Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Needed: Better Staff Work!

The folks advising the advocacy group Moms for Antibiotic Awareness need a refresher course in, well, antibiotic awareness.

The Website for the group, which lists a Pew foundation staffer as a contact, repeats the urban myth that 80 percent of antibiotics sold in this country are given to food animals often to promote growth and to compensate for “unsanitary and overcrowded conditions” on livestock farms.

Then it quotes the Food and Drug Administration and other federal agencies saying there is a “definitive link” between antibiotic use on livestock farms and antibiotic resistance in humans.

Never mind that the best science suggests the risk of human antibiotic resistance problems developing from farm use of antibiotics is negligible. Or that antibiotics are needed to keep animals healthy and food safe. Or that, before it approves animal drugs, the FDA must determine that they won’t harm human health. Or that confinement systems keep livestock comfortable and protect them from disease and predators. And, of course, there is no reference to the recent Kansas State study finding that opponents of animal antibiotics wildly overestimate the drugs given to livestock.  

HOTH appreciates the concern of the moms, who spent two days in Washington this week advocating for stricter guidelines for antibiotic use on farms. But maybe someone needs to tell them the new guidance the FDA already has issued will harm animal health and increase food costs while not improving public health.


  1. My uncle, a central Iowa pork producer, sent me this link, and I have to say, this is an AWESOME post! So many great resources that you linked to. My husband and I raise turkeys and I'm trying to address the antibiotic issue on my blog as well...

  2. confinement systems limit pigs ability to act naturally. how often is a confined pig able to root? sun bathe? wallow? confinement = intensely farmed products.

  3. A little off the topic, Meredith, but confinement systems allow hog farmers to give individual care to sows and have proved -- after years of observation and practical experience -- to be the best system for ensuring animal well-being.

    Housing hogs indoors protects them from temperature extremes -- have you been in central Iowa in August or February? -- diseases and predators.

    HOTH could point out all the issues with raising pigs outdoors, but the point is that every system has advantages and disadvantages. The real key to animal well-being, which is the top priority of every hog farmer, is the care given to each pig.