Stop Antibiotic Abuse on Factory Farms

Factory farms use 70 percent of antibiotics in the United States, not for sick people and animals, but for healthy pigs, chickens and beef cattle. Why? The agricultural industry says it helps the animals grow to market weight more quickly. Antibiotics also compensate for the crowded, filthy conditions in which the animals live.

But this indiscriminate overuse of antibiotics creates virulent "super bugs" -- bacteria that are no longer susceptible to treatment by commonly used drugs. These bugs endanger the health of animals and humans, who can contract serious diseases through handling the animals and eating meat.

A University of Iowa study found antibiotic-resistant MRSA, a potentially fatal infection, in three-fourths of the hogs in Iowa and western Illinois, and two-thirds of the farm workers who handled them. Illnesses caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria can be extremely difficult to treat and kill 70,000 Americans every year.

The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment bill now before Congress would stop some of the most atrocious drug abuse on farms. Urge your members of Congress to protect human and animal health by supporting this crucial legislation.
Dear [Decision Maker]

I am writing to urge you to cosponsor the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (H.R. 1549, S. 619).

It is estimated that 70 percent of antibiotics used in the United States each year are used in CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations), added to the feed of animals that are not sick. A mounting body of scientific evidence links this practice to the rise in antibiotic-resistant diseases in humans, including those caused by Salmonella, Campylobacter, and MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). Effective antibiotics are also essential to treatment of sick animals.

Antibiotic resistance means that patients suffer longer illnesses and pay higher medical costs, and doctors are left with a dwindling arsenal of drugs to fight disease. In addition, by misusing antibiotics, CAFOs are squandering these drugs--once hailed as medical miracles--for use by future generations.

I urge you to keep antibiotics working by supporting the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act.
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