Wade Bullock: Story was off base about beef

Published: Monday, December 17, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 11:23 p.m.

On Dec. 10, The Sun published as a front page headline an article by the Kansas City Star stating that drug overuse in cattle “may” be the cause of resistant bacteria in the soil in Missouri. There is no rationale given whatsoever as to why drug use in beef would be the culprit rather than drug use in chickens, swine, dairy cattle, horses, pets, humans or a myriad of other possible causes. No causal evidence is presented, and the only evidence presented is this is what some doctors think.

The article, out of design or ignorance, completely muddles two different issues relating to beef and antibiotics. Any rational person reading the article would assume newer generation antibiotics are being used as growth promotants in feed for beef cattle. This is entirely false.

Tetracyclines are used for this and have been around for decades. Newer generation antibiotics are being used to treat illness in cattle as well as pets, horses and other livestock.

There are issues here that may need to be addressed, however, they should be addressed in a scientific context by knowledgeable people rather than in national front page headlines decrying “Big Beef.” The article never mentions that the antibiotics are completely gone from meat long before slaughter. The real problem is “Big Paper” spreading misleading articles to promote a specific agenda against animal agriculture and beef in particular.

Two wagers I would readily make:

I’m a doctor and I’ll bet what I think will never make national headlines as my thoughts do not fit the liberal agenda of newspapers.

Let’s culture some bacteria from feedyards and some from hospitals and let’s see where the real problem lies with indiscriminate antibiotic use. I’m betting the resistant bacteria in hospitals will be far superior to that in feedyards.

Wade Bullock is a veternarian in Williston.

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