Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY) and Supermoms Against Superbugs, an initiative spearheaded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, came together on Capitol Hill today to raise awareness about the growing threat of antibiotic-resistant superbugs and advocate for saving antibiotics for human use.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the United States are sold for use in agriculture. A majority of these antibiotics are fed to perfectly healthy animals as a way to compensate for raising them in crowded and unsanitary conditions. This misuse of antibiotics results in the development of antibiotic-resistant superbugs -- a looming public health crisis. Already, antibiotic-resistant infections kill more Americans every year than HIV/AIDS, and recently, researchers conclusively linked transmission of antibiotic-resistant bacteria from animals to humans, when they found genetically identical strains of MRSA in livestock and the farmers who raised them.
Congresswoman Slaughter, the only microbiologist elected to Congress, is the sponsor of the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA), which would require that 8 major classes of antibiotics be banned from use on perfectly healthy livestock, while allowing exceptions to treat sick animals.
"The research makes it clear: we are foolishly throwing away one of the greatest medical achievements in human history -- the development of antibiotics," said Congresswoman Slaughter. "The more often bacteria are exposed to low levels of antibiotics, the greater the chance that some bacteria will evolve and become antibiotic-resistant superbugs. It's long past time that the media, the FDA, and my fellow members of Congress took notice of this looming public health crisis and took action to fix it."
"Supermoms Against Superbugs will urge the FDA and Congress to shine more light on how antibiotics are used on farms and to eliminate the farming practices that put the public's health at greatest risk," said Laura Rogers, director of The Pew Charitable Trusts' efforts to reduce antibiotic overuse on industrial farms. "Mountains of hard science demonstrate that it is critical to curb these practices, but nothing is quite as convincing as the real-life stories of those living with the consequences of lax regulation."