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New Zealand veterinarians are taking a stand against excessive antibiotic treatments in animals, vowing to ban all use by 2030

Antibiotic abuse

(NaturalNews) New Zealand veterinarians have resolved to put an end to the practice of using non-medicinal antibiotics in the country's livestock by the year 2030.

Southland vet and New Zealand Veterinary Association Board Member, Mark Bryan, said that the stance stems from the vets' acknowledgement that human and animal health issues are becoming more and more interconnected.

In a speech at the National Rural Health Conference that was recently held in Dunedin, Bryan said that many member vets were surprised by the announcement, which was made without consulting its members. The board felt that doing so would give vested interest groups too much opportunity to interfere in the process.

However, he is quick to point out that not all antibiotic use will be halted, admitting that these drugs still play a useful role in the health of animals. Instead, they are resolving to stop using antibiotics merely for the maintenance of the animals' health.

The proliferation of antibiotic-resistant infections and drug-resistant bacteria is being widely pinned on the overuse of antibiotics in humans as well as livestock. These infections kill more than 20,000 people each year in the U.S. alone. American factory farms regularly give healthy animals antibiotics to boost their growth.

According to Bryan, 31 of the 41 antibiotics that the American FDA has approved for use in animals that produce food, are also considered to be medically important for use in humans. New Zealand notes a relatively low usage of antibiotics in animals when compared to many countries, giving them a strong marketing advantage. In the U.S., for example, more than 60 percent of antibiotic usage is in livestock. Antimicrobial resistance is an even bigger problem in humans than it is in animals, and the association wants to increase awareness of the problem and take an active role in curtailing it.

The World Health Organization reports that food-borne diseases cause one out every 20 people to become ill each year. One third of the 420,000 people who die as a result of such illnesses are children.

In the salmonellosis outbreak that hit Washington last year from infected pork, samples from 10 people who were infected showed that they were resistant to multiple drugs, including streptomycin, tetracycline, ampicillin and sulfisoxazole. Further compounding the problem, is the fact that some foods travel across long distances, spreading drug-resistant bacteria and diseases over a wide area and making it harder to contain.

93 percent of physicians concerned about animal antibiotic overuse

In the U.S., a survey conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center found that 93 percent of physicians find the overuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture to be concerning. In addition, 85 percent of doctors said that they had treated someone who had an antibiotic-resistant infection at some point during the previous year, and 35 percent of those patients either died or suffered from serious complications as a result of the drug-resistant infection.

The director of food policy initiatives at Consumers Union, Jean Halloran, said: "This poll underscores how important it is to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics. We're calling on supermarket chains -- which have huge leverage with meat producers -- to help end the overuse of antibiotics in livestock."

FDA not doing much to help

While some small farmers agree that this is becoming a problem, and are willing to reserve the use of antibiotics for only when they are truly needed, sweeping changes are only likely to come about as a result of federal action.

The FDA, however, does not have the best track record when it comes to taking action to solve this problem. The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) recently uncovered evidence showing that the FDA allowed 18 antibiotics for animals to stay on the market, despite being aware that they presented a "high risk" of contributing to human drug-resistant infections. NRDC attorney Avinash Kar says that this failure is part of "a larger pattern of delay and inaction in tackling livestock drug use that goes back four decades."

Unfortunately, the food we eat often contains many concerning ingredients and components that we are not aware of. That's why Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, decided to test various foods in his state-of-the-art laboratory, and write the book Food Forensics, to expose this important issue to everyone who is concerned about their health.

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