Antibiotics for Livestock

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Bruce Friedrich serves as senior policy director for Farm Sanctuary, a national farmed animal protection organization. He wrote an excellent letter to the editor published in the NY Times in response to a recent editorial regarding antibiotic use on farms. See and comment on Mr. Friedrich’s letter to the NY Times here.

To the Editor:

Re “The Peril of Antibiotic Use on Farms” (editorial, Dec. 22):

The Food and Drug Administration’s antibiotic “guidance” is worse than complete inaction, because it implies that if pharmaceutical companies and industrial farms comply with the F.D.A.’s suggestions, antibiotic use will decline. But the agency is asking drug companies only to change its labels — removing statements that the antibiotics can be used to promote livestock growth — and asking farms to ensure that drugs are used solely to treat, prevent or control disease.

Modern farms are filth chambers, and they require the current level of drugs not just to promote animal growth but also to prevent the spread of disease. Thus, compliance with the F.D.A.’s voluntary guidance actually requires no change at all in drug use.

As long as it remains legal to confine animals in unnatural and abusive conditions where disease can spread like wildfire, drug use will not decline.

Washington, Dec. 22, 2013


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