President Obama: We Are Still Waiting

02_walkman_border.jpgIn 1977, Jimmy Carter was president. Elvis Presley was still in the building. And the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, was rolling up its sleeves to start addressing the problem of antibiotic overuse on industrial farms.

Thirty-six years later, President Barack Obama is settling into his second term, and the federal government still has not curbed meat production practices that threaten the effectiveness of lifesaving antibiotics. We cannot wait any longer.

Here’s why it is so important: In human medicine, antibiotics are given to people by prescription to treat infection. On farms, however, meat and poultry producers routinely give antibiotics to healthy food animals without veterinary oversight to make them grow faster and to compensate for unsanitary and crowded conditions. These low doses of antibiotics kill weak bacteria, leaving dangerous, antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” that threaten human health. Since the 1970s, hundreds of scientific studies have found a link between routine nontherapeutic use of antibiotics  in livestock and antibiotic-resistant infections in people.

Last year, the FDA finally resumed its long-delayed effort to stop the nontherapeutic use of antibiotics in food animal production, but after more than 14 months, the guidelines remain in draft form. We need them finalized now.

Please ask President Obama to take a stand against antibiotic overuse and finish the job that FDA started 36 years ago.

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