Supermoms Take on Washington to Protect Life-Saving Antibiotics from Pew Health Group on Vimeo. A special thank you message from the Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming to the Supermoms who went to Washington to save antibiotics.
All you Supermoms out there – Tuesday May 15 is ending, but the campaign to save antibiotics for sick people is not ending. If you are touched by this story, please keep the message going that antibiotics must be used to treat sick people not for fattening up live stock. This use of antibiotics is an abomination.
As a reminder, next Tuesday, May 15 our Supermoms Against Superbugs advocacy daywill take place in Washington, DC! Moms from across the country will converge on the nation’s capital to encourage the White House and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to strengthen its recently released draft guidelines designed to reduce antibiotic overuse in food animal production.Our Supermoms are chefs, pediatricians, farmers, and everyday moms who have a particular interest in this issue. They will highlight their personal connections to the cause and discuss best ways to reign in the injudicious use of antibiotics in food animal production.LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD, JOIN OUR SUPERMOMS AND PARTICIPATE VIRTUALLY!Here are some things you can do:
- Visit Supermoms Against Superbugs to learn more about the event, including bios on all of the Supermoms and for a list of virtual actions you can take on May 15 in coordination with what we are doing in DC.
- Follow the day’s events on Facebook and Twitter.
- Watch and share our video featuring “supermom” Everly Macario.
Follow hash #supermoms and make your voice heard, please. This is too important to ignore.
A great little video from NPR taking a burger apart so we can understand what our kids are eating, featuring Kantha Shelke, ph.d.
Here in Chicago, we’re excited about an upcoming panel discussion about healthy lunches at the Chicago Public Schools. It’s Wednesday March 14 at 7 p.m. and Thursday March 15 at 10 a.m. at Whole Foods Lincoln Park, 1550 N. Kingsbury. St. Please join us for what is sure to be a rousing and informative discussion – sign up here!
The CPS says it is the Largest District to Serve Chicken Raised without Antibiotics. Here’s what the release on the Pew website says. It sounds good. What do you think?
NOV 1, 2011 – Chicago Public Schools (CPS) today began serving local chicken raised without antibiotics to students in 473 schools. This development comes on the heels of a fresh chicken purchase direct from the USDA earlier this fall. The district’s new scratch-cooked chicken program includes about 1.2 million pounds from Amish farms that do not use antibiotics, for a total of about two million pounds of fresh chicken in the 2011-12 school year.
We still have to gather 8,693 signature for the White House Petition We only have a few days. Please don’t hesitate, sign it now and tell your friends. This is an important first step in saving antibiotics from extinction. Please please sign it.
Thanks to the petition up on WhiteHouse.gov to end the overuse of antibiotics in food animals, we are seeing lots of action on the save antibiotics front. Soon we’ll have an additional powerful tool to help poople understand why antibiotics are threatened by their overuse, especially by being fed to food animals.
Maryn McKenna reports on Wired blogs:
A fantastic pair of producers named Ernie Park and Michael Graziano, who jointly make up a company called Uji Films, are working on a documentary about antibiotic resistance called, appropriately,Resistance. (Among their previous works: the fantastic Lunch Line about the U.S. School Lunch Program.)
I’ll be watching for this film and I hope you will be, too. There is so much to learn. In a clip from the film, Dr. Lance B. Price explains how we will soon run right off the “antibiotics cliff.”
We are not helpless in the face of this. We can take one very simple action. Sign the petition at WhiteHouse.gov. We need 13,810 more signatures by March16 – time is flying by – sign today!
Resistance the movie is a tool but only our resistance for real will make a difference and save antibiotics.
Watch this WhiteHouseGov We the People video to see how easy it is to make a petition and sign a petition to change the law. The Pew Campaign on Human Health and its save antibiotics petition asks the White House to look closely at the reprehensible practice of using antibiotics to fatten up food animals and to stop it! This practice is destroying the potency of antibiotics for sick people. It’s bad news all around – for people and animals. Please watch the video so you understand how “We the People” works and then go sign the petition and ask your friends to sign it. We have until March 16 to get 25,000 signatures.
