New Push to Limit Agricultural Antibiotic Use

A coalition of food safety and environmental advocacy groups are pushing to limit the use of antibiotics on American farms.

Last year, American researchers released a startling report documenting the prevalence of drug resistant super-bacteria in American grocery stores. According to the report, up to one-fourth of meat sampled in stores in three states tested positive for dangerous superbugs.

Food safety groups linked the prevalence of resistant bacteria to the overuse of antibiotics. According to some estimates, nearly 80 percent of antibiotics produced in the United States go towards agricultural, rather than medical use. Using antibiotics on healthy animals, sometimes done to encourage growth or prevent disease in unsanitary conditions, these groups claim, can help produce drug resistances in bacteria, leading to unsafe food and creating a major threat to the health of American consumers.

New York Representative Louise Slaughter, who introduced a bill that would prevent the use of antibiotics on healthy livestock, claimed, “Every year, more than 100,000 Americans die from bacterial infections acquired in hospitals, and 70% of these infections are resistant to drugs commonly used to treat them. Antibiotic-resistant diseases now kill more Americans than HIV/AIDS.”

The beef and poultry industry have come out strongly in opposition to this proposed bill, claiming that it will lead to an increase in animal disease and an overall decline in animal health.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer