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No Antibiotics Amendment, Groups Urge Speaker

by 5m Editor
27 July 2009, at 12:50pm

US - A group of agricultural organizations, including the National Pork Producers Council, on Friday urged the Speaker of the House not to allow a bill to ban certain animal health products to be tacked on to any pending legislation.

The Coalition for Animal Health, which includes organizations that represent veterinarians, farmers and ranchers, food and feed producers and animal medicine manufacturers, in a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., asked that the "Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2009" (H.R. 1549) not be added to bills now being considered, including food-safety and health-care reform legislation.

H.R. 1549 would ban from use in livestock and poultry animal health products that are used to prevent and control diseases. Farmers only would be allowed to use animal health products that treat diseases. The bill also would require all "critical antimicrobial animal drugs" to go through a second US Food and Drug Administration approval process within two years of enactment of the legislation. Currently to win approval, an animal drug maker must demonstrate that a product is effective and safe for animals and for the environment. FDA also must determine that new antibiotics for food animals will not harm human health.

The legislation purports to address an increase in antibiotic-resistant illnesses in humans. But, the coalition pointed out, numerous risk assessments, including one conducted by FDA, have shown risk levels associated with antibiotic use in agriculture that are extremely low, and nationally recognized scientific studies have shown that the removal of important animal health products could actually increase food-safety risks.

In its letter, the coalition also noted that the food-safety and health-care reform bills are based on the important principle of prevention. "It would be ironic and inconsistent to add an amendment that would remove important tools for disease prevention used in veterinary medicine," said the coalition. "Veterinary medicine has long employed prevention as the preferred option for dealing with diseases, and antibiotics are an important tool in the prevention toolbox."