Today, there is ample evidence to suggest that our commercial grade meat, poultry and fish should be labelled just as much as the chemical cuisine we get in a box, tin or jar. The how behind industrialized meat processing is not only off-putting, its methodology is downright dangerous to human wellbeing.
Aside from adding all that pink slime to hamburgers, eighty percent of all antibiotics purchased are used on factory farm animals like poultry, pigs, cattle and fish because it promotes fast growth and offsets some of the vile conditions these animals are forced to live in.
While that makes for big profits for both the food and pharmaceutical industries, the consequences for those who consume industrially processed meat is serious - particularly our children. Outbreaks of illnesses from antibiotic-resistant bacteria have grown in number and severity because antibiotics are losing their effectiveness including a critical class of antibiotics like Cefzil and Keflex, which are commonly used to treat pneumonia, strep throat and skin and urinary tract infections. Then there's the emergence of new pathogens like E. coli O157:H7, the bacteria responsible for killing four children back in 1993's during the Jack in the Box outbreak in the United States. Canada’s largest-ever beef recall, at a whopping 4,000 tonnes, spread across the country and the U.S. states, after the XL Foods plant in Brooks, Alberta produced beef tainted with E. coli bacteria. It came just four years after an outbreak of listeria bacteria killed 23 Canadians who ate tainted meat produced by Maple Leaf Foods.
The U.S. court system has taken steps to ban the use of antibiotics and the Canadian Medical Association and the Department of Pathobiology at University of Guelph has called on the federal government to stop the use of antibiotics in the agriculture sector except by prescription from a veterinarian, citing concerns that antibiotic misuse is “rampant” and fears the practice could give rise to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The meat industry claims banning the use of such drugs, would greatly reduce the efficiency, drive up the cost of meat, and some in the industry believe that the scientific evidence linking low-dose use of antibiotics to increased drug-resistant illness in people is too inconclusive to justify banning their use. Really?
In February 2012 an analysis by the Environmental Working Group determined that government tests of raw supermarket meat detected antibiotic-resistant bacteria in: 81% of ground turkey; 69% of pork chops; 55% of ground beef; and, 39% of chicken parts. A joint project of the federal Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Department of Agriculture, found that supermarket meat samples collected in 2011 harboured significant amounts of the superbug versions of salmonella and Campylobacter, which together cause 3.6 million cases of food poisoning a year. Hardly inconclusive.
Unfortunately the ingredient list doesn’t stop there. Ractopamine is a growth enhancer. The growth additive, called a beta-agonist, has enjoyed stealth use in the US and Canadian food supply for a decade despite being widely banned overseas. Ractopamine has been linked to cardiovascular effects, behavioral changes, and nervousness in humans and pigs.
Ractopamine is a beta agonist drug that increases protein synthesis, making the animal more muscular. This reduces the fat content of the meat and increases the profit per animal.
Beta-agonist drugs, as a class, have been used in US cattle production since 2003. Ractopamine is administered in the days leading up to slaughter, and as much as 20 percent of it can remain in the meat you buy.
Animal research has linked ractopamine to reductions in reproductive function; birth defects; increase of mastitis in dairy herds; and increased disability and death. FDA records show ‘death’ is the most-often reported side effect.
The Center for Food Safety, together with the Animal Legal Defense Fund recently sued the FDA, maintaining it is illegally withholding records pertaining to ractopamine’s safety.
Then add the BT toxins.Transgenic BT crops were commercialized in 1996. Originally they were engineered to reduce the use of pesticides, but in the end, that reduction didn’t really happened. In fact, chemical usage actually increased. In the lab, the seed’s original DNA are altered to make the BT toxin systemic within the crop, so its deadly charms shows up in every cell, from root to fruit, whether the resulting biofood is soy, corn, cotton, potato, papaya, tomato, sugar beet or squash. This genetic manipulation is so toxic, crops like BT corn and BT soy are registered as pesticides, not food. In this systemic state, the toxin cannot diminish when exposed to sunlight nor can it be washed off. So feed animals and consequently humans swallow it lock, stock and barrel.
What’s at issue with BT toxins is horizontal gene transfer. Corporations like Monsanto claim the BT toxin protein in food could never pose a threat because horizontal gene transfer from plant to human was thought impossible. That assumption was based old science. Gene transfer can shape the evolution trajectory of life on the planet. Vertical gene transfer is typified by the genes that are passed from parent to child. But horizontal or lateral gene transfer doesn’t require sex to reproduce and that type of transfer can mess up our evolutionary picture pretty quickly. Horizontal gene transfer is one of the most serious hazards of transgenic technology. It can affect all types of bacteria, including those that live inside the human digestive system. The bacteria that play a vital role in keeping us healthy, could become contaminated by the transgenic BT toxins. BT toxins have now showed up in non-pregnant women and moms-to-be as well as in the babies they were carrying despite not living anywhere near farmers’ fields. The Canadian scientists who carried out the study believe the toxins were transferred from the meat they were eating.
Damning reports have surfaced worldwide linking systemic BT crops with respiratory issues, intestinal and skin problems, cancer, and the quickened growth of tumors. The medical community is witnessing a rapid rise in the deterioration of human digestive health not only in adults, but in kids. Food allergies and inflammatory bowel disease has skyrocketed by as much as 40% and intestinal permeability, more commonly referred to as leaky gut syndrome, is also on the rise. This serious digestive disorder compromises the stomach lining (epithelium) making it so porous that damaging bacteria and endotoxins can leak through -- much like the targeted insects that ingest BT toxins. As the incursion becomes chronic, our immune systems weaken ultimately triggering chronic inflammation leaving the door wide open for any one of the autoimmune diseases that are currently on the rise: irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, and Alzheimer’s. And now Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is being considered for that list.
Today, there is no hard evidence that links meat protein fed BT grains and digestive health. Long term feeding studies are too expensive and distressingly there is too much vested interest to explore the matter impartially. However, the average person eats 200 pounds of beef, pork, poultry and fish per capita per year. Two out of every three farm animals in the world are factory farmed meaning the vast majority of the 50 billion animals that are processed to meet this demand have one thing in common. Just before slaughter, they are ‘fattened up’ using a transgenic cuisine made from BT grains peppered with a healthy dose of glyphosate, antibiotics and an array of other questionable chemicals including a meat additive that’s been banned almost everywhere except USA and Canada.
Do these dangerous chemicals interfere with our digestive system? Do they affect the development of our babies-to-be? It’s anyone’s guess. But there is an interesting parallelism in Nature that just may be the canary in the coal mine. When researchers studied the effects of Colony Collapse Disorder, they discovered that the honeybees left in the hive were mineral deficient. Somehow two fundamental digestive components they have in common with humans have vanished: Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Something the honeybees have eaten have left the majority of the adult and unborn honeybee population susceptible to a chronic disease that has now wiped out over half of the population of honeybees.