As concerns grow about antibiotic-resistant pathogens in our food, environment, and hospitals, the Agricultural Research Service is trying to figure out the best alternatives for food animal producers, who have long relied on these miracle drugs for combating diseases and boosting feed efficiency.
Though antibiotic resistance is a known consequence of antibiotic use in both humans and animals, agricultural use has come under greater scrutiny in recent years as more consumers take an interest in how their food is produced. According to the most recent estimates, around 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the United States each year are used in food animal production. Read more
Leadership at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made it abundantly clear last week that the low-dose usage of antibiotics in food animals, simply to promote growth or improve feed efficiency, needlessly contributes to the emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria and poses a serious threat to public health. Despite the fact that the FDA is taking a hard-line stance on the issue, I find it frustrating to see that the agency appears to be hamstrung from taking the necessary steps to mandate industry to end the risky practice. Read more
It’s not often that I get to write about a positive food policy story coming out of my home state, but it turns out that Oklahoma Attorney General (and Democratic candidate for governor in 2010) Drew Edmondson is suing the more lenient Arkansas poultry industry for its waste, which is polluting the Illinois River on the states’ shared border. This case brings the spotlight to a huge, oft-ignored issue that many legislators in other states should take note of, too: agricultural pollution. Read more
Chalk one up for public health advocates fighting to keep antibiotics an effective treatment for fighting disease in people: On Monday, the FDA’s principal deputy commissioner of food and drugs, Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, revealed that the Obama Administration, “supports ending the use of antibiotics for growth and feed efficiency” in food animals. Dr. Sharfstein made the statement during a House Rules Committee, which was called by the committee chair, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D, NY), to discuss her proposed Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act. (PAMTA) Read more