(NaturalNews) Since the 1950's livestock have had antibiotics added into their feed to speed up their growth and to prevent and treat illness. However, recently several environmental and public health groups have filed suit against the Food and Drug Administration to try and force the government to stop farmers from routinely adding the antibiotics to the feed.
The groups say that the wide spread use of the drugs and the FDA's allowance of it are dramatically adding to a public health crisis. The crisis being an increase in the prevalence of "superbugs" that infect people but do not properly respond to antibiotics.
Margaret Mellon, a senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, one of the groups who filed the complaint in federal court, along with the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Food Animals Concern Trust and Public Citizen stated, "the longer we use these drugs, the less effective the arsenal becomes."
Debate has been ongoing for the past 30 years about the use of antibiotics in animal feed. Amid rising concerns the FDA began to question whether they should be used so broadly and on healthy animals.
"Anti-modern livestock production groups are trying to compel the FDA to ban antibiotics used to prevent animals from getting sick because those groups have a belief - not scientific evidence - that such FDA-approved animal health products are causing antibiotic resistance in people." Said Doug Wolf, president of the National Pork Producers Council, and a pork producer from Lancaster, WI.
As farming has become more industrialized, farmers have become more reliant on antibiotics because they help animals digest more effectively and stay healthy in crowded conditions.
Last year the FDA gave voluntary guidance to farmers, calling the resistant-bacteria problem a "public health issue of some urgency."
Mellon went on to say that the FDA is "trying to jawbone the industry into voluntarily giving up these drugs. I don't know how they would get the industry to act that way, because it's against their interests."
Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY), the only microbiologist in congress has filed legislation that would ban the use of seven antibiotic classes unless animals are ill or drug companies can prove their use does not harm human health.
"We should be able to buy our food without worrying that eating it will expose our families to bacteria no longer responsive to medical treatments." She stated.