I don’t really have a pet pig but I have friends who do. Yeah, they’re odd – the people, not the pigs – but that’s another story. For now, let’s focus on the use of antibiotics with all creatures, great and small. We will examine pigs as well as people, cows, goats, chickens and cats.
Most of us have been following the animal antibiotics controversy, it’s been raging on for well over a decade. Some fact-free hand-wringers see a rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria and immediately demand all such medicines be banned from agricultural use and that we follow the European Union model; ban all nontherapeutic uses of antibiotics on food animals. They seem to love the doomsday scenario, gleefully spouting off reports about the worst of all possible worlds; the Great Black Plague that nearly obliterated Europe in the 14th century.
For most of the anti-ag opponents, the fact that most antibiotics used in animal agriculture are not used with humans doesn’t matter. The fact that the problems seen in hospitals and homes is caused by a chronic over-prescription of antibiotics for human illnesses, even when the problem is viral, doesn’t matter. The fact that antibiotic uses are tied to weight so of course a 1,200 pound bull requires more medicine than a 120 pound person doesn’t matter, either. The crazies on this issue just want to get rid of all ag meds.
Dr. Richard Raymond, former USDA/FSIS Undersecretary and currently a consultant to several pharmaceutical companies, dismisses this as mostly stuff and nonsense:
“It remains to be seen if this action actually will decrease antibiotic resistance in pathogens affecting human health. It has not done so after 10 years of a similar ban in Denmark, and my personal belief is that this will not affect human health at all, but time will tell.”
How far has this anti-antibiotic lunacy gone? The PigSite News Desk, a British-based publication, reported that England’s Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, said sick animals should be slaughtered rather than treated as part of a strategy to reduce antibiotic resistance in humans.
Robin Hargreaves, President of the British Veterinary Association, objected:
“As veterinary surgeons our first duty is to the animals under our care, and that means providing the most appropriate treatment. To suggest that treatable animals should be slaughtered makes no sense in terms of animal health, public health, or the rural economy.