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Animal feed tainted with hidden antibiotics kills 223 calves, farmer's lawsuit claims


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(NaturalNews) A dairy farmer is suing a livestock feed supplier for failure to properly label feed as containing antibiotics after more than 200 of the farmer's calves died from toxic levels of the drugs.

The case was filed by Calvin Berwald, owner of Sokota Dairy, in Jerauld County Circuit Court in South Dakota. It alleges that Berwald paid $319 per ton for 400 tons of feed from defendant Stan's Inc, including starter feed intended for calves.

Berwald says he used it to starter feed his 333 calves, who ranged in age from newborn to four months. Three or four days later, 223 of the calves were dead.

Poisoned by antibiotics

Berwald sent the starter feed to the Iowa State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for analysis. He was told the feed contained levels of the antibiotic monensin high enough to be toxic to calves.

Berwald "did not request the inclusion of monensin in the feed, and there was no indication on the purchase orders, labeling on the feed, or otherwise that the custom dry feed contained any amount of monensin," the lawsuit says, accusing Stan's Inc. of negligence, breach of contract and mislabeling.

South Dakota law requires that any animal feed containing drugs "show the drug name and level, the purpose of the medication, adequate directions for use, a warning or caution statement for safe and effective use, and a withdrawal statement for the particular drug consistent with current federal regulations," the lawsuit says.

Monensin, marketed under the brand name Rumensin, is widely used in cattle agriculture to treat or prevent intestinal parasites and promote growth in healthy cattle. It is just one of many antibiotics routinely fed to factory-farmed animals who, due to their unnatural diets and confined living conditions, fall ill at rates far greater than is normal for their species.

Intestinal upsets such as those that monensin is meant to prevent -- including parasites, diarrhea, ulcers, bloat and rumenitis -- are particularly common due to the fact that rather than being fed grass, as they evolved to eat, many farmed cows are given commercial feed containing ingredients such as processed (GMO) corn; synthetic hormones; "meal" made from chickens, fish, pigs or turkeys; waste and manure from poultry, cattle or swine; and even plastic pellets (for "roughage"!).

Preventing or treating illness is still only a minor use of agricultural antibiotics, however. Eighty percent of all antibiotic use in the United States is for promoting growth in healthy livestock.

Growing health concerns

Scientists are increasingly sounding the alarm over the human health implications of such heavy use of antibiotics in farm animals. Although monensin is not used to treat human diseases, many of the most popular animal antibiotics are also used in humans. Combined with the fact that many human illnesses can originate with farm animals and that antibiotics from farms regularly end up in water supplies nationwide, this makes animal antibiotic use a major contributor to the evolution of drug-resistant superbugs.

Such antibiotic-resistant infections kill 23,000 people per year in the United States.

In March 2014, the Natural Resources Defense Council released a study accusing the FDA of allowing 18 separate animal antibiotics to remain on the market, even after classifying them as posing a "high risk" of causing the evolution of antibiotic-resistant disease in humans. Lead author Carmen Cordova called the inaction "a breach of [the FDA's] responsibility and the public trust."

More recently, a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in October 2014 suggested that even antibiotics not used in humans -- such as monensin -- could lead to the spread of human disease. That study, which was conducted by researchers from Stanford University, found that when healthy animals were treated with antibiotics, some of them became more likely to spread Salmonella infections to others.

(Natural News Science)






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