Scientists, farmers, and ranchers have released statements condemning routine subtherapeutic antibiotic use in farm animals. A coalition of 157 preeminent scientists and 49 ranchers and farmers released the letters as part of a press conference attended by Food Poisoning Bulletin.
The press conference, sponsored by Keep Antibiotics Working.org, featured Congresswomen Louise Slaughter (D-NY), the only microbiologist in Congress, Russ Kremer, owner of Heritage Acres Foods, and Dr. Donald Kennedy, President Emeritus of Stanford University and former head of the FDA.
The farmer and rancher letter states, “we believe the imprudent use of antibiotics not only renders antibiotics less effective for sick farm animals, it also threatens public health and the safety of our nation’s food supply. We are concerned for the health of our customers, our neighbors, our employees, and our own families.”
Mr. Kremer related his story of illness linked to antibiotic resistant bacteria. He suffered a leg injury after being gored by a male pig, developing a strep infection that was resistant to antibiotics. After hospitalization and treatment with celphalosporin, the only antibiotic that was effective for his infection, he exterminated his existing herd and started over, with a new feeding program and using nutraceuticals without antibiotics. He stated, “over the last 23 years, my pigs are drug-free, healthy, and thriving. I have saved at least $16,000 in antibiotic and veterinarian costs.”
Congresswoman Slaughter said, “100,000 Americans die from bacterial infections in hospitals each year. There has been an alarming increase in antibiotic resistant infections. We are seeing these diseases in food because the food industry uses antibiotics on healthy livestock. In February, the Transitional Genomics Institute released a study that conclusively links sub therapeutic antibiotic use in farms animals to MRSA (methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus).
The scientists’ letter states that “hundreds of scientific research studies and analyses by international scientific bodies support the conclusion that the overuse of critical human drugs in food animal production is linked to human diseases increasingly impervious to antibiotic treatment, putting human lives at unnecessary risk.” The letter continues, “those most strongly linked to agricultural overuse of antibiotics include food poisoning caused by resistant Salmonella and Campylobacter.” The scientists “strongly urge an immediate end to the imprudent use of antibiotics in animal agriculture and call on the FDA and Congress to work together to make that happen.”
In the press conference, Dr. Kennedy said, “the science is clear. Bacteria that survive antibiotic treatment in animals can unquestionably be transferred to humans. Animal agriculture must stop the practice of routinely giving antibiotics to farm animals.”