(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed a link between antibiotics given to livestock and the increase of antibiotic-resistant bacteria infections in people. At least 70 percent of all antibiotics in the U.S. are used to treat animals on farms and feedlots, and critics are urging for better regulations. We discuss the CDC report and what it means for consumers, farmers and health care providers.

Guests:
Richard Carnevale, vice president for regulatory, scientific and international affairs for the Animal Health Institute, an animal pharmaceutical industry lobbying group
Jonathan Kaplan, director of the food and agriculture program at the Natural Resources Defense Council
Jason Newland, medical director of patient safety at Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City, Missouri

  • Alec

    A really interesting talk about why meat should be avoided can be found on YouTube (link below), featuring ex-rancher Howard Lyman, who along with Oprah got sued for discouraging the public from eating beef.

  • Mike

    Why should we have to prove that it’s dangerous? It seems that like with drug approval the industry should have to prove that it is in fact safe before we allow them to use these antibiotics.

    It’s well known in microbiology that virulence factors or resistance genes can be swapped between various organisms. The fact that salmonella and Campylobacter, the guest argues, are the only bacteria that cross species is not the issue.

    • Alec

      Resistance to antibiotics is conveyed by a process called conjugation. One bacterium send a protuberance out to another bacterium and a fragment of DNA called a plasmid is transferred across.

      Non-scientists such as lobbyists, CEOs and lawyers should NEVER be allowed to make decisions about human health.

    • Mrs. Eccentric

      Mike said: “Why should we have to prove that it’s dangerous? It seems that like with
      drug approval the industry should have to prove that it is in fact safe
      before we allow them to use these antibiotics.”

      Exactly. When children are dying of previously treatable infections, i would think that the food production industry would want to be proactive and overly-cautious when it comes to trying to prevent the production of antibiotic resistant bugs. It’s not like we’re talking about people just being inconvenienced – we’re talking about people, including little children, dying really horrible and awful deaths.

      The callousness and indifference of the industry representative is very telling. Thank you Mike, and Michael for reading Mike’s comment on air 🙂 steph

      p.s. i almost died from a blood clot brought on by the catheter used for IV drug treatment – the issue of drug resistance doesn’t stop at the effects of the infections themselves.

  • Chemist150

    What about cycling through different antibiotics year to year to avoid resistant strains.

    • Ramona C

      doesn’t work that way, we’d just be exposing bacteria to what they need to build resistance and then lateral transfer the conference to other bacteria.

    • Chemist150

      Your right and your wrong.

      That’s what they do in hospitals for humans. It does work if you have enough antibiotics of different classes or modes of actions.

      If you truly believe what you’re saying, you should also protest to using antibiotics in hospitals.

      I don’t think the farmers should stop using antibiotics but I do think they should have to report and follow reasonable guidelines as in hospitals that would allow the farmer to proceed uninterrupted but in a safer way.

  • amyj1276

    Your guest is talking about treating herds, but wouldn’t overwhelming treatment be less necessary than it is now if we weren’t feeding animals poisons and other things that require antibiotics? If we go back to feeding cows what cows eat (grass) and feeding animals only what they naturally eat, we wouldn’t need as many antibiotics in animals at all. This conversation seems to be addressing the outcome rather than the source of the problem.

  • Shari Gardner

    My children raised lambs for 4H last year, and i was dismayed to find the feed has antibiotics in it. I don’t feel comfortable feeding animal antibiotics as a preventative measure. Furthermore, pharmaceuticals pass through the animal and end up in our waterways.

  • Ramona C

    Lets look at some evidence based research from Lance Price shall we? Hello?

    http://sphhs.gwu.edu/faculty/index.cfm?employeeID=907

  • DontMakeMeFool

    Considering the dangers exposed by the report, I am curious
    to know why public institutions are not pursuing preventive actions by
    seriously limiting antibiotics until more studies are being conducted. After all we are well used to preventive actions in foreign policies.

