Washington, DC - Laura Rogers, director of the Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming issued the following statement today, commenting on the testimony of FDA Principal Deputy Commissioner Joshua M. Sharfstein, in which he said that antibiotics used on industrial farms should be phased out for growth promotion and feed efficacy, and should be more rigorously overseen for disease control and prevention.
“While banning the use of antibiotics for growth promotion is an important step forward, we need to ensure that antibiotics are not used to compensate for unsanitary conditions on many industrial farms.
“The proposed FDA position does not go far enough in this regard and would allow the continuation of conditions that necessitate the improper use of antibiotics in the first place. Successful models already exist in the U.S. where millions of animals on large industrial farms can be raised cost-effectively without the routine use of antibiotics.
“Congress should pass H.R. 1549, the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2009, to ensure that these important medicines work as intended, to cure infections and protect human health.”
Background: The American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other leading medical groups agree that the growth of bacterial infections resistant to antibiotic treatment is a looming public health threat. The groups also agree that the misuse of antibiotics on industrial farms plays a significant role in this crisis. Antibiotics are often given over long periods of time to spur growth and compensate for unsanitary living conditions. The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that up to 70 percent of all antibiotics produced in this country are given to food animals in their food and/or water.