In a major new statement about the overuse of antibiotics in agriculture, the World Health Organization is urging livestock agriculture and fish farming worldwide to sharply cut antibiotic use, reserving the precious drugs for animals that are sick and then choosing only antibiotics that are not important to human medicine. (No paywall)
The National Pork Producers Council, representing conventional agriculture, called on Congress and the incoming Trump administration to overturn a new USDA animal-welfare rule for organic farms, a small part of U.S. food production. House Agriculture Committee chairman Michael Conaway said he hoped Trump officials "will immediately withdraw this rule but stand ready with my colleagues on the Hill to roll back the regulation if necessary."
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack hopes that new proposed organic regulations for animal welfare will be complete before President Obama leaves office in January, but isn't sure. “I’m hopeful that we get them done,” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a report by Harvest Public Media. “I can’t guarantee that they’ll get done, but I’m hopeful they get done.”
Eight months after one USDA agency rescinded its standard for grass-fed beef, a sister agency published a "labeling guideline" — open to public comment for 60 days — that says the term is available only for beef from cattle "that were only (100 percent) fed grass (forage) after being weaned." A small-farm group said the step would "preserve the label's strong reputation."
On September 21, the United Nations General Assembly took an historic step: It acted on the danger posed by antibiotic resistance, which is rising around the world, killing an estimated 700,000 people each year. The U.N. action was only the fourth time that the General Assembly, which usually addresses economic and social issues, had ever considered a health problem. Its all-day “high-level meeting,” in which representatives of 70 governments shared their concerns about controlling resistance, resulted in a commitment by all 193 member nations to begin working on the problem. The first step was to create a “coordination group” to bring all the international efforts in line.
Antibiotics play a crucial role in treating disease in farm animals and plants, said the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in releasing an "action plan" to promote prudent use of antimicrobials. "Their use is essential to food security, to our well-being and to animal welfare," said the FAO, but the emergence of bacteria resistant to antibiotics is a threat to human health.
A patient treated at a New Jersey hospital carried a strain of E. coli bacteria that is resistant to colistin and carbapenem, two antibiotics that are administered as last-resort drugs against disease and infection. It was the first time that a resistance to two last-ditch antibiotics was found in the United States, and the detection "means there's likely more out there," says medical news site Stat.
Crop and livestock producers are less optimistic about the economic outlook for the farm sector, according to the Ag Economy Barometer sponsored by Purdue and the CME Group. The chief reason was a decline in cattle prices during May, said Purdue economist Jim Mintert.