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The Move Away From Antibiotics In Food

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, June 29, 2010 4:05 PM EST
Category: Protecting Your Family
Tags: Animal Feed, Antibiotic Resistance, FDA, Drugs, Antibiotics, Agriculture, MRSA

Long Overdue


IMAGE SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons/ farrowing crate mother and babies/ author: Bailynorwoodrocks

The Food and Drug Administration is once again urging farmers to stop giving antibiotics to animals used for food.

Cattle, poultry, and hogs are regularly given antibiotics in their feed and water usually to fight off the effects of disease resulting from living in confined quarters, part of modern agricultural practices.

The FDA and agriculture calls them antimicrobials.

Humans who eat meat or drink water laced with antibiotics are exposed to bacteria that are then developing antibiotic resistance. When they rely on antibiotics to fight an infection, they find them less effective.

Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, FDA deputy commissioner, says antibiotics should only be given to protect the health of the animal, not as a prophylactic. The public has 60 days to comment to the draft of guidance.

For more than 20 years, the FDA has tried to limit the use of antibiotics in agriculture, but has faced opposition by the powerful drug and farm industry.

The FDA plans to issue new guidance if the industry does not comply voluntarily, reports the Washington Post.

Rising Plague

A new book about antibiotic resistance, “Rising Plague,” says the problem is out of control. New drugs are not being developed fast enough to keep up with the bacteria’s ability to develop resistance.

The Associated Press found in a six-month investigation that the rise in antibiotic use contributes to drug resistant forms of disease such as malaria, tuberculosis and staph.

The European Union banned the use of antibiotics as a growth promoter in livestock in 2006.

Up to 70 percent of antibiotics and related drugs used in the U.S. are given to animals for agriculture, reports The Union of Concerned Scientists.

MRSA, the antibiotic-resistant staph infection that now kills more Americans than AIDS, has been shown to be widespread in the U.S. pig herd—not surprising, given that factory-farmed pigs get doused daily with antibiotics.

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) has introduced a bill to ban the practice unless animals are sick. The push back comes from the pharmaceutical industry to the tune of about $135 million a year in lobbying dollars, and another $70 million from agribusiness. #

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