We can do this! Please tell your friends. 542 people signed the petition since we first wrote about it on Friday.
Count: Feb. 19. 2012.
I broke into a jig when I saw this petition at WhiteHouse.gov started by the Pew Charitable Trusts Campaign on Human Health and Industrial farming. We need only 25,000 signatures in 30 days — by March 12 — to save antibiotics and end this practice of using antibiotics to fatten up livestock and other food animals.
We can do this!
Protect our families’ health by ending the overuse of antibiotics in food producing animals.
Almost 80% of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are for food animals. Industrial farms routinely feed these drugs to the animals to promote growth and compensate for unsanitary and overcrowded conditions. This overuse creates antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can spread to humans and cause expensive, hard-to-treat illnesses.
In June 2010, the FDA issued draft recommendations on voluntary limits to this overuse—but we are still waiting for action.
With more Americans becoming ill with infections resistant to antibiotics, we must end this practice that threatens the viability of these miracle drugs.
Please sign this petition urging the Obama Administration to end antibiotic overuse in food animal production.
Created: Feb 15, 2012
Issues: Agriculture, Family, Health Care
A few words of advice. Run on over to WhiteHouse.gov and keep it moving. If you are like me and you were an early user of WhiteHouse.gov you might encounter a glitch or two trying to use the petition signin tool. Stick with it. You might have to reset your password, empty your cache, and sign in and sign out a few times. but persevere and you will get there.
Good luck and let’s keep this moving. The petition was started Feb. 15 and we have 30 days to get 25,000 signature. Easy! I’ll post the count down every day – we can do this. It will make such a huge difference to our collective health.
I received this correspondence and sample letter today from the Union of Concerned Scientists and I post it for your immediate action. Our deadline is imminent: March 6. If you care deeply about stopping use of antibiotics in livestock so we can save antibiotics for sick people, please copy the sample letter and submit it through the online docket submission link: http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=FDA-2008-N-0326-0177
Instructions to Submit Comments
Comment must be submitted to the FDA by March 6 and can be mailed or submitted online at www.regulations.gov. The link below will take you directly to the correct docket on the website. Using the sample letter below as a guideline, please add comments specific to your own organization as unique letters have the most impact. Finally, please submit comments on your organization’s letterhead. If you have any questions, contact Ashley Elles at email@example.com or 202-331-5652.
Download the letter here and customize it or copy it from the end of this post.
Then submit it here: http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=FDA-2008-N-0326-0177
Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305)
Food and Drug Administration
5630 Fishers Lane
Rockville, MD 20852
Docket Number: FDA-2008-N-0326
On behalf of [your organization], a group which represents [insert organization description], I am writing to offer my support for the restrictions on the extralabel use of cephalosporins announced by the FDA on January 6, 2012.
Cephalosporins are critically important for human health and there is abundant evidence that the use of these drugs in food animals limits their effectiveness in treating pathogens like Salmonella.
While we support the current action, we feel that it is likely inadequate because of the numerous uses of cephalosporins in food producing animals not covered by the new restrictions and because of the large number of other antibiotics administered to food producing animals. For this reason, in addition to going forward with the extralabel use restrictions, we ask that FDA monitor both cephalosporin use and resistance and take further action if levels of cephalosporin resistance do not go down. Specifically we ask that you either ban the use of cephalosporins in livestock altogether or limit its use to labeled indications for drug treatment only. We also ask that you act quickly to restrict all uses of antibiotics in food producing animal for purposes other than disease treatment.
Here the Union of Concerned Scientists sums up the facts succinctly. Please tell your friends to act NOW.
On January 6, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officially announced new restrictions on how a specific class of antibiotics called cephalosporins could be used in animal agriculture. In order to keep the pressure on the FDA to enact this new rule, we are asking groups to offer their support of the new restrictions – can your organization submit comments to the FDA?
