The headline above caught my attention when it first appeared in 2009. Johns Hopkins University Scientists declared that antibiotics should be banned from animal feed. If we didn’t take action, they warned we are likely to see an explosion of human deaths from previously preventable bacterial diseases as antibiotics become less effective. I was sure this news would result in a public uproar….. I was wrong. So when the latest news reports on antibiotic resistance appeared outlining the potential crisis in human healthcare, I had to wonder – maybe this time? Will there be a public outcry about the use of antibiotics in the animal industry now? Well, not yet! But here is what the scientists are saying about the declining effectiveness of antibiotics.
While we have known this is an emerging global problem for some time, recently the medical profession is talking about a “catastrophic threat – as big a risk as terrorism.” There seems to be two point-sources for antibiotic resistance; one is hospitals which need antibiotics to safely do even simple surgeries. The other place antibiotic resistance is developing is CAFO’s (concentrated animal feeding operations) or “factory farms.”
A well-documented report on the use of antibiotics in factory farms states:
Animals live in close confinement, often standing or laying in their own waste, and are under constant stress that inhibits their immune systems and makes them more prone to infection. When drug-resistant bacteria develop in industrial livestock facilities, they can reach the human population through food, the environment (i.e., water, soil, and air), or by direct human- animal contact.
In response to this problem, the FDA asked the animal industry to voluntarily reduce the amount of antibiotics used in factory farms. The Animal Drug User Fee Act (ADUFA) requires drug companies to report the amount of antibiotic drugs sold or distributed for use in food-producing animals (although the industry seems to be fighting back to keep this information out of public eyes). So how did the animal industry respond to this reasonable request? A recent report of the Pew Charitable Trusts (a reputable group) reported that antibiotic sales for meat and poultry are soaring!
If we have known about this problem for a long time, why is nothing being done? Last November, several hundred thousand citizens, including many senators and congressmen, urged the FDA to take action. It is doubtful however than anything will change without a public outcry. Pew Health Initiatives asks you to take action! They write;
On April 16, 2013, Pew will be hosting the second annual Supermoms Against Superbugs Advocacy Day. Concerned moms, dads and other caregivers will come to the nation’s capital to lobby the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Congress and the White House to rein in the overuse of antibiotics in meat and poultry production – a practice that breeds dangerous superbugs that can infect humans. Learn how you can get involved.
There is a safe way to raise animals for meat without antibiotics! You can make a clear statement of support for changes in legislation by signing the petition here refusing to buy meat products produced in a factory farm. Learn more about the safe raising of animals and find producers non-factory farmed meat at Eat Wild or at your local farmers market!
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