This is the kind of legislation that gets proposed when our members of Congress have degrees in science instead of honorary Ph.Ds in Truthology. Because, as they say, shit just got real, and we need to do something about it.
Today, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (NY-25), the only microbiologist in Congress, reacted to a new study that conclusively identified transmission of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) from livestock to humans. Currently, MRSA kills more Americans each year than HIV/AIDS.
In sending the letter, Slaughter said, “This study ends any debate. The extreme overuse of antibiotics in livestock is endangering human health.” Slaughter continued, “For decades, the United States Food and Drug Administration has failed to act in the face of a growing threat. These findings make it clearer than ever that their failure is endangering human life. Starting today, the FDA must take strong federal action to reduce antibiotic use in livestock and protect human health.”
In response to these findings, she drafted legislation to end the apparently indiscriminate use of antibiotics in livestock. For a little background, about 80% of the antibiotics that are sold in the US go to treating livestock. Not because they’re sick, but because they live in such unhealthy and unsanitary conditions that the antibiotics are administered at “sub-therapeutic levels” as a preventative measure. This, ladies and gents, is pretty much exactly how you breed drug-resistant bacteria. We’re getting pretty good at it, in fact.
Slaughter is the author of the HR 1150, the “Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act” (PAMTA). The legislation is designed to stop the overuse of antibiotics on the farm- a practice that is accelerating the growth of antibiotic-resistance disease.
I never really saw myself as any kind of fanatic about where I got my food, how it was raised, and all of that. I remember laughing when I saw that episode of Portlandia where the couple was in a restaurant and they were agonizing over whether to order the chicken because they didn’t know whether the hazelnuts used in its feed were organic or not.
I’m kind of like that now … but hey, I guess I can still laugh at myself about it too. The problem I see is that there’s so much crap going into our food that you really have to be careful to make sure you don’t get an unwanted dose of growth hormone or antibiotics along with it. Hell, we shouldn’t have to worry about things like this, but hey, here we are.
Nowadays, I usually go to New Seasons (it’s a chain like Whole Foods), and make sure that at the very least, the meat I buy hasn’t been given preventive low-dose antibiotics or fed meat from other animals during the course of its life. “Free-range” (whatever the hell that means these days) and “grass / grain fed” are just gravy at this point, but you really pay for it when you can find it.
For me, the end result is that I’ve become a lot more of a food snob, I think … but it’s motivated primarily by my desire to have the most knowledge possible regarding what I’m eating, and to avoid things that clearly present a danger not only to myself, but to the general public as well. I’m thankful to have someone like Congresswoman Slaughter using her background in both microbiology and public health to push for this kind of legislation. It’s long overdue.