News 491 views update:Feb 3, 2010

No antibiotics amendment: US poultry industry

A large group of agricultural organisations, among which many poultry and egg organisations, has urged the speaker of the US House of Representatives 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 organisations that represent veterinarians, farmers and ranchers, food and feed producers and animal medicine manufacturers, in a letter to speaker Nancy Pelosi, asked that the ‘Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2009’ not be added to bills now being considered, including food-safety and health-care reform legislation.

The bill 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.

Second approval process

The bill also would require all ‘critical antimicrobial animal drugs’ to go through a second US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 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 recognised scientific studies have shown that the removal of important animal health products could actually increase food-safety risks. 

In the European Union, antibiotics for preventive use in livestock production, have been forbidden since January 1, 2006.


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.”

Among the groups in the Coalition for Animal Health are the National Chicken Council, the National Turkey Federation, United Egg Producers and the US Poultry and Egg Association.

To read the full letter, click here.

Related links:

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
National Chicken Council
National Turkey Federation
United Egg Producers
US Poultry and Egg Association

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