Executive Director of Pew Commission Testifies on Resistance to Antibiotics and Banning Their Use In Food Animals

Executive Director of Pew Commission Testifies on Resistance to Antibiotics and Banning Their Use In Food Animals

WASHINGTON - Robert P. Martin, executive director of the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, today reiterated the Commission's call for a phase out and ban on antimicrobials for non-therapeutic use in food animals. Mr. Martin testified at a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health on the reauthorization of the Animal Drug User Fee Act.  Mr. Martin's testimony comes just one month after the Commission released the findings and recommendation from its two-year examination of the impact of intensive confinement practices in industrial farm animal production.

“Capitol Hill has been quick to recognize that through the diligence of our Commissioners there are tangible steps that can be taken right away to curb the overuse of anti-microbials,” said Martin. “Eliminating the non-therapeutic use of these drugs will begin to lessen the problem of anti-biotic resistance.”

Mr. Martin's testimony noted that The Commission was so concerned about the indiscriminate use of antibiotics in food animal production, and the potential threat to public health, that five recommendations were put forth addressing their use.  They are:

Recommendation #1: Restrict the use of antimicrobials in food animal production to reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance to medically important antibiotics.

Recommendation #2: Clarify antimicrobial definitions to provide clear estimates of use and facilitate clear policies on antimicrobial use.

Recommendation #3: Improve monitoring and reporting of antimicrobial use in food animal production in order to accurately assess the quantity and methods of antimicrobial use in animal agriculture.

Recommendation #4: Improve monitoring and surveillance of antimicrobial resistance in the food supply, the environment, and animal and human populations in order to refine knowledge of antimicrobial resistance and its impacts on human health.

Recommendation #5: Increase veterinary oversight of all antimicrobial use in food animal production, to prevent overuse and misuse of antimicrobials.

The Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production (PCIFAP) is an independent project of The Pew Charitable Trusts and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to investigate the problems associated with industrial farm animal production (IFAP) operations and to make recommendations to solve them.  Fifteen Commissioners with diverse backgrounds began meeting in early 2006 to start their evidence-based review of the problems caused by IFAP.

The Commission released its full report on April 29, 2008, that included 24 primary recommendations.  Mr. Martin's testimony and a full copy of the report can be found at www.pcifap.org.