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Mike Anderson | USLHC | USA

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Dangerous Meat?

SteaksWhen I wrote about the costs of everyday things in France (like food) compared to a typical midwestern city last fall, I focused only money.  My main interest was showing how students and other physicists who come to CERN have to change their budget from what they might be used to.

Food overall is more expensive in France, but the cost of meat is an especially noticeable difference because it is twice or more as expensive per pound as in the US.

One of the reasons why meat is so cheap in the US was mentioned in the New York Times recently (The Spread of Superbugs):

A study by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that in the United States, 70 percent of antibiotics are used to feed healthy livestock, with 14 percent more used to treat sick livestock…Dr. Martin J. Blaser, chairman of the department of medicine at New York University Langone Medical Center, and a former president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, agrees that agricultural use of antibiotics produces cheaper meat. But he says the price may be an enormous toll in human health.

In that study by the Union of Concerned Scientists from a few years ago, they specifically mention a difference between Europe and the US:

Approximately 13.5 million pounds of antimicrobials prohibited in the European Union are used in agriculture for nontherapeutic purposes every year by U.S. livestock producers.

Basically, yeah, meat is cheaper in the US compared to France, due in part to heavy antibiotic use, but this may be leading to the development of bacteria immune to drugs we need to treat people.

Scary stuff.  Now if I could only figure out why other things are so much more expensive in France, like movie tickets and clothes…

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