USFDA May Restrict Use of Antibiotics in Agriculture

B. McPherson

The US Food and Drug Administration is proposing a change in how antibiotics are used in the agriculture industry. If accepted, sweeping changes will be made in the way food animals are raised in the USA. 
You may have noticed TV ads recently touting fast food outlets bragging about their meat being antibiotic and hormone free. Few people realize that the majority of antibiotics produced today are given to food animals, not because the animals are sick, but because the judicious application of antibiotics promotes faster growth and more efficient use of animal feed.

The constant low-level dosing of animals destined for the dinner plate has resulted in the gradual loss of effectiveness of medically important antibiotics. Bacteria are adept at adapting to changing conditions and dosed at low levels can fairly quickly develop resistant strains. Tetracyclines, penicillin, azithromycin are unable to curb many bacterial infections due to overuse, mainly in the agriculture industry. Medical workers are relying more and more on cocktails of antimicrobial drugs to save lives. Still, antimicrobial resistant (AMR) organisms continue to emerge to threaten humanity.

If the FDA proposal gets accepted the emergence of more AMR bacterial strains should slow, giving researchers a small window to develop new strategies to fight microbes.

WHO has outlined serious concerns about the continuing emergence of AMR bacteria. 

Concerns About Anti-biotic Resistant Organisms(ref. WHO)
·         -Infections that cannot be treated with anti-microbials kill. The infections may result in chronic illness and early death.
·         -Control of infections with populations is hampered
·         -There is a threat of a return to pre-antibiotic era when the leading cause of death was infection
·         -Health care costs are increased due to longer hospitalization and more illnesses
·         -Infections threaten gains made in health care. Many modern health treatments – organ transplants, cancer treatments – result in lowered immune system abilities.
·         -eopardizes trade and travel and economies.

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