Two steps backwards, one tiny inch forward
|Comments supporting enactment of the cephalosporin ban are especially crucial due to two decisions FDA made in December 2011. Taking advantage of the busy holiday season, the FDA quietly denied two citizen petitions and withdrew several longstanding regulatory actions that would have restricted antibiotic use in feed and water for nontherapeutic purposes. No press release was issued on these decisions. In January, the FDA widely broadcasted the cephalosporin ban announcement. While we commend the FDA for finally issuing the cephalosporin ruling, further action is necessary to combat antibiotic overuse in animal agriculture. It is critical for FDA to receive comments that show support for enactment of the cephalosporin restriction, and demand continued and expanded regulatory action in order to protect public health by curbing use of other classes of antibiotics critical to human health.|
While we applaud the FDA for taking steps towards regulating the use of antibiotics, this is only a modest success. Not only is the ruling weaker than a 2008 version of this regulation that was subsequently withdrawn, but cephalosporins represent less than one percent of all antibiotics used in animal agriculture, making the impacts of the restrictions very limited. In order to encourage further action, the FDA needs to hear from groups who support taking regulatory action to address the problem of antibiotic overuse in animal agriculture.
Below is more information about the FDA ruling, as well as a sample letter and instructions to submit comments. Comments must be submitted to the FDA by March 6 and can be mailed or submitted through the government regulations web portal at www.regulations.gov. As an endorser of the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA, H.R. 965/S. 1211) your voice is especially valuable in this process – please consider submitting comments to the FDA.
I am available to answer your questions or provide further guidance; please do not hesitate to contact me. As always, thank you for your ongoing support!
Food and Environment Program
Union of Concerned Scientists
1825 K Street NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20006
Founded in 1969, the Union of Concerned Scientists is an independent, science-based nonprofit working for a healthy environment and a safer world.
FDA Moves to Regulate the Use of Cephalosporins in Animal Agriculture
Recent scientific evidence (here, here, and here) shows that the use of cephalosporins in food animals is leading to antibiotic-resistant Salmonella infections in people. Instead of banning the use of these drugs in animals outright, the FDA is placing new restrictions on how the antibiotics can be used “extralabel” – meaning, using a drug for a purpose or in a manner different from the approved manner. The new rules prohibit extralabel use for disease prevention and require that extralabel use for disease control follow instructions on the drug label. Unless withdrawn by the FDA, the new restrictions will go into effect on April 5.
The FDA is allowing groups to submit comments on the ruling until March 6. While we support the FDA’s move to regulate cephalosporins, we believe the ruling is insufficient and that greater steps must be taken to curtail antibiotic overuse. In order to bolster support, FDA needs to hear from groups who support taking regulatory action to end the improper use of antibiotics in animal agriculture. We hope that your organization will join us in not only supporting the regulatory action, but also that you will ask the FDA to: 1) continue to monitor resistance and drug use; and 2) ban cephalosporin use altogether or limit its use to labeled indications for drug treatment only if the results of the currently proposed restriction prove insufficient to curb resistance rates.
Your comments matter – the more the FDA hears from groups like you, the greater chance we have of encouraging FDA to continue to act on this issue.
As a person who values facts and research above everything else, I was looking for high quality information about antibiotics in livestock and the crisis in antibiotics and I can across this excellent article in the U.K. Guardian magazine: Are you ready for a world without antibiotics?
The Guardian article is almost two years old and not enough has changed sinced then. The article sums up really nicely what we could lose if we don’t act to save antibiotics now.
- Transplant surgery becomes virtually impossible. Organ recipients have to take immune-suppressing drugs for life to stop rejection of a new heart or kidney. Their immune systems cannot fight off life-threatening infections without antibiotics.
- Removing a burst appendix becomes a dangerous operation once again. Patients are routinely given antibiotics after surgery to prevent the wound becoming infected by bacteria. If bacteria get into the bloodstream, they can cause life-threatening septicaemia.
- Pneumonia becomes once more “the old man’s friend“. Antibiotics have stopped it being the mass-killer it once was, particularly among the old and frail, who would lapse into unconsciousness and often slip away in their sleep. Other diseases of old age, such as cancer, have taken over.
