Writes to her about rampant antibiotic misuse in the poultry sector and need for caution by a celebrity while endorsing a claim having public health significance
New Delhi, March 6, 2018: Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has written a letter to Indian tennis star Sania Mirza regarding her association with an advertorial issued by the All India Poultry Development and Services Private Limited (AIPDSPL), featured on the front page of the Times of India, New Delhi edition, on February 27, 2018. Recognising her achievements, the CSE letter expresses disappointment at her association with this false and misleading advertorial.
“You are an icon for the youth of India. Millions of young women and men aspire to emulate your success. They are influenced by your actions and messages. Having said this, we are deeply disappointed that you have associated yourself with a blatantly false and misleading advertorial,” reads the letter sent to her by Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general, CSE.
Apprising her of the current malpractice of antibiotic misuse in the poultry sector, the letter clearly explains how the claim in the advertorial − that the Indian poultry industry is using antibiotics only for treatment of chicken (therapeutic use) and that there is no misuse of antibiotics by this sector – is false, misleading and libelous.
“We have informed her that CSE’s study of 2014, which had found that banned, critical and highly prescribed antibiotics are being misused by the poultry industry, is misrepresented and CSE’s study of 2017, which drove home the point that antibiotic misuse is turning poultry farms into breeding grounds of super-bugs has been conveniently ignored,” said Bhushan.
“We have elaborated on the fact that antibiotics are rampantly misused in India by the poultry industry as a growth promoter to fatten chicken in less time and routinely given in the name of disease prevention even in the absence of clinical signs. CSE has consistently brought this fact to public attention through extensive studies conducted over the last several years,” said Amit Khurana, senior programme manager, food safety and toxins team, CSE.
The letter informs Sania Mirza that how on one hand nations across the world are addressing the public health crisis of antibiotic resistance, and on the other, the Indian poultry sector continues to use last-resort antibiotics like Colistin. It also mentions that companies like Venky’s have been recently indicted for selling Colistin to poultry farms.
The letter points out: “The advertorial is aimed at benefiting the advertising association and the poultry industry by misguiding the people of this country. The advertorial is a clear indication that the poultry companies, represented by AIPDSPL, are not serious to tackle the problem of antibiotic misuse. Instead it is denying the problem and hindering serious action towards this public health crisis of antibiotic resistance.”
Emphasizing on the impact of an endorsement by a known celebrity like her, CSE has urged her to publically disassociate herself from this advertorial of AIPDSPL. “As a celebrity, what she endorses has a huge impact on choices that people make. We have mentioned about the need to exercise greater caution and be more sensitized and responsible towards products, claims and ideas that she choose to endorse, specifically if they have public health significance. We have urged her to publicly disassociate herself from this advertorial,” said Bhushan.
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