Resistant to urgent action
Antibiotics, the other white meat.
Antibiotics, it’s whatever the poultry industry’s slogan is.
As we wrap ourselves in anti-bacterial wipes, and at the same time wonder if perhaps we’ve oversantized ourselves into a potentially deadly cleanliness; as we watch fish warp before our eyes and wonder about everything we pour into our water, from pesticides to medicines; and as hospitals and communities battle outbreaks of fatal antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections, which are traced to the overuse of antibiotics, Americans continue to eat beef, chicken and pork that is pumped full of ... antibiotics.
Calling drug overuse “an urgent health issue,” the FDA in June urged farmers to quit feeding animals antibiotics. If farmers don’t comply voluntarily, the FDA said, it will issue new regulations, the Washington Post reported.
This slow approach to “an urgent health issue” makes no sense.
The FDA has tried for 33 years to limit the use of antibiotics in agriculture. But, as the Post reported: “Its efforts have repeatedly collapsed in the face of opposition from the drug industry and farm lobby.”
It’s difficult to think of two more powerful lobbies, never mind when they team up.
It’s also difficult to believe that Americans’ health has been at the forefront of these decisions.
Farmers use antibiotics to spur growth in animals, to improve the way animals ingest feed, and to prevent disease. Antibiotics are routinely added to water and feed.
Except for treating existing infection, all are unacceptable uses.
The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that 70 percent of antibiotics and related drugs used in the U.S. are given to animals.
The belated urgency reflects that about 100,000 people die every year from hospital-acquired antibiotic-resistent infections, the New York Times reported. Those are just the infections acquired inside hospitals.
In an attempt at action, the aptly named Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, D-New York, has proposed legislation banning nontherapeutic uses of some antibiotics.
The beef and pork industries still scoff at the FDA.
“Show us the science that use of antibiotics in animal production is causing this antibiotic resistance,” Dave Warner of the pork council told the Washington Post. “How do we know (the problem) is not on the human side? Where is the science for you to go forward on this?”
Show us the science? Perhaps Mr. Warner could read some of the research. Because apparently it would never occur to him that the pork council has no evidence showing that routinely feeding antibiotics to farm animals is in any way a healthful practice for pigs or humans.