The Associated Press article “Pressure rises to stop antibiotics in agriculture” (Dec. 30) casts aside actual evidence and science in pursuit of a “good” story and reflects a lack of understanding about how regulation and careful use of antibiotics keep animals healthy and help protect public health.
Links between antibiotics used in livestock production and antibiotic-resistance in people are unproven, and the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring Program has not shown patterns that would be expected if resistant bacteria were routinely being transferred from animals to humans. In fact, a study from Ohio State University found that “antibiotic-free” pigs have a higher incidence of diseases and parasites than those that receive antibiotics.
Other important points:
- Several layers of protection exist to ensure careful use of antibiotics in animals, including a rigorous FDA drug approval process.
- Nearly 87 percent of animal antibiotics are used therapeutically to keep animals healthy by treating, preventing and controlling diseases, according to the Animal Health Institute. The remaining 13 percent include compounds never used in human therapy or used only topically in people and not associated with resistance.
- An FDA risk assessment found that the types of bacteria in humans and animals were different, meaning the resistant bacteria in humans were not coming from animals.
- While there is no public data available on the amount of antibiotics used in humans, companies that make antibiotics for use in animals now need to report to the FDA annually the amount made.
Finally, all of America’s hog farmers use antibiotics sparingly and judiciously to produce safe, nutritious pork.
Bill Kessler is a pork producer in Mexico, Mo.