An Illinois congresswoman is pushing for restrictions on the use of antibiotics on farms. Antibiotic resistance that can turn treatable bacterial diseases into potentially deadly infections may be “the next pandemic,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Evanston) believes the first step to a solution is to enact stronger federal regulations to limit the amount of antibiotics given to livestock, as resistant bacteria can be spread to humans through food.
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Schakowsky admits that livestock producers will likely try to push against such restrictions. “There’s a lot of money to be made,” Schakowsky said. “It is cheaper for them to give their animals these antibiotics and it creates faster growth. It means you don’t have to be as meticulous about…cleanliness.” Schakowsky believes it’s an urgent problem, citing the estimated 2 million people in the U.S. who became infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria last year.
The Food and Drug Administration did issue guidelines regarding antibiotics in livestock in December 2013, but Schakowsky says following those guidelines is voluntary—an approach she claims has failed in other countries.