The squandering of life-saving antibiotics is one example of a bigger trend hijacking global politics. Small groups of rich people, determined to maximize profits, are buying or bamboozling politicians into serving their interests and into ignoring ours.
Why should parents take more chances of their children getting sick because we are squandering their best medicines to fatten animals faster? Is this really what Montanans elected their sole congressman to do?
Force-feeding prescription drugs to healthy people, just to make them grow faster, would be considered ludicrous by any doctor. Possibly even criminal. But the FDA allows factory farms to essentially to just that.
Knowing Secretary Tom Vilsack's passion for helping the people who live in rural communities, there is no larger issue for him to focus his attention on than protecting those communities from antibiotic-resistant bacteria sourced from food animals.
It's hard to shock me, but when I read the report on Friday that almost half of the meat and poultry we're buying at our local grocery stores is contaminated with Staph bacteria, I had to let out a scream of frustration.
Maybe now the average American consumer will finally take note, and demand that Congress do something. Candidate Obama ran in support of an antibiotic ban in 2008, but has done little to advance the cause since then.
Most of our "medically important" antibiotics, like penicillins, tetracyclines and erythromycins, are used in animals, not people. And, nearly all of these are routine uses are in feed for animals that are not clinically sick.
Pig producers who sell meat to Russia must wean their animals off antibiotics at least two weeks prior to slaughter. Japan requires a four-week flush-out period. This begs the question, what do the Russians and Japanese know about meat that we don't?
The antibiotic rejecters generally understand the concepts of inappropriate antibiotic use and resistance, but their rationale isn't completely right either. This group will do anything possible to avoid the use of antibiotics.