Environmental Groups Sue Over Antibiotic Use

Environmental groups have sued the Food and Drug Administration over the use of antibiotics on farm livestock.  A study earlier this month revealed that significant amounts of antibiotic resistant bacteria in supermarket meat. Staphylococcus aureus was found in 22.5 % of meat samples in Detroit supermarkets. Contamination ranged from 25% of chicken samples, 24% of turkey, and 20% of beef. Similar findings were reported throughout the United States and in supermarkets in Europe. While cooking kills the bacteria, undercooked and raw meat poses a health hazard to humans.

Environmental groups argue that the overuse of antibiotics is leading to the rise in drug resistant super bacteria. In a Washington Post article, the head of the Union of Concerned Scientists stated that heavy use of antibiotics reduces their effectiveness and endangers the population as a whole. Some groups estimate that almost 80% of all antibiotics used in the United States are used on farm livestock, more often than not used on healthy animals as a preventative measure.

The use of antibiotics has larger impacts than just the farm. The Union of Concerned Scientists, the National Resources Defense Council, and the Center for Science in Public Trust, all of whom have joined the FDA lawsuit, claim that scientific research demonstrates that the increased use of antibiotics on livestock makes it more difficult to treat human illnesses and makes typical infections more resistant to drugs. Some farm advocacy groups, like the National Pork Producers Council, however, argue that drug bacteria in animals are not causing infections in people.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer