Misleading Livestock Information. I'm Greg Martin with today's Line On Agriculture.
The Union of Concerned Scientists and the Pew Commission have launched an aggressive campaign on Capitol Hill aimed at antibiotic use on the nation's livestock farms. Dr. Jen Greiner – National Pork Producers Council Director of Science and Technology - says they've already hosted several briefings for Congressional staffers – and have more planned.
GREINER: Our concern is that we will see a lot of fallacies shared with Congressional staff, there will be a lot of fear mongering. The witnesses are not friendly towards agriculture and so we really believe that they will bring up a 70% number that we hear from the Union of Concerned Scientists that someone will try and link MRSA to antibiotic use on the farm and all of that is without having a representative from animal agriculture stand up with the panel and say this is how we're using antibiotics on our farms.
And with most staffers on the Hill three, four, maybe even five generations removed from the farm – Greiner says some of those misguided messages hit home. She says that includes the statistic the Union of Concerned Scientists used in its 2001 Hogging It report. There they stated that 70-percent of all antibiotics used in the U.S. are given to livestock for non-therapeutic purposes. Greiner says there are several problems with that number.
GREINER: To say that 70% of all antibiotics are used in livestock is a fallacy in and of itself because then you are looking at human and animal use of antibiotics. There's no reporting mechanism for human antibiotics. The other piece that is concerning then there is they basically just arbitrarily said any antibiotic that's given for longer than 14 days at a concentration of greater than 200 grams per ton is not therapeutic. So there are some prevention and control uses of antibiotics that they have lumped into this classification. The third problem is that they looked at antibiotics that were approved in this country but never used.
Then there's the novelist who wrote a book on MRSA and its threat to humankind on the panel that will speak to Congressional staffers this week. Greiner says that's a big concern.
GREINER: One of her comments on her website about the book is that MRSA is being caused by misguided agricultural practices. I'm expecting a drive-by shooting on animal agriculture just simply because of that comment on the website and then the messages that we've heard out of the Union of Concerned Scientists in the past. I expect them to try and link antibiotic use on the farm to the creation of MRSA very similar to what we saw with the CBS story back in early February.
That's today's Line On Agriculture. I'm Greg Martin on the Northwest Ag Information Network.