The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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December 6, 2013

Many misconceptions about antibiotics in agriculture

As a pig farmer, I cringed while reading “Ag lobby will stop progress on pollution.” Antibiotics are a hot topic in agriculture and there are many misconceptions.

It’s not the use of antibiotics that makes me cringe, it is the misconception that farmers are the cause of antibiotic resistance. Letter writer Walter O. Jones mentions that “No legislation that I know of, state or federal, has been passed to regulate the use of antibiotics in animal feeding.”

The Food Safety and Inspection Service has a rigorous approval process, actively monitoring antibiotic use in animals raised for food. Antibiotics are a vital tool on farms to keep animals healthy and are monitored and administered by licensed veterinarians and the Food and Drug Administration.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there has been no proven link to antibiotic treatment failure in humans due to antibiotic use in animals for consumption in the U.S. In fact, of the top antibiotics sold for animals in 2011, over 71 percent are not used or rarely prescribed to humans (Food and Drug Administration 2011 Reports).

It is important to note that most of the resistance problems that doctors, such as the members of the Infectious Disease Society of America, list as their top concerns are unrelated to foodborne illness or animal contact.

While Jones feels that there is need for legislation, in actuality the use of antibiotics in animals is already heavily regulated. Everyone can rest assured that the food they are eating is safe to consume.

Kevin Hugoson


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