I’ve criticized President Obama for not keeping his campaign pledges to end the faith-based initiative and restore transparency to government, but when he does something right, I’ll give him credit where credit is due. So, it’s good to see him taking this unapologetically progressive stance on an issue where some reason is badly needed – the precautionary use of antibiotics in animals raised on factory farms:
The Obama administration announced Monday that it would seek to ban many routine uses of antibiotics in farm animals in hopes of reducing the spread of dangerous bacteria in humans.
…In written testimony to the House Rules Committee, Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, principal deputy commissioner of food and drugs, said feeding antibiotics to healthy chickens, pigs and cattle — done to encourage rapid growth — should cease. And Dr. Sharfstein said farmers should no longer be able to use antibiotics in animals without the supervision of a veterinarian.
Feeding massive doses of antibiotics to farm animals enables them to live in crowded, unsanitary and often inhumane conditions. It also encourages the evolution of antibiotic resistance to the dangerous bacteria that inevitably live inside them, and when those bacteria spread through the food chain to humans, the result is outbreaks of virulent, drug-resistant diseases.
Having recently seen the movie Food, Inc., it’s easy for me to appreciate how serious a threat this is. Antibiotic use, like fossil fuels, have promoted a dangerously unsustainable way of life in our culture. This first attempt may or may not make it past the powerful corporate food lobby – but kudos to the Obama administration for bringing it into the national consciousness in a bold way.