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Antibiotic use in animal production

July 27, 2010

Antibiotics have been used in industrial animal production for over fifty years. Recommendations to reduce or eliminate the use of antibiotics in animal feed have been made repeatedly over the last thirty years. The widespread use of antibiotics to accelerate growth among livestock and to compensate for the unhealthy conditions found in confined animal feeding operations (CAFO) has led to an increase in antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria.

The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act H.R. 1549/S. 619 means to limit the use of antibiotics in food animals. The latest version of this bill was introduced last year by Rep. Louise Slaughter. Earlier this month, the third and final Congressional Hearing was held on antibiotic resistance. Dr. John Clifford, Deputy Administrator for Veterinary Services for the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) stated in his testimony that it is likely that the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture does lead to some cases of resistance in both humans and animals. The FDA has recently stated that using antibiotics for animal production purposes is not in the interest of protecting and promoting public health.

The FDA’s approach to Antibiotic Regulation is explained here by the Union of Concerned Scientists. While the Center for a Livable Future submitted a written statement to the House Committee in which to make recommendations for Congressional action. CBS evening news recently reported on this issue, included are clips from the Congressional Hearing. Katie Couric reports that the FDA, CDC, and the Department of Agriculture are all now urging farmers to stop the feeding of antibiotics to healthy livestock.

It is estimated that food animals consume almost 70% of the antibiotics administered in the United States–almost 25 million pounds per year. PAMTA would ban the non therapeutic agricultural use of antibiotics that are particularly beneficial to treating human illnesses. Over 300 health, consumer, and environmental organizations nationwide support the passage of this bill.

PAMTA is pending in Congress.

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