October 22, 2013

Regarding David Hoffman’s Oct. 22 op-ed , “Waking up to a medical ‘nightmare’ ”:

It should come as no surprise that Americans are ignoring antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Bacteria become resistant through a process of evolution. A large segment of the U.S. population and its political leaders profess that evolution is untrue. How could they support public policy to combat a threat that comes about through a process they deny occurs? If there are elevated death rates because of “nightmare” bacteria, the blame can be laid at the feet of those who deny science.

Nan Marie Astone, Mount Rainier

David Hoffman rightly warns about the threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Scientists have warned about this for years without much impact, and Mr. Hoffman wants President Obama to shake us out of this lethargy. Unfortunately, here’s what will happen if the president tries: We’ll start to see editorials from antibiotic-resistance deniers who will find a couple of scientists to say the whole thing is a hoax. Any legislation to combat the problem will be blocked by those who say it’s a socialist conspiracy. We’ll see lobbying by those who want to continue to give massive amounts of antibiotics to farm animals because it increases their profits. Meanwhile, the bacteria, which don’t subscribe to the U.S. political system, will continue to develop resistance to all existing antibiotics.

It’s unfortunate that we can’t develop rational responses to threats identified and validated by science, such as bacterial resistance and climate change, but it appears that we are not a rational people.

Stephen D. Wolpe, Boyds