To Fight Global Threat of Antibiotic Resistance, WHO Issues First-Ever Guidelines to Curb Use
To address the major and growing global threat that stems from rampant overuse and misuse of antibiotics in agriculture, the World Health Organization (WHO) this week issued its first-ever formal guidelines instructing farmers to stop using so many antimicrobials in healthy livestock.
“If no action is taken today, by 2050, almost all current antibiotics will be ineffective in preventing and treating human disease, and the costs of losing these drugs will exceed U.S. $100 trillion in terms of national productivity,” the U.N. agency predicts in a related policy brief (pdf).
David Wallinga, a senior health officer at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), said the guidelines “may be a game-changer in this fight,” because they call for “fairly significant changes to how many of the world’s biggest food-animal producers now operate, including the U.S.”—but “as important as these guidelines are, they are just that—guidelines. To help curb resistance, individual companies and/or countries actually have to take action on them.”
The U.S.-based advocacy group Center for Food Safety (CFS) welcomed the guidelines, while also noting how they “illustrate the degree to which our regulators and large food animal producers are falling short.”
Photo courtesy of Keoni Cabral.
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