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HSVMA Launches Veterinary Petition Targeting Antibiotic Overuse

Urges federal action to phase out non-therapeutic use in farm animals

The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association has launched a petition urging the U.S. Congress to pass legislation phasing out non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in animal agriculture. Veterinary professionals are urged to sign and join the vast number of professional medical organizations and individuals who are already supporting efforts to restrict antibiotic overuse in animal agriculture.

“The veterinary community has been conspicuously absent from the critical effort to rein in non-therapeutic antibiotic uses,” said Dr. Michael Blackwell, DVM, MPH, vice chairman of the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production and one of the first signatories to the petition. “As medical professionals, we need to support efforts to restrict non-judicious uses so that these vital drugs are available when needed in order to treat sick animals and people.”

The petition urges the U.S. Congress to pass the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act, legislation that would require the Food and Drug Administration to re-review the approvals it has issued for animal feed uses of drugs in the seven classes of antibiotics that are important to human medicine. Any found to be unsafe from a resistance point of view would have their approvals rescinded.

More than 370 organizations, including prominent human health groups such as the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Public Health Association, have endorsed PAMTA due to concerns that non-therapeutic antibiotic use contributes to the rise in antibiotic resistant diseases. Antibiotic overuse also has animal welfare implications, since it is employed by animal agriculture to compensate for overcrowded, stressful and unsanitary conditions on factory farms.

“The debate over non-therapeutic antibiotic use affects all veterinarians, says Dr. Eric Barchas, a small animal veterinarian who penned a recent HSVMA newsletter column encouraging veterinarians to get involved. “It is time for us to move away from the sidelines and add our voices to the debate.”

The HSVMA petition was launched on the heels of news from the FDA confirming the massive amounts of antibiotics used in animal agriculture in the United States. The agency released its first-ever report in December showing that nearly 29 million pounds of antibiotics were sold in 2009 for therapeutic and non-therapeutic use for all farm animal species.

The HSVMA petition can be accessed at www.hsvma.org/petition.

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The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association (HSVMA) was formed as a home for veterinary professionals who want to join together to speak out for animals, engage in direct care programs for animals in need, and educate the public and others in the profession about animal welfare issues. The HSVMA is an affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States.