Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Antibiotics In Ag Essential

Antibiotics in agriculture are essential for animal and human health
By Peter Silley, professor of applied microbiology at the University of Bradford - 07/13/10 02:06 PM ET

Antibiotic resistance is a significant global public-health challenge that has created an emotional public response among critics, public-health experts, and animal-health advocates. It involves debate over antibiotic use in both humans and animals, and demands improved monitoring and surveillance, more research and, ultimately, the development of a range of tools that will help reduce reliance on antibiotics. This week’s Energy and Commerce Committee hearing, “Antibiotic Resistance and the Use of Antibiotics in Animal Agriculture,” will further examine how these products are used in agriculture and their impact on human health.

The emotional rhetoric surrounding this issue has resulted in knee-jerk legislative proposals to ban certain uses of antibiotics. Blunt policy instruments could be harmful when dealing with such a critical and complicated issue. It is easy to point fingers and suggest that eliminating some uses in animals would reduce antibiotic resistance in humans. But it is important to act on specific, data-driven evidence. Simple widespread bans on certain uses — including those in animals — would be detrimental to animal health and, more importantly, human health.

If we are to contain the spread of antibiotic resistance, we need careful, data-driven understanding of the sources and causes of that spread. Antibiotic resistance is a collection of specific problems, or specific pathogens resistant to particular drugs. Specific bacterial/drug combinations, or “bug-drug combos,” must be considered separately from other combinations.

Scientific risk assessments conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or by private researchers demonstrate that none of these three bacterial/drug combinations are related to the use of antibiotics in animals. Read More

Healthy livestock are essential for safe and healthy food. But as usual, the anti-animal agriculture groups are using this debate to further their agenda. It’s clear that in order to make any meaningful reform of antibiotic use, the human side must be addressed first. A perfect example would be how antibiotics are distributed in other parts of the world. In some countries you can buy them right over the counter without a doctor’s prescription. They are greatly misused in the US as well by the over-prescribing doctors and the careless patients who fail to follow directions. In the livestock industry you will never see them being used incorrectly. It costs too much money and is too important to the health of the livestock for that to happen. No one who is advocating for antibiotic use changes in livestock only can be taken seriously. ~Troy


GoLightly said...

Okay, thank you, that article was extremely helpful.
My question is, if animal disease is prevalent, and thus requires the low-dose use of said antibiotics, shouldn't the prevalence of the disease be dealt with first?
Isn't animal husbandry all about keeping animals in the healthiest environment possible? Isn't a healthy animal resistant to disease, anyway?
I've heard and read that antibiotics fed at these low doses increases weight gain in the animal.
Isn't that truly the bottom line, here? It isn't for health of the animal, per se, but for increased weight gain?
I have difficulty understanding how feeding these low doses would not impact the animal in other ways aside from weight gain.
If there are no side effects, whatsoever, excellent. Have any studies been done in that regard, by the FDA?

I appreciate this post.
It answered many questions. I'm sorry I asked some more:)

Anonymous said...

Can you give me the references for the countries that dispense antibiotics this way?
Also, what are the human studies (the references for overuse among U.S. physicians?)

Anonymous said...

Can you please give the references (citations, studies) of the doctors in the U.S. who overprescribe antibiotics?
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

For over a decade, multiple scientific studies have confirmed that the use of antibiotics in agricultural animals contributes to the development of resistant bacterial infections in humans. A March 2003 National Academy of Sciences report stated that "a decrease in antimicrobial use of human medicine alone will have little effect on the current situation of growing antibiotic resistance. Substantial efforts must be made to decrease inappropriate overuse in animals and agriculture as well."Similarly, in 2000, a WHO report on infectious disease stated "Since the discovery of the growth-promoting and disease-fighting capabilities of antibiotics, farmers, fish-farmers, and livestock producers have used antibiotics in everything from apples to aquaculture. This ongoing and often low-level dosing for growth and prophylaxis inevitably results in the development of resistance in bacteria in or near livestock, and also heightens fear of new resistant strains "jumping" between species..."

Anonymous said...

Too funny: you're not going to post/answer my questions.
The idea here is that you should do research and keep up with what is important regarding your animals.
Lying to yourselves and to consumers will only take you so far.

Troy Hadrick said...

I'm not sure what comments weren't posted that I received but if there were any I do apologize.

The question was asked about references for doctors overprescibing antibiotics. Here is one reference:

Here's an excerpt from this article: "Although prescriptions of antibiotics for respiratory tract infections declined during the 1990s, GPs still continue to prescribe antibiotics for a high proportion of infections even if the causes of the symptoms are likely to be viral. And this practice is hindering efforts to prevent the spread of antibiotic resistance"

Here's another one. This is from a study done by Harvard University.

When countries are lacking the regulations that control dispensing antibiotics, resistance has been very high. Check out the situation in China.

Here's an article about changes being made in Mexico right now because of antibiotic resistance due to human overuse.

So going back to my original point, it's quite clear that in order to have any affect on the resistance issue, the entire situation needs to be addressed, not just one small portion.

GoLightly said...

Just to point out, I know people, relatives even, who will stop taking their antibiotics too soon, i.e. as soon as they feel better. Then, when they feel sick again, they finish the dosage.
These people are only setting themselves up for failure.
That's where the larger problems lie. People have no clue how the drug works, and figure they can take it like aspirin, on an "as needed" basis. This is NOT the case.
Anonymous 6:10, yes, that's what concerns me the most.
Don't use it just because it's there.
Use it if it's NEEDED.