Friday, September 19, 2014

Farm leaders join antibacterial campaign

Leaders of organizations for hog, beef and turkey farmers pledged their support when United States President Barrack Obama announced he’s serious about battling antibiotic resistance, including curbing the use of antibiotics as growth promotants.

He signed an executive order Thursday creating a government task force and presidential advisory council to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria in human healthcare and animal agriculture.

The order directs the task force, led by the secretaries of defense, agriculture and health and human resources, to submit an action plan by Feb. 15 outlining specific steps for tackling the problem.

“The rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria … represents a serious threat to public health and the economy,” Obama said in the order.

It cited data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that estimates at least two million illnesses and 23,000 deaths a year in the United States are caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The farm leaders all said they support a voluntary move by antibiotic marketers to stop using them as growth promotors added to livestock and poultry rations.

But as Ron Doering, former president of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, has written in a column, the pledge is meaningless because they still want to market their antibiotics for disease prevention.

Under that sleight of hand, they can continue to market just as much antibiotics in exactly the same way as they have been doing for decades.