Saturday, 28 December 2013

Controlling Antibiotic use in Livestock

The final paragraphs of a new article by Maryn McKenna,  about changes in the USA, also summarise the changes needed in Britain to tackle antibiotic resistance arising from livestock.

It isn't complicated, but real change hits hard at the pockets of the agricultural drug dealers. They fight viciously to keep their corrupt empire via their front organisations.

Reform is now inevitable.

It ought to be the young veterinarians removing the tired old bullies endangering the lives of our children and contaminating British political life with a culture of bribes, sinecures, gongs, harassment, disinformation and threats.

For sure it will be the young ones.

They wait in the wings to catch the tide of change coming from abroad. But it ought to have been Britain leading the drive to return to proper professional standards.

Anyway, the full article is here:

...The object lesson in changing antibiotic patterns is Denmark, which in 2000 made farm antibiotics prescription-only, and banned nontherapeutic uses altogether. It’S often pointed out, on the ag side, that Denmark had an increase in deaths among weaner pigs immediately after that ban was rolled out; but within 3 years, weaner pig survival improved and returned to where it had been before the ban.

What reversed the trend was Danish farmers’ understanding that it wasn’t enough just to remove antibiotics from meat production. What was necessary was to change the conditions in which meat animals were raised, so that the welfare threats which the antibiotics had addressed no longer existed.

That seems to me to be the lesson that meat production in America needs to learn, if the FDA’s intention to remove growth promoters is going to be meaningful. Simply reducing antibiotic use (if that does indeed happen) isn’t adequate; by itself, it may even be a threat to welfare. Changing the livestock practices that made antibiotic use necessary will improve animal and human health both.