142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Assessing the public health impacts of industrial farm animal production (IFAP)

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Tuesday, November 18, 2014 : 12:30 PM - 12:45 PM

Steve Wing, PhD , Dept. of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Although most public health research addresses relationships between specific exposures (e.g., microbes, chemicals, behaviors, or treatments) and diseases or other individual outcomes, the health of populations is fundamentally determined by the architecture of systems that create mass exposures, both harmful and healthy, as well the resilience of individuals and organized communities.  Agriculture, energy, transportation, commerce, and defense/war, are examples of such systems.  Public health advocates correctly promote their goals not only based on specific exposure-outcome relationships, but on the way that systems affect human rights, social justice, violence, and ecological sustainability.  The system of IFAP results in depletion of water, soil, and fossil fuels, massive air and water pollution, dangerous working conditions, poor mass nutrition, and concentration of production that makes the food supply vulnerable to disruption by pestilence, storms, loss of power or transportation, and economic failure.  The practice of routine sub-therapeutic administration of antibiotics for growth promotion (as opposed to disease treatment), which promotes antibiotic resistance, is an IFAP practice that has garnered special attention because it threatens the effectiveness of antibiotics in medicine.  Some public health advocates mistakenly believe that ending the practice would stop IFAP.  Focus on this issue could promote undue public fear, discrimination against IFAP workers, and play into the hands of IFAP promoters who argue that because bacteria adapted to livestock are less effective human pathogens, the practice is fine.  Researchers who fail to put antibiotic use in context may contribute to the problem.

Learning Areas:

Environmental health sciences
Occupational health and safety
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Differentiate between a) the ecological impacts of systems on public health, and b) the specific impacts of exposures produced by those systems. Demonstrate the public health impacts of industrial farm animal production Analyze that sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics for growth promotion is only a small part of the public health consequences of industrial farm animal production.

Keyword(s): Environmental Justice, Food Safety

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have taught graduate classes and conducted and published related research for 25 years, for example, the upcoming publication Wing S. Environmental injustice connects local food environments with global food production. In: Morland K (ed.) Local Food Environments: Food Access in America. Boca Raton, FL: Taylor and Francis, 2014 (forthcoming).
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.