A Real Stand Against Antibiotic Resistance Starts At The Farm, Not The Hospital

Arielle Duhaime-Ross | The Verge | September 30, 2014

We know that animals are the biggest consumers of antibiotics — so why doesn't the US government's efforts on antibiotic resistance pay more attention to farms?

The US government made history on September 18th when President Obama signed an executive order establishing a task force to combat antibiotic resistance at the federal level. The order outlined general goals such as tracking the use of antibiotics and creating incentives for drug development. Some applauded the announcement, while pointing out other countries’ continued failure to do the same.

Antibiotic resistance is one of the greatest threats to humans worldwide, according to the Infectious Diseases Society of America, a professional group of disease specialists. It costs the US health-care system over $21 billion each year to treat resistant infections. Those treatments aren’t always successful, though: antibiotic resistance claims about 23,000 lives in the US each year, from its more than 2 million annual illnesses across the country.

But even though America has taken some steps to help curb superbugs, infectious disease researchers and doctors just don’t think the government’s strategy is enough. That’s because it doesn’t take into account some major consumers of antibiotics: farm animals...