Merck scientists have introduced an FDA approved drug to the meat industry – Zilmax. This drug bulks up cattle in the last few weeks of their lives, bringing in more revenue for feedlot owners. Four major meat companies now use Zilmax, including Tyson Foods, JBS SA, Cargill, and National Beef Packing Co. Reportedly, Cargill resisted Zilmax for years, but finally got on board to keep up with the market.
Recycling The Drug
Zilmax, once called Zilpaterol, (the active ingredient in Zilmax) was tested to treat asthma in humans. The drug was an absolute failure in humans, but was found to be a repartitioning agent – a drug that changes metabolism so more muscles are produced instead of fat. The World Anti-Doping Agency banned a similar substance, clenbuterol, which is still used in humans as a broncho-dilator for equine, but clenbuterol remains unapproved for use in animals. Still, Merck claims to put the customer first, that’s why they quit using Zilpaterol in humans and started feeding the drug Zilmax to feedlot owners as a cattle growth stimulant.
Journalist Visits Meat Locker, Disgusted
As a journalist for Chronicle of Higher Education, Melody Peterson described her visit to the meat locker at West Texas A&M University. She was escorted by associate professor of animal science, Ty E. Lawrence.
“Bloody sides of beef, still covered with a slick layer of ivory-colored fat, hung from steel hooks. Dressed in a white lab coat, a hard hat on his head, Lawrence pointed to the carcass of a Holstein that had been fed a new drug called Zilmax. He noted its larger size compared with the nearby body of a steer never given the drug.”
“‘This is thicker, and it’s plumper,’ said Lawrence, pointing at the beast’s rib-eye. ‘This animal right here,’ waving his hand at the pharmaceutically enhanced meat, ‘doesn’t look like a Holstein anymore.'”
Not a Holstein anymore: is that really something to be proud about? If a Holstein doesn’t look like a Holstein anymore, what are we eating and what are we becoming?
Drugged Up Beef Has More Profit
The drought in 2012 made it easier for Merck to sell Zilmax. Without needing any more feed or water, a cow can now yield 33 pounds of extra beef when drugged with Zilmax. According to Zilmax advertisements, food production seems to be more about profit instead of giving people healthy choices.
One of their ads boasts:
“Costs $20 Makes you $40 THAT’S ZILMANOMICS! Beef you can count on. Feed Zilmax for the last 20 days for an additional 30 pounds of hot carcass weight and an extra $40 per head, gross profit. That’s every four weeks. Let’s see the folks on Wall Street beat those returns!”
University Researchers, Agriculture Industry, And Pharmaceuticals Protecting One Another
Agriculture schools increasingly depend on the agriculture industry for research grants. A large portion of those grants cover overhead and administrative costs. Many professors now work for the agriculture companies as consultants and speakers, adding to their personal bank accounts along the way. In a 2005 survey, more than two-thirds of animal scientists reported they had received money from the industry in the previous five years. Critics say some academic animal scientists have become so closely tied to the drug companies that they may be working more in the big companies’ interests. Weren’t land-grant universities created to serve farmers, ranchers, and their fellow man?
Survive By Resistance
Zilmax has been rigorously studied for thirty years and scientific testing has been shared with the regulatory, scientific, and cattle producing industries. For many people, though, drugged-up beef is not the way they want to go. People want a choice. They want information. Resistance of the big industry drugged-up beef and sell-out university advice will be the way forward for many American’s seeking healthy choices.