[Pharmwaste] administration seeks to restrict antibiotics in livestock - article

Tenace, Laurie Laurie.Tenace at dep.state.fl.us
Tue Jul 14 08:30:09 EDT 2009

Administration Seeks to Restrict Antibiotics in Livestock 
Published: July 13, 2009 
WASHINGTON - The Obama administration announced Monday that it would seek to
ban many routine uses of antibiotics in farm animals in hopes of reducing the
spread of dangerous bacteria in humans.

In written testimony to the House Rules Committee, Dr. Joshua Sharfstein,
principal deputy commissioner of food and drugs, said feeding antibiotics to
healthy chickens, pigs and cattle - done to encourage rapid growth - should
cease. And Dr. Sharfstein said farmers should no longer be able to use
antibiotics in animals without the supervision of a veterinarian.

Both practices lead to the development of bacteria that are immune to many
treatments, he said. 

The hearing was held to discuss a measure proposed by Representative Louise
M. Slaughter, Democrat of New York and chairwoman of the Rules Committee. It
would ban seven classes of antibiotics important to human health from being
used in animals, and would restrict other antibiotics to therapeutic and some
preventive uses. 

The legislation is supported by the American Medical Association, among other
groups, but opposed by farm organizations like the National Pork Producers
Council. The farm lobby's opposition makes its passage unlikely, but
advocates are hoping to include the measure in the legislation to revamp the
health care system.

The Union of Concerned Scientists has estimated that as much as 70 percent of
antibiotics used in the United States is given to healthy chickens, pigs and
cattle to encourage their growth or to prevent illnesses.

The use of antibiotics for "purposes other than for the advancement of animal
or human health should not be considered judicious use," Dr. Sharfstein said
in his written testimony. "Eliminating these uses will not compromise the
safety of food."

Much of Dr. Sharfstein's testimony summarized information that has been
widely accepted for years by medical groups. But many farm organizations
dispute such claims.

"There are no good studies that show that some of these antibiotic-resistant
diseases - and it seems like we're seeing more of them - have any link to
antibiotic use in food-animal production," said Dave Warner, a spokesman for
the pork producers' group.

Robert Martin, a senior officer at the Pew Environment Group, which has paid
for an advertising campaign to support the measure, said the prospects for
the measure's passage were improving.

"Just the fact that Congresswoman Slaughter is having a hearing today is a
huge step forward," Mr. Martin said. 

Laurie Tenace
Environmental Specialist
Waste Reduction Section
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
2600 Blair Stone Rd., MS 4555
Tallahassee FL 32399-2400
P: 850.245.8759
F: 850.245.8811
Laurie.Tenace at dep.state.fl.us 

Mercury: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/waste/categories/mercury/default.htm 

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