PISCATAWAY - The New Jersey Public Interest Research Group (NJPIRG) Student Chapter at Rutgers University-New Brunswick hosted a panel discussion featuring two distinguished Rutgers professors and the state director of the Humane Society to discuss antibiotic resistance and what can be done to protect public health. The overuse of antibiotics on industrial farms contributes to the spread of drug-resistant bacteria and pose a threat to public health.
Left to right, Arielle Mizrahi NJPIRG Student Chapters State Board Chair, Brian Hackett NJ State Director of The Humane Society, Prof. T. Patrick Hill Bloustein School of Planning & Public Policy, Rutgers University. Not pictured, Prof. Thoms Montville Rutgers University New Brunswick Professor & Food Microbiologist
Brian Hackett - NJ State Director, The Humane Society of the United States T. Patrick Hill - Assistant Professor, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning & Public Policy, Rutgers University
“We wanted to get individuals from different backgrounds to discuss this issue, as well as educate the public,” said Paisley Payne, NJPIRG Students event coordinator. “Since it is an issue that affects everyone, not just in health and agricultural professions, everyone should be concerned.”
Antibiotic resistant bacteria are a growing threat to public health. Approximately 23,000 Americans die from antibiotic resistant infections every year, and nearly 2 million are infected, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates. Health experts, including the World Health Organization, worry that we could soon live in a world where antibiotics no longer work.
“Antibiotics are the foundation of modern medicine, and without them, we’ll die,” said Thomas J. Montville, during the panel, emphasizing the severity of this issue.
Approximately 70 percent of medically important antibiotics sold in the United States are used on livestock and poultry. These drugs are given to healthy animals that aren’t sick to promote growth, and allow for disease prevention when these animals are kept in unsanitary conditions. This overuse allows for the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria, which can then spread to humans.
While government action on this issue has been slow in the U.S., restaurants themselves have been moving away from routine antibiotic usage. Major restaurants like Subway, McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Starbucks have made commitments to phase out usage of medically necessary antibiotics in response to growing concerns from consumers and the medical community.
“The public is growing increasingly concerned with the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms,” said Arielle Mizrahi, NJPIRG campaign coordinator. “This public concern is pushing companies away from routine antibiotic use, and moving the market away from abusing lifesaving medicines.”