Columns » Hightower

Agri-profits, germs ... and dying people



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America is under assault. From coast to coast, we are being invaded by horrific, body-consuming mutants that are already destroying 65,000 American lives a year.

As a Duke University scientist puts it, "This is a living, breathing problem. It's here. It's arrived."

These are not invaders from Mars, but from within our own countryside.

Ironically, these are mutants of our own creation, leaving America face to face with a spreading plague of drug-resistant germs.

For decades, we have benefited enormously from the healing wonders of antibiotics. These drugs save millions of lives that would otherwise be lost to microbial infections. But more and more of the antibiotics in America's medical kit are proving to be ineffective against the plethora of germs that endanger us. Why? We've had too much of a good thing.

America has overdosed on antibiotics, consuming about 35 million pounds a year — so much that germs, which are savvy survivors, have rapidly been mutating to develop resistance to the drugs. Thus, drug-resistant microbes now kill more Americans each year than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.

Why have we overdosed so badly? Because the bulk of the drugs used in our country do not go to protect humans, but to protect the profits of agribusiness corporations! That's right. Seventy percent of antibiotics go to chickens, cows and pigs — either as stimulants to force the animals to grow faster or to fight rampant infections largely caused by unsanitary, factory-farm practices.

This senseless profiteering at the expense of our health is insane, and there's now a push developing in Congress to stop it.

But lobbyists for Dow, Eli Lilly, Monsanto, Pfizer and other major drug companies are out to kill any reform ... and to let the germs keep killing us. To support common sense, visit


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