Antibiotic use as a preventive measure rather than to cure an illness in livestock has become a huge concern for heath advocates. Currently drug-resistant superbugs kill 23,000 Americans each year and sicken 2 million. The overuse of antibiotics both for humans and animals are seen as the cause in rising rate of drug-resistant superbugs.
In 2014 the United Nations passed a World Health Assembly resolution (67.25 Antimicrobial Resistance), It urges countries to take urgent action at the national, regional, and local levels to combat antimicrobial resistance, including antibiotic resistance. It recognized the need for a global response to how we use antibiotics and how the overuse is leading to the rise of drug-resistant bugs.
In response to the UN resolution President Obama introduced The National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria. One of the addressed issues is that there are procedures put in place so that by 2020 the use of medically-important antibiotics for growth promotion in food-producing animals is eliminated. In the US Congress bills have been introduced several Congresses in a row but have never made it out of committee.
In October of 2015 Governor Jerry Brown signed a law that bans the use of medically important antibiotics to promote growth in cows, chickens, pigs, and other animals raised for profit. Meat producers will only be able to administer the drugs with the approval of a veterinarian when animals are sick, or to prevent infections when there’s an “elevated risk.” They can’t use the drugs “in a regular pattern.” The policy is more restrictive than the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s national guidelines, which don’t restrict use for disease prevention.
It is a start but more must be done. While California is taking the lead among states there is a need to see national legislation to help guide other states to create regulations that will protect the long-term health of our families. We can urge our national representatives to make sure policies are set in place to stop unnecessary use of antibiotics in our livestock.
Download the potluck kit to receive a petition to support the current versions of the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act and the Preventing Antibiotic Resistance Act. It is important to show our congressional members that faith communities want to protect the long term heath of our communities by restricting the use of antibiotic to when they are most needed.