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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
10:16am
Thu Jul 21, 2016

Tyson Meat Company Ranked As Worst Illinois Water Polluter Among Agribusinesses

New research shows the Tyson Fresh Meats animal slaughtering facility in Hillsdale was the top water polluter in Illinois among major agribusiness operations in 2014.

That year, the Tyson Fresh Meats plant released over 2 million pounds of pollutants into the state's waterways, according to the Environment America Research & Education Center's report.

The environmental advocacy group examined the "water pollution footprints" of Tyson Foods and four other major agribusinesses, Cargill, JBS, Perdue and Smithfield, in Illinois and other states. Forty-four percent of the nation's pork, chicken and beef is produced by those five companies, according to the report.

Researchers analyzed the most recent 2014 data from the federal Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) on pollution discharges into waterways from the five major agribusinesses. Among the findings, Tyson's facilities released the most pollutants nationwide -- nearly 21 million pounds. 

That's more pollutants "by volume than even Exxon Mobil or DuPont," according to the environmental group.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
4:18pm
Tue Jun 23, 2015

Public Interest Group Urges Subway To End Antibiotic Use In Meat (VIDEO)

An Illinois public interest group and its affiliates across the country launched a nationwide campaign Tuesday urging Subway to serve only antibiotic-free meat and poultry at its sandwich shops.

Specifically, the Illinois Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) is calling on Subway to "stop using meat raised with the routine use of antibiotics."

Illinois PIRG canvassers promoted the public interest group's "Subway: Go Antibiotic-Free" campaign late Tuesday morning at a Chicago Subway restaurant at 319 S. Jefferson St.

Outside the Subway location, Illinois PIRG volunteers and interns distributed flyers and asked passersby to pose for photos with signs reading, "I was craving a sub, but I wanted meat raised without antibiotics."

Quick Hit
by Op-Ed
3:16pm
Thu Mar 26, 2015

Op-Ed: Some Good, Some Bad In Obama Administration Plan To Protect Antibiotics

The following comes from Dev Gowda, an advocate with Illinois PIRG.

Plan fails to adequately address growing public health threat

Tomorrow the National Task Force for Combating Resistant Bacteria will release a five-year action plan to tackle the growing problem of antibiotic resistance. While the plan will take several important steps necessary to control the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, it will miss the opportunity to call for critical reforms in the agricultural sector that are essential to protect public health.

President Obama gets an 'A' for tackling this problem from multiple angles. But in terms of addressing the biggest problem, the troubling overuse and misuse of antibiotics on large factory farms, the administration gets an incomplete.

This lack of action to address the overuse of antibiotics in agriculture is notable in the face of recent commitments by several major retailers to curtail the purchase of meat raised with the routine use of the drugs.  Earlier this month, for instance, McDonald's announced it will phase out chicken raised with medically important antibiotics in its U.S. restaurants.  This policy will likely do more to confront the overuse of antibiotics in agriculture than the policies recommended in today's plan. 

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
5:42pm
Wed Aug 6, 2014

Activists Call For Restrictions On The Use Of Antibiotics In Factory Farms

Consumer rights advocates and health professionals are calling on the Obama administration to restrict the use of antibiotics on healthy factory farm animals, saying the “overuse and misuse” of antibiotics generates bacteria that are resistant to one or more classes of drugs.

“Bacteria is getting resistant to these antibiotics they’re using at factory farms, and the bacteria is then being passed to our community through the air we breathe, through water, through animal waste and through the food we eat,” said Dev Gowda, of the consumer advocacy group, Illinois PIRG. “President Obama and the FDA need to take action and essentially save antibiotics for future generations.”

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:07pm
Wed Jul 16, 2014

Consumers Target Walgreens Over 'Toxic Products'; Public Pressure Grows Over Antibiotic Use In Livestock (VIDEO)

A small group of health advocates, dog owners and Walgreens customers in Chicago called on the nation's largest pharmacy chain to remove products that, they say, contain harmful chemicals from its shelves.

"Many major retailers in the Chicago area such as Target, Bed Bath & (Beyond), even Walmart have taken direct action to begin to remove some of the worst toxic chemicals from their products, and unfortunately, Walgreens, the flagship of Illinois, has refused to make a commitment to take action on these products," said Lynda DeLaforgue, co-director of Citizen Action/Illinois, which organized the Wednesday morning protest outside the new Walgreens store at 410 N. Michigan Ave. in the Wrigley Building.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
9:56am
Mon Jul 14, 2014

Study: Vegetarian & Low Meat Diets Can Help Mitigate Climate Change

Eating less meat or none at all has the potential to significantly shrink an individual's diet-related carbon footprint and "can make a valuable contribution to climate change mitigation,"according to a recent study published in the journal Climatic Change.

The study examined the diets of 29,589 meat eaters, 15,751 vegetarians, 8,123 pescatarians (vegetarians who eat fish) and 2,041 vegans between the ages of 20 to 79 in the United Kingdom. Participants took a "food-frequency questionnaire" asking how often in the last year they consumed 130 different food items. Researchers were able to estimate the greenhouse gas emissions, which trap heat and warm up the planet, associated with the various foods.

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