I have just spent three days at the World Ag Expo. Talk about a farmers dream, all the newest equipment. The upcoming innovations are all there. Innovations for continued animal comfort and efficiency for water use and harvesting assistance. Embracing solar and wind power. It is mind-boggling. It amazes me that a show of this magnitude (1200 volunteers and staff with 1600 exhibitors with visitors from around the world) all or almost all of them have something to do with agriculture. Yet, we in agriculture, have been under such ridicule and negative media. I don’t understand that the noise of so few can hurt the image of so many. Walking around the World Ag Expo aka Farm Show, you get a sense of “real” people. Hard workers that took a break from the farm and packed up the kids to see the latest and greatest in innovations to improve and aid us in what we do.
While enjoying a day at the farm show I come home to yet another TV personality that is making “noise” with her one-sided story about antibiotic use for animals. I am attaching the real deal of antibiotic use. It’s not as exciting as those “spins” they are able to create with media “magic”, but it is the truth. I have also included a chart from Denmark and their antibiotic ban and how is really did backfire….hmmmm we just don’t see this stuff in the headline news! Here it is so please see for yourself.
Dr. Richard Carnevale, Vice President, Scientific, Regulatory and International Affairs
Animal Health Institute
CBS News failed to accurately portray the use of antibiotics to keep food animals healthy.
The stories failed to inform consumers about the Food and Drug Administration’s stringent approval process for antibiotics used in animals – one that requires more tests for antibiotics used in food animals than for those used in humans. The approval process contains specific provisions to ensure the use of the product does not increase the burden of antibiotic resistance in humans. It mandates that animals cannot go to market until the medicine has cleared the animal’s system, and additional programs are in place to test the meat to guard against harmful residues.
Antibiotics are used carefully by producers to treat disease and protect the health of the animal. In most instances, licensed veterinarians are involved in decisions about the use of these medicines.
The stories failed to provide a full explanation about what happened in Denmark when a political decision was made to ban some uses of antibiotics. The resulting animal death and disease has led to an annual increase in the use of antibiotics to treat disease. The use of antibiotics to treat disease has more than doubled since this ill-conceived ban. In addition, there’s little evidence that human health has improved – which was the purpose of the ban.
Peer-reviewed studies designed to measure the impact on antibiotic resistance in humans from the use of antibiotics in animals have demonstrated there is a very low risk of resistant bacteria transferring from animals to humans. In fact, some studies indicate that lack of availability of antibiotics to treat and prevent disease can lead to increased food safety risks. According to a 2006 report by the Institute of Food Technologists, “some evidence is accumulating, especially in the poultry industry, that there are significant human health benefits from antibiotic use to prevent or control food animal disease.”
Animals get sick, and careful use of FDA-approved medicines is necessary to treat and prevent illness. Policy decisions about these uses should continue to be made by FDA on the basis of careful scientific study.
Use of Antibiotics in Denmark Following
The Ban on Antibiotics for Growth Promotion
Since the ban in Denmark on antibiotics used as growth promoters:
· Total use declined from 153,548 kg in 1996 when the ban began to be implemented to 106,594 in 1998 when the ban was fully implemented. Use in 2008 was slightly higher, at 120,000 kg.
· As the chart above shows, compounds used for growth all fell into the least important to human health category. Since the ban, the use of antibiotics to treat disease has steadily increased. The compounds used for treatment have been from classes more important to human health.
· Those who believe use of antibiotics in animals drives resistance levels in humans should view this is a negative consequence of the ban.