Senators, Public Health Groups Ask FDA To Restrict Use of Antibiotics in Animals
A coalition of public health and environmental groups on Thursday petitioned FDA to outlaw the use of seven classes of antibiotics as growth agents in livestock, the Washington Post reports.
Meanwhile, Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) reintroduced a bill that similarly would restrict animal antibiotics. Proponents of the measure said "widespread use of the antibiotics on farms is jeopardizing the effectiveness of closely related antibiotics used to treat human disease," the Post reports.
The petition -- filed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Environmental Defense, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the American Public Health Association and the Food Animal Concerns Trust -- also asked FDA to hasten the implementation of a ban on one class of antibiotics proposed in 2000. FDA's 2000 order has been grounded by legal challenges from the antibiotics' manufacturer (Kaufman, Washington Post, 4/8).
The health and environmental groups said they oppose the regular use of antibiotics as a growth agent and as a preventive measure against disease. Karen Florini, a senior attorney for Environmental Defense, said the groups support "basic measures" of cleanliness for livestock "that would mean you don't have to feed animals antibiotics every day of their life to keep them from getting sick." The European Union already has outlawed the use of many antibiotics in animal feed due to concerns over drug-resistant bacteria, the groups said.
FDA has 180 days to respond to the petition.
Richard Lobb, spokesperson for the National Chicken Council, said antibiotics are used "judiciously and responsibly," adding that no studies offer evidence of the transfer of drug resistance between animals and humans (Schaefer Munoz, Wall Street Journal, 4/8).
Alexander Matthews, president of the Animal Health Institute -- which represents animal drug manufacturers -- said, "This effort to ban products is misguided and will result in unintended consequences, including increased animal death and suffering" (Washington Post, 4/8).