Congresswoman Louise Slaughter has reintroduced H.R. 965, the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act, which seeks to amend the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to "preserve the effectiveness of medically important antibiotics used in the treatment of human and animal diseases."
The bill, which currently has over 120 cosponsors, comes on the heels of U.S. Food and Drug Administration information that the percentage of all U.S. antibiotics used for food animals is higher than previously estimated — 80%. "Make no mistake, this bill would in no way infringe upon the use of these drugs to treat a sick animal," said Slaughter. "It simply proscribes their non-therapeutic use. If an animal is sick, then by all means we should make them well, but the routine use of antibiotics on healthy animals in order to promote growth is dangerous."
The National Pork Producers Council, which opposes the bill, has said that numerous risk assessments, including one conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, have shown risk levels associated with antibiotic use in agriculture that are low and that nationally recognized scientific studies have shown that the removal of important animal health products could actually increase food-safety risks. Still others are urging caution. "I think we need to become better at communicating how animal health and human health are critically linked," said Congressman Kurt Schrader, a practicing veterinarian and former organic farmer. "I'm not in favor of the indiscriminate use of antibiotics, no one here is," he said, but regulators should use caution in writing the rules to avoid unintended negative human and animal health consequences.