With federal action unlikely, it’s up to the states to stop the overuse of our life-saving medicines on factory farms.

Antibiotics are a miracle of modern medicine. Unfortunately, experts are sounding the alarm that, unless we take action, they could stop working.

Livestock producers are routinely giving antibiotics to animals to make them grow faster or help them survive crowded, stressful and unsanitary conditions. Overusing these drugs—in humans or animals—breeds bacteria resistant to antibiotics, threatening the future effectiveness of these medicines, and putting our health at risk. Every year, at least 2 million people get sick, and 23,000 die from antibiotic-resistant infections.

Given the stakes, we shouldn’t allow even one large-scale farming operation to overuse antibiotics in this way. And yet approximately 70 percent of medically important antibiotics sold in the U.S. are intended for use in livestock and poultry.

Antibiotics Program Director Matt Wellington (center left) and U.S. PIRG field staff educated the public.
Austin Donohue

Our Strategy

We’re in a unique position to lead this effort. Our network's researchers and staff in 25 states are committed to protecting public health. We helped use market-based pressure to get McDonald’s, Subway and KFC to phase medically important antibiotics out of their meat supply chains, starting with chicken.

We know how to bring together people from all political perspectives and all walks of life, including more than 40,000 medical professionals who signed on in support of our efforts to Save Our Antibiotics.

Organizing Medical Professionals

Already, opposition in the states is mounting. Some companies are running misleading TV ads, while others are sending industry lobbyists to persuade state and local decision-makers that these changes are unnecessary, will be too hard, or will cost too much.

To ensure our state leaders understand the grave public health consequences of antibiotic resistance, we created the Health Professional Action Network. Health professionals are on the front lines of this problem, seeing patients with infections that were once easily treatable turn into dangerous and sometimes deadly illnesses.

That’s why more than 40,000 of them have signed onto our efforts to stop the overuse of antibiotics. We have a group of physicians and health experts who are trained and ready to be our voice in the media and elsewhere to counter misleading claims or advocate for new solutions.

Top photo: branislavpudar / Shutterstock.com