Here are just a few facts drawn from the column:
- Drug-resistant infections killed more than 65,000 people in the U.S. last year—more than prostate and breast cancer combined.
- 70% of the antibiotics used in the U.S. last year—28 million pounds—went to pigs, chickens, and cows, which in turn creates a perfect breeding ground for antibiotic-resistant super germs.
- Many of these antibiotics are routinely added to the feed of healthy animals to promote rapid weight gain.
- The FDA, the CDC, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have all declared drug-resistant diseases stemming from antibiotic use in animals a "serious emerging concern."
- The problem is not new. In the 1970s, the FDA proposed a ban on penicillin and tetracycline in animal feed, but the proposal was defeated after criticism from interest groups.
- In 2008, the FDA issued its second limit on the use of cephalosporins in cows, pigs, and chickens, citing the importance of cephalosporin drugs for treating disease in humans. But the Bush Administration reversed that decision five days before it was going to take effect after receiving several hundred letters from drug companies and farm animal trade groups.