Think of welfare
The Government has published another section of its Review on Antimicrobial Resistance which reported on the over-use of antibiotics in animal factories, grimly forecasting that the resulting antibiotic resistance will cause 10 million extra deaths a year by 2050. In the UK approximately 25 per cent of all antibiotics are given to pigs in factory farms just to keep them alive in overcrowded, stressful and contagious conditions.
However, pigs on outdoor farms, or indoors with adequate space and bedding, are healthy and hardly ever need antibiotics.
We have the choice to buy pork with the high welfare labels RSPCA Assured, Outdoor Bred, Free Range or Organic – these labels indicate that the animals have been treated properly and not irresponsibly stuffed with antibiotics to compensate for the appalling conditions in factory farms, here and abroad.
If everyone bought only high welfare pork, antibiotic use in the UK would drop by 25 per cent. My campaigning organisation, Farms Not Factories, urges readers to eat a healthier, more ethical Christmas dinner this year by choosing higher welfare pork, and to pay for the extra cost by choosing less popular cuts, or eating less meat.
This way, we can put an end to the intensive farming industry and eventually reduce antibiotic use on pigs to virtually zero.
Though the UK is one of the countries with the highest animal welfare standards for pigs, we import 60 per cent from intensive factory farming systems abroad that would be illegal in the UK, thereby undermining higher welfare UK pig farms.
It is time to take control of the way our food is produced, by only buying pork raised on humane farms, in supermarkets or better still, direct from our farmers via farmers’ markets, a box scheme, or online.
Farms Not Factories
Will there be a U-turn?
At this time of year, I am reminded of Charles Dickens’ story, A Christmas Carol. I see the Chancellor, George Osborne, visited by the ghosts of social care past, present and future. In the past he sees the care of older and vulnerable adults woefully underfunded for generations, despite endless promises.
In the present he sees fewer and fewer people receiving the care they need and providers failing through a lack of funding. His future vision is of care homes closed and people out on the street.
It is hospitals unable to cope with the flow of people needing beds because of a lack of community care.
It is a country with no dignity for those in need of help.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. In A Christmas Carol, Scrooge realises the future can be changed: “Best and happiest of all, the time before him was his own, and he could make the best of it.”
If the Government funds social care properly in the long run it will save money on NHS hospital spending and avoid our quite Dickensian nightmare. Then we’ll all say: “God bless us, every one.”
Mike Padgham via email
We hear about NHS hospitals making large profits from car park charges. It’s not right to charge anyone for parking at a hospital, especially if they are a patient or visitor to see a sick patient. Patients and visitors should complain to their MP and let the Government know the public won’t stand for it.