July 17, 2010

CBS Airs Follow-up Report on Antibiotic Use and Congressional Hearing

Chris Stevens

Chris Stevens

Communications Director

Center for a Livable Future

screen-shot-2010-07-17-at-102919-amThe CBS Evening News with Katie Couric aired yet another report last night detailing the risks associated with feeding antibiotics to farm animals. The report is a follow-up to a series aired in February and reported on here in the LivableFutureBlog.  In last night’s report, Couric covers Wedneday’s Congressional hearing held to determine whether or not the feeding of antibiotics to healthy farm animals could pose a significant health risk to humans. This was the third, and final, Congressional hearing on antibiotic resistance. At the hearing of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, a representative of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) finally caught up with the rest of the world—and his peers at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—and admitted that the use of antibiotics in farm animal feed is contributing to the growing problem of deadly antibiotic resistance in America.Dr. John Clifford, Deputy Administrator for Veterinary Services for the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) read from his previously submitted testimony that the USDA believes it is likely that U.S. use of antibiotics in animal agriculture does lead to some cases of resistance in humans and the animals.

The Center for a Livable Future submitted a written statement to the House Committee. “The Food & Drug Administration recently released a draft “guidance document” that reviewed the evidence linking antimicrobial resistance to food animal production,” Dr. Robert S. Lawrence, Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future wrote. ” FDA concludes, ‘Using medically important antimicrobial drugs for production purposes is not in the interest of protecting and promoting public health.’ FDA clearly supports the conclusions of public health researchers discussed here, and has begun taking action in response to antimicrobial resistance accelerated by animal agriculture. No scientific debate exists on these issues–only political questions remain.

“I commend members for their leadership on this topic, and urge further action to fully prohibit using antimicrobial drugs for growth promotion and prophylaxis. Preserving the efficacy of antimicrobials in human medicine require immediate action, and I urge Congress to move quickly in taking steps to protect the public’s health.”

As reported previously in the LivableFutureBlog, a bill to limit the use of antibiotics–H.R. 1549, Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act–is awaiting committee action.

Many other influential media outlets are giving the issue of antibiotics in animal feed significant coverage. A recent article in DesMoinesRegister.com, “Antibiotics in livestock affects humans, USDA testifies,” notes the “Agriculture Department, which livestock producers have traditionally relied on to advocated for their interests, backed the idea of a link between animal use of antibiotics and human health.”

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