Letter: The Media Often Ignore the Biggest Disease Threats

Publication: The Wall Street Journal

Author: Robert P. Martin, Senior Officer, Pew Environment Group

08/19/2009 - Mitchell J. Schwaber and Yehuda Carmeli's "Don't Forget the Bacterial Threat" (op-ed, Aug. 12) is a good wake-up call for lawmakers, except that it neglects to mention the harmful role that industrial farm animals play in this growing health crisis. As Dr. Frederick J. Angulo of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted, "There is scientific consensus that antibiotic use in food animals contributes to resistance in humans."

We have curtailed the use of antibiotics in humans and companion animals to reduce the growth of superbugs which are difficult to treat. But we have failed to limit their use in industrial farm animals that are fed antibiotics daily in order to promote weight gain and compensate for unsanitary conditions. As much as 70% of all antibiotics in the U.S. are unnecessarily used for these nontreatment purposes.

For this reason, Congress should pass the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act, a bill that would reduce the agriculture sector's contribution to the costly antibiotic resistance problem.

This letter The Media Often Ignore the Biggest Disease Threats appeared on the Wall Street Journal's Web site.

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