CDC responds to CLF on antibiotic resistance testimony

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, confirms that the CDC “feels there is strong scientific evidence of a link between antibiotic use in food animals and antibiotic resistance in humans.” Frieden offered the CDC’s position in his response to a letter from Keeve Nachman, PhD, MHS, and director of CLF’s Farming for the Future Program, and Robert Lawrence, MD, director. Lawrence and Nachman sent the letter to Frieden and Anthony Fauci, MD, director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, last June seeking to clarify Congressional testimony concerning the evidence against the use of antibiotics in industrial farm animal production.

Frieden noted the multiple North American studies that show the links between antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance. “In addition,” he said, “a strong body of evidence from Europe demonstrates that antibiotic use in animals is linked with antibiotic resistance in humans. We have thoroughly reviewed these studies and have found them to be well-designed and rigorous, and to establish a clear link between antibiotic use in animals and antibiotic resistance in humans.”

Lawrence and Nachman commended the position officially stated by the CDC. “We are gratified that the CDC recognizes the scientific connections between the inappropriate and overuse of antibiotics in food animal production and antibiotic resistance in humans, and pledge to continue to work closely with the agency, regulators, and policymakers to address the problem. A number of studies supported by the CLF and by others clearly establish the direct causal link between use of low dose antibiotics in feed or water for growth promotion and the emergence of ever-more antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria that are important human pathogens.” Legislation on a bill to limit antibiotic use in food animal production, the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act, is now pending in Congress.