More than 150 scientists have issued a statement highlighting what they see as a disparity between the American medical industry’s reduction in “unnecessary antibiotic use” and the agricultural community’s slow resistance to do the same.
The group, which includes physicians, academics and researchers from around the country, argues that hundreds of studies have concluded that the overuse of critical human drugs in food animal production may be linked to human diseases that are increasingly resistant to antibiotics. The statement is available for download here.
Antibiotic-resistant pathogens most strongly linked to agricultural overuse of antibiotics include Salmonella and Campylobacter, the scientists stated in the letter.
“While we support the effort to renounce drug approvals for injudicious uses, we cannot support a voluntary approach," they wrote. "Too much is at risk to leave public health to the discretion of those whose financial interests run counter to the aim of reducing drug use. Moreover, the voluntary process could take more than five years and even then might not lead to meaningful drug use reduction.”
Meanwhile, 50 farmers and ranchers issued their own statement (available for download here) calling on the Obama Administration and Congress to end the practice.
“We believe the imprudent use of antibiotics not only renders antibiotics less effective or ineffective for sick farm animals, it also threatens public health and the safety of our nation’s food supply,” the letter reads. “[I]t is not only possible but actually economically viable to produce meat, dairy products, and eggs that are safe to eat without continually dosing animals with drugs they don’t need.”
The release of both statements was coordinated by Keep Antibiotics Working, a coalition of health, consumer, agricultural, environmental, humane and other advocacy groups dedicated to eliminating the inappropriate use of antibiotics in food animals.
The statements – particularly that of the farmers and ranchers – was in contrast to a letter sent to Congress in July by associations representing meat, poultry and related animal agricultural groups disputing a Consumer Union report on the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture.
In the letter, the group argued that some food production systems had been stigmatized for their use of antibiotics, stating that “blanket actions to restrict antibiotic use would actually make our food system less safe, limit our ability to prevent, control and treat disease and hurt countless animals.”
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