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Originally published April 2 2015

Obama announces $1.2 billion plan that will let CAFOs continue abusing antibiotics while claiming to fight antibiotic resistance

by Amy Goodrich

(NaturalNews) Through the years, overexposure to antibiotics has led to the development of bacteria which are resistant to certain types of drugs. Last year, the World Health Organization sounded the alarm bell that antibiotic resistance should be taken seriously before it's too late.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 23,000 deaths and 2 million illnesses occur each year in the United States alone due to these drug-resistant "superbugs." They have spread to every corner of the world and might lead to many more deaths in the future when antibiotics stop working completely.

If this happens, otherwise minor bacterial infections like post-surgical infections or urinary tract infections will no longer be treatable. Instead, they'll become a life-threatening problem.

Plan addresses need to help humans fight antibiotic resistance

President Obama says this is "one of the most pressing public health issues facing the world today." As such, he has released a five-year action plan to combat this growing public threat. To further stress the severity of this issue, he has also asked Congress to double the budget dedicated to this matter to $1.2 billion.

"They [antibiotics] save the lives of service members wounded in battle. They prevent infections in one community from spreading far and wide," he says. "They're also a critical defense against bio-terrorism. They are, quite simply, essential to the health of our people and people everywhere. So we should do everything in our power to ensure that antibiotics remain effective."

Most of the money will be used to tackle the problem of over-prescription and misuse of antibiotics, as well as the development of new treatments. However, while this may sound somewhat worthy of applause, there are deeper issues at hand.

Plan has dark side: more funding to factory farmers to continue giving animals antibiotics

First, studies have shown that the use of antibiotics is often unnecessary. Many doctors tend to prescribe them to patients with viral infections, such as a common cold, which can't be treated by antibiotics.

Secondly, part of this plan includes a focus on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) which will allow them to continue antibiotic practices on animals.

Sadly, this means that the President's action plan falls short in protecting the people and instead, also places an emphasis on antibiotic misuse at factory farms. Critics say that the White House needs to seriously think about this particular aspect as the plan because it urges Congress to consider actually increasing the USDA budget and allow them to keep giving the likes of growth antibiotics to these innocent animals. Of course, such meat ingested by humans is not healthy, which is a major cause for concern.

While the Food and Drug Administration has had some successes in terms of reducing antibiotics used on animals to promote their growth, the farm industry -- under this plan -- will still be able to give animals antibiotics to prevent them from becoming sick when they're in crowded conditions. Clearly, the main issue here stands at the industrial farm level.

Not about protecting health, but protecting "poor industry practices"

With the action plan in place, CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) will still be allowed to use antibiotics in animal food to prevent sickness. This means that President Obama's plan leaves the door wide open for livestock producers to keep using antibiotics for growth as well.

"The plan continues to allow the routine feeding of antibiotics to animals that live in the crowded conditions endemic to industrial farms," says Mae Wu, health attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "Our government should be taking steps to reduce antibiotics to protect our health, rather than protecting poor industry practices."


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