Patt Morrison for September 17, 2010

This little piggy went to market….without antibiotics?

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Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images

Pigs line up to eat at a trough at a farm.

If you’d like a side of bacon minus the antibiotics, you may soon be in luck. The FDA is expected to announce new and stricter guidelines on the use of antibiotics on animals within the next few months. Scientists and health experts, including the American Medical Association and the Infectious Disease Society of America, are pressuring the agency to intervene on behalf of public health. They contend that the use of antibiotics in healthy animals is unnecessary and is contributing to an emergence of “antibiotic-resistant bacteria”. The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent a letter to Congress noting a definitive link between “antibiotic use in animals and antibiotic resistance in humans”. Factory farmers say they rely on the use of antibiotics as a preventative measure to ensure that their livestock stay healthy. Furthermore, they claim that limiting the use of grow inducing antibiotics could have an economic impact, because it would force farmers to pay more for feed. The European Union banned the use of antibiotics in healthy animals in 2006, and farmers adapted without taking much of a financial hit. Could the U.S. be next?

Guests:

Gail R. Hansen, a veterinarian, former public health official and senior officer of the Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming

Howard Hill, veterinarian and member of the National Pork Producers Council board of directors

James R. Johnson, Professor of Medicine and Staff Physician at the University of Minnesota. He also represents the Antibiotic Resistance Working Group of the Infectious Diseases Society of America


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