Referring to the Nov. 19 letter from David White, executive director of the Ohio Livestock Coalition, nagging at Alan Guebert for contending the blame for overuse of antibiotics be placed in the lap of the livestock industry, one would have to question if Mr. White reads only the bulletins from the Farm Bureau and neglects those from the USDA?
Guebert’s column was based on the report from the “New England Journal of Medicine” and the USDA. The former organization, founded in 1871, is considered ethically beyond reproach, with no vested interest other than the health and welfare of the citizens of our country.
Mr. White is indeed obtuse, as even he must realize that the animal industry raising millions of animals in CAFOs uses more than 70 percent of the antibiotics in the United States in animal agriculture.
Cipro, a powerful antibiotic heard about so much on the news recently due to the anthrax outbreak, comes under the class of drugs called flouroquinolones, recently pulled by the USDA from use in the animal industry.
This was not done on the spur of the moment. It was done because the “New England Journal of Medicine” study was based on “sound science.”
Abbott Laboratories agreed to the ban of Enfofloxacin, the animal form of Cipro, as evidence mounted of bacterial resistance to the drug. Bayer, however, refused to comply and continues to promote the use of Enfofloxacin in the poultry industry.
The University of Illinois recently found tetracycline-resistant genes in swine lagoons, in the animals guts, and in groundwater downgrade from two pig raising facilities in Illinois. This raises the additional public health danger of horizontal spread of antibiotic resistant genes from food animals, to humans, and to wildlife – not a concern when animals were raised in smaller numbers.
Add to this sad story the persistence of five animal viruses representing picoma, rota, parvo, adeno, and herpes viruses found to persist up to six months in nonaerated conditions. At time of land application this may lead to environmental contamination with pathogens.
Add to this the lack of security at the industrial confinement feeding operations – closing the gates at night is considered secure.
If an epidemic does break out in this country, the finger of blame will not be pointed at Bin Laden. It will be pointed at the livestock industry.
My advice, rather than taking “the bigger is better” route to promote the livestock industry, go down the moral path of “smaller is safer.” It is better for rural communities, family farmers, the environment, the animals, the consumers, and especially the neighbors.
No one is against the livestock industry growing, it is the method of growth they are against. There is a correct way and a wrong way, and for long-term growth, the correct way is best.
Mary G. Gibson