings, and decision-making processes people use to form opinions are complex, it can be discouraging when groups or individuals choose to support science only when it agrees with issues upon which they’ve made up their minds.
The Food and Drug Administration not only has an intensive approval process for drugs for animals that’s similar to the approval human drugs undergo, but the FDA performs additional studies on drugs for food-producing animals not required for human drugs to be sure meat, milk and eggs are safe for us to consume, and that the drugs are safe for the environment. This process is intended to ensure public health.