I served as a member of the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production which issued its final report in April 2008. Our most important recommendation: reduce the widespread use of antibiotics as growth promoters and as a routine method of preventing infections. Why? Because of increasing evidence of human resistance to the kinds of antibiotics used in farm animal production and to related antibiotics.
You think everyone involved in production of farm animals understands the dangers of continued overuse of these drugs? Not a chance. A coalition of 20 meat producing groups has asked Congress not to restrict their use of antibiotics. The American Meat Institute has issued a statement condemning our report. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has done even more. It just issued its own report taking on the Pew Commission’s antibiotic recommendations. Why the ferocity and why now? Congress has submitted a bill – the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2009 (PAMTA) – that would restrict use of several antibiotics in farm animal production.
Ralph Loglisci, who was the Pew Commission’s communication director, has an excellent blog post dealing with the AVMA statement. If you want to understand what all this is about, take a look at it.
While these debates continue, antibiotic-resistant bacteria are increasingly turning up in our food supply. Tell your representatives to support PAMTA!