Antibiotics in agriculture are essential for animal and human health
By Peter Silley, professor of applied microbiology at the University of Bradford - 07/13/10 02:06 PM ET
Antibiotic resistance is a significant global public-health challenge that has created an emotional public response among critics, public-health experts, and animal-health advocates. It involves debate over antibiotic use in both humans and animals, and demands improved monitoring and surveillance, more research and, ultimately, the development of a range of tools that will help reduce reliance on antibiotics. This week’s Energy and Commerce Committee hearing, “Antibiotic Resistance and the Use of Antibiotics in Animal Agriculture,” will further examine how these products are used in agriculture and their impact on human health.
The emotional rhetoric surrounding this issue has resulted in knee-jerk legislative proposals to ban certain uses of antibiotics. Blunt policy instruments could be harmful when dealing with such a critical and complicated issue. It is easy to point fingers and suggest that eliminating some uses in animals would reduce antibiotic resistance in humans. But it is important to act on specific, data-driven evidence. Simple widespread bans on certain uses — including those in animals — would be detrimental to animal health and, more importantly, human health.
If we are to contain the spread of antibiotic resistance, we need careful, data-driven understanding of the sources and causes of that spread. Antibiotic resistance is a collection of specific problems, or specific pathogens resistant to particular drugs. Specific bacterial/drug combinations, or “bug-drug combos,” must be considered separately from other combinations.
Scientific risk assessments conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or by private researchers demonstrate that none of these three bacterial/drug combinations are related to the use of antibiotics in animals. Read More
Healthy livestock are essential for safe and healthy food. But as usual, the anti-animal agriculture groups are using this debate to further their agenda. It’s clear that in order to make any meaningful reform of antibiotic use, the human side must be addressed first. A perfect example would be how antibiotics are distributed in other parts of the world. In some countries you can buy them right over the counter without a doctor’s prescription. They are greatly misused in the US as well by the over-prescribing doctors and the careless patients who fail to follow directions. In the livestock industry you will never see them being used incorrectly. It costs too much money and is too important to the health of the livestock for that to happen. No one who is advocating for antibiotic use changes in livestock only can be taken seriously. ~Troy