Katie Couric's recent two part series on CBS News exploring the potential for antibiotic use in livestock to promote drug resistance forms of disease in humans was professionally prepared and presented and (to most lay observers) avoided the appearance of one sided, "gotcha" journalism that is so common today. Any reasonable consumer or producer should have been concerned by the contents of her reports.
The temporal context for CBS' series (as well as the recent ABC nightline report on animal abuse on a dairy) is to create a negative public perception about animal agriculture in an attempt to promote Obama administration supported legislation that would prohibit, restrict and regulate much of the antibiotic use current available in livestock. Bills are moving forward in
the Senate and the House now - with briefings and hearings occurring weekly.
Unfortunately, CBS highlighted only a few carefully selected items of interest and suppressed a large body of science and research that contradicts the point of view they wished to promote. They were even less careful to correctly and scientifically interpret the information that was presented.
For a "fair and balanced" evaluation of the report and the underlying facts, a document prepared by Dr. Scott Hurd of Iowa State. He reviewed the first CBS segment and highlighted the statements where the facts don't match up with the story. You can also find this information at http://vetmed.iastate.edu/news/isu-associate-professor-and-former-usda-deputy-undersecretary-food-safety-responds-cbs-news-seg. You might find this information useful as background if you need to respond to questions and concerns that might be expressed by friends and neighbors who saw the TV reports.
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