At the hearing on revising the General Water Pollution Control Permit for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations before the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association and the South Dakota Pork Producers Council blocked expert testimony on the impact of feedlot manure runoff on antibiotic resistance.
The livestock producers’ lawyers argued that DENR does not regulate antibiotic use at CAFOs. Hearing officer Catherine Duenwald agreed:
Duenwald spoke next. She said the state department doesn’t test for antibiotics in water at CAFOs.
“And it is irrelevant to the CAFO permit,” Duenwald said.
Sutton objected. Duenwald ruled, “Testimony is limited.” She allowed Kelley to testify generally about his concerns.
Kelley said CAFOs “very much” contribute to antibiotic resistance.
Duenwald said testimony about antibiotics in the water would be disregarded.
“That is beyond the scope of this hearing,” Duenwald said [Bob Mercer, “Lawyers Fight About Whether Manure Is Health Threat,” Aberdeen American News, 2016.09.28].
Among DRA’s pre-filed and, alas, doomed exhibits is a report from the Centers for Disease Control saying antibiotic use in livestock production is most definitely in the scope of the problem of antibiotic resistance:
The use of antibiotics is the single most important factor leading to antibiotic resistance around the world. Antibiotics are among the most commonly prescribed drugs used in human medicine. However, up to 50% of all the antibiotics prescribed for people are not needed or are not optimally effective as prescribed. Antibiotics are also commonly used in food animals to prevent, control, and treat disease, and to promote the growth of food-producing animals. The use of antibiotics for promoting growth is not necessary, and the practice should be phased out. Recent guidance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) describes a pathway toward this goal. It is difficult to directly compare the amount of drugs used in food animals with the amount used in humans, but there is evidence that more antibiotics are used in food production [Centers for Disease Control, Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2013, p. 11, included in Dakota Rural Action pre-hearing disclosure, 2016.08.29].
The feds (and McDonald’s!) launched anti-antibiotic resistance measures in April 2015.
The pork producers’ lawyer said there aren’t “any clearly objective scientific standards” related to CAFO-poop-induced antibiotic resistance. But there’s certainly science on the subject:
“We found a clear link between antibiotic resistant genes in soil and manure spreading. It’s quite unique,” says co-author Professor Bent Christensen from the Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University, Denmark. Christensen manages the Danish soil archive project—the so-called ‘Askov Long-Term Experiment’—which was used in the study.
The discovery is published in the scientific journal Nature Scientific Reports [Anne Ringgaard, “Manure Can Spread Antibiotic Resistance,” ScienceNordic, 2016.03.10].
But hey, we wouldn’t want DENR looking at that big scientific picture, especially not when it could call into question the practices an impending Republican gubernatorial candidate’s favorite big industry.