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Katie Couric's 3-minute “Factory Farm” Barrage

Published Mar. 10, 2010 | Discuss this article on Facebook

Source: Dairy Herd Management staff, Published February 10, 2010

The fact that she used the term “factory farm” or “factory farming” five times in a three-minute period probably showed her bias. CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric left the confines of her New York City TV studio to visit an Iowa hog farm and ask some questions related to antibiotic use in livestock — and whether such use could be contributing to drug-resistant bacteria.

The first of a two-part series aired Tuesday night. Here’s an exchange between Couric and Liz Wagstrom, DVM, vice president, science and technology, National Pork Board:

Couric: “Some people say giving animals antibiotics to prevent illiness or promote growth is like putting antibiotics in a child’s cereal. You know, save them so they’ll work when they’re really needed.”

Wagstrom: “I’d say that we do strategically place them. It’s not an all day, every pig gets antibiotics every day of its life.

Couric: “So you don’t think they’re being overused by farmers anywhere in this country?”

Wagstrom: “The vast majority of producers use them appropriately.”

Couric also interviewed some poultry plant or hatchery workers in Arkansas who reportedly became infected with methicillin-resistant staph or MRSA. In the case of one worker, doctors had to try several drugs that usually work on this type of infection before finding one that saved his life.

“Public-health officials are concerned,” she reported. “If workers who handle animals are getting sick, what about the rest of us? Drug-resistant infections have skyrocketed over the past two decades, killing an estimated 70,000 Americans last year alone. It’s an emerging health crisis that scientists say is caused not only by the overuse of antibiotics in humans, but in livestock as well,” she said.

See the entire broadcast. The broadcast runs 7 minutes, 37 seconds. There is one three-minute stretch where Couric makes five references to "factory farms" or "factory farming."

Tonight (Feb. 10), CBS Evening News will air part two. It will reportedly focus on Denmark and what happened to farmers, livestock and people in that country when the use of antibiotics "in healthy farm animals" was banned.

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