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article imagePreservation of antibiotics legislation revived in Congress

By Karen Graham     Mar 25, 2015 in Health
On Tuesday, Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY) reintroduced the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA), legislation that would ban the non-therapeutic use of eight important classes of antibiotics in food animal production.
In a press release dated March 24, 2015, Rep. Slaughter pointed out that antibiotic resistance has become the most critical and pressing health crisis of our time. Statistics show that on average, 2.0 million Americans acquire an antibiotic-resistant infection every year, and of that number, 23,000 die.
Slaughter added: "My legislation would save eight critical classes of antibiotics from being routinely fed to healthy animals, and would reserve them only for sick humans and sick animals. If we want to prevent a nightmarish post-antibiotic future, citizens of this country need to speak up and demand that their leaders enact enforceable, verifiable limits on the use of antibiotics on the farm. Anything short of that, and we will only be biding our time until a major outbreak causes widespread devastation in this country and throughout the world.”
With the rise in the number of antibiotic-resistant pathogens has come the fear of a global catastrophe in the making. The Rising Plague, a book by Brad Spellberg, the chief medical officer of the Los Angeles County- University of Southern California Medical Center, opens with these chilling words: “I’m out of antibiotics. She’s going to die.”
The book makes a case for naming the culprit in the rise of antibiotic-resistant pathogens - factory farms. The use of low-dose antibiotics in meat production has become very common in order to promote growth and ward off infections in densely packed feed lots. It is then that "natural selection" takes place, with bacteria that can overpower the drugs being used, multiplying and resistant to the drug. These bacteria are then dispersed by the wind, water, urine, and feces.
Not too many people know this, but fully 80 percent of antibiotics sold in the U.S. are actually used in factory farms to compensate for stressful, often dirty, and overcrowded conditions. Sadly, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has known about the problem of antibiotic misuse by farmers and factory farms since 1977. But other than the FDA asking farm owners to "voluntarily" curb the use of antibiotics in meat production, nothing else has been done.
In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers estimated that livestock were fed 63,151 tons of antibiotics in 2010. The number was expected to rise 67 percent by the year 2030. Lance Price, a professor at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health also spoke at the press conference. He said, “We need this bill so that we become the leaders in the world on this issue. We’re lagging behind Europe, but we need to lead the developing world because there it’s no holds barred.”
PAMTA has 78 co-sponsors in the Congress and is endorsed by 450 health, agriculture, environmental, food safety and nutrition, animal protection, religious, labor and consumer advocate groups. Additionally, 50 cities across the country have passed resolutions asking that Congress pass the PAMTA legislation, as well as the Prevention of Antibiotic Resistance Act (PARA), reintroduced in Congress earlier this month by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Susan Collins (R-ME).
More about Antibiotics, nontherapeutic, factory farms, eight classes of antibiotics, drugresistant pathogens
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