Antibiotic Resistance Due to Modern Agricultural Practices: An Ethical Perspective
- 1.1k Downloads
The use of subtherapeutic doses of antibiotics in food-producing animals has been linked to antibiotic resistant infections in humans. Although this practice has been banned in Europe, the U.S. regulatory authorities have been slow to act. This paper discusses the regulatory hurdles and ethical dilemmas of banning this practice within the context of the risk analysis model (risk assessment, risk management, and risk communication). Specific issues include unethical use of scientific uncertainty during the risk assessment phase, the rejection of the precautionary principle leading to ineffective risk management, and the criticality of risk communication to build consensus and force action. The underlying root cause is a conflict of values (Type I ethical problem) among key stakeholders, which is examined in depth along with an ethical analysis using public health ethical values.
KeywordsAntibiotic resistance Feeding of antibiotics to farm animals Growth promotion agents Risk management Ethical analysis Type I and type II errors
I would like to acknowledge Freda Patterson, PhD., Assistant Professor of Public Health at Temple University for her guidance in the writing of this manuscript and to thank the anonymous reviewers of an earlier version of this paper for their helpful comments.
- Botti, C., et al. (2004). In M. Matuzzi & J. Tickner (Eds.), The precautionary principle: Protecting public health, the environment and the future of our children. Copenhagen: World Health Organization.Google Scholar
- Callaway, T. R., Anderson, R. C., Edrington, T. S., Elder, R. O., Genovese, K. J., Bischoff, K. M., & Nisbet, D. J. (2003). Preslaughter intervention strategies to reduce food-borne pathogens in food animals. Journal of Animal Science 81(14, Suppl 2), E17–E23.Google Scholar
- Couric, K. (2010). Antibiotic overuse hurting humans? Retrieved 11/27, 2010, from http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/02/09/eveningnews/main6191530.shtml.
- Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. (1979). The Belmont report: Ethical principles and guidelines for the protection of human subjects of research. Washington, D.C.: OPRR Reports.Google Scholar
- Environmental Defense Fund. (2009). McDonalds—antibiotics. No more playing chicken with antibiotics. Retrieved 11/27, 2010, from http://www.edf.org/page.cfm?tagID=2039.
- European Commission Health and Consumer Protection Directorate General. (1999). Opinion of the scientific steering committee on antimicrobial resistance. Google Scholar
- FAO/OIE/WHO. (2004). Second joint FAO/OIE/WHO expert workshop on non-human antimicrobial usante and antimicrobial resistance: Management options.FAO/OIE/WHO.Google Scholar
- Gallagher, J. (2009). Study: Antibiotics problems cost U.S. between $17B and $26B a year. Triangle Business Journal. Retrieved 8/15, 2011 from http://www.bizjournals.com/triangle/stories/2009/10/19/daily4.html
- Hill, A. B. (1965). The environment and disease: Association or causation? Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, 58, 295–300.Google Scholar
- Joint FAO/OIE/WHO Consultation. (1997). Risk management and food safety, report of a joint FAO/WHO consultation, Rome, Italy, 27 to 31 January 1997. (FAO food and nutrition paper no. 65). Rome: FAO.Google Scholar
- Joint FAO/OIE/WHO Expert Workshop. (2003). Non-human antimicrobial usage and antimicrobial resistance: Scientific assessment. FAO/OIE/WHO.Google Scholar
- Khachatourians, G. (1998). Agricultural use of antibiotics and the evolution and transfer of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 159, 1129–1136.Google Scholar
- Levy, S. (2010). Comment docket no. FDA-2010-D-0094. Retrieved 08/15, 2011, from http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FDA-2010-D-0094-0438.
- National Academy of Sciences. (1980). The effects on human health of subtherapeutic use of antimicrobial drugs in animal feeds. Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences.Google Scholar
- National Grain and Feed Association. (2010). Docket no. FDA-2010-D-0094 - draft guidance #209: The judicious use of medically important antimicrobial drugs in food-producing animals; availability. Retrieved 08/15, 2011, from http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FDA-2010-D-0094-0455.
- National Pork Producers Council. (2010). Where’s science behind FDA antibiotics ‘Guidance’? Retrieved 11/22, 2010, from http://www.nppc.org/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=25859.
- National Research Council. (1999). The use of drugs in food animals—benefits and risks. National Research Council.Google Scholar
- Neiwold, T. A. (2007). The nonantibiotic anti-inflammatory effect of antimicrobial growth promoters, the real mode of action. A hypothesis. Poultry Science, 86(4), 605.Google Scholar
- Paine, L., Deshpandé, R., Margolis, J. D., & Bettcher, K. E. (2005). Up to code. Harvard Business Review, 83(12), 122–133.Google Scholar
- Public Health Leadership Society. (2002). Principles of ethical practice of public health. Retrieved 11/27, 2010, from http://www.apha.org/NR/rdonlyres/1CED3CEA-287E-4185-9CBD-BD405FC60856/0/ethicsbrochure.pdf.
- Sayre, L. (2009). The hidden link between factory farms and human illness. Mother Earth News, 232, 76–83.Google Scholar
- Sperling, D. (2010). Food law, ethics, and food safety regulation: Roles, justifications, and expected limits. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 23, 267–278Google Scholar
- Swann, M., Baxter, K., & Field, H. (1969). Report of the joint committee on the use of antibiotics in animal husbandry and veterinary medicine. United Kingdom: HMSO.Google Scholar
- Union of Concerned Scientist. (2008) Hogging it!: Estimates of antimicrobial abuse in livestock. Retrieved December 15, 2008, from http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agriculture/solutions/wise_antibiotics/.
- United States Government Accountability Office (GAO). (2004). Antibiotic resistance: Federal agencies need to better focus efforts to address risks to humans from antibiotic use in animals. Washington, DC: United States Government Accountability Office (GAO).Google Scholar
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration Center for Veterinary Medicine. (2010). The judicious use of medically important antimicrobial drugs in food-producing animals. draft guidance. No. 209). Washington, DC: US Government.Google Scholar
- Vose, D., Acar, J., Anthony, F., Franklin, A., Gupta, R., Nicholls, T., Tamura, Y., Thompson, S. Threlfall, E. J., van Vuuren, M., White, D. G., Wegener, H. C., & Costarrica, M. L. (2001). Antimicrobial resistance: Risk analysis methodology for the potential impact on public health of antimicrobial resistant bacteria of animal origin. Revue Scientifique Et Technique De l Office International Des Epizooties, 20(3), 811–827.Google Scholar
- World Health Organization. (2003). Impacts of antimicrobial growth promoter termination in Denmark: The WHO international review panel’s evaluation of the termination of the use of antimicrobial growth promoters in Denmark. Paper presented at the Impacts of Antimicrobial Growth Promoter Termination in Denmark: The WHO International Review Panel’s Evalutation of the Termination of the use of Antimicrobial Growth Promoters in Denmark, Foulum, Denmark. Retrieved from http://whqlibdoc.who.int/hq/2003/WHO_CDS_CPE_ZFK_2003.1.pdf.