Target: Margaret A. Hamburg, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner
Goal: Reduce the use of unsafe antibiotics in livestock, and prevent an outbreak of super-resistant germs in people
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been allowing livestock animals to be treated with antibiotics that researchers claim could potentially threaten humans by causing devastating infections that can travel through the food supply and infect humans with drug-resistant bacteria. Many of these drugs have been used for decades and fail to meet regulations, according to a report from the Washington Post.
With more than 20,000 Americans dying from antibiotic-resistant infections each year, lax FDA regulations for livestock medications could make matters even worse. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the FDA allowed the use of 26 feed additives that did not meet standards set by the agency itself in 1973. Of 30 additives that the FDA reviewed in the early 2000s, 18 of them were found to have a high risk of causing health problems in humans as result of infection.
This mistake has allowed the use of over a dozen potentially dangerous additives in livestock, many of which may foster the evolution of drug-resistant diseases that infect humans who are exposed. In a country with limited healthcare for many and high rates of meat consumption, these facts show that the agency’s negligence was more than a mere oversight. Push the FDA to monitor its own regulations and pass better rules regarding the controversial use of feed additives. Without proper attention, diseases that pass from livestock to humans can evolve into dangerous strains that may be hard to treat with conventional antibiotics, according to a growing host of researchers familiar with the issue.
Many of these medicines were even used in “non-therapeutic” treatments, according to a report from the NRDC, which means that they were not used to directly treat illnesses in a large number of cases. Such uncontrolled use of antibiotics in livestock may have long-lasting repercussions on human health, so urge the FDA to put a stop to these policies.
Dear Margaret A. Hamburg,
Due to a growing body of evidence that suggests using feed additives on livestock can be harmful to humans, please make it a priority to reduce the levels of these products that are used in our food. The fact that many of these antibiotics given to animals did not meet the FDA’s own regulations shows that there are serious shortcomings in certain aspects of the agency, and these may prove to be deadly to thousands of Americans each year.
In an era when Americans consume more meat than ever before, it is especially important to be vigilant when it comes to what our food is allowed to consume. Please pledge to fight against these issues and sharply reduce the use of antibiotics in livestock before it becomes too late.
[Your Name Here]
Image credit: Unknown via Wikimedia Commons