Sunday, April 19, 2015

Antibiotic use still increasing

Despite calls for farmers to voluntarily cut back, their use of “medically important” antibiotics continues to increase.

Mother Jones publication calls the situation “scary”.

Three years ago, the United States Food and Drug Administration called for the voluntary reduction in the context of an increasing number of illnesses and deaths from bacteria that have become resistant to medically-important antibiotics.

But when the FDA checked a year later – April of 2013 – it found that the use of medically-important antibiotics had increased by two per cent to 9.2 million kilograms.

The use of the other antibiotics declined by two per cent to 5.6 million kilograms, presumably because those antibiotics are less effective.

The FDA reported that 74 per cent of the antibiotics were administered in feed and 24 per cent in water. It did not provide a species breakdown.

Mother Jones says putting antibiotics in feed and water indicates they were used as growth promotants, not to treat specific diseases or infections. It did not say how it could reach that conclusion.

The Centers for Disease Control says two million Americans get sick with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and about 23,000 die every year.

The antibiotics industry has said it will voluntarily remove “growth promotant” uses from labels for its products.

That, however, leaves farmers the option of continuing to use them for “disease prevention”.