Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Farmers Know Best

Farmers, not bureaucrats, know best (Rep. Steve King)
By Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) - 01/26/10 11:43 AM ET

Chances are you may have heard about antibiotic resistance and the “threat” it poses to public health. Antibiotic resistance is a serious issue. However, finger pointing and meritless attacks on America’s farmers as the culprit for declining human health is misguided at best, and at worst, a travesty.

During a recent briefing on Capitol Hill, old misconceptions and half-truths were resurrected about production agriculture and the use of antibiotics used to keep farm animals healthy. Under the guise of protecting human health, the briefing was billed as a discussion about the economics and public health effects of antibiotics in food animal production.

The briefing also was held to support H.R. 1549, the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2009, introduced by Rep. Louise Slaughter on March 17, 2009. Rep. Slaughter’s bill would prevent farmers from introducing antibiotics to livestock for purposes of disease prevention.

When Europe decided to ban one use of antibiotics, more animal deaths and disease outbreaks that required additional use of antibiotics to treat diseases ensued. At the same time, no evidence has been produced showing benefits to human health in the form of reduced antibiotic resistance.

The American Veterinary Medical Association said that Denmark’s voluntary ban on the use of antibiotics for growth promotion “has not resulted in a significant reduction of antibiotic resistance in humans,” while disease and death in hogs increased. Ultimately, animals suffered and humans did not benefit. Growth promotion is a benefit of disease prevention, proving again the American axiom that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Read More

Rep. Steve King has always impressed me with his common sense and his uncommon understanding of agriculture. When it comes to the issue of antibiotics, we shouldn’t rely on knee-jerk reactions to make good decisions. Almost every single one of us uses a product that is designed to kill bacteria everyday. Everyone would agree that we don’t want to eliminate the effectiveness of antibiotics, but I would hope that all of us could also agree that we need to develop strategies that accomplish that goal rather than picking the low-hanging fruit.

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