01/08/2009 - Letter to the Editor: While your editorial ("Delmarva travel warning," Tuesday) made light of the dangers of driving behind trucks transporting intensively raised chickens, there is reason for serious concern when airborne antibiotic-resistant bacteria have been detected along a highway connecting industrial poultry farms in Maryland to processors in Virginia.
There's no disputing that antibiotics are losing their ability to kill lethal bacteria. Antibiotic resistance is growing because the drugs designed to fight bacteria are being misused - not only with human patients, but also in large-scale poultry- and livestock-feeding operations. The American Medical Association, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and even the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have recognized this situation for years. Nonetheless, as much as 70 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used today on farm animals - mostly to compensate for the crowded, stressful or unsanitary conditions in which they are often raised.
The editorial mockingly predicts that government officials will want to post warnings about the dangers of traveling behind chicken trucks. Unfortunately, the threat to human health is no laughing matter. Instead, we urge policy-makers to heed the danger signs of drug resistance and end the misuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture.
Pew Campaign on Human Health & Industrial Farming