Danya's Policy Paper

Policy on Agricultural Use of Antibiotics
BY Danya Hangman
6 October 2008

Bacterial resistance to antibiotics has become a major issue throughout the world today. Abuse of antibiotics is one of the major causes of this resistance. While hospitals and clinics are considered to be major breeding grounds of resistant bacteria, the majority of antibiotics are actually used outside hospitals (5). In 1998, 50 million pounds of antibiotics were produced in the United States and half of that went to people in hospitals and homes (3). 80% of what remained was given to animals and livestock for various reasons.
Antibiotics used in agriculture affects the resistance of bacteria in a large and potentially dangerous manner. These antibiotics are used in various ways, ranging from preventing and treating illnesses in livestock to phytosanitation. Since agriculture affects everybody in the world as food source, the use of antibiotics and formation of antibiotic resistant bacteria in agriculture also affects everybody in the world. Food people eat can potentially either carry resistant bacteria or harbor residues of antibiotics as a result of misuse of antibiotics (3).
Misuse of antibiotics for livestock is a growing problem. Antibiotics are used for livestock both to treat infections and as growth promoters, so antibiotic resistant strains can show up in both healthy and sick animals (1). However, most antibiotics used in agriculture are given as growth-promoting agents rather than for treating an actual infection (2). A major way of preventing the spread of bacteria in humans is by hand-washing and different hygiene techniques. Since this is obviously a difficult to impossible prevention method with animals, diminishing the need for antibiotics is the only possible way of controlling resistance in large groups of animals (5). In 1996, the FDA approved the use of flouroquinolone enrofloxacin by chicken farmers to help prevent infections in their chickens (4). A short time after the approval of flouroquinolone came about, a rise in flouroquinolones resistance in salmonella enterica serovar typhimurium also began (4). This evidence further supports the dangers of reckless administration of antibiotics in livestock.
Farmers that use antibiotics for phytosanitation or if crops are fertilized with animal manure, consumers may also be infected with resistant bacteria (2). Crops and fruit trees that are sprayed with antibiotics can also have a harmful affect on the people and animals that consume the food produced. Crops can also come into contact with resistant bacteria from unsuspecting
ways. Resistant bacteria can emerge from irrigation water run off from animal processing plants or from manure used from intensive livestock operations (2). Consumers that eat uncooked foods like fruits and vegetables are at higher risk when compared to those who consume cooked meats because meats are generally cooked to a temperature that kills present bacteria.

I. Policy
A. The use of antibiotics as growth-promoting agents and as feed additives in livestock will not be permitted. Only animals that are actually sick and seen by a veterinarian will be permitted to consume antibiotics. It is recommended that appropriate isolation measures be taken with ill livestock to prevent further spread of illness to other animals. Vaccinations are to be given to all livestock to prevent disease. Animal husbandry systems will be monitored on a regular basis to ensure the previous regulations are upheld.

B. Use of manure not approved as being free from resistant bacteria will not be permitted to serve as fertilizer for crops. In addition, any irrigation system that may have come into contact with animal processing plants may not be used in crop production. Any breech of these or the regulations from section A will result in a fine up to $100,000 and possible permanent closing of operations.

Some may argue that the ban on antibiotics used as growth-promoting agents would have unbearable consequences, such as an increase on food prices and an intense hardship on farmers. However, the health benefits of the discontinued misuse of antibiotics would have a much more positive, world-wide effect. Farmers will spend much less money on antibiotics that can be used for other areas of their business. In addition, the discontinued use of antibiotics on crops and livestock will promote new and effective research studies to find different ways of enhancing agriculture production. The stated policy will have such a positive impact and control on the spread of antibiotic resistance, it will outweigh the contradictions.


1. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. “Does the Use of Antimicrobial Agents in Veterinary Medicine and Animal Husbandry Select Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria that Infect Man and Compromise Antimicrobial Chemotherapy?” 38: (1996) 1-3.
2. Khachatourians, George G. “Agricultural Use of Antibiotics and the Evolution and Transfer of Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria.” CMAJ. 159: (1998) 1129-1136.
3. Levy, Stuart B. “Antibiotic Resistance: Consequences of Inaction.” Clinical Infectious Diseases. 33: (2001) S124-129.
4. Salyers, Abigail and Dixie D. Whitt. Revenge of the Microbes: How Bacterial Resistance is Undermining the Antibiotic Miracle. (2005) 84-85.
5. Van den Bogaard, Anthony E. and Eleen E. Stobberingh. “Antibiotic Usage in Animals: Impact on Bacterial Resistance and Public Health.” Drugs. 58: (1999) 589-607.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License