CDC Threat Report: Yes, Agricultural Antibiotics Play A Role In Drug Resistance

Maryn McKenna | Wired | September 17, 2013

The grave assessment on the advance of drug resistance, released Monday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, contained some important observations about the relationship between antibiotic use in agriculture and resistant infections in humans. Those observations, combined with remarks made yesterday by the director of the CDC and also with testimony given in the past by other CDC personnel, ought to put to rest what seems like a persistent meme: that the CDC has never said, or doesn’t believe, that agricultural antibiotic use plays a role in the advance of resistance.

This is important because it puts the CDC in line with a substantial body of research pointing to agricultural use playing a role in the emergence of resistance outside farm properties. With the CDC agreeing — plus, to some degree, the Food and Drug Administration — surely it’s time to move on to whether there are things that could be done to curb the risks posed by some ag practices, while respecting the role that livestock-raising in particular plays as a substantial economic sector, and as an engine in feeding the world.