While things have been very busy around here, they are absolutely frenetic at the federal level. As one who raises animals, I have a few thoughts on this idea of further control of antibiotics on farms. We, like most small farmers, use antibiotics to save lives, and not as a continual feed through program. I will use them as a last resort as it is better to save the animals life than let it die because I have an ideology that prevents me from using this medication. We first support the immune system, and then if necessary, will use the antibiotic. We simply cannot afford to have a vet come out whenever an animal is sick. If this restriction is ensconced as law in regulation, it will result in animal deaths and not in better health. Obviously there is concern about overuse particularly in CAFO's, and those should be regulated differently from regular farms, but definitions and power hungry bureaucrats should not get in the way of an individuals right to control their own livestock....Just as an aside, this is also an OIE intiative. Surprised??? Didn't think so!
FDA mulling restrictions on livestock antibiotics
Blog post by Philip Brasher • email@example.com • March 10, 2010
The head of the Food and Drug Administration says the agency is continuing to look at possible restrictions on the use of antibiotics in livestock but pledged to consult with producers. Margaret Hamburg told a House subcommittee today that antibiotic resistance is one of the nation’s “foremost public health concerns” and there are clear linkages between the problem and the use of the drugs in farm animals.
“We are working closely with industry, listening to their concerns,” Hamburg said in response to a question from Rep. Tom Latham, R-Ia. “We are not going to move forward and institute a policy that we have not been able to base on sound science and evidence.”
She said the agency was looking at “regulatory pathways” to restrict animal antibiotic use but did not elaborate.
Last summer, an FDA official surprised the industry by calling for ending the use of antibiotics for growth promotion in livestock and requiring veterinary approval for all other uses of the drugs. Legislation pending in the House would ban the use of antibiotics for promoting growth in livestock.
“The use of antibiotics for growth promotion alone really needs to be scrutinized very, very closely,” Hamburg said.
When Latham pressed her for evidence of a linkage between antibiotics in livestock and drug resistance, Hamburg cited fluoroquinolones, a class of antibiotics that includes Cipro and that the FDA banned from livestock use in 2005. Poultry producers had been giving the drugs to entire flocks to treat disease outbreaks. Flouroquinolones “actually had to be withdrawn from (livestock) use because of the seriousness of the the resistance conerns,” Hamburg told Latham.
The livestock industry argues that overuse of antibiotics in human medicine is more to blame for resistance in bacteria than feeding the drugs to livestock.
Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., warned that requirements for closer veterinary scrutiny of antibiotic use could be a hardship for farmers, due to the lack of veterinarians in some areas.
Latham invited Hamburg to visit his district in north central Iowa, which includes the Agriculture Department’s National Animal Disease Center at Ames as well as a huge hog industry. “You’ll come to Iowa and find out that there are 3 million people but we have 17 to 18 million hogs,” he said. She did not immediately respond to the invite.