Even the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) admits it: Rampant overuse of antibiotics in livestock is breeding new strains of drug-resistant bacteria, reducing the overall effectiveness of antibiotics and posing a major threat to public health.
So it was all the more disappointing when the FDA issued new rules in April that allow factory farms to continue overusing antibiotics, making compliance totally voluntary.
The FDA is accepting comments on the new rule until Thursday, July 12. We need to push for a strong, mandatory standard.
Today, 80 percent of all antibiotics are used on livestock, and this massive overprescription is breeding new strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria—like the E. Coli strain that killed 30 people in Europe last year, and MRSA, a type of staph infection that now kills more people in the U.S. every year than AIDS.
For 35 years, Big Ag and the veterinary pharmaceutical industry have successfully fought off tough regulations, but the problem is becoming more urgent. And the FDA needs to step in.
Rather than saving them for sick animals, meat producers use antibiotics as a growth stimulant, and to compensate for extreme overcrowding and unsanitary conditions in factory farms which can lead to sick animals.
The FDA’s voluntary new rules say antibiotics shouldn’t be used as growth stimulant but allow for their continued preventative use—a loophole that allows even those voluntarily complying with the law to maintain unsanitary conditions and antibiotic overuse in the name of disease prevention.
The FDA must pass mandatory standards that preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics for all of us, and stop their use on animals except in cases of illness.