New campaign to end antibiotic use in farm animals

Posted May 15, 2015 by Tim Sandle
Social campaign group Avaaz is seeking to reduce the amount of antibiotics administered to farm animals. The group points out that the use of these drugs has fallen in Europe, with the exception of some territories like the U.K.
Holstein-Friesian milk cow
Holstein-Friesian milk cow
Keith Weller / USDA
Despite global concerns that the overuse of antibiotics contributes to drug resistance, sales for the use of antibiotics for use with livestock have increased in some parts of the world. Factory farming has been the main culprit in feeding farm animals like pigs, chickens, lambs and cattle antibiotics to keep the animals healthier (and to produce more meat) and alive for much longer.
There are several associated concerns, as Digital Journal has previously reported. These include risks to human health (some of the antibiotics used on farm animals could cause harm.) A second reason is that the use of such antibiotics unnecessary promotes antibiotic resistance among certain types of bacteria, especially given that the administration cannot be securely controlled in relation to the external environment.
A third concern is that farm workers can become exposed to antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria, especially via the nose, and that these can be taken by the farm workers home to the their families.
For these reasons, European Union ministers are negotiating laws to force action across the continent. These measures have the support of some corporations like McDonalds; the burger chain has indicated its U.S. stores will not stock chicken reared with antibiotics that humans use. Moreover, in the U.S. some major farms, as journalist Karen Graham has reported, have also pledged to halt antibiotic use for farm animals.
The European Union move is not supported by some farm and pharmaceutical lobbyists. Due to doubts about how the campaign will go, social movement group Avaaz has launched a petition. The petition reads:
“Cruel factory farms are pumping healthy animals full of antibiotics, creating drug-resistant superbugs that can kill us. But if we come together fast, we can get ministers to agree a law to protect animals and our health. Add your name now.”
In related news, while new types of antibiotics are desperately needed in order to stem the flow of antibiotic resistant bacteria and the associated deaths causes from infections that were once readily treatable, questions of who will fund the research remain unanswered. This question was recently discussed on Digital Journal.