Friday, May 25, 2012

Cows and drugs

Cows are pumped up on drugs

(NaturalNews) Writing in theNew York Times, former FDA Commissioner Donald Kennedy warns that the widespread use of antibiotics in livestock is a major threat to human health.

"More than 30 years ago ... we proposed eliminating the use of penicillin and two other antibiotics to promote growth in animals raised for food," Kennedy writes. "When agribusiness interests persuaded Congress not to approve that regulation, we saw firsthand how strong politics can trump wise policy and good science.

Already in the 1980s, Kennedy notes,scientistsknew that the non-therapeutic use ofantibioticsto prevent infection inhealthyanimals and make them grow faster was leading to the evolution ofdrug-resistant bacteria. To make matters worse, the antibiotics used inanimalsare largely the same as those used in humans, meaning that when these livestock-producedsuperbugsinfect humans, doctors have few ways to deal with them.

An estimated 90,000 people die from hospital-acquired infections in theUnited Statesevery year. Seventy percent of theseinfectionsare antibiotic resistant.

Thelivestockindustry insists that it needs to use antibiotics to keep its animals healthy. But according to the Union for Concerned Scientists, 70 percent of the antibiotics used inagricultureare given to healthy animals that are only at risk ofinfectionbecause they are kept in crowded, unsanitary confinement. And after Denmark banned non-therapeuticantibioticuse in the 1990s, the prevalence ofdrug-resistantbacteria in farm animals plummeted, while costs to livestock producers increased only slightly.

In 2005, the United States banned the use of fluoroquinolone antibiotics in poultry. Now the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act has been introduced, which wouldbanany non-therapeutic antibiotic use in animals unlessdrugcompanies could prove there was noriskof contributing to the development of superbugs.

A ban on non-therapeutic antibiotics in agriculture is supported by the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Pharmacists Association, the Infectious Diseases Society ofAmerica, the American Public Health Association, and the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

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