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Trump administration resists WHO efforts to tackle antimicrobial resistance

Published on 31/08/18 at 10:25am
Image Credit: Gage Skidmore

The Trump administration is in the process of drafting an alternative to the World Health Organization’s guidelines on the use of antimicrobial drugs in food producing animals. In resisting the WHO guidelines, which are intended to combat antimicrobial resistance, the move seems to benefit agribusiness.

The WHO guidelines, released in November, recommend that fewer antimicrobial drugs be given to food producing animals and call for the restriction of the use of all medically important antimicrobial drugs in livestock.

However the US Agriculture Department criticised the guidelines while suggesting that they were unscientific. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, the Agriculture Department’s acting Chief Scientist, who has a PhD in paper science from North Carolina State University commented, “The WHO guidelines are not in alignment with U.S. policy and are not supported by sound science,” shortly after the guidelines were released.

However David Wallinga, a member of the council who drafted the guidelines suggested that the Agriculture Department had “basically thumbed its nose at one of the most careful, scientifically respected bodies in the world”.

He added that the Department’s reaction “wasn’t a complete surprise from an administration that consistently puts the profits and interest of powerful industries, like the meat and pharmaceutical industries, over the health of the American people.”

Meanwhile agribusiness companies contributed $4.6 million towards Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. That amount was twice the sum that was given to Trump’s rival Hillary Clinton by the same organisations. Furthermore the global animal antimicrobial market is set to reach $4.7 billion by 2021. As such, critics have condemned the move as a cynical ploy to protect economic interests in the United States.

Louis Goss

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