antibiotics

When bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics, people can end up with infections that don’t respond to available medicines.

Federal rules in place since January 2017 have not curbed the use of antibiotics in pork production, according to a new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council, an advocacy group whose food and environment agenda includes responsible antibiotic use.

The World Health Organization released recommendations this week to curb the use of antibiotics in livestock, saying it could help reduce the risk of drug-resistant infections in humans.

But the U.S. Department of Agriculture says some of the guidelines from the United Nations’ public health agency would place “unnecessary and unrealistic constraints” on farmers and veterinarians. It's a disagreement that could have an impact on farm exports.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

In a hog barn in rural Iowa, veterinarian Paul Thomas’s approach sends pigs scurrying. He watches for unusual behavior. As he walks the length of the barn, Thomas notices one of the two-month-old hogs nestled against the railing at the edge of its pen and reaches over to gently pet the pig’s back. The pig shakes its head and drowsily gets up.

“He’s just sleepy,” Thomas says, and by the time he’s spoken the words, the pig has trotted off to join its pen-mates.

In the next room, Thomas hears something different.

Pixabay

A federal regulation that took effect Jan. 1 will only allow livestock feed and water laced with antibiotics to be used only under a veterinarian’s supervision.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

Some of the most important medicines doctors prescribe to fight infections are losing effectiveness and the Obama Administration is calling on farmers to help turn the tide against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. A recent report by the president’s advisors on antibiotic resistance charts some progress but also left some critics urging for more immediate action.

Rising Livestock Antibiotic Sales Cause Concern

Dec 21, 2015
USDA / Creative Commons

Sales of antibiotics for livestock have been steadily rising over the past few years, reports The Rural Blog. Antibiotic sales increased 23 percent from 2009 to 2014, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

CDC / Washington Post

At least 23,000 people die as a direct result of antibiotic-resistant infections. This number is expected to rise drastically in the future as antibiotic-resistant bacteria continues to evolve. Some experts predict the death rate could rise to 10 million by 2050. Much of the problem comes from the overprescribing of antibiotics.

Tyson Foods is the country's largest poultry producer. The company will stop feeding its chickens human antibiotics. Farmers raising livestock often add low-level antibiotics in an effort to treat disease, prevent disease from spreading, and also to help animals grow more quickly.

Winds may carry antibiotics from feedlots

Jan 26, 2015

There’s a new study that says antibiotics used to treat livestock and antibiotic-resistant genes that pose a threat to humans can be carried by the wind from large livestock operations reports Politico.

Researchers at the Institute of Environmental and Human Health at Texas Tech University say they found six veterinary antibiotics in dust samples downwind from 10 large beef cattle feedlots in Texas. 

AMA seeks ban on antibiotics for weight gain

Jul 7, 2014
Jeremy Bernfeld/Harvest Public Media

The largest association of U.S. physicians is calling for tighter rules on antibiotic use in livestock. 

The American Medical Association (AMA) says there should be an outright federal ban on using antibiotics to plump up farm animals. Last year, the Food and Drug Administration asked pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily phase out the use of antimicrobial drugs that promote growth in livestock.