Pew Pushes Congress to End Overuse of Antibiotics

US - Pew is urging Congress to end the overuse of antibiotics in food animal production.
calendar icon 15 July 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

Laura Rogers, project director of the Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming, issued the following statement on 14 July on a US House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Health hearing, 'Antibiotic Resistance And The Use Of Antibiotics In Animal Agriculture'.

"Today's hearing is an opportunity for Congress to advance a science-based, common-sense solution to end the overuse of antibiotics in meat production.

"Currently, up to 70 per cent of all antibiotics sold in the United States are given to healthy food animals on industrial farms. These animals are fed antibiotics to promote growth and compensate for the effects of overcrowding and unsanitary conditions. Yet four decades of rigorous science and research confirms that this practice promotes the development of dangerous drug-resistant bacteria that can spread to humans.

"For too long, policy makers have ignored warnings that bacteria are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics. In the meantime, more and more Americans are dying from infections that will not respond to these vital drugs.

"In July 2009, leadership at the FDA made a commitment to curtail routine use of antibiotics in food animal production. Nearly a year later, the agency issued draft voluntary guidelines containing a potential loophole that could result in minimal reductions of antibiotic use on industrial farms. However, the FDA's acknowledgment that it is inappropriate to use antibiotics for growth promotion is a welcome first step.

"Right now, Congress has a solution to control the risks associated with antibiotic use by animal agriculture. Lawmakers should swiftly enact the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA, H.R. 1549, S. 619), a bill that would phase out the routine use of medically important antibiotics in healthy food animals unless manufacturers can prove reasonable certainty of no danger to human health from resistance. The bill has garnered support from 113 members of the House of Representatives and 17 Senators.

"It is time for Congress to stop the inappropriate use of antibiotics for promoting the growth of healthy food animals."

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