Who's hogging our antibiotics? That's the question a new advertising campaign is posing to Washington, D.C.-area commuters and people visiting Capitol Hill.

The series of ads , revealed in D.C. Metro stations and trains this week by the Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming, is part of the project's national effort to end what they believe is the misuse of antibiotics in food animal production. They claim up to 70 percent of human antibiotics are being fed to animals on factory farms, which promotes the development of “deadly” strains of drug-resistant bacteria that can spread to humans.

"Human antibiotics are routinely misused on industrial farms to compensate for crowded, stressful and unsanitary conditions," said Laura Rogers, a project director with the Pew Health Group. "The way we are raising our food animals is putting human health at risk."

The ads can be seen in the Capitol South and Union Station Metro stops during June, as well as in Metro cars on the red line and blue/orange line trains. A version of the ads will also be appearing soon online and in newspapers on Capitol Hill.

The new ads are timed to influence the debate on Capitol Hill on the Preservation of Antimicrobials for Medical Treatment Act, which was introduced in the House this spring (H.R. 1549). A similar bill was introduced in the Senate (S. 619). The livestock industries are worried because these bills will set an unreasonable evaluation period for antimicrobial resistance with a large number of products seeking approval. That would result in removal of antimicrobials due to the bureaucratic backlog.

Supporters of this legislation, while seeking to end the use of many antimicrobials in livestock production, refuse to acknowledge the benefits to both animals and humans by utilizing these products. By preventing disease, producers are able to boost profits, sure. But they are also able to supply healthier animals to the harvest facility and, in turn, able to offer consumers a more wholesome product. Like many things that come out of Washington, the sponsors of these bills may have good intentions, but if they are successful there will be many unintended consequences — for livestock, for producers and for consumers. — Greg Henderson, Drovers editor.