Thursday, November 06, 2014

I join with Nina to request your signature on letter to USDA and HHS

Dear Friends,

I am passing along a letter that I think you might consider signing. It is written by a reputable advocacy group called the Healthy Nation Coalition led by dietitians who seek to challenge the current trajectory of the USDA 2015 Dietary Guidelines.

The committee in charge of reviewing the science for the USDA is finishing up its work over the next two months, and these experts appear poised to promote more of the same nutritional advice that has proven ineffective for more than 35 years (For more, see an oped I wrote that appeared in the Wall Street Journal last week; also see the vivid graph below).

Often, people ask me what they can do to change the official nutrition advice in our country, and I'd say this is a great place to start.

For my part, as an independent journalist, I'm simply interested in seeing a nutrition policy based on the best scientific knowledge. Currently, the USDA committee is ignoring a large body of rigorous science that could help correct past errors. 

The Healthy Nation Coalition aims to build a broad-based coalition that includes scientists, health care practitioners, ranchers & farmers, health advocacy groups, etc.  

This letter will be sent to the Secretaries of the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, selected policymakers, and media outlets. The hope is to add to the momentum that has been building in the national media and among lobbyists in D.C. to call for reform of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines. 

The letter is attached and also pasted below. If you wish to sign on, please use this quick form to add your information to the letter.

Please feel free to forward this letter to colleagues of yours whom you feel might be interested in this issue.

My best,

Nina Teicholz
Author, The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat & Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet (Simon & Schuster 2014)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Case history on government intervention in antibiotic usage in food animals from Animal Health Institute

The Antibiotic Ban in Denmark: A Case Study on Politically Driven Bans

In the 1990s, the European Union made a political decision to phase out the use of antibiotics as growth promoters (AGPs). Denmark – with a pork industry roughly equivalent to the size of the pork herd in Iowa – led the way by instituting a full voluntary ban in 1998, and making it compulsory in 2000.

As there have been proposals in the U.S. Congress that would ban even more uses of antibiotics in animal agriculture, the Danish experience provides an interesting and instructive case study. The results have illustrated how counterproductive a sweeping ban can be, including several clear consequences, including:

  • Increased death and disease among animals;
  • Greater amounts of antibiotics used to treat animal disease, although overall use has decreased — total use declined by 26 percent between 1998 and 2009, while quantities used for therapeutic purposes increased 223 percent;
  • While resistance to some antibiotics has decreased in animals, resistance to other antibiotics has gone up;
  • Little evidence exists to suggest that antibiotic resistance in humans has declined, which was the purpose of the ban.

Bottom line: A ban on AGPs in Denmark has not had the intended benefit of reducing antibiotic resistance patterns in humans; it has had the unintended consequence of increasing animal suffering, pain and death.

Link to whole story