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Angus Productions Inc.
Copyright © 2011
Angus Productions Inc.

The State of Antimicrobial Use
by the Beef Industry

Expect more attempts to limit or eliminate use of antibiotics in the beef industry.

by Troy Smith for Angus Productions Inc.
Back to the Angus Beef Bulletin EXTRADENVER, Colo. (Feb. 2, 2011) — The livestock industry’s use of antimicrobial products — and antibiotics in particular — continues to draw criticism by activist groups, the media and politicians. They worry that it is leading to increased resistance among disease-causing organisms and reduced efficacy of antimicrobial therapy in humans. According to Mike Apley, veterinarian and Kansas State University (K-State) professor, the call for change is coming from mainstream advocacy groups as well as the radical fringe.

Speaking during a Cattlemen’s College session of the 2011 Cattle Industry Convention in Denver, Apley said extremist groups use fear tactics to promote their agendas. They cite hyper-inflated numbers regarding the extent to which subtherapeutic antimicrobial treatment is applied to livestock production.
They claim it makes human diseases harder to cure, when no impact on human medical treatment has been proven, said Apley. And now mainstream organizations like the American Medical Association and the Union of Concerned Scientists are advocating reduction or termination of certain uses of antimicrobials in livestock production.

Apley warned beef producers to expect more and more attempts to introduce legislation aimed at limiting or prohibiting their use of antimicrobials. In the process, proponents of such restrictions are portraying livestock producers as untrustworthy.

“And that’s just wrong,” he stated.
However, Apley warned producers that the issue of microbial resistance should be taken seriously. There is evidence that the use of certain antimicrobials may be contributing to reduced treatment response in animals. While there is no proven effect in humans, Apley said it is not impossible.

Consequently, he said, the industry must use antimicrobials “like we want to keep them.”

Apley advised veterinarians and producers to evaluate and diagnose animals carefully, design an appropriate treatment regime and apply protocols consistently. He also recommended evaluation of outcomes based on reasonable expectations. That means knowing when to stop.

“It’s not just about potential problems in humans; it is about preserving the ability to treat diseases in animals under our care,” concluded Apley.





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