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U.S. Tightens Rules on Antibiotics Use for Livestock
from the New York Times (Registration Required)
Farmers and ranchers will for the first time need a prescription from
a veterinarian before using antibiotics in farm animals, in hopes that
more judicious use of the drugs will reduce the tens of thousands of
human deaths that result each year from the drugs' overuse.
The Food and Drug Administration announced the new rule Wednesday
after trying for more than 35 years to stop farmers and ranchers from
feeding antibiotics to cattle, pigs, chickens and other animals simply
to help the animals grow larger. Using small amounts of antibiotics over
long periods of time leads to the growth of bacteria that are resistant
to the drugs' effects, endangering humans who become infected but cannot
be treated with routine antibiotic therapy.
At least two million people are sickened and an estimated 99,000 die
every year from hospital-acquired infections, the majority of which
result from such resistant strains. It is unknown how many of these
illnesses and deaths result from agricultural uses of antibiotics, but
about 80 percent of antibiotics sold in the United States are used in
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