Livestock producers are routinely giving antibiotics to animals to make them grow faster or help them survive crowded, stressful and unsanitary conditions. Overusing these drugs—in humans or animals—breeds bacteria resistant to the antibiotics, threatening the future effectiveness of these medicines, and putting our health at risk. Every year, at least 2 million people get sick, and 23,000 die from antibiotic resistant infections.
Given the stakes, we shouldn’t allow even one large-scale farming operation to overuse antibiotics in this way. And yet, approximately 70 percent of medically important antibiotics sold in the U.S. are intended for use in livestock and poultry.
Antibiotics Program Director Matt Wellington (center) and U.S. PIRG field staff educated the public and urged delegates to pass a resolution to address antibiotic resistance at the United Nations General Assembly.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has the authority to regulate how antibiotics should be used. But so far the proposed rules out of Washington have been far too weak when it comes to the agricultural uses of our life-saving medicines. And given the current administration’s push to reduce regulations, we’re not optimistic that new rules will be coming anytime soon. Given the stakes, we can’t afford to wait.
Luckily, we don’t have to. Recently we helped California and Maryland to pass laws banning the routine use of medically important antibiotics on farms that operate in those states. And now we’re running a coordinated campaign to build on that momentum, and to stop the overuse of antibiotics in seven more states, from Washington to Massachusetts, and Illinois to Texas. This will not only push a significant amount of meat production in the U.S. away from misusing our life-saving medicines, but it will put increased pressure on the FDA and other Federal decision makers to pass strong national rules to protect public health.
We’re in a unique position to lead this effort. Our researchers, advocates and staff in 25 states are committed to protecting public health. We have a record of real results, including helping to pass similar bills in California and Maryland, and we helped use market-based pressure to get McDonald’s, Subway, and KFC to phase medically important antibiotics out of their meat supply chains, starting with chicken.
We know how to bring together people from all political perspectives and all walks of life, including over 40,000 medical professionals who signed on in support of our efforts to Save Our Antibiotics.
Organizing Medical Professionals
Already, opposition in the states is mounting. Some companies are running misleading TV ads, while others are sending industry lobbyists to persuade state and local decision-makers that these changes are unecessary, will be too hard or will cost too much.
To make sure our state leaders understand the grave public health consequences, we created the Health Professional Action Network. Health professionals are on the front lines of this problem, seeing patients with infections that were once easily treatable turn into dangerous and sometimes deadly illnesses. That’s why more than 40,000 of them have signed onto our efforts to stop the overuse of antibiotics. We have a group of physicians and health experts who are trained and ready to be our voice in the media, in state capitols, and wherever we need to counter misleading claims or advocate for new solutions.
Join The Campaign
The choice is clear: we shouldn’t allow our corporate neighbors to misuse life-saving medicines just to make burgers a little cheaper or chickens a little fatter. Sign up now to find out how you can get leaders in your state and around the country to stop the overuse of antibiotics.
More than half of the top 25 restaurant chains (14 to be exact) in the U.S. have taken some action to restrict the routine use of antibiotics in their meat supply chains, up from 9 just one year ago. READ BLOG POST
The Keep Antibiotics Effective Act (SB422/HB602) has gone into law, making Maryland the second state in the country after California to meaningfully address the widespread misuse of antibiotics in livestock and poultry. READ NEWS RELEASE.