- Gonorrhea becomes hard to treat. Resistant strains are already on the rise. Without treatment, the sexually transmitted disease causes pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility and ectopic pregnancies.
- Tuberculosis becomes incurable – first we had TB, then multi-drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) and now there is XDR-TB (extremely drug resistant TB). TB requires very long courses (six months or more) of antibiotics. The very human tendency to stop taking or forget to take the drugs has contributed to the spread of resistance.
I’m glad we have doctors like Robert S. Lawrence – who is a professor of Environmental Health Sciences, Health Policy, and International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He’s also the founding director of the Center for a Livable Future.
We need responsible scientists and health professionals like him to translate the zig-zag moves of the Food and Drug Administration into actionable items for the rest of us. In his Jan. 23, 2012, column in the Atlantic, Dr. Lawrence writes:
A few weeks, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it would ban certain off-label uses of cephalosporin antibiotics in animal agriculture, asserting that these uses posed an undue risk of selecting for antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Many of us who follow this issue closely recognized FDA’s move for what it was: a distraction from the fundamental need for change. The cephalosporin announcement came just two weeks after FDA refused to restrict the use of two other important antibiotics in food animals. It looked to be a thinly veiled effort to deflect criticism of this refusal.
Dr. Lawrence goes on to write that in his opinion the
“FDA has failed for decades to take meaningful action on the misuse of antibiotics in food animal production — misuse that directly contributes to the selection of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and compromises our ability to treat bacterial infections.”
Modern medicine has made miracles for us. In the year 1900, the three leading causes of death — pneumonia, tuberculosis and enteritis — were infectious diseases. Now the leading causes are chronic - heart disease, cancer, and stroke. Hoorah! for modern medicine and antibiotics used properly to rein victorious on the behalf of improving life for humanity!
But that good tide is turning because of decades of misuse:
Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), did not mince words when she warned last year, “the world is heading toward a post-antibiotic era, in which many common infections will no longer have a cure and, once again, kill unabated.”
Dr Lawrence says this is because the FDA, the agency responsible for ensuring that animal drugs are used in ways that are safe for humans “has been derelict in its duties for decades.”
How did we get into this sad state of affairs? Livestock companies feed antibiotics to food animals basically to fatten them up and make them grow faster. Dr. Lawrence points out that “Today, the overwhelming majority of antibiotics in this country — nearly 80 percent — are sold for use in food animals, not humans.”
What happens as the result of this is not easy to see but it is easy to understand.
Repeated exposure to an antibiotic will continue to make resistant bacteria better competitors, allowing them to increase their numbers relative to the susceptible organisms — especially when continuously exposed to the low doses of antibiotics typically used in industrial food animal production. This practice facilitates and promotes the development of antibiotic resistance — and threatens public health.”
Resistant bacteria remain in the meat. You’ve heard about recalls of meat due to infection by various Salmonella bacteria. Resistant bacteria also find their way to the greater public through people who work on the farms. All aspects of the environments of these farms can become infected. Think about it: ventilation of animal pens, trucks, the air the animals breathe and the people who work there. The livestock manure also contains resistant bacteria, and this can enter streams streams when it rains.
We and our families could wind up swimming and fishing in infected waters and being exposed to these bacteria.
I don’t know about you but my skin is crawling!
Dr. Lawrence applauds the FDA’s recent action banning use of Cephalosporins in livestock. This means that hopefully these antibiotics will maintain their potency as the best treatment for salmonellosis in children. But he’s not fooled by this one action. He calls the agency out on its decision to not restrict the use of penicillins or tetracyclines — two groups of antibiotics also considered “critically important” by the WHO.
The FDA is simply not regulating enough. It is throwing regulatory crumbs at us, hoping that will keep our anger — and our fear — at bay.
The FDA says industry will make “voluntary changes” in the ways antibiotics are sold and used. Please – why would they? The industry itself says that antibiotic use in food animals poses no risk to us.
Let’s stand up for what is right for our health and not bend until the FDA does what is right and ends use of antibiotics in food animals.