Local group calls for change in antibiotic use on farm animals


by David Ade

 MADISON -- Doctors who joined the Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group's press conference are warning about farmers who give their healthy animals a steady stream of antibiotics.


"Bacteria are highly adaptable and are very likely to become resistant to prolonged or repeated exposure to antibiotics." said Dr. Carol Spiegel, a microbiology professor at UW-Madison.


Doctors say more than 70 percent of the antibiotics used in human medicine are given to animals many people eat.

Farmers used to do it to make their animals grow bigger, now they're using it to prevent disease. Something the U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows.

Doctors say that is still severe overuse, and is creating a sort of breeding ground for potential superbugs.


"We have bacteria that used to be easily treated with standard antibiotics that are now resistant to those standard antibiotics." said Dr. Dipesh Navsaria, a pediatrician.


Doctors say this isn't some hard to imagine theory. They say bacteria can mutate inside the animals, become resistant to antibiotics, and then spread to humans.

And the F.D.A. has already officially recognized part of this as a potential problem, but WISPIRG wants them to go further and stop the preventative use.


"Our message today is clear. The Obama Administration should immediately restrict the use of antibiotics in livestock to cases of animal sickness or direct disease exposure." said Ben Knuth, a campaign coordinator for WISPIRG.


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