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Center for a Livable Future

 
september 27 2011 the problem of hunger and the right to food
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June 4, 2014
Why Trans-Atlantic Trade Must Play a Role in Addressing Antibiotic Resistance The World Health Organization has warned that antibiotic resistance could bring about "an end to modern medicine as we know it," and that, if current trends continue, "[t]hings as common as strep throat or a child's scratched knee could once again kill." The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that resistant bacteria cause at least 2 million infections and 23,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. Antibiotic resistance is spurred by antibiotic misuse in all sectors, including human medicine. But 80 percent of antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used to produce food animals, not to treat sick people. They are fed to food animals to compensate for overcrowding and poor sanitation at the operations where most of these animals are produced—a practice known as "disease prevention"—and to promote animal growth. These uses promote the development of antibiotic resistance—and place public health at risk. Despite this, the Food and Drug Administration has dithered. The agency released voluntary guidelines that ask drug companies to take small steps while allowing them to keep selling antibiotics for disease prevention. In contrast, the European Union has banned the use of antibiotics for growth promotion since 2006 and requires veterinarians to oversee their use. Many EU countries have gone further—Denmark and Germany closely monitor antibiotic use and intervene when use is excessive. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which currently is under negotiation, aims to remove non-tariff barriers to U.S.-EU trade by harmonizing regulations, especially for agricultural products. There is deep concern among public health leaders that the EU's progress in ending antibiotic misuse could be undermined by TTIP in the name of promoting trade. It is imperative that the Congress reject any treaty and associated legislation that would roll back these critical protections. Presentators Lance Price, PhD Professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University. Dr. Price is among the foremost experts on antibiotic resistance in the United States and is a former Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future-Lerner Fellow. Jørgen Schlundt, DVM, PhD Institute Director at the National Food Institute of the Technical University of Denmark, the country that has done more than any other to restrict antibiotic use in food animal production. The National Food Institute is one of the world's leading centers for research on antibiotic resistance. Previously, Dr. Schlundt was Director of the Department of Food Safety and Zoonoses at the World Health Organization in Geneva from 1999 to 2010. Karen Hansen-Kuhn, MA Director, International Strategies at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and a leading analyst of the connections between U.S. trade and agriculture policies.