Testimony: Gail R. Hansen before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health

July 14, 2010

Testimony: Gail R. Hansen before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health

"Good afternoon Chairman Pallone, Chairman Waxman, Chairman Emeritus Dingell, Ranking Member Shimkus and members of the Health Subcommittee. My name is Gail Hansen and I am a Senior Officer with The Pew Charitable Trusts. I appreciate the opportunity to speak before you today about the routine use of antibiotics in food animal production.

I am a veterinarian who cares deeply about animal and human health and welfare. I have spent most of my professional career working to keep animals and people healthy. For 12 years, I was in private clinical practice, mostly in companion animals. For another 15 years I served in local and state public health departments; 12 years as the State Public Health Veterinarian and three as the top Kansas State Epidemiologist. In Kansas I was responsible for creating and implementing policy, for coordinating disease tracking and conducting outbreak investigation for all infectious diseases in the state. In addition, I served on the executive board of the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV) for eight years and was the Infectious Disease Chair for the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists in 2007. I am a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and was a U.S. Congressional Fellow for the AVMA from 2008-2009.

My message to you today is simple:

  1. Antibiotics are overused in industrial farming to the detriment of human health. Antibiotic overuse has spurred generations of bacteria that are causing life threatening illnesses that were once easily treatable with antibiotics.
  2. Effective alternatives are available to agribusiness. This has been demonstrated by practices adopted abroad, as well as in the United States.
  3. Congress has the opportunity to enact legislation that will curtail the use of antibiotics in industrial food animal production without having significant economic impact on the industry.

- Gail R. Hansen, D.V.M., M.P.H. - Senior Officer, Human Health and Industrial Farming Campaign, The Pew Charitable Trusts