The Power of You
Mountains of hard science demonstrate that it is critical to curb antibiotic overuse on industrial farms, but nothing is quite as convincing as the real-life stories of those living with the consequences of lax regulation. That’s what makes Supermoms Against Superbugs Advocacy Day so important. On Tuesday, April 16, more than 50 moms, dads, and other caregivers with personal and professional connections to antibiotic resistance will come to Washington. They will meet with their members of Congress as well as officials in the Obama administration, including at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, to call for change.
Diana Goodpasture, a grandmother and bus driver for 30 years, will come from Akron, OH, to tell her senators and representative about the serious infection she got after consuming ground turkey tainted with antibiotic-resistant salmonella. Still suffering from a weakened immune system, she says, “I’d much rather not have to tell those in government that we need safe food, but until they act, I’m going to tell my story.”
Cecilia Di Pentima, a pediatrician and specialist in infectious diseases, is traveling from Nashville, TN. She will explain how antibiotic resistance is making it more difficult to treat children with once-routine infections.
Mary Sue Milliken, a mother and award-winning chef from Los Angeles, will explain how seriously she takes her duty to prepare meals for her children and customers alike. In her view, meat and poultry should not only taste good, but should be raised responsibly.
Will and Jenni Harris will tell the story of their family’s 147-year-old farm, White Oak Pastures, in Bluffton, GA. Though the farm adopted the use of antibiotics after World War II to breed calves for industrial beef production, the Harrises decided in 1995 to raise their animals without these drugs because they realized it was the right thing for their animals -- and our health.
In addition to those visiting Washington in person, thousands more who care about their food and health will participate virtually throughout the day, using social media, including Twitter and Facebook, to engage with government officials. We encourage you to join us by using our digital action kit.
Each year, this effort to rein in antibiotic overuse becomes more important. Director-General Margaret Chan of the World Health Organization last year warned that if resistant bacteria render these drugs ineffective, “Things as common as strep throat or a child’s scratched knee could once again kill.” In March, Dr. Thomas Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reported evidence of a new “nightmare bacteria” that was spreading through America’s hospitals.
Antibiotic overuse is the problem, and industrial farming practices are largely contributing to it. According to the FDA, drugmakers sold a record 30 million pounds of antibiotics in 2011 for use in food animal production—four times the amount used to treat sick people. These drugs are often used not to treat sick livestock but are fed to healthy animals to make them grow faster and to compensate for their overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. These practices breed superbugs that end up in our air and water, on our food, and in our bodies. And if they infect us, these bacteria make diseases more difficult and costly to treat—and more likely to cause death.
To address these problems, Supermoms Against Superbugs will urge the FDA and Congress to shine more light on how antibiotics are used on farms and to eliminate the farming practices that put the public’s health at greatest risk. You can learn more about different antibiotics-related policies here.
The American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Health Organization, and dozens of other scientific and medical authorities recognize the threat antibiotic overuse poses and the need for reform. Yet for all their expertise, these organizations cannot succeed in changing policy without people like you whose daily lives are affected by industrial farming practices. Together, we can make the biggest difference.
This blog is a part of MomsRising's Supermoms Against Superbugs Blog Carnival! Please check out other great posts from experts, parents and activists on the front lines in the fight to keep our food healthy and safe.