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Investigative Report Examines Antibiotic Use in Food Animal Production

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future Experts Suggests Swift Action is Needed to Protect Public Health

Oct 16, 2014

Trouble with Antibiotics, a recent PBS Frontline investigation outlining the growing crisis of antimicrobial resistance in the U.S. shed light on the role of the animal agriculture industry in facilitating the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) have long studied the connection and suggest the body of scientific literature linking the continued misuse of antibiotics in food animal production to antimicrobial resistance warrants swift action by government agencies to protect public health. The report featured the latest scientific evidence, as well as arguments from industry leaders and government officials.

“The `head in the sand’ response from industry representatives, in response to the growing evidence that non-therapeutic antibiotic use in animals is contributing to the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant infections in humans, and their denial of the long-lasting role they have played in pressuring Congress and the FDA to not pass any meaningful regulations, is troubling,” says Bob Martin, director of the Food System Policy program at CLF. “Industry leaders in the report say that the scientific evidence is weak, pointing out that scientists haven’t done on-site manure testing, but most industrial agricultural operations deny researchers access to their fields and facilities, thus making it nearly impossible to do such testing.  Despite the growing spread of antibiotic resistance, the industry continues to promote a business model that threatens public health for short-term profit.”

“Despite what industry officials suggest, the science linking antibiotic resistance with the continued misuse of antibiotics in food animal production is strong,” said Keeve Nachman, PhD, director of the Food Production and Public Health program at CLF. “Antimicrobial resistance poses a significant threat to public health and compromises our ability to safely treat common infections. It’s time for the government to take meaningful action to address these issues before it’s too late.