Not-So-Breaking News: Misuse of Antimicrobials Threatens Public Health

An article just out in Clinical Microbiology Reviews should put to rest the hotly contested debate about antimicrobial misuse in industrial food animal production (IFAP).  The review article, “Food Animals and Antimicrobials: Impacts on Human Health,” written by Bonnie Marshall and Stuart Levy of the Tufts University School of Medicine, provides one of the most comprehensive summaries to-date of the evidence linking antimicrobial misuse in IFAP to increased incidence of antimicrobial-resistant infections in humans, and it should silence accusations made by elected officials who contend that there is insufficient evidence to support restrictions on antimicrobial use in agriculture.

These accusations have grown louder in recent months.  In June of this year, Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT) attached an amendment to an appropriations bill that would have prohibited the Food and Drug Administration from spending money to restrict the use of antimicrobials in the absence of “hard science.”  The “hard science amendment,” poorly written and clumsily introduced, was stripped from the legislation before it passed the House.  But the arguments presented by Rehberg and other members nevertheless reveal a strident—and unwarranted—skepticism of existing scientific knowledge about antimicrobial resistance. Read More >