Administration seeks to restrict antibiotics in livestock

July 14, 2009

antimicrobialThe 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.

Twenty-five million pounds of antibiotics are fed to American livestock annually. This is about 70% of the total amount of antibiotics produced in the U.S. each year and eight times more than the amount used as human medicine.

Meat producers strongly oppose restrictions on livestock antibiotics and are urging lawmakers to vote against H.R. 1549 and S. 619.



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