    • Steve

      Yesterday’s Chronicle article on this topic stated it succinctly:
      “The link between overuse of antibiotics in livestock and microbial resistance has been suspected since the 1960s, but Congress, at the behest of the pharmaceutical and livestock industries, has blocked efforts by the Food and Drug Administration to scale back their use.”
      So it seems to be all about lobbying and greed.

      • Alec

        Carnevale says the Danes can’t prove a ban on antibiotics led to a lack of disease, as though it’s some grand revelation. It isn’t. It’s just basic logic. This guy is a snake.

    • Alec

      Or how about banning non-organic meats in public schools and universities?

  • EIDALM

    There is no question that there is relationship between the over use of antibiotics in humans and even worse it’s use in live stock feed. Bacteria are very smart and most are far more advance than the more primitive human cells.and they are all mutating and sharing genetic informations and building resistance to near all available antibiotics and we have many proof including MERSA and other infections and unless we stop the practice of over use and feeding antibiotics to fowels and live stocks we are going to face a possible pandemics and it might be too late by then.

  • CloudFunded

    Putting antibiotics directly in animal feed should be criminalized at both state and federal level.

    • Robert Thomas

      If I take the antibiotic my physician has prescribed with my meal, as directed, should I (an animal) be arrested?

      • CloudFunded

        A specific kind of donkey, in fact.

  • Robert Thomas

    This discussion could have been scripted by any hack television screenwriter.

    Science can’t be used to prove anything.

    Science is an activity. It’s not an encyclopedia. It makes a very weak cudgel.

    Scientific inquiry begins with our (imperfect) observation of the world. Observation continues while we apply our (imperfect) reason to build an abbreviated model of the world consistent with our observations; if we’re lucky, our model may suggest tests to be applied to the world that may support or contradict the model. Then we adjust the model and see if it suggests new tests. This activity continues forever.

    The proper objects of science are our imperfect observations and our imperfect models of the world (“theories”).

    The closest thing to a provisional conclusion of a scientific inquiry is clear and convincing evidence; to be clear and convincing is extremely powerful and illuminating.

    “Scientific proof” is oxymoronic.

  • Wes Lisker

    We can be slow on the pickup when it comes to microbiological links. Just recently we learned many cases of salmonella poisoning thought due to salad greens and spinach are actually due to fecally contaminated imported spices. Clinical microbiological labs analyzing human specimens don’t have the sophisticated tools necessary to make links to pathogens acquired from animal sources, whether bacteria, plasmids transferring resistance or viruses, among other vectors. It takes a lot of science, and time, to find the best solutions. It doesn’t make much sense to expose humans or animals to long term antibiotics from what we know about how bacteria develop resistance. The big difference between human exposure and that of animals is that humans are exposed episodically but animals are fed antibiotics as part of their daily feed. The quantities used in animal husbandry are vast and probably represent a significant income stream to their manufacturers who’d have much to lose through the banning of this use. I can see the rationale for alarm among clinical infectious disease specialists who are losing patients to multiply drug resistant organisms. Every hospital is faced with these kinds of resistant bugs extending hospital stays, causing serious complications and death.

  • DontMakeMeFool

    I don’t expect government, either state nor federal, acting. Their tight to the industry overwhelm any citizen actions. But, as a consumer, I stopped long ago buying not organic vegetables, fruits and meat. Apparently I am not alone, because Costco, Trader Joes and others have significantly increased their organic offer and reduced the rest. Consumers can make production changing. With more mainstream information, this process would accelerate.

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    Richard Carnevale, from an animal pharmaceutical industry lobbying group has an agenda and it is not about the health of customers but the bottom line $$$$ for the big ag big meat outfits.

    We do NOT give a whole community of humans antibiotics like the meat industry does to animals. Just the opposite. Humans get antibiotics once it is shown they NEED the medications.

    Thus Richard Carnevale is all about making $$$$. Call it greed. Not to mention Americans do NOT need the amount of animals products they consume.

  • lonelymoa

    I raise cattle for a living in New Zealand. Prophylactic antibiotics are illegal here. We have no feed lots and sell our free range, pasture fed (only) beef to the US very competitively. Need I say more.

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