Wednesday, September 08, 2010 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer

Natural News: Writing in the New York Times, former FDA Commissioner Donald Kennedy warns that the widespread use of antibiotics in livestock is a major threat to human health.

“More than 30 years ago … we proposed eliminating the use of penicillin and two other antibiotics to promote growth in animals raised for food,” Kennedy writes. “When agribusiness interests persuaded Congress not to approve that regulation, we saw firsthand how strong politics can trump wise policy and good science.

Already in the 1980s, Kennedy notes, scientists knew that the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics to prevent infection in healthy animals and make them grow faster was leading to the evolution of drug-resistant bacteria. To make matters worse, the antibiotics used in animals are largely the same as those used in humans, meaning that when these livestock-produced superbugs infect humans, doctors have few ways to deal with them.

An estimated 90,000 people die from hospital-acquired infections in the United States every year. Seventy percent of these infections are antibiotic resistant. More