OLC responds to Dispatch article, highlights innovative environmental approaches in Ohio

January 15, 2009

Letters to the editor
Lima News Via e-mail (letters@limanews.com)

To the editor:

The recent Lima News editorial based on an interview with Pew Commission executive director Bob Martin had several flaws, which reflect the many inaccuracies contained in the Pew Commission's report on animal agriculture.

As a representative of Ohio's livestock farmers, I am disappointed that this report, which disregarded some of the best scientific articles on livestock farming available from prestigious peer-reviewed journals, continues to get coverage.

The report called for phasing out sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics -- a process used to control bacteria in farm animals before it can harm the animals. Yet, most scientists agree that improper use of antibiotics in human medicine is the greatest contributing factor in the formation of resistant bacteria that can affect humans.

Despite the low probability of antibiotic-resistant bacteria developing in animals as a direct result of antibiotic use, the FDA and USDA, along with the veterinary community, animal health companies, farm organizations and other stakeholders have established several layers of human health protections during the past decade to further reduce risks associated with antibiotic use in animals. These measures include more stringent approval processes for animal health products, risk assessments, food safety monitoring, pathogen reduction programs and responsible use guidelines. To overlook these efforts and discount the sound science underway makes for bad public policy.

The use of antibiotics to keep farm animals healthy is a critical issue that deserves serious attention. Appropriate use of antibiotics by veterinarians and livestock farmers is essential to ensure the health and well-being of our animals, as well as for the consumers who purchase Ohio-raised food. To learn more about Ohio's livestock industry and our commitment to safe, affordable food and responsible animal care, visit www.ohiolivestock.org.

Sandy Kuhn
Executive Director
Ohio Livestock Coalition