Newswise — Agricultural antibiotics are responsible for roughly 20 percent of resistant infections in humans according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, its urgency as a public health concern has been understated. Martin Makary, M.D., M.P.H., a professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, insists that doctors start leading the way for antibiotic-free foods in the same way they advocate for smoking cessation.

“Multi-resistant bacteria represent one of the greatest public health threats in the world,” says Makary, the lead author of a new commentary calling for physician-led advocacy published yesterday in the Journal of Antibiotics.

While there is public awareness of the roles drug overuse and misuse play in antimicrobial resistance, Makary argues that most antibiotics manufactured are used in agriculture and the role of routine antibiotic use in animal agriculture is often overlooked.

The consequences of widespread use of antibiotics in agriculture have led to increased infection resistance in humans, turning once easily-treatable illnesses into long-term infections, and sometimes even mortal threats. 

Physicians, Makary believes, are uniquely equipped to advocate for the end of routine antibiotic use in animals, and educate patients of the benefits of antibiotic-free, USDA-certified organic foods.

Makary is available for media interviews.