In a recent blog from the NDRC, I was called out and described as “industry aligned.” I was “flattered” that NRDC mentioned research on the quantifiable risk of on-farm antibiotic use. I think the author meant to discredit me by calling me “industry aligned.” Maybe someone who has worked in agriculture for 30 years, 13 of those in the USDA, is untrustworthy as he claims. Maybe someone who implemented the largest meat recall in US history, at the costly chagrin of the “industry,” does have the industry in their pocket book. But perhaps he means that I care about those farmers and ranchers who care for my patients: the animals. I will assume the latter and thank him for the compliment.
On the slightly more specific question of risk, there are many points which need to be made, as this is not a simple issue. Many of those points can be found in my previous blog postings listed below. But first, let’s distinguish concern from risk. FDA has directed the question of risk be answered by looking at the “subset” of the food borne route (Guidance 152). They understand the other routes (water, manure, air, karma) are, at this point, hypothetical. FDA has shown by their actions that addressing specific antibiotic use or misuse issues is better than broad bans against on-farm antibiotic use in general.
The flip side of antibiotic use in animals needs to be considered. As a veterinarian this is also my concern. Animals need medicine also. Whether they are raised indoors or outdoors, free range or confinement, natural and whatever is the opposite of “natural,” infectious disease is everywhere. Failure to prevent and treat illness is an ethical breach.
Hurd Health Blogs:
Huffington Post: Meet the Meat People
Meatingplace Magazine Blogs: The Gentle Vet (requires free membership)