Antibiotics strategy misses the mark

Antibiotic use by agricultural livestock industry is dangerous.

On Thursday, the White House announced a new national initiative and issued an executive order to address antibiotic resistance.

The announcement coincided with the release of a report by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. The report detailed the dangers of antibiotic resistance and outlined a plan to address it. Annually, antibiotic resistance causes more than 2 million illnesses and 20,000 deaths in the United States.

However, the new “national strategy” to counter antibiotic resistance is lenient toward the industrial agricultural livestock industry, which is currently the largest antibiotics consumer in the country. More than 70 percent of all antibiotics go toward promoting animal growth and countering the unhealthy conditions in which livestock are raised.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated in 2013 that “much of antibiotic use in animals is unnecessary and inappropriate and makes everyone less safe.” However, the President’s Council Report suggests enacting only voluntary measures to monitor and halt the use of antibiotics in livestock.

In contrast, medical establishments — including hospitals and dialysis centers — will likely be subjected to mandatory regulations.

University of Minnesota professor Dr. James Johnson told the New York Times last week that the report “sounded like it was written by someone in the meat industry.”

We do not think the recommendations for voluntary change from the livestock industry are enough. As the nation’s largest user of antibiotics, livestock production companies should be subject to the same regulations as other antibiotic-dispensing establishments.