antibiotics in farm animals
A new directive was issued by the FDA on June 3, 2015 regarding the use of antibiotics in farm animals which will give us a bit of hope in the overuse of antibiotics in our culture. The administering of antibiotics to animals was taken out of the hands of the factory farmer and given to the veterinarian. When the White House – President Obama finds it necessary to get involved in having an action plan to combat resistant bacteria, it tells you that there is a health crisis. It tells you that the problem is imminent and action needs to be taken.
They are calling it a drug resistant threat. This sounds a lot like terrorism. Terrorism by resistant bacteria. For over twenty years some of us citizens were concerned about the overuse of antibiotics – overuse of antibiotics in farm animals and overuse in humans. Why did it take so long for the leaders of our country to address this problem? Why is there an urgency? “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that drug-resistant bacteria cause two million illnesses and approximately 23,000 deaths each year in the United States alone.” Why did it take all of this to finally do something about the overuse of antibiotics in farm animals and humans seriously?
I want us to connect the dots – something we seem to have lost in the way we live our lives and make decisions for our health and happiness. How are antibiotics in farm animals, vaccines and the foods we eat connected? Before the 1930’s there were no CAFO’s(Concentated Animal Feeding Operation) This way of raring animals for producing meat creates consequences that were not foreseen by the factory farmers or they were ignored for a long time. But the “chickens have come home to roost”, so to speak. We are paying a dear price for their lack of foresight. CAFO type production keeps animals in tight quarters. They are confined to spaces where they can barely move around. They eat and defecate in the same space. What do you think will happen in such a situation? Infections. Infections that will make it necessary to use antibiotics in farm animals. We are also exposed to antibiotics in vaccines and we get some low doses from the foods we eat of these animals.
Who administers the antibiotics? The factory farmer. Can we trust the farmer if all he or she is concerned about is production – demand and supply? If the bottom line is all they are concerned about, then we cannot trust the farmer to do the right thing. Before this new rule 1 week ago it was the factory farmer who administered the antibiotics to the animals. Also, the criteria for antibiotics have been changed. We hope it is no longer the disconnected, one-sided thinking of “production and growth”, but takes into account the effect on humans and the environment as a whole. It is now the veterinarian who oversees how antibiotics are used, and the distribution to the factory farmers. The meat producers must have approval before feeding these animals antibiotics. It was also implied in the articles that the antibiotics had to be “medically important”. What does this mean? Don’t know. However, if we continue to house animals for slaughter in these CAFOs, antibiotics will be medically important and we will continue to die. Can we trust the veterinarian to do the right thing? Or will there be conflict between morality and money. If money wins, we will continue to die.
The only way to stop this overuse of antibiotics in farm animals is to stop eating meat or to only buy grass-fed meat free of antibiotics. If we don’t buy it there will be no demand and therefore no need to supply.
You can help stem the spread of resistant bacteria by not requesting antibiotics for every ailment you have. You can spread the word about the overuse of antibiotics in farm animals and humans. It is for the long term health of yourself and your children and the next generation.