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Duly Noted

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012, 1:01 pm

Farmers Will Need Scrips for Livestock Antibiotics

By Lindsay Beyerstein

The Farnsworths, Creative Commons.

Look kids, a rare triumph of common sense over entrenched interests and inertia:

Farmers and ranchers will for the first time be required to get a prescription from a veterinarian before using antibiotics in cattle, pigs, chickens and other animals, federal food regulators announced on Wednesday. Officials hope the move will slow the indiscriminate use of the drugs, which has made them increasingly ineffective in humans.

The Food and Drug Administration has been taking small steps to try to curb the use of antibiotics on farms, but federal officials said that requiring prescriptions would lead to meaningful reductions in the agricultural use of antibiotics, which are given to promote animal growth. The drug resistance that has developed from that practice has been a growing problem for years and has rendered a number of antibiotics used in humans less and less effective, with deadly consequences. [NYT]

It defied logic that any farmer should be allowed to buy antibiotics in bulk that people need prescriptions to obtain. Antibiotic resistant bacteria don't know if they're being grown in a pig or a person.

The new rule is are an important step towards combatting antibiotic resistance.

Lindsay Beyerstein is an award-winning investigative journalist and In These Times staff writer who writes the blog Duly Noted. Her stories have appeared in Newsweek, Salon, Slate, The Nation, Ms. Magazine, and other publications. Her photographs have been published in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times' City Room. She also blogs at The Hillman Blog (http://www.hillmanfoundation.org/hillmanblog), a publication of the Sidney Hillman Foundation, a non-profit that honors journalism in the public interest.

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