Antibiotic abuse in the farming industry has become a widespread problem. Now, this weekend, California is poised to be the first state to severely restrict the use of antibiotics for livestock if Gov. Jerry Brown signs new legislation into law.
The legislation would require farmers to obtain prescriptions for antibiotic medication. Right now, that medication is often used by farmers to promote weight gain in animals, whether or not they’re sick. But the practice has been blamed for the rise of antibiotic resistance.
This can be particularly dangerous because animals develop resistance and are then more likely to be infected by bacteria like E. coli and can pass it along to humans. The CDC estimates that more than 2 million Americans get infections that are resistant to antibiotics and antibiotic resistance results in about 23,000 deaths each year.
Consumers Union estimates that an alarming 70 percent of human antibiotics are given to livestock in the U.S.
A step in the right direction
Already, some major food companies like Tyson, Costco and McDonald’s have announced that they’ll phase out meat raised with antibiotics. But this would be the first time that a state would mandate such strict regulations. If the legislation passes, it’s expected to have a major impact on other states and food manufacturers.
If you’re interested in learning more, you can read the whole bill here.