The Food and Drug Administration has announced very promising information on the use of antibiotics in farm animals. The problem of resistance – the tendency of bacteria to fight against antibiotics – has been gaining momentum for decades, fueled by the overuse and misuse of antibiotics for human health, as well as by use. widespread and often blind in breeding animals. But new data show that the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture has declined sharply.
As FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has pointed out, it is an expensive public health problem, with approximately 2 million Americans suffering from infections every year. antibiotic-resistant, killing 23,000 people. Mr Gottlieb rightly pointed out that it was impossible to overcome the resistance, but efforts needed to be made to "slow down its pace and reduce its impact on human and animal health". Otherwise, antibiotics, the "wonder drugs" of the 20th century, will become useless, and a foundation of modern medicine could collapse.
Much of the antibiotics, including those medically important to human health, are administered to food producing animals. While this is appropriate for sick animals, the industry has been using antibiotics for decades to make animals grow faster and bigger with the same amount of food and to prevent disease in a whole herd. The agricultural industry defended these practices by claiming that they were not responsible for the rise in resistance. But studies show that the key factors of resistance are the abuse and abuse of antibiotics on the farm, as well as for human health. Farms and men do not exist in a world apart, but in a "bound ecosystem," as a predecessor of Mr. Gottlieb, Commissioner Donald Kennedy, pointed out in 1977.
The Obama administration has proposed that manufacturers stop selling antibiotics to promote growth and that veterinary surveillance be strengthened for other uses. The FDA data now show the fruits of this wise step. There was a 33% decline between 2016 and 2017 in domestic sales and distribution of all medically important antimicrobials for food producing animals, and a 43% decline since 2015 The data still contains unknowns, which reflect sales and distribution, not actual usage. More research and data are needed. Nevertheless, the trend seems to announce a new direction and a new reflection on the problem.
Importantly, the market and consumers are the drivers of change. Fast food restaurants such as McDonald's require meat that uses fewer antibiotics. In addition, there are signs of a greater consensus. In an impressive joint effort, large food companies, retailers, breeders and professional and professional associations announced on December 18 a comprehensive "framework" to strengthen the management of antibiotic use in animals. intended for food, following a two-year moderated discussion by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Farm Foundation. While there is still much to be done to protect antibiotics for future generations, the presence of such a large number of players represents a great first step.