Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Food Safety - Human Health

"Successful implementation of this policy means that medically important antibiotics will only be used in food animals under the direction of a veterinarian when there is a specific disease challenge. [To] align to the extent possible] with recent American moves to curb use of growth promoters and increase veterinary oversight in the use of antimicrobials."
Canadian Animal Health Institute
The alarming spread of superbug growth as viral agents and other pathogens do what nature has designed them to do -- just as she has designed all of her living organisms -- survive represents an emergency. These malignant agents of disease alter themselves in response to the various types of successful antibiotics used to defeat their presence, in the tension between science achieving formula-driven methods to destroy them before they destroy us.

In the process, those bacteria most resistance to the antibiotics used to destroy them, alter their DNA structure and multiply madly. Medical and food science are closely aligned in this concern over tampering with the food source to increase yields, defeat the pathogens that prey on livestock through a regimen of pro-action, using antiobiotic growth promoters in animal feed to forestall the potential of illness and to promote growth acceleration, through "mass medication" of chickens, pigs and cattle.

Canadian drug producers have agreed with Health Canada to take active participation in a move "to phase out uses of medically important antibiotics for growth promotion", an proposal that will take a three-year period to entirely put into action. As the U.S. and countries in the European Union take steps to curb agribusiness antibiotic use in an effort to stall the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria making their presence in hospitals, on farms and at meat counters, Canada has recognized the imperative to join them.

Years ago, concerned health scientists, confronted with the growing phenomena of bacterial infections becoming resistant to normally useful antibiotics, began to point a finger of blame on the constant use of anti-bacterial chemicals in cleaning formulae, where cleaning fluids from hygienic products, hand-washing liquids to hospital- and kitchen-cleaning soaps were advertised as "anti-biotic". Those products swept the market, and, it was claimed had led the way to the biological response of super-resistance in bacteria.

Now, health officials finally state their considered opinion that the constant use of antibiotics require more control. Both in health care and hygiene and cleaning products and in agriculture use, reflecting the drugs' capability of influencing bacteria to transform genetically into resistant strains that have become increasingly difficult to destroy. "This could be a seismic shift", commented John Prescott, a veterinarian at the University of Guelph.

He had himself co-chaired a committee comprised of leading Canadian agricultural experts and veterinarians, submitting a report that had given Canada failing grades for not having exercised better monitoring techniques in the use and control of antibiotics in agriculture. The current monitoring system is cited for having too many gaps in its capacity for oversight. Even the number of antimicrobials currently in use in Canada is not adequately tracked, nor their number known.

"In Canada, more than three-quarters of antimicrobials are used in animals", stated a report issued in the fall by Dr. David Butler-Jones, the country's chief public health officer. Roughly 90 percent of the medication used on farms is for the promotion of growth, or to guard against disease and infection in animals that are confined in crowded pens and stalls. Dr. Butler-Jones's report raised practical as well as humanitarian objections to such practises.

About 1.6-million kilograms of antibiotics (1,600 metric tonnes) are sold and distributed each year in Canada by companies licensed to manufacture and distribute pharmaceuticals for animal use. A practise seen to benefit growers in producing market-ready products more expeditiously, the increased use of antibiotics ensuring that health impacts from infections are kept to a minimum, while the effect in the round, on a larger, extended scale, has made human health outcomes far more problematical.

It represents an obvious instance of primary food producers falling prey to an industry's claims of improving agricultural and animal husbandry practices for the benefit of the producers, vastly enhancing however, the bottom line of the pharmaceutical corporations whose business expands in lock step with the growth in antibiotic use. It's past time for health practitioners to be influential enough in their findings and the urgency of combating the emergency that growth bacterial resistance represents, to spur government to action.

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