News 254 views last update:6 Aug 2012

USA: launch of bill banning antibiotics

Democratic representative Louise Slaughter (NY) has introduced a bill in US Congress that will seek the withdrawal of antibiotics important to human health from use on farms unless animals are sick.

The reintroduction of the bill comes nearly one year after the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production recommended that America reform the way food animals are raised – the bill is known as the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2009 (PAMTA). Several medical experts have agreed that the use of antibiotics in livestock farming contributes to a rise in antibiotic-resistant infections in people. In the EU, for that reason, antibiotic growth promoters have already been banned as from January 1, 2007.

A number of organisations have teamed up to contain the numbers of antibiotics used in animal feed, among which the Pew Campaign, the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization. To learn more, click here.

In a press release, the US National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) said that the legislation introduced in US Congress would be detrimental to the health and well-being of pigs, would increase pork producers’ production costs and the price consumers pay for pork and could jeopardize public health. “This is irresponsible legislation,” said NPPC president Don Butler. “We are committed to maintaining the well-being of our animals, and we need access to a range of animal health products to keep our pigs healthy and, in turn, produce safe food products. This bill will prevent that, and we’ll see more pigs die and higher production costs, and that means consumers will pay more for pork.”

Iowa University
The NPPC press release mentioned an Iowa State University study, conducted by Dr Scott Hurd found that when pigs have been sick during their life, they will have a greater presence of food-safety pathogens on their carcasses. Results in the EU, however, have led to larger usage of curative antibiotics. “Pork producers, under the direction of a veterinarian, have a moral obligation to use antibiotics responsibly to protect human health and provide safe food,” said Jennifer Greiner, DVM, NPPC director of science and technology. “Producers also have an ethical obligation to maintain the health of their pigs, and antibiotics are an important tool to help us do that.”

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