America’s ability to be the world’s hope to feed an ever-growing global population is under attack. As the number of Americans with farm experience continues to decline it is increasingly clear that the public has no idea from where our food comes or how it is produced.
Antibiotic resistance, according to some politicians, will disappear if they can abolish current antibiotic-use protocols from livestock production, removing a vital tool for food safety. Never mind the fact that bacteria have been developing resistance to antibiotics, as a survival mechanism, since the day antibiotics and bacteria first met.
Also, never mind the fact that many humans pester their doctors for antibiotics whenever they have an ailment, even a viral infection which antibiotics cannot touch, and doctors too willingly oblige them.
Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) is sponsoring the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2009 (PAMTA, HR 1549) and accuses food animal production of "unnecessary" use of antibiotics to prevent disease. She also says antibiotic supplements used to promote efficient growth contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
The National Antibiotic Resistance Monitoring System, a collaboration of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration and USDA agencies, says “ongoing efforts in human and veterinary medicine are needed to decrease the misuse and overuse of antibiotics, so that the efficacy of antibiotics is preserved for as long as possible.”
Makes one wonder what effort Rep. Slaughter is pursuing in the human health arena to combat antibiotic resistance, or does she believe that all the responsibility for antibiotic resistance indeed lies with animal agriculture?
According to the Mayo Clinic Web site, “Antibiotics are powerful drugs used for treating many serious and life-threatening infectious diseases, but taking them when (people) don't need to can lead to antibiotic-resistant germs.’
Seems if Slaughter truly wanted to make meaningful progress in the war on antibiotic resistance that she would broaden the scope of her efforts to encompass recommendations, or laws, that control antibiotic abuse occurring in human medicine.
Also, conveniently, she does not mention anything about the requirements in veterinary medicine that ensure antibiotic residues in animal tissues are cleared before slaughter by observing withdrawal times specified on labels.
For the best chance of making meaningful progress against antibiotic resistance, any legislation needs to address human medicine as part of the solution. Don’t make animal agriculture be a shield for irresponsible antibiotic use by people and their doctors.