Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Antibiotic Story More Opinion Than Fact

US Ag alliance not happy with antibiotic review
12 Jan 2010

The Animal Agriculture Alliance in the US is offended by the unbalanced claims in the widespread Associated Press article entitled "Pressure Rises to Stop Antibiotics in Agriculture".
Released on Dec. 29, the story (437 initial pages in Google) was the third installment of a five-part series about antibiotic resistance in the United States. Unfortunately, AAA says, the authors did not offer a balanced analysis of the complex issue, instead relying on biased sources to portray America's food producers in a negative light. “Antibiotics are a judiciously-used tool employed by farmers and ranchers with veterinarian oversight to further their goal of raising healthy animals,” AAA says in a press release.

"America's farmers, ranchers and veterinarians are committed to ensuring the health of their animals and the safety of their products," said Kay Johnson Smith, Alliance Executive Vice President. "Antibiotic use in agriculture is carefully monitored to provide a healthy, plentiful food supply for all."

Opinion blurs factsThe AP article dangerously blurs the line between opinion and fact. Although the authors quote an unsubstantiated estimate that 70% of the antibiotics used in the US are administered to livestock, they fail to acknowledge that nearly half of the total estimated amount is made up of ionophores and other compounds not used in human medicine that do not impact human resistance.

The article also inaccurately suggests that animal feed is constantly "laced" with antibiotics. In reality, each antibiotic is administered according to the specifications of a US Food and Drug Administration-approved label that clearly indicates the number of doses and duration of use.

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In the recent tradition of mainstream media, The AP article about antibiotics was more concerned with sharing opinions than facts. The ability to keep our livestock healthy shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s comical to hear that feeding antibiotics to livestock just covers for poor management. A statement like that displays an incredible lack of understanding for how and why they are used. That’s like saying the parent of any child who’s been given antibiotics is a bad parent. The reason farmers and ranchers are concerned about keeping the ability to use antibiotics in livestock is because they care. Raising healthy animals is our top priority and the thought of losing an important tool like this due to hype and opinion is frustrating to say the least. ~Troy


caheidelberger said...

Actually, the Norwegians might tell parents something like that about overuse of antibiotics. They care deeply about the health of their people... which is why they made severe cuts in antibiotic use in hospitals in the 1980s. They now have the lowest rates in the world of nasty antibiotic-resistant staph infections.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Troy. I'm intrigued: Do you use targeted antibiotics to treat individual animals that become sick or injured? Or are the non-targeted antibiotics mixed in-feed actually being used to promote growth rates and to help prevent the potential outbreak (and rapid spread) of diseases that are the result of the CAFO-type management system (e.g high numbers of closely confined animals, under stress, fed a high-grain diet)? Would appreciate your thoughts. Peter (sorry, don't have a blog, etc!)