Alexandria Protest Targets 'Serious Human Health Threat'

Group seeks local support for federal ban on misuse of antibiotics on factory farms.

Protesters call on local officials to support federal ban. (Photo courtesy Food & Water Watch.)
Protesters call on local officials to support federal ban. (Photo courtesy Food & Water Watch.)

From Food & Water Watch:

Today at Society Fair, concerned community members came together to demand local action on a critical public health issue. Concerned residents and community leaders gathered to call on the City Council to pass a local resolution in support of a federal ban on the misuse of antibiotics on factory farms.

"There is increasing evidence that antibiotic-resistant bacteria have made the jump from factory farms to humans,” said speaker Pamela Hess, Executive Director of the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture. “It's a function of modern farming practices that focus on ease, speed and maximizing profits. There's a better way to farm, and the local farmers we work with are leading the way."

The routine daily use of antibiotics on livestock, whether or not they are sick, is directly linked to the creation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which have become a serious human health threat. Federal legislation, the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA) in the House and the Prevention of Antibiotic Resistance Act (PARA) in the Senate, would prevent medically important antibiotics from being used needlessly on healthy farm animals. Food & Water Watch and local residents are calling on City Council to pass a resolution, asking Senators Kaine and Warner to support the bill.

Currently, factory farms across the country routinely feed livestock low doses of antibiotics to compensate for filthy living conditions and unnaturally promote growth. The practice creates a breeding ground for antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which are responsible for two million human infections and 23,000 deaths annually, according to a study released by the Center for Disease Control in September 2013. PARA would decrease the livestock’s unnecessary exposure to antibiotics, and help to preserve our medicine’s live-saving properties.

“I’m a college student, and illness spreads like wildfire on campus. I want to know that the next time I get sick, the medicine the doctor gives me actually works,” said Jesse Roof, anthropology student at George Mason University. “MRSA and other antibiotic resistant bacteria are showing up in more and more places, and I just don’t feel safe knowing that the misuse of antibiotics on factory farms is contributing to such a serious public health crisis. It’s clear that we need federal action, but it’s also clear we need to start this movement on a local level. That’s why I’m here.”


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