The World Health Organization is recommending that farmers stop using antibiotics. That’s according to a statement released by the international agency Tuesday. The agency further said that farmers and the food production industry could reduce or eliminated the need for antibiotics all together through better hygiene, vaccinations, and improving animal housing and husbandry practices. If possible, WHO says, sick animals should be tested to determine which course of antibiotics would be most effective and only then should the entire herd or flock be administered medication. They also said IF antibiotics are administered, they should be chosen only from WHO’s list of least important medically important antibiotics.
In their call to action, WHO said the recommendations were a direct result of a scientific review published in The Lancet Planetary Health earlier this week. The Lancelot Planetary Health an online scientific journal funded through The Rockefeller Foundation. The review found that restricting antibiotic use in food animals reduced antibiotic resistance among those same animals by 39%. WHO also cited statistics that up to 80% of medically important antibiotics are consumed by animals. Director General of WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the recommendations were needed since “a lack of effective antibiotics is as serious a security threat as a sudden and deadly disease outbreak”. He continued, saying “strong, sustained action across all sectors is vital if we are to turn back the tide of antimicrobial resistance and keep the world safe”.
National Pork Producer Response
The US has instituted its own controls on antibiotic use in livestock. Most notably, those controls came through the Veterinary Feed Directive that went into effect on January first of this year. However, a wholesale halt on the administration of antibiotics in livestock has been hard to come by. The National Pork Producers Council issued a statement immediately after the WHO guidelines were released. That statement panned the recommendations as “ill advised and wrong.” Further, the Council questioned the implications of such a move. The statement said that “denying pigs, cows and chickens necessary antibiotics would be unethical and immoral, leading to animal suffering and possibly death, and could compromise the nation’s food system,”