A great first step to protect antibiotics for the future

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A great first step to protect antibiotics for the future - Washington Post

VERY PROMISING news about antibiotic use in farm animals has come from the Food and Drug Administration. The problem of resistance — the tendency of bacteria to fight back against antibiotic drugs — has been growing for decades, fueled by overuse and misuse of antibiotics in human health, as well as widespread and often indiscriminate use in farm animals. But new data shows the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture has taken a marked downward turn.

As FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb noted Dec. 18, this is a costly public-health problem, with an estimated 2 million Americans suffering from antibiotic-resistant infections every year, leading to 23,000 deaths. Mr. Gottlieb correctly pointed out that it is impossible to outrace resistance, but efforts must be made to “slow its pace and reduce its impact on both human and animal health.” Otherwise, antibiotics, the “miracle drugs” of the 20th century, will become useless, and a foundation of modern medicine could crumble.

A large share of antibiotics, including those medically important to human health, are given to food-producing animals. While it is proper for sick animals, the industry practice for decades has also been to use antibiotics so animals will grow faster and larger on the same amount of feed, and for prevention of disease in a whole herd or flock.
 
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