U.S. to ban antibiotics to promote animal growth?

The total ban of antibiotics used for therapeutic purposes but not as growth promoters could be closer than in the United States. In the EU, the ban has already been adopted in 2006.

Now, as we read in an article published in Clinical Microbiology Reviews by Stuart Levy of Tufts University, president of the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics, the ban could be close also in the U.S..

Levy, an authority in the field, along with his colleague Bonnie Marshall, has analyzed dozens of studies published in recent years and has therefore proved that if you decide to adopt the precautionary principle , you can no longer allow the use of antibiotics in any type of farming, or in feed used in aquaculture.
“For years – says Levy – it was considered that low doses of antibiotics used to promote the growth of cattle, pigs, poultry and fish had no negative consequences. Today an impressive body of data shows the opposite and it is believed that the use in livestock exponentially increases the resistance to antibiotics, including new and more effective. “
Here’s what emerged in particular from the studies :
1. The use of antibiotics as growth promoters is widespread in the United States. It is estimated that usage would be about eight times the therapeutic one.

2. The usual practice is ideal for the rapid spread of antibiotic resistance. As Levy explained infatto prolonged administration of antibiotics at low doses makes you create an optimal environment for the proliferation of resistant strains. Such animals will become a sort of farm living, ideal for bacteria selected, strong, which are not affected by antibiotics such as the notorious methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) or various types of salmonella. The proliferation of resistant strains and pass on this characteristic from generation to generation until it is forwarded outside of the breeding, although antibiotics used are not the same in humans. Many studies show that people who work in contact with these animals (veterinarians, experts in the slaughterhouses, farmers and their families and so on)

3. About 90% of the ends antibotici used in the environment; in this way the resistance also passes through the soil, water, air, food chain and spreads

4. The use of antibiotics in ‘ aquaculture is potentially more dangerous, since water is the natural element proliferates where the majority of bacteria and there is no way to avoid that, even only through the exhausts, the resistance is transmitted to the fish that live free.

5. All this has serious consequences: according to the Centers for Diseases Control in the U.S. each year, the infections caused by resistant bacteria, costing 20 billion dollars in treatment and $ 8 million in days of hospitalization. If then, as often happens, the patient does not respond to antibiotic therapy and is treated with different drugs, costs go up further. These infections can also exacerbate already compromised situations and cause death, especially in elderly or critically ill patients.

6. The ban on nontherapeutic use of antibiotics has already had tangible results in Europe. The announcement led to a decrease of resistant strains between animals and also among men.

7. The alternative practices can help offset the loss of benefits due to the use of antibiotics. Of all, the authors recall the use of vaccines, the adoption of better standards of hygiene, the less crowded farms.

The Food and Drug Administration , said Levy, has already taken some restrictive measure, recognizing – most important – that the use of antibiotics as growth promoters is in conflict with the protection of public health.

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