Letters to the Editor

BY DI READERS | MARCH 11, 2011 7:20 AM

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Defending the pork industry

Columnist Kirsten Jacobsen is correct that hogs are important to Iowa’s economy. But her accuracy ends there.

For starters, the vast majority of pork farms — in Iowa and elsewhere — do not pollute. Manure on these farms is handled very carefully, and discharges into waterways are rare. Only about 0.1 percent of Iowa farms experience problems each year, and those problems have penalties of up to $37,500 per day. Likewise, pork producers meet all current air-emissions requirements, and the pork industry has enthusiastically supported government efforts to regulate air pollution from livestock farms.

As for antibiotics, hog farmers use these medicines under scrutiny from veterinarians to keep their animals healthy. The FDA approves animal antibiotics and can ban any that are a risk to humans.

Food from pigs cannot be sold to consumers until it is free of antibiotics.

Most irresponsible was Jacobsen’s linking of antibiotics in pigs to MRSA in humans. She didn’t distinguish between different types of MRSA, some of which cause very serious illness and are found mostly in hospitals. Antibiotics used in pigs do not cause this form of MRSA, and pork farmers do not have higher rates of MRSA than others. The study that found no MRSA on antibiotic-free farms was small, and the suggestion that these farms are always free of MRSA is false. Some organic farms have been found to be 100 percent positive for MRSA, while some conventional farms were 100 percent free of it.

Jacobsen can choose to be “uninspired” by pork if she wants. But she should study a bit before accusing an entire industry of polluting the environment and making Americans sick.

Howard Hill
Board of Directors
National Pork Producers Council

Jim Kent remembered

I want to thank The Daily Iowan for recognizing my dad, Jim Kent, upon his recent passing at age 91. He spent most of his long photographic career at the University of Iowa with great enjoyment.

His work, character and associations greatly benefited all six of his children. We attended the university and love to come back and enjoy what a great place this still is.

Janet Kent
Eagle, Idaho

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