03/13/2010 - Year after year, legislation intended to preserve the effectiveness of available antibiotics by limiting their use in livestock is shot down. The latest bills introduced in both houses of Congress have been stalled for close to a year.
Banning the use of antibiotics in perfectly healthy animals has always been the right thing to do for the health of the American public. Overuse of antibiotics, whether in animals or humans, renders them less effective because it leads to the development of resistant bacteria. Not so long ago, humans were the ones ingesting too many of these wonder drugs, which were meant to fight infection, not acne or the sniffles. More recently, the overuse of antibiotics has been a staple of livestock operations, which feed low doses to animals to prevent disease from sweeping through overcrowded pens and as a growth enhancer. About 13% of the antibiotics given to farm animals are for growth, not medical treatment.
Read the full editorial Healthy Livestock, Sick People on the Los Angeles Times' Web site.