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What Drugs Was Your Thanksgiving Turkey On?

Antibiotics and other drugs are common in the turkey that thousands of Americans eat every day.

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Turkey meat produced with ractopamine is not the same as normal meat by Elanco's own admission! "Alterations" in muscle were seen in turkeys fed ractopamine like an increase in "mononuclear cell infiltrate and myofiber degeneration," says its 2008 new drug application documents. There was "an increase in the incidence of cysts," and differences, some "significant," in the weight of organs like hearts, kidneys and livers. ("Enlarged hearts" had been seen in test rats feed ractopamine in the Canadian studies.)

Still, ractopamine, like antibiotics, is being hailed as "green" and for lowering the carbon footprint. It has "positive environmental benefits for livestock producers in terms of decreased nitrogen and phosphorus excretions," extols one journal article. It results in a, "reduced amount of total animal waste," unless, of course, you count the manure coming from Big Pharma.



Martha Rosenberg frequently writes about the impact of the pharmaceutical, food and gun industries on public health. Her work has appeared in the Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune and other outlets.

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