Pew Comments on Proposed Antibiotics Legislation
WASHINGTON — Laura Rogers, project director for the Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming, issued the following statement on the Delivering Antibiotic Transparency in Animals (DATA) Act.
"It is vital that we have antibiotics available to treat sick people as well as sick farm animals. Unfortunately, these drugs are misused every day just to make animals grow faster and to compensate for unsanitary and overcrowded conditions. These practices are breeding drug-resistant ‘superbugs’ that can cause infection, illness and even death.
"Government data show that nearly 30 million pounds of antibiotics are sold for use on industrial farms every year — four times the amount used to combat human illness. But that is about all the data show.
"This newly proposed legislation would make available more detailed, useful information on antibiotics. For example, it would require drug companies and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to report antibiotic sales and distribution data for poultry and livestock by species, intended use and dosage form. The bill would also require feed mills to report how and why they mix antibiotics into their products, which is particularly important since 75 percent of the antibiotics given to food animals are administered in feed, often for reasons other than treating disease.
"In April, the FDA issued draft voluntary guidance to limit the overuse and misuse of antibiotics. Rep. Henry Waxman’s (D-CA) proposed legislation would enable the FDA and the public to verify whether the agency’s efforts are actually working."
Background: Hundreds of scientific studies conducted over four decades demonstrate that feeding low doses of antibiotics to livestock breeds antibiotic-resistant superbugs that can infect people. The FDA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention all testified before Congress that there is a definitive link between the routine, non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in food animal production and the challenge of antibiotic resistance in humans.
The Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming is working to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics by phasing out the overuse and misuse of drugs in food animal production. We work with public health and food industry leaders, veterinarians, agricultural interests, academics and citizen groups who share our objective of protecting human and animal health.
Surveys of the animal production industry by the U.S. Department of Agriculture demonstrate that many farms and ranches administer antibiotics to healthy animals at low doses to offset overcrowding and poor sanitation and to accelerate livestock growth—practices that the medical and public health communities document as a significant factor in human antibiotic resistance. In 2013, FDA took steps to address these concerns.
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