California has adopted very strict limits on the use of antibiotics on livestock, demanding farmers to stop using these drugs on healthy livestock in order to prevent illness or increase the speed of growth.
Considering excessive use of antibiotics is a serious and “public health problem,” Governor Jerry Brown signed the legislation (SB 27) which is supposed to stop excessive use of antibiotics on healthy livestock.
The reason for signing this bill is to prevent the overuse of medicines which can increase animal and human resistance to them, which can result in the spread of harmful infections which would be resistant to antibiotics.
In his statement to the press, Brown said “The science is clear that the overuse of antibiotics in livestock has contributed to the spread of antibiotic resistance and the undermining of decades of life-saving advances in medicine.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agree that antibiotic resistance is one of the most serious problems humans face today, as almost 23,000 Americans die every year of infections they cannot fight off due to antibiotic resistance.
Many farmers today use antibiotics to promote livestock growth. It has been scientifically proven that frequently giving livestock low doses of antibiotics can increase muscle growth and help the body absorb more calories from food. But the more antibiotics are used, the higher the resistance to them and the lower their effectiveness against illnesses.
This means that illnesses that were once treatable can become almost impossible to treat due to antibiotic resistance and ineffectiveness.
A senior scientist at Consumers Union, Michael Hanson, said that many companies have agreed to stop using antibiotics to promote growth in their animals and that California is the first state to pass such a strong bill. The bill, however, allows the use of antibiotics in case a licensed veterinarian diagnoses an infection that needs to be treated with these drugs.
This law will take effect in 2018, and from then on livestock antibiotics will not be available for over-the-counter sales.
California has made an enormous step towards preserving the health of animals as well as humans by forbidding unnecessary use of antibiotics. But until other states do the same, American consumers are still in danger of consuming too much antibiotics and being unable to fight off diseases due to antibiotic resistance.
Hopefully, the rest of America will follow California’s footsteps.