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Groups Urge Bennet to Save Antibiotics for People, Not Factory Farms

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Public-health advocates have a message for Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.: It's time to stop pumping antibiotics into factory-farmed animals. Credit: Food and Water Watch
Public-health advocates have a message for Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.: It's time to stop pumping antibiotics into factory-farmed animals. Credit: Food and Water Watch
 By Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO - Producer, Contact
November 18, 2015

DENVER - Public health advocates have a message for Senator Michael Bennet: It's time to stop pumping antibiotics into factory-farmed animals.

Lisa Trope, organizer with the group Food and Water Watch, will join dozens of others Thursday to deliver more than 2,200 petitions with signatures from across Colorado and a letter signed by a coalition of more than 160 health professionals and farmers urging the senator to co-sponsor legislation to keep antibiotics working for people.

"There's been an increase in antibiotic-resistant infections," says Trope. "And a huge contribution to a rise in these infections is because of the overuse of our medicine and antibiotics on factory farms."

Trope points to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studies showing indiscriminate use of antibiotics on food-producing animals could result in what CDC Director Thomas Frieden calls a "post-antibiotic era," where medicines become incapable of stopping infections.

Trope says Bennet has yet to endorse efforts to limit drug use, and powerful agriculture and pharmaceutical lobbies claim the move would result in lower food production and loss of profits.

When Denmark implemented policies more than a decade ago limiting drug use on more than 30 million hogs, Trope says producers saw an increase in profits. She notes when pigs were removed from confinement, they had more piglets.

Trope says if Bennet signs on and the Preventing Antibiotic Resistance Act becomes law, farmers in the U.S. still could give animals antibiotics when they get sick.

"But the current process is that these animals are being given medicine almost every day, or every day, in their feed and in their water and through injection, basically to stay alive in horrific conditions," she says.

Trope says 80 percent of all antibiotics in the U.S. are used on animals. According to the CDC, each year some 2 million Americans contract antibiotic infections, and 23,000 result in death.

The groups handing over the petitions will gather at Bennet's Denver office near Eleventh and Sherman Street at 12:30 p.m. Thursday.

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