Factory Farms Use 80% of the United States' Antibiotic Supply

David Wagner

Discovered: Animals on factory farms need a lot of antibiotics; endangered tortoises aren't turned on by piano music; comfort food raises risk of stroke; teddy bears aren't a sign of immaturity. 

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Meat industry gobbles up the vast majority of antibiotics. It's hard to keep hordes of livestock from falling ill when you pack them in so tightly on cramped industrial feedlots. That's why the meat industry came up with the ingenious solution of pumping them full of antibiotics. According to a new calculation from the Pew Charitable Trust based on FDA data, a full 80 percent of the United States' supply of antibiotics is going into animals raised for food. That number should alarm you, because overusing antibiotics has been linked with the rise of nasty drug-resistant strains of salmonella and Campylobacter that find their way onto meat eaters' plates (and their bloodstreams). Mother Jones agriculture blogger Tom Philpott concludes, "While the FDA dithers with voluntary approaches to regulation, the meat industry is feasting on antibiotics and sending out product tainted with antibiotic-resistant bugs." [Mother Jones]

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Soothing live music still can't get these endangered tortoises to mate. The London Zoo has adopted a strange tactic in their effort to get a pair of endangered Galapagos tortoises to mate. Seventy-year-old Dirk has been reluctant to reproduce with female counterparts Delores, Dolly, Priscilla, or Polly. So the zookeepers called up French pianist Richard Clayderman, hoping a soothing live performance from the musician would put Dirk in the mood. Alas, no luck. Maybe Dirk is more of an R&B kind of guy?  [The Guardian

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The uncomfortable truth about comfort food. Fried chicken, sweet tea, biscuits and gravy — the key menu items in Southern cuisine are also frequent contributors to cases of stroke, according to a new nutritional epidemiology study led by the University of Alabama's Suzanne Judd. It's not exactly breaking news that fried, overly sweetened foods high in cholesterol cause blood pressure problems. But now we now that a diet rich in Southern staples can increase stroke risk by as much as 63 percent. [Los Angeles Times]

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Stuffed animal ownership is no sign of maturity level. So what if your adult bedroom is still full of the stuffed animals you collected as a kid? A new study suggests that there's no link between owning a teddy bear and arrested mental health development. A recent paper in Journal of Adult Development examines self-reported information about emotion regulation and psychological maturity, pairing those numbers with stuffed animal ownership. No trend emerged either way, suggesting adult plush toy collectors possess the same level of psychological well being as anyone else. "Some people might automatically assume that an adult owning a toy animal is an indicator of the owner's immaturity," writes lead author Stuart Brody, a University of the West of Scotland psychologist. But he found "no association of adult toy animal ownership with emotion regulation and maturity." [Scientific American]