Farm Antibiotics: Still Headed In The Wrong Direction

Maryn McKenna | Phenomena | December 14, 2015

Chickens in intensive confinement. Photograph Via Google Images (CC).New federal data released at the end of last week indicates that sales of antibiotics for use in food animals in the United States are still rising, despite public pressure to change the practice and condemnation by medicine that farm misuse and overuse is contributing to antibiotic resistance that threatens human health.

That’s not good. It’s especially not good because the numbers just released cover the year 2014—the first year in a voluntary three-year period, set by the Food and Drug Administration, during which use of farm antibiotics is supposed to be reduced. If agriculture and the veterinary pharma industry didn’t manage reductions in Year 1, they have a hard task ahead of them to create significant change in Years 2 and 3.

Here’s the short version of the news about the numbers:
• The amount of all antibiotics sold for use in food animals in the United States (in 2014: 15.36 million kilograms, or 33.86 million pounds, or 16,930 tons) rose 4 percent between 2013 and 2014, and 22 percent from when the FDA began measuring in 2009...