Unless we stop allowing factory farms to routinely feed medically important antibiotics to animals, for “preventive” reasons, we’ll see a continued increase in foodborne illnesses that can’t be treated by one or more antibiotics.
That's what the World Health Organization WHO) says in its latest report. And yet the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) refuses to act.
TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress: Healthy farm animals shouldn’t get antibiotics that sick people need!
There are a lot of things industrial meat producers could learn from organic farmers. Topping the list, is how to keep animals healthy without antibiotics.
Under U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic regulations, organic farmers and ranchers aren’t allowed to routinely feed animals antibiotics as a preventive measure. They are required, however, to administer antibiotics to animals when they get sick, even if that means the animal’s meat or milk won’t be able to be sold under the USDA Organic seal.
How do organic farmers and ranchers manage to raise livestock without the routine use of antibiotics to prevent disease, when industrial factory farm operators claim they can’t?
Animals in Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) are much more susceptible to disease, because they live in crowded, filthy conditions that cause stress—and stress weakens their immune systems.
The latest recommendation from WHO is that all livestock producers should be prevented from giving medically important antibiotics to healthy animals and should avoid the use of drugs “critically important for human medicine” when treating sick animals and healthy ones that can’t be separated from them.
WHO’s recommendation was based in part on a systematic review published in The Lancet Planetary Health which found that interventions that restrict antibiotic use in food-producing animals reduced antibiotic-resistant bacteria in these animals by up to 39 percent.
So why hasn’t the FDA stepped in to restrict antibiotic use in U.S. meat production? Could it have something to do with the fact that drug company lobbyists don’t want Congress to pass any laws that might dent their $5-billion market for animal drugs?
Unsurprisingly, the Trump Administration opposes WHO’s antibiotics guidelines. As Bloomberg reported:
Agribusiness companies contributed $4.6 million to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, twice what they gave to his Democratic challenger, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. … The global animal antimicrobial market (which includes antibiotics but also antifungals and antivirals) is expected to reach $4.7 billion by 2021. Two U.S.-based companies, Zoetis Inc. and Elanco, a unit of Eli Lilly & Company, make most of the world’s animal antibiotics, according to Kevin Kedra, an analyst at Gabelli & Co. who tracks the industry.
Shame on the Trump Administration for putting the profits and interest of the meat and pharmaceutical industries over the health of the American people!