USDA shuns WHO recommendations to curb antibiotic overuse and protect public from superbugs

The World Health Organization released in November a set of guidelines for the livestock industry to rein in its overuse of antibiotics—a widespread practice that hastens the global spread of drug-resistance, helping create dangerous superbugs. Even though the WHO policies are the result of a two-year-long collaboration between experts in infectious diseases, microbiology, and veterinary medicine, real science seldom impresses the Trump administration, which appears to prefer a more agribusiness-friendly alternative. According to a draft obtained by Bloomberg, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is helping a separate international agency, Codex Alimentarius—over which the U.S. exerts greater control—write competing guidelines that support administering antibiotics to healthy animals. Bloomberg reports that the draft also contains a loophole allowing livestock producers to give antibiotics to promote growth, a practice now illegal in the United States. As David Wallinga, a senior health officer at NRDC and a contributor to the WHO guidelines, says, "[The USDA] basically thumbed its nose at one of the most careful, scientifically respected bodies in the world." 

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