Costco has decided to phase out the sale of chickens that have been treated with shared-use antibiotics. This is a big win in a few ways. First, the low levels of antibiotics meant for human use that find their way into the raising of conventional meat make the antibiotics less effective, as they only succeed in killing the low-level bacteria and creating antibiotic resistant superbugs by allowing the stronger strains to survive. Second, consumers who are voting with their dollars for healthier meat that isn’t full of unnecessary hormones and antibiotics are being heard. This announcement from Costco comes on the heels of a similar announcement from McDonalds. McDonalds and Costco, the third largest retailer in the US, are deciding to go against traditionally accepted agricultural practices because of public pressure and demand, showing that informed consumers can and do make a difference.
Despite the crippling effects of the recent economic slowdown on many industries, the organic agriculture sector not only sustained itself during this period but also showed signs of growth. “In 2009, organic farming was practiced on 37.2 million hectares worldwide, a 5.7 percent increase from 2008 and 150 percent increase since 2000,” writes policy analyst E.L. Beck, in the latest Vital Signs Online release from the Worldwatch Institute.