April 1, 2011
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a clarification to recent statements made about livestock producers overusing antibiotics and about that overuse leading to antibiotic resistance in humans.
In testimony before the House Appropriations Committee's Agriculture Subcommittee, USDA Agricultural Research Service Administrator Edward Knipling, Ph.D., in response to a question from Rep. Tom Latham (Iowa), said his department is conducting research on antibiotic use in livestock and antibiotic resistance. Knipling said that, while data suggest "in some cases, there are problems and concerns," they also show "this is not as severe an issue as it might be otherwise portrayed."
Despite those statements, in its March 16 story, the Wall Street Journal reported that "hog farmers are overusing antibiotics on their herds and that may be creating antibiotic-resistant bacteria that pose a threat to human health." The headline on the story said government data supports that contention.
In its clarification statement, USDA said, "Knipling never said that swine producers were overusing antibiotics in the herds." He also pointed out, the statement said, that "some of that data and trends show that the resistance is not developing to the extent as otherwise might be portrayed." A transcript of the hearing supports USDA's clarification.
Reprinted in part from Agri-